25 Social Selling Experts Reveal What’s Required to Succeed in 2018

25 Social Selling Experts Reveal What’s Required to Succeed in 2018

The digital transformation that began several years ago will continue to be a major factor in sales and marketing during 2018 – and beyond. Yet, some social sellers have been slow to embrace the change – or perhaps don’t know where their focus should be to compete on an ever-changing playing field.

We asked social selling experts all across the globe who are on the forefront of digital transformation to share their insights on what they believe should be the focus for social sellers this year. The question we asked them to answer is:

What are the two most important things you’d recommend for social sellers to do in 2018?

Social Selling: Put Relationships First 

Make friends first, do business last. One of the biggest mistakes I see social sellers do is rush to move the sale ahead. They connect, and then they pitch their product or service. I don’t like it – and your prospects don’t like it. Instead, look for what’s in common, and have a conversation about that. Be a person and make a real connection. Then earn the right for a future conversation by adding value to them, sharing an article or two with them, asking some insightful questions about what you shared, and then, once you’ve become friendly, invite a deeper conversation.

– Phil Gerbyshak
Keynote Speaker, Social Selling Trainer
Location: Florida, USA

Phil Gerbyshak Traditional advertising, marketing and sales tactics are not enough. You must integrate them with social media. Why? Because people believe what other people say (social proof) MUCH more than they believe what you say about your business. Have you ever read hotel reviews on a travel site? Yep.

– Phil Gerbyshak

Never try to sell to anyone anything until an actual relationship is established, synergies are unveiled and value is gradually discussed. Prospects look for trust, authenticity and reliability before they make any decision for next steps. These will only occur over time. Do not be confused with permission to connect meaning “please sell me stuff!” It’s actually the opposite.

Use each social media platform as an opportunity to educate, never sell. Prospects don’t want your banter. They want realized value as the 1st step in accepting you. Provide as many articles, quotes and data that is specifically relevant to each prospect’s business. In the case that a prospect reaches out to you, respond objectively as to allow them to trust your opinion.

– Steve Rayner
Business Growth Strategist
Location: Boston, USA

Value-Based Selling: Move to “How Can I Help You”

For organizations to practice digital sales well and move from being just another anonymous vendor to a trusted advisor, the sales dialogue needs to shift from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”

“What can I sell you?” says: I care about your money. What else can I sell you? Thank you for your business.

“How can I help you?” says: I care about you and your business. How else can I add value? Thank you for helping us do business better.

At first glance, that might seem like an easy change, but the reality is that a strategic shift is necessary to make it work. To be an effective social seller you need to move to value-based selling.

– Melonie Dodaro
Keynote Speaker, Social Selling Expert, CEO, Top Dog Social Media
Author, The LinkedIn Code
Location: UK & Canada

25 Social Selling Experts Reveal What’s Required to Succeed in 2018

Social selling is a highly-specialized branch of digital sales that requires a well-crafted strategy in which sales and marketing align to meet customers at their digital touch points. Most companies aren’t set up that way. Sales and marketing often exist in competing silos.

– Melonie Dodaro

 

LinkedIn’s ‘The State of Sales’ Reports shares…

  • 77% of buyers saying that they wouldn’t engage with a salesperson if they didn’t do the necessary homework that would give them insights or knowledge into their business.
  • Compared to economic considerations, such as price or the return on investment, trust comes out as the most important factor when closing the deal.
  • There’s new evidence that cold-calling is no longer having an impact. When today’s buyer wants information about a product or service, they are looking for material that is useful, relevant and, most of all, not overly “salesy”.

Social Selling: Build the Foundation

Understanding how to build your social house is step one in becoming successful in 2018 with integrating social as a sales rep. It starts with making sure your LinkedIn profile positions you as a credible source, complete with your value proposition, how you understand the issues and challenges your clients or prospects face and how you can help, stated clearly within your summary.

Step two is to build a solid wall around your client base. Validate and strengthen the relationships so you can effectively tap into their networks and ask for help through introductions. Have your clients socially edify you. If you are new in sales do the same thing but build effective networks through friends, family, centers of influence and past employers.

– Larry Levine
Co-Founder, Social Sales Academy
Location: Los Angeles, USA

Focus on giving more than you receive. If you want to succeed in social selling, you need to consistently create and share content. I like to follow the 80/20 model where 80% of the time I like, comment and share other people’s content. The other 20% of the time I create my own content which will be shared by my followers and by people whose content I’ve shared.

Start social media conversations and be helpful. Start casual conversations on social media by being curious and asking questions. Be genuinely interested in others and help them when you can. Never sell in these conversations. Move the conversation from social media to a live call where you can begin your sales process.

