February 1st, 2018 | by

Would you ever write a research paper without using the internet? With information so readily available with the click of a button, it’s hard to imagine what students did prior to about 1998. (We managed somehow.)

Sales professionals used to make cold calls back then, too … and by cold, we mean frigid.

The only available information was a name, title, phone number, business size, and vertical. Sometimes prospects took an action to trigger a sales call, like filling out a magazine card or entering a drawing at an event – but usually, it was a cold call in the truest sense: The sales person did not know the prospect – and they certainly didn’t know their level of interest.

Social selling has flipped the script on cold outreach – but it comes with its own challenges.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it: Be less creepy than a bot

Most of us have grown accustomed to ads in our Facebook feed for something we searched on a different device the day before. Sure, this is a little creepy … but it’s nowhere near as creepy a real-live human on social media with a bad attempt at a social sell.

Even with accurate data, social selling comes at a risk. It thrives with nuance, reciprocation, common sense, and creative flair. It fails when it does not. Demonstrating how folks get it wrong exposes actions you should be taking instead – so let’s talk in terms of blunders and saves.

Get the data YOU need to reach the right prospect at the right time.

Social-selling blunder #1: Skipping sales funnel steps

Hi, nice to meet you. What are your business goals? Want to subscribe for a trial month?

Comments like this are out of place items in any introductory correspondence.

Of course conversion is always top of mind; but making a sale is the final conversion metric, and B2B rarely closes sales on social media. Most likely, the close happens on the phone or in-person, especially with more expensive products.

Social-selling save: Map out micro-conversions

Think in terms of the next step: A sale is the final step … and on social media, you’re not quite there.

Ask questions and share content to spark conversations and gain trust. Preferably both. Share relevant articles, or publish original content for your audience; a combination is best. The conversation should provoke an appropriate next step in the sales funnel.

Usually another touch or two is needed.

Read it: How to Write Cold Prospecting Emails That Sell

Blunder #2: Channel-inappropriate messaging

You can learn a lot about your prospect from Twitter. However, publicly asking @prospect anything on Twitter out of the blue risks tackiness.

B2B sales professional buyer personaTwitter is an outward-facing medium for sharing information designed for engagement in return. Use Twitter for contests, informal surveys, or to spark conversation. Or better yet, ask a question to your network to gauge interest or answer one posed by your prospect to show your desire and ability to be helpful.

Again, one of the main objectives of social selling is to establish yourself or your company as a trusted resource. After a few exchanges, you might ask for a call or e-mail, or upon an ebook download or entry to win a gift card.

Don’t expect to book a meeting over DM.

Save: Identify the prospect’s channel preference and get to it

Bold isn’t necessarily bad.

Consider going straight for the phone after connecting on LinkedIn – especially if your client base tends to communicate that way, or if there’s any urgency in previous correspondence. A phone conversation is always better than email or social selling when trying to develop or move the relationship to the next stage of the sales cycle.

Selling to B2B? Why Didn’t They Buy? A Deep-Dive into the Buyer Persona

Blunder #3: Leaving warm prospects hanging

Just as over-aggressive marketing is a bad look, inconsistent user behavior sabotages social engagement.

Reply to every comment on your own channels. Aside from sales funnel productivity, it is a customer service expectation for many buyers. Even if you you treat your customers like royalty, a backlog of unanswered comments and @mentions on social media speaks volumes to prospects.

Save: Focus on who you should be engaging

You should engage with everyone who reaches out to you on your channels. You can be more selective in choosing to which prospects you reach out.

Start social media campaigns knowing who you want to target. Whether you are using a sales and marketing intelligence platform like DiscoverOrg, or identifying target contacts via available search filters in your chosen social media site, do your best outreach by targeting your ideal customer profile (ICP) with segmented, customized messaging.

Download our free Ideal Customer Persona worksheet.

Blunder #4: Failing to track results

#discoverorgsuccess discoverorg reviewsAt work, social media serves a purpose and requires metrics for proof of concept.

If you’re doing Account-Based Marketing, measurement is absolutely critical. At the very least, you should be measuring impressions, engagements, conversions, and calculating click-through rate from social post to link. This tells you whether your marketing efforts are working.

Certain platforms, like Facebook, require payment to get your messaging out. Google sells off a fair portion of its above the fold space for suggested SERPs. Failure to track performance isn’t costly; it results in incorrect conclusions about sales and marketing campaigns, sabotaging future efforts.

Save: Segment channels and track separately

Supplement paid and organic channels appropriately. One hand feeds the other.

Think in terms of the sales funnel and channel when creating the message and call to action. Outward-facing social activity is often focused on brand awareness: posting questions, actionable tips. At DiscoverOrg, we like to use social media to engage partners and influencers.

Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.

When you know social selling protocol, you can use marketing and sales intelligence to have have the right conversations, with the right people, at the right time – and achieve the outcome you want.

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Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller is DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager. She has 15+ years' experience developing and creating content in range of B2B, B2C, and creative industries; previously she founded and operated a book editing company. Charity earned a B.A. in English, Project Management certification, and Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley.