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2013 seems to be the year Social Selling hit the mainstream – especially in B2B sectors where “Facebook marketing” never resonated that much.

There is growing evidence that adding social prospecting, lead nurturing and relationship building skills to your arsenal will improve your sales performance. Consider what the most recent Social Media and Sales Quota Report found,

In 2012, 72.6% of sales people using social media as part of their sales process outperformed their sales peers and exceeded quota 23% more often.

Even if you don’t buy the “quota” argument, your customers are clearly using social media for business – so you’d better learn to interact with them there.

But getting started can be tough.  Software vendors and social media marketing gurus are publishing dozens of articles a day on the subject. Thinly-written & redundant blog posts are piling up so fast it can be tough for someone new to this practice to know where to start.

As Koka Sexton, LinkedIn’s Sr. Manager of Social Marketing, put it in a recent article about the rise of Social Selling:

There are some great people and organizations out there that know a lot about social selling, best practices and ways to implement it, but there are also many people that call themselves experts that are really good at optimizing your LinkedIn profile and that’s the extent of their expertise.

What is “social selling”?

There really is no single definition – it really depends on who you are, what you sell, and how your buyers buy.

You sort of have to dive in and learn by doing.  That’s what the resources below will help you with.

During the past few weeks, I’ve been catching up with some of the leading thinkers, practitioners and best practices in social selling. I’ve learned that there are some excellent, experience-based best practices and how-to guides available online.

The good news is that lot of “social selling” is really just a lot of common sense sales techniques mapped into a new environment with a few new rules and gestures to learn. Plus a bunch of new tools like ours.

But you don’t need tools to become a social sales pro.

This graphic from Julio Viskovich gives you a glimpse of what social selling really is, as suggested by some of the most experienced practitioners today:

SocialSellingGuide 7 pros share their tips

SocialSellingGuide 7 pros share their tips – borrowed from www.julioviskovich.com/

Alright, on with the resources.

Listed below are some of the best online sites and resources for the social selling newbie, which probably best characterizes 90% of sales professionals today. So don’t feel alone!

NOTE: This list is intended to be a quick starting point for new practitioners, not an exhaustive library. If you are an expert, then I’m sure I missed a bunch of your favorites. Feel free to suggest more in the Comments section, below.

First Reads

  1. The Future of Selling” is a great long-form read by Brian Fetherstonhaugh (CEO of Ogilvy One) that explains the context of social selling: why is selling changing? how are marketing and sales blending together in completely new ways? with plenty of data that makes it clear that social selling is a skill we’d better all get comfortable with.
  2. What Is Social Selling?” is a brief and easy to digest introduction by Koka Sexton, Sr. Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn. Maybe a bit too much emphasis on LinkedIn (Koka now works there), but then again LinkedIn is definitely the first network to focus on for most social selling efforts.  Koka has been focused on this subject since 2009, so listen carefully.
  3. The Grande Guide to Social Selling” by Eloqua. Nice broad overview of the terms, technologies and practices involved, with an emphasis on how inbound marketing and sales can work seamlessly together.
  4. Social Selling – a Mini-Guide” by Salesforce.com.  Shorter version & slightly different viewpoint than Eloqua.  

Detailed How-To Guides

  1. Social Selling in B2B” An excellent multi-part blog series by HootSuite.
  2. The Ultimate Guide How to Use Twitter for Social Selling” by InsideView.com.  It’s 47 pages long, and worth paying for with your contact info.
  3. Social Selling, the New Practitioner’s Guide” by Julio Viskovich, Social Selling Sensei at HootSuite.  Of all the social selling experts out there, I really appreciate Julio’s no-BS, hands-on demos and how-to guides. You can tell Julio learned by doing. I’ve learned quite a bit from him.

Personal & Career Training

  1. The Rise of the Social Selling Expert” by Jeff Molander (on eConsultancy.com).  Career context.
  2. Seven Critical Skills of The Social Seller” by Dan Bernoske on salesbenchmarkindex.com. Learn how you need to behave.
  3. Social Selling University  - the online home of social selling best practices. Sponsored by InsideView, a leading prospecting/lead gen/business intelligence solution provider.  Best single collection of resources on the internet, in my opinion.

Why is Social Selling Getting So Hot?

Simple: every business needs to generate sales to survive.

You can’t meet payroll with ‘likes’, after all.

wheres the beef - copyright Wendys

wheres the beef – copyright Wendys

In addition, the whole social media marketing craze is getting long in the tooth.

In many industries, social marketing teams and their agencies are getting increasingly pressured by the CEO and CFO to demonstrate results – aka, ROI, leads and sales. In some large early adopter organizations, social marketing budgets this year are actually flat (gasp!).

The pressure is clearly mounting for social marketing programs to contribute more to the bottom line – or be relegated to the role that other over-hyped “marketing techniques” have in the company. As in, none.

That’s OK with us. The shift in priority away from producing “content” and “engagement” to delivering “leads”, “customers” and “revenues” is refreshing and predictable.

We’ve always believed that social networks are an ideal medium for the social-by-nature, solution-oriented sales professional to thrive in. That’s who we designed NeedTagger for.

Our Social Selling Advice to You

It’s been on the back of our business cards since the day we opened shop:

business card NeedTagger - back

We believe that “finding needs and meeting them” is the proper mindset of every great social selling professional.

Wanna get started today with social selling today? Then go find someone on Twitter or LinkedIn (or any network where your customers congregate) who needs something you have to offer – information, content, answers, services, whatever – and offer them help.

You don’t need tools like NeedTagger to start loading your funnel with prospects.  But we’ll be here if you need us.

For more articles like this, check out our new Flipboard magazine, "Social Selling" For more articles like this, check out our new Flipboard magazine, “Social Selling”

 

Let us know what you think about social selling by leaving your comments below.

10 Great Resources for the Social Selling Newbie by


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