Creating value in sales

This is the final post in a study we created along with Focus.com to discuss the best practices to leverage social media for sales teams. After talking to eight of the top thought leaders in sales training and sales technology we wanted to bring their insights to you. This is going to be a 3 part series that covers what successful salespeople are doing to leverage social media in lead generation and accelerating their opportunities. Some of these experts are listed in our post on the 25 most influential sales leaders. Much appreciation to these experts for taking the time to address the question “How do your successful salespeople leverage social media for selling?

Cultivate your own personal brand on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and beyond.

“The one thing I learned early in sales is that the most unique thing you are selling is not always the company or the product, but it is always you. Social media provides you a unique opportunity to build your brand — as well as endless opportunities to ruin your brand. The first thing anyone does before meeting with someone is to check their LinkedIn profile. Successful social salespeople carefully and thoroughly complete their LinkedIn profile, including a picture. All their social bios (Twitter, etc.) are meaningful, unique and memorable. Limit access to your Facebook if it has any offensive or borderline offensive photos.” (Rosenberg)

“Many sales managers dont think Twitter is a place for sales people. I disagree. With social media exploding as a form of communication, there are going to be more and more people leveraging the channel for business conversations. Not just brands but real people that want to solve business problems by asking others online. Learning how to listen and track people on Twitter will be a goldmine of information in some cases for salespeople.” (Sexton)

“Social media provides platforms for the individual sales rep to stand out from the crowd like never before. To be the one who is providing the most helpful information, the best references, and what is going on in that industry/market. I recommend that sales open their consideration more broadly than just the big three of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Each has its place and purpose in an overall social strategy that must be in place prior to any active social media use for a company or an individual producer. How about a personal landing page for you as an individual where prospects/customers can go to learn more about you? Take a look at creating an http://about.me page, and then highlight all of your other online activities with links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and even your company website for example.” (Austin)

Establish your expertise by contributing to conversations — without selling.

You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand how the science of sales intelligence has an effect on driving revenue. In addition to knowing more about yur industry and prospects than your competition, you will be able to lock yourself in as an expert of your market. By not just being a salesperson, you will open more lines of communication that will lead to more opportunities.

“Step 1: Figure out where your buyers are. Step 2: Be there Step 3: Contribute without intruding on the safe social environment people are interacting in. You hear a lot of stories of vendors finding leads in social platforms, but a lot of salespeople are just ‘there’ — contributing and building both trust and reputation. This approach serves them well. Many people are not just turned off by sales in general, but are absolutely repulsed by salespeople invading their online conversation to sell them something. My advice to salespeople is to get ‘in the mix,’ but don’t sell. Join the community and have conversations with industry leaders, peers and end users. There are salespeople who have built their online presence to the point where prospects have reached out to them for advice. That’s a big win.” (Rosenberg)

“Directly share information, become an expert, and generate a following. You are an expert. You understand your market, your customer’s problems, and the information they need to be more successful. You read the trade publications and regularly (possibly daily) find articles that your prospects and customers should read.” (Heinz)

“If our customers are already there (as research would indicate), then we as salespeople can’t afford not to be there and participating. Initially, salespeople should use social media (blogs, discussion forums, websites, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) primarily for listening and learning—what are the customers saying/asking, what is competition doing, etc. They should be engaging customers there, as well as using traditional channels. They need to be taking part in social conversations, they need to be representing their products and solutions in those conversations.” (Brock)

“With all the talk in the market about the importance of customer/buyer engagement, it is vital that today’s B2B rep use social as a means to dialogue with their buyers and customers. As reps thought the dialogue must change from one of pure sales to one of helping shape the discussion and to establish themselves as thought leaders and knowledgeable about their market, their buyers’ challenges and seen as a resource for answers. The best way to do this is via social, and the more reps understand that their involvement in this medium and having an active part in the discussion is key to the buying decision, the more they will begin to engage.” (Hidalgo)

“Become an industry source of knowledge by using one or more of the many curation tools that are now available, many at no cost.” (Austin)

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