Social selling is, in our experience at RevenueZen, one of the most misunderstood, yet polarizing, terms being thrown around modern sales and growth circles. On one side, old-school sales practitioners who aren’t as familiar with social media, tend to assume that “social selling” amounts to “messing around on your phone,” with no understanding of the power a social selling strategy has to produce an outsized revenue impact relative to the effort that goes into it.

On the other end of the spectrum, there’s an overly soft interpretation of what social selling is about, that really does cause salespeople and marketers to make a lot of noise on the internet without regard to the downstream impact on pipeline.

Neither of these is correct. So, what is social selling? The real answer is somewhere in the middle, and encompasses both sales and marketing activities. Here’s what to do, and not do, when you’re undertaking a social selling effort in 2019.


what is social selling

Sell the Social Selling Plan Internally

Do this before you start doing anything. Your team is likely to not have an in-depth understanding of what social selling is. Your first task is to get your team on board. You’re good at selling and marketing things, right? Well, time to use those skills at your own company.

Set the expectations for the marketing team that you won’t be saying anything off-brand, and take care to not be over-confidently encroaching on what they may see as “their” territory. Likewise, make sure your sales team knows that you are treating this very much as a prospecting activity, and that you are following a plan and not simply messing around on social media because you’re uneasy about picking up the phone.


Remember That Volume Matters

If you’re not doing the things that get your message in front of a large amount of target market eyeballs, you’re doing it wrong. Don’t spend a ton of time hanging out in online circles that won’t be seen by more than a handful of people. Instead, focus on building your audience, write content that is going to get you more followers and adds value, and connect proactively with people that you want to get in front of.

“Social” does not mean low-volume. It means high-quality and non-transactional.


Stay Social

The etiquette is different here than when you’re cold calling. Who the person is matters more here than it does elsewhere. Getting to know “the professional” you’re talking to is important, but getting to know “the person” matters 3x more here than on a cold call.

At the same time, remember that you have a structure behind what you’re doing. You’re driving awareness and building trust to lead to sales. Don’t forget that you are still, in fact, actually selling.


social selling mastery

Stray Far From Your Buyer Persona

If you’re in sales, and your buyers are all HR VPs/Directors, guess how it looks when all you do is comment on memes and “like” sales-related content? You look completely irrelevant. And you are.
If your buyers are in HR, 90% of your content should be HR-related. Talent, development, recruiting, hiring, culture, and so forth.

Give yourself no more than 10% of your content space to express things that are important to you personally and are outside of your buyer persona. This includes causes you support, your sales mentality, pictures of cats, etc.


Spend Time Talking to the Wrong People

The more you send irrelevant content and messages to people that are far from your buyer persona, the more time you’ll waste, and the more your personal credibility will drop. If you want to talk to the Brand Management team, don’t bother talking to IT. At all. Spend zero time on it. Sending more connection requests, just like making irrelevant cold calls, is a waste of effort.

Social selling is meritocratic like any other sales activity. If you’re doing it for the vanity metrics, you’ll get underwhelming results.

Remain disciplined. Talk to your ideal prospects, and the people that are directly adjacent to your ideal prospects. Don’t bother with the people that have no influence over your buying center.


Forget About the LinkedIn Algorithm

When social selling on LinkedIn, always be thinking about what LinkedIn wants. The further you get from that, the more you’ll be penalized. LinkedIn wants users to stay on LinkedIn, so guess how external links are treated? Much worse.

LinkedIn wants you to add value to your audience, so guess how a lazy, short post with 12 custom-made hashtags (that you thought of on-the-fly, without doing any research) is going to do? Horribly. You’ll get no engagement.

Remember the field you’re playing in, and respect it. Once you’ve mastered these rules, you can start to break and bend them a bit, but don’t try it before you have the fundamentals down.


The Homework

This is just the start. Here’s the big picture with social selling: help other people in public, and be seen doing it. Teach as many people as you can. Put in the work to learn valuable knowledge, and then pass that knowledge on.

If you stick to this basic principle, the rest will follow. Now, click the button below and download our LinkedIn Social Selling Blueprint to start organically generating new business.

Download LinkedIn Social Selling Blueprint