– Ted Prodromou
LinkedIn Coach, Search Marketing Simplified
Location: San Francisco, USA

Here are some facts about my LinkedIn connections.

35% of my LinkedIn connections: earn between $150,000 and $250,000. 90% own a home, 73% are married, 68% are college graduates and 45% are in management.

Where did I find this information? From Facebook!

– Ted Prodromou

Social Selling: Research & Interact

Social sellers need to take time to conduct research on the company and individual person they are reaching out to prior to reaching out to prospects. The typical rule of thumb I recommend to sellers is to take five minutes researching prospects and forming their unique pitch. Look for common ground and shared experiences with the contact. Think through how your solution can help them to better address their customer’s needs. Then reach out!

Create genuine interactions each day: We are all human and can appreciate feedback, compliments and personal connections. I encourage social sellers to take time each day to review their feed for articles, shares, and updates from their network.

– Jen Sieger
Director, Specialist Sales, Microsoft
Location: Washington, USA

Social Selling & Networking

Keep on networking. Start and maintain conversations with your prospects and clients on all platforms and not just on LinkedIn. Social selling is all about engagement and conversation.

In addition, keep on adding value. Curate content and share the value-added content with your network in public and private mode. Become a resource for your clients. For best results: Repeat and continue to do step one and two.

– Mic Adam
Social Selling Expert
Vanguard Leadership
Location: Belgium

Mic Adam

 

80% of buyers reviewed 5 or more pieces of content.

– @micadam

 

Strategize and Connect

It may sound insanely simple, but I think social sellers need to focus on connecting to everyone they talk to about business. “Duh,” you may say, but I guarantee that if you look in most social sellers’ inboxes you will find dozens of prospects and customers who they just haven’t gotten around to connecting with on LinkedIn, Twitter or anywhere else.

Secondly, develop a personal strategy to content marketing This means figuring out what topics you will be posting articles about and how you will find a critical mass of things to share week in and week out with your network. Content is the fuel that sparks engagement. Get a plan, figure out how to execute it and stick to it no matter what is going down in your inbox.

– Sander Biehn
CEO, Thought Horizon
Author: The 30 Year Paycheck
Location: Georgia, USA

Sander Biehn

 

Social selling requires the right content, displayed to the right people, recording the right data, in order to see progress in your marketing efforts.

– Sander Biehn

Connect & Cultivate: Most people do not realize how many professionals they come in contact with during a day, a week a month or even a year. They tend to miss the obvious connections, current, former and potential. It is your job to proactively cultivate those relationships. Pick 10-15 connections each day to simply offer support, offer to make an introduction.

Borrow & Leverage Trust: It is a common misconception that the value of LinkedIn is your first-degree network. I believe the REAL value is the second-degree connections. The people you want to know, that are already connected to someone (or multiple people) in your network. When you ask people, you like and trust to introduce you to other people they like and trust, you can triple and quadruple the number of meetings you have each week.

– Mike Shelah
LinkedIn Trainer
Location: Baltimore, USA

Plan to be creative – With everyone aware of the impact social selling has on any organization, it has become the norm for companies to have a strategy around being social. That said, the best interactions are always the ones with person impacts. You need to know your target! The reason anyone engages is you are different from the rest.

– James Macintyre
Senior Digital Solutions Manager, BMC Software
Location: Ireland

Some people focus too heavily on the selling part of social selling, but it is important to focus on the social part as well. True results are only as strong as your network. When you prospect, and see that your connections who can make referrals are people you don’t really know it’s time to reach out and suggest a conversation to get to know each other better.

Beth Granger
LinkedIn Consultant, Idea Generator
Location: New York City, USA

LinkedIn Expert Touts Understanding Clients & Prospects

Spend more time really understanding your clients and prospects. I’m often struck by how many salespeople know very little about their prospects. Specifically, this means understanding what motivates them? What frustrates them, worries them, excites them? What content do they read? What sort of posts are they liking, sharing or commenting on?

Turn up. By this I mean don’t just be a passive member of a social media community or someone that only ever contacts people privately. Become more active – Post regularly, engage with others content (not just prospects/customers), write articles and be seen on the homepage of your followers every day.

– Mark Williams
LinkedIn Trainer, Social Selling Speaker
Location: United Kingdom

Mark WilliamsYour homepage feed is one of the most important features on LinkedIn but how many times have you scrolled through it and found nothing to comment on, nothing to share? Until you get your home page in order, it’s hard for the algorithm to give positive feedback when 90% of what you see is rubbish. It will just keep showing you the rubbish until you tell it that you want things to change.

