In December, we posted The InsideView 20 – The Top Sales Industry Social Media Users, which highlighted 20 sales professionals who are paving the way for social media use throughout their respective industries. This innovative group of sales execs, writers, trainers and analysts are finding terrific new ways to translate news, intelligence and theory, ultimately driving new trends in the world of sales.

We recently asked the group if they had any advice to share with their peers. What we received was advice, best practices, cautions and words of wisdom that will surely help the remainder of the sales industry dive in to the tempered waters of social media, and navigate the terrain of the traditional sales industry.

Tibor Shanto, principal and founder of Renbor Sales Solutions Inc.

If you have something to say, say it, say it loud! Join LinkedIn and take some time to find groups in line with your interests, then speak up. Share your blog posts, join discussions, answer questions and take advantage of any other way to be vocal.  Once you have contributed to a discussion, Tweet about it. Not only will you be able to get solid feedback about a variety of topics, but you can then take those ideas and blog about it. From there, you can tweet it – a very effective and cyclical cylce.

LinkedIn creates an ongoing opportunity to involve new people, new views and perpetuate your learning and ability to expand your network as people learn about you and your thinking. From there, build relationships and carry the conversation off line – sometimes these people will be sales leads, industry experts or at the least, people you share common interests with.

Chad Levitt, Account Executive at HubSpot, Author of the New Sales Economy Blog

In “Six Simple Steps to Reach More Prospects,” Chad shares his insight about connecting with your target accounts and contracts: “If you are wondering if these 6 steps will work — they do — I use them everyday with success. The beauty of these 6 simple steps is that they are easily repeatable and do not waste your time on unnecessary tasks.”

Identify your target account

Go to Jigsaw.com and type your target account into the search field and click ‘go.’ Select the contacts you would like to connect with at your target account

  • If the company’s main line is the only one listed, call and ask the operator to give you the direct extension. The operator will usually give it to you. If they try to put you through say you will reach out again later and hang up.

Go to Google and type in the name of your target prospect and the company’s name

  • Many times you will find their LinkedIn profile, other social media networks and affiliations. Explore their LinkedIn profile and social networks and get to know your target contact. You may also find related news items that may be relevant.

Send an introduction email that you should have saved in a template to save time

  • Make quick changes to your template to personalize email, and let your target contact know in your email you will be calling shortly

Call back in a few hours to connect with your prospect

  • If they respond to your email before you call them, immediately call back – they are usually at their desk. Leave a compelling voicemail if your target contact does not pick up the phone and mention your email. The combination of your email and calling will greatly increase the chances of reaching your target contact

Brian Jones, president of Industrial Interface, Inc.

Don’t be a business

The Internet allows people in every job to consume information that they find interesting at work.  If you can present relevant and useful information to your potential customers that is also fun and interesting, then you are well on your way to creating a valuable online brand.

It’s not always about marketing

Internet users can smell marketing speak a mile away. Why? Because it’s usually meaningless drivel that conveys no real benefit to anyone. Social media marketing is all about people sharing with other people. You need to personify your brand to compete in this space. If your company is just sharing its most recent product information, then no one is going to care. Don’t be afraid to be personal, funny, controversial and casual when representing your brand online.

Trust your product

If your product stinks, then all the marketing in the world isn’t going to help. If you’ve created a valuable website and clearly share the benefits of using your products, then users will be engaged when they get there. You won’t always have to push your products on customers through these online avenues.

Choose the right medium

There are a lot of popular social media sites that aren’t useful to every brand. LinkedIn is for professional networking and business information, while Facebook is reserved exclusively for fun personal interactions. B2B social media efforts need to be highly targeted to be successful.

Monitor the right metrics

Lots of people are interested in lots of stuff online, so traffic isn’t always a key to success. Look to customer sign-ups, calls or some other action that represents a real prospect doing something on your site. Getting a thousand people to your site is useless if no one takes the actions you need.

Joanne Black, founder of consulting business for Referral Sales, No More Cold Calling

Joanne’s tip is short and simple, but provide a sound perspective about LinkedIn.

Personalize your LinkedIn invitation

When I receive the standard invitation, “Please join my professional network on LinkedIn,” I know the person is reaching out to a list of people. I respond to a personal connection, as do most people. Use your invitation to re-connect, share a few short sentences about what you are doing or comment on their profile. It makes a world of difference. Also, do not accept invitations from people you don’t know.

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