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The How and Why of Social Media for Salespeople

Social media is a powerful tool for salespeople, affording them the ability to cross time, geographical, and social barriers. Platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook enable you to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, showing potential clients that you’re an experienced partner who understands their needs. Scheduling a little time each week to curate content for your followers, reach out to prospects, and nurture your relationships is well worth the investment. 

Here are some tips for salespeople to get the most out of social media.

Establish Yourself as a Thought Leader

Building trust online depends heavily on your ability to develop credibility as a thought leader in your industry. As a salesperson, you want others to think of you as having the experience and insight they need when making purchasing decisions. Social media is an excellent avenue for people in this position to establish themselves as thought leaders.

Share and Curate Relevant Content

Carefully curating content for your followers is essential for establishing yourself as a thought leader in any industry. Choose current articles from reputable sources to demonstrate to your audience that you’re up-to-date with trends and research and lend more credibility to your recommendations. Post these resources with insightful commentary showing command of the material and providing value beyond just reposting interesting articles.

Engage Meaningfully in Conversation in Related Forums

Savvy salespeople go beyond hitting “Post” and walking away from social media; they take the time to engage deeply with others on the platforms. For example, LinkedIn Groups are a great place to find other professionals who may be interested in your product or services. Answering their questions, sharing resources, and offering encouragement are great ways to build trust in these communities.

Stay Focused and Professional

While you want your personality to shine through in your social media posts, be careful to maintain a level of distance and professionalism in your online interactions. You don’t want any controversial views or oversharing of personal details to influence the way contacts view your company. When people think of you, they should think of your experience and good ideas – not your political views.

Build Your Network

Your social network is one of your greatest assets as a salesperson. While investing time in building that network likely won’t pay immediate dividends, keep your eye on the long term to recognize the benefit.

Post in Multiple Places

Different platforms are comprised of different networks, so it’s vital to understand your target audience before you start posting. LinkedIn is a safe bet all around, but you may be able to reach more specified segments on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

Many salespeople gain a lot of value from posting on their personal social media accounts, provided the posts are positive and neutral (as recommended above). This is because their personal contacts are as likely as anyone else to be in the market for what they’re offering – and even if they aren’t, they probably know someone who is.

Make the Most of  Your Cold Outreach

Cold outreach isn’t traditionally fun for the sender or the recipient, but you can take this sometimes negative experience and turn it into a positive one with some care. When you reach out to connect with someone for the first time, be intentional about providing value. Give them a good answer to the “What’s in it for me?” that they’ll surely be asking themselves when deciding whether to respond to you. 

Sometimes this value may come in the form of interesting (relevant) content or an invitation to a webinar or event. Other times, it can be as simple as demonstrating that you’ve done your homework and could have a solution to a problem you know they’re experiencing.

Combine Online and Real-World Connections

Your network is a combination of people you know in real life and people you interact with online. The more you can combine these two, the better. For example, when you meet someone at an event, connect with them on social media immediately afterward. Similarly, when you’re going to an event, see if any of your online connections will also be there. Merging in-person and online relationships provides a deeper, longer-lasting connection than either form of network-building can do alone.

Develop Long-Term Relationships

In an increasingly remote world, it’s more important than ever to exert effort on deepening relationships. Social media provides an easy way for salespeople to maintain long-term relationships, even deepening them despite the impossibility of seeing everyone in person.

Be Genuine

To have meaningful, productive social media connections, you must be genuine from day one. Your social media profiles should be up-to-date (including with a recent, high quality picture!). This way, people can put a name to a face. Being authentic is imperative when building trust in an online environment; people can sense if you’re being fake, at which point all your efforts to build a network are in vain.

Provide Value

Making fruitful connections isn’t a “set it and forget it” activity. Successful network building requires regular outreach, consistent posting, engaging on your contacts’ posts, and occasionally reaching out with personal notes. Scheduling time on your calendar each week to devote to social media will help you maintain a thriving network.

Focus on the Big Picture

Salespeople successfully utilizing social media to build and deepen relationships understand that this method is a long game. Being kind and helpful to everyone you engage with while providing thought leadership and high-value content ensures that you’ll be top-of-mind when your contacts are ready to purchase. Just because someone isn’t currently interested doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. It’s your job to make sure you’re the one they think of when they are.

Social media provides salespeople an opportunity to reach more people and build deeper relationships with them than ever before. From promoting your brand to making sales, the time you spend on social media is well worth the investment in the long run.

 

Photo Credit: Canva

By Toni Griffin, Sr. Director, Business Development, Planet Forward