– Mark Williams

Social Selling Innovator – Pay Attention to Existing Customers

Pay as much attention to existing customers as prospecting for new ones. According to Gartner, the research consultancy, “65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.”

The second recommendation is simple: ask more questions. Asking good questions promotes engagement, builds relationships and gives deeper insights into a customer or prospect’s needs. Because of the Internet, buyers are much better informed, but social sellers equally have access to information such as a buyer’s LinkedIn profile which provides background and a rich source of question material.

– Greg Cooper
LinkedIn Consultant
Location: Bristol, UK

25 Social Selling Experts Reveal What’s Required to Succeed in 2018

 

If you’re on LinkedIn and not active, why are you there?

– Digital Leadership Associates

 

Project the same personal brand you do in a face to face environment in the digital one. Your digital presence must reflect who you are. Typically, this will start with your LinkedIn profile. In this social era, your first impression is more than likely to be online before it is face to face. So, make it count.

Without an active network, you have nowhere for your personal brand to move through. You are selling through your network, not to your network. Therefore, your network needs to be relevant – e.g. connecting with your clients, prospects & influencers. You then need to think about how you will activate your network with relevant & timely content which will elevate you above the competition as a subject matter expert in your industry.

– Alexander Low
Director of Social Selling
Digital Leadership Associates
Location: London, UK

LinkedIn Trainer: Go Video

If you aren’t using video as part of your social selling, 2018 is the time. We are naturally drawn to video and it can be personalized and specific. If you aren’t comfortable being on camera, then

do a screen capture or image with your voice. If you aren’t comfortable with live video, then prepare it ahead of time and upload it.

– Beth Granger
LinkedIn Consultant, Idea Generator
Location: New York City, USA

LinkedIn has added the ability to upload video on mobile and is rolling out the ability to have video on desktop. Video is so powerful. I urge you to use it here, and on other platforms as well.

– Beth Granger

Social Selling Lead says “Commit to Video”

Truly begin to embrace mobile and video. By 2020, millennials (‘Generation Y’ b. 1981-1999) will form 50% of the global workforce. These are the folks who have grown up with a mobile device pretty much glued to their hands; they spend most of their waking hours on these devices communicating via social networks using video and images. With 2020, just two years away social sellers need to really start to embrace mobile and using video/image messaging as a big change is coming when it comes to engagement!

– Paul Lewis
Global Social Marketing Manager & Social Selling Lead
Pitney Bowes (UK)
Location: London, UK

2018 is the year for social sellers to commit to video. Your prospective buyers are online researching and exploring. Videos are an excellent opportunity to inform, educate and entertain your prospects. Consider sharing video across the social spectrum.

– Sandra Long
Social Selling Instructor and Speaker
Author, LinkedIn for Personal Branding
Location: NYC, USA

Investing in real relationships never goes out of style. Especially in this age of digital overload, real friends and supportive colleagues shine through the clutter. In 2018, take your relationships to the next level by nurturing and supporting your network.

– Sandra Long

Social Selling in 2018

There must be a clear ROI (return on investment) on any social selling project and all companies must be able to connect activity on social media to revenue. Revenue, (not followers, SSI etc.) is the only measure that people should be reviewing when it comes to social media and social selling.

Also, 2018 is the year where people move from static social profiles to pro-active social profiles. Social selling is about using your social profiles in all aspects of the sales process, from demand generation (which is actually social marketing) to accelerating sales through the pipeline using social media.

– Tim Hughes
Co-Founder and Social Selling Innovator
Digital Leadership Associates
Location: United Kingdom

A truly staggering 52% of the world’s population uses social media regularly. This means that the old rationale of “my customers aren’t on social media” simply isn’t true anymore.

– Tim Hughes

Sales Strategist Says Update Your Profile

Make sure you “Hit Refresh” on your social profiles by ensuring they are updated to reflect what you can offer to your customers and not written like a resume. If you haven’t updated your social profiles in the past three months, ensure they have updated media to reflect the value you can bring to customers as well as be consistent in posting relevant content for your followers to consume.

Also, if you are using Sales Navigator and Twitter, ensure you are following all your target accounts and possible leads at those accounts. Take the opportunity to gain insights into what is being posted and engage when the time is right.

– Brian Galicia
WW Sales Leader (Sales Automation and LinkedIn), Microsoft
Location: Seattle, USA

 

The sales landscape is shifting, have you noticed? Systems and programs are changing to keep up with the evolution of sales. Are you prepared to adapt and pivot to change with it?

