5 Key Elements of Effective Social Selling – and How to Implement Them in Your Approach

5 Key Elements of Effective Social Selling – and How to Implement Them in Your Approach


Does your sales process have to drastically change to implement social selling? Not a chance. Social selling requires a few tweaks to your daily routine in order to better align yourself with the new buyer’s behavior. These tweaks will be like putting high-octane fuel in your race car.

Here are a few of the concepts and terms you’ll hear among social selling circles. By understanding these elements, you’ll be able to strategize for them, and add them into your sales funnel, thereby applying social selling principles to your existing process.

Consider how these elements could add to your existing sales process: 

Social Proximity

This refers to using your social connections, and those of your sales team and other colleagues. An advantage of consistently growing your online network is that, eventually, you’ll end up with some sort of social connection to each of your prospective buyers.

The more mutual connections you have, the higher the social proximity – and thus, a higher likelihood of getting a good and quick referral or introduction. This is always the best way, as opposed to the “stranger” approach.

Sphere of Influence 

The sphere of influence concept which enables salespeople to map and understand the best way of leveraging existing relationships within a target organization.

LinkedIn is an amazing tool for enabling you to see which connections you have in a company, empowering you to find out which decision-makers or potential champions you can leverage.

Here’s an example – go to your prospect’s company page on LinkedIn. Click/tap on the ‘People’ tab and scroll down to the list of their employees on LinkedIn. Beneath each one, you can see a note on how many shared connections you have.

LinkedIn shared connections

Tap through on the relevant users’ profile, and you can access the full listing of your connections in common, which can enable you to refer to that person in your pitch, or reach out to the ones you know and ask them for a referral. 

Leveraging your existing connections is generally a much more successful approach than cold outreach. Use this to stand apart from the spray and pray reps who send generic requests – and remain at the “stranger” status. 

Social Surrounding

Socially surrounding your prospect involves you having a 360-degree view of the individual, both in a professional and personal sense (within reason), and building connection over time. Utilizing this approach enables true relationships to form, leading to optimal selling conversations and actions.

Social surrounding eliminates the need to build rapport on the call, because you’ve already done it over social. Now you can focus on a deep business exploration. Your marketing department can help by preparing personas for all of the potential members of a buying unit. 

Here’s an example:

  • I’m considering a potential lead, perhaps a director of Marketing in an organization
  • I look at my sphere of influence in the company using LinkedIn, and I use a mutual connection to include in the LinkedIn invitation
  • While I’m doing this I follow the company page too
  • I then use their profile to link out to their Twitter profile and begin following them there
  • I favorite a relevant tweet and retweet something interesting
  • I head back over to LinkedIn and “like” his/her posts
  • Now I find a LinkedIn Group they’re in and join it

The above actions take place over a series of days, or even a couple weeks, and throughout the entire process, you need to be mining for information and looking for the context you can use to initiate a touchpoint.

Sooner or later, an opportunity will present itself where it makes sense to jump into a conversation with this person. It essentially takes the outbound approach which is traditionally cold and warms it up substantially.

Buying Triggers

A buying signal or trigger event is an indication of purchase intent – and buyers are giving them away, for free, on social media. This is where social media monitoring comes in.  

These signals and triggers can come in hard or soft forms:

  • An example of a hard trigger is somebody asking about the price, or feedback around your product or that of a competitor.
  • An example of a soft trigger could be, for example, a company that sells baby products monitoring people who are discussing baby names as a means to link to future prospects.

By monitoring the right keywords on LinkedIn, Twitter, and more, you can pick up on these triggers around your product or service.

In the B2B space, common buying triggers or process change signals you can listen for over social include:

  • The uptick in marketing or advertising spend
  • Funding events
  • Geographic or territorial expansion
  • Government approvals
  • Strategic or mid-senior level management hires
  • The uptick in product or service adoption
  • Additions or changes to the board of directors
  • New product releases or iterations

Buyer 3.0

This refers to the new behavior currently being exhibited by buyers – as a result of the internet, buyers have unprecedented access to information and reviews before ever talking to a salesperson.

For B2B vendors to successfully attract and engage these buyers, new approaches, thinking and technology must be applied. Experiences must be consistently valuable and timely.

The numbers fluctuate, but it’s estimated that buyers are now engaging reps with the buying process 65% complete. How are they getting this information? Through blogs, forums, and instant feedback from your customers over social media. This is going to require marketing and sales to work in tandem to use big data to craft the right content for the right person.

Understanding these concepts and behaviors can accelerate your social prowess and success when looking to connect with key organizations. Your marketing team controls the data that can help salespeople succeed.

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