Selling's always been a social pursuit, but social selling has taken the place of old-fashioned backslapping in today's business. Social selling involves creating a brand for yourself and promoting that brand on various social media, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
Some people shine at social selling, so instead of reinventing the wheel, heed some advice from these top 10 social selling nuggets of wisdom:
1. Adapt or be replaced
Social media is the tool by which salespeople can connect and build relationships with potential buyers or clients. Social selling queen Jill Rowley takes an "If you can't beat them, join them" approach. She says, "The modern consumer is digitally driven, socially connected, and mobile empowered. Sales reps need to adapt or be replaced."
2. Become thought a leader
People are more likely to buy from a salesperson with substance, not just shine. Once you prove yourself as an expert with the content you share through social media, you also position yourself to make a sale. Social selling evangelist Amar Sheth says, "Share content. Prove to your market that you have what it takes, that you have demonstrable knowledge."
3. Always be connected
Grant Cardone is an international sales expert, bestselling author and radio show host. Recognizing that social media makes you accessible 24/7, Cardone says, "Tweets are coming, Facebook posts are going out, and calls, texts and emails are coming in. People who are trying to reach me have no idea that I'm on the floor coloring and playing with my young daughters or away with my wife. I'm still always connected."
4. Play as a team
Buyers often learn about businesses through social media before initiating contact. Therefore, it's important for a business to have a strong social media presence. Social selling expert Jamie Shanks explains, "Your sales team also has to be a social selling team, meaning that it has to fully understand how to use the different social media platforms and deduce which ones are best for targeting your specific audience."
5. Reach the gatekeepers
Social selling trainer and coach Dave Howe uses social media as a way to get to top executives who were once guarded securely by gatekeepers. Here's some advice he gives on how to reach your prospect: "Find a piece of content or event that you know your prospect would be interested in and share it with them via Twitter by adding their Twitter handle to the Tweet."
6. Forget about the size of your network
Barbara Giamanco, an author, speaker and advisor on social selling, recognizes that just because salespeople use social media doesn't mean they're doing it effectively. Caring only about the numbers isn't always the correct focus. Giamanco says, "It doesn't really matter how many LinkedIn connections or numbers of Twitter followers you have, what matters is the quality of those connections."
7. Build relationships
Social selling trainer and consultant Julio Vizcovich emphasizes forming a relationship with potential clients, as opposed to using a hard sell approach. He says, "Use insights you can easily find on LinkedIn or Twitter and use them to personalize your message — whether it's your email subject line or your voicemail."
8. Provide value first
With social selling comes some cooperation versus competitiveness. Brynne Tillman, sales trainer and coach, isn't suggesting you give away all your secrets, but she does suggest to "share your industry insights and your subject matter expertise." Providing value can be the start of a great relationship with a prospect.
9. Create and curate content
Matt Heinz, national speaker and author of "Successful Selling," recognizes that content is important to develop a salesperson's brand, but he says that salespeople shouldn't always be creating content. Heinz explains that sales reps can also be successful by "curating good content vs. creating it, and you get basically the same external value for your sales reps at a fraction of the time."
10. Outperform others
Social sales specialist Jim Keenan's firm found hard data to prove that social media aids the sales process. Keenan says that more than 78 percent of people who used social media outperformed their peers who did not. He also discovered that 75 percent of the people surveyed did not receive training on how to use social media. Keenan sees his job as "ushering salespeople from the old world into the social world."