Social media has become one of the most mainstream facets of our society. People look to their networks on social media for product and vendor recommendations. Plus, it’s an easy way for people to connect one-to-one with businesses. In a world where remote work has become the “norm” due to COVID-19, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your sales team is proficient in social selling.
But what does social selling really mean? Social selling is the process of developing relationships (mostly through the use of social media channels) as part of the sales process. Social selling often takes place on networks like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, but can also take place either online or offline.
The goal of social selling is to ultimately identify prospects in a target industry, by using a platform like LinkedIn, Facebook, and/or Twitter, to align products and services and increase the likelihood of closing the sale. Knowing how to identify and find potential buyers is a skill that must be developed over time.
Social sellers are adept at maximizing their social media presence to target the right customers, build relationships, and secure repeat business as a result. So where do you find effective salespeople proficient in social selling?
Here are five strategies that companies can consider when looking for sales staff adept at social selling:
1. Make use of social media to find social sellers.
Those adept at social selling will be visible on social media. Use social media search functionality to identify individuals who position themselves as sales professionals (using Linkedin search, Twitter hashtags, etc.). Evaluate their engagement on the platform by looking at their followers, activity level, etc. Then reach out to them to open a recruiting conversation.
2. Leverage social media groups.
Social media groups are great for targeting the type of professional you’re looking for. As the cliché goes, birds of a feather often flock together. By searching targeted social media groups, you’ll be able to easily identify its most active participants. For example, you could search Facebook or LinkedIn for groups dedicated to sales professionals in your industry. Spend some time reviewing group content and its top contributors. Then evaluate the substance of their posts and how they engage with others.
3. Use social media to post your open position.
If your top potential social sellers are on social media, it makes sense to ensure that your job postings are visible there too. As you craft your job description, emphasize the importance of social selling. As well as the competencies that would indicate success in the role. You can post job descriptions via organic job postings or through social advertising. Additionally, via direct messaging with target candidates. You may also want to consider additional features provided by social networks to allow for direct messaging.
4. Engage with candidates through social media.
Communicating with potential candidates via social media channels is a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to gauge their credibility and comfort of using social channels to communicate. If you send a direct message and they take three days to get back to you…they are not likely to be highly engaged with social media. They may ultimately not be proficient with social selling.
5. Ask the right questions.
When vetting or interviewing candidates, ask for specific examples where they have used social selling and had a positive result. Have them describe the situation and inquire about social media habits, the size of their following, and how often they post. Asking those targeted questions will help you identify how they approach social selling so that you can make more informed decisions about your candidates.
Like it or not, social media is the dwelling place of many potential customers. The most successful companies utilize social media to their advantage. Companies looking for effective salespeople have to take social selling into account to be able to keep up. As well as make it a demonstrated proficiency in order to be successful.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us nothing else, it’s definitely the importance of connecting virtually, engaging remotely, and selling socially. Not only that, but online interactions and social selling tactics leave a visible data trail. Where recruiters can gain insight into online engagement and match it up with how the candidate describes themselves as a social seller.
As we enter a post-crisis world, it certainly won’t be back to business as usual. Much of the remote and virtual strategies that we’ve developed will carry with us as we move into the recovery stages. Effective social sellers – and companies – know how to leverage that for long-term success.
Joel Petino is the Co-founder of BD Strategy Partners located in Hoboken, NJ which focuses on Sales Recruiting, Sales Consulting, and Executive Search. He has been in sales and sales leadership for close to 20 years including LinkedIn’s Enterprise sales organization and was a LinkedIn “Club” award winner. In 2013 Joel hired and built the first LinkedIn Federal sales division. Joel began his sales career in the late ’90s at CCBN where he built and managed CCBN’s 50 person satellite office in San Francisco. Joel has also worked at Thomson Reuters and LexisNexis, where he won both Manager of the Year and Circle of Excellence awards.
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