– @BrianGalicia

 

I have never wavered from my belief that social selling success begins with a clear strategy both individually and at the company level. Too many sellers jump in with no plan, no training and no idea what they are doing. They view social media as another channel to try and shortcut the selling process. Sending sales pitches to strangers via social only harms your brand and stalls your sales efforts.

– Barbara Giamanco
Social Centered Selling, Sales Strategist
Co-Author, The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media
Location: Atlanta, USA

93% of B2B companies say content marketing generates
more leads than traditional marketing strategies.

– Forbes

Be more strategic. Look at the long game and don’t get caught up in the minutia of digital. There are too many distractions from day to day as it is, so best to focus on the long-term goals and plans.

Also, create and use a digital workflow. We often get lost in what exactly we are supposed to do, for ourselves and our clients. Outlining a clear and concise digital workflow will help you navigate what is important, and what “bucket” to put it in, to get more done.

– Doyle Buehler
Digital Marketing, Social Selling Speaker & Senior Smarty Pants
Location: Sydney, Australia

Businesses that don’t transform how they operate in the online world will suffer and fail by not knowing how to create influence nor how to deliver their unique brand value to their audience

– Doyle Buehler

Social Is More Than Selling!

Don’t limit social to selling. Sales success comes from interweaving digital throughout the whole sales cycle and includes marketing and customer success. Let’s just put social throughout the organization.

Also, get outside of your comfort zone and challenge your assumptions – by learning something new every day.

– Lori Richardson
B2B Sales Growth Strategist
Score More Sales
Location: Boston, USA

It takes work to be mediocre, so why not excel instead? Never confuse activity with accomplishment. Most sales reps don’t follow up enough and don’t go where their buyer is, but where they are comfortable instead. This is the innovation economy, so INNOVATE. Stop doing the same thing for different results.

– Lori Richardson

 

Social Selling Often Means “Hang in There!”

From a personal view, the main recommendation is to hang in there. Social selling is not a quick fix or something you learn once and then just sit back and see the results roll in. I have been practicing social selling for several years and I still feel that I am a beginner in many ways. So, hanging in there for me means to stay alert to what is happening out there and adjust, test and measure continuously.

– Peter Meurling
LinkedIn Expert, Coach & Trainer
Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Learn by Trial & Error

In sales, as in any other part of life, we learn by trial and error. Never be afraid to own up to your mistakes and share your journey with those around you. Showing sincerity will increase trustworthiness and will help you establish yourself as a thought leader.

– Jochem Verberg
Digital Futurist, Social Selling Innovator
Co-Founder, Tricycle Europe
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

Go back to simple sales techniques, leverage them with your now empowered lead funnel. Building your network is an essential first step in the adoption of modern sales techniques as you establish your professional brand and enable buyers to find you.

– Jochem Verberg

 

Digital Transformation and Social Selling Skills

I’m seeing an explosion in interest for acquiring social selling skills at the moment and I’m expecting that 80% of business will – in some way or other – join the bandwagon in 2018. This is why – for 2018 – the biggest change salespeople that have not yet adopted social selling need to make is a mindset change.

For already active social sellers it’s a different matter. The contest for likes, comments and shares is no longer just for the early adopters. It is now full-on in the early majority phase. This is why already active social sellers can really step up their game and grow personal engagement by increasing the 1-on-1 interaction with valuable connections in their networks.

– Perry van Beek
LinkedIn Expert, Social Selling Expert
LinkedIn & Sales Navigator Trainer
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands

 

In the Netherlands alone, 15% of sales professionals have shared something on LinkedIn in the past 30 days.

– Perry van Beek

 

25 Social Selling Experts Reveal What’s Required to Succeed in 2018

SUMMING IT ALL UP …

Among the social selling experts interviewed for this article, there are several inescapable conclusions for those who want to succeed in social marketing in 2018:

1. Interaction along with building and nurturing relationships is key. No longer is it acceptable to connect with a potential client or customer on social media and immediately hit them with your sales pitch. In 2018, “go slow” is the key phrase to remember. Another thing I want you to remember is “slow down the sale to speed it up.” The sales dialogue needs to shift from ‘What can I sell you?’ to ‘How can I help you?’

That means investing time and energy into getting to know clients and potential clients and how to best serve them and meet their needs. “Prospects look for trust, authenticity and reliability before they make any decision for next steps,” Business Growth Strategist Steve Rayner reminds us. The old axiom that people buy from those they know and trust has never been truer than it is in 2018.

2. Video is more important than ever. As Global Social Marketing Manager Paul Lewis says, in just two short years, Millennials will make up half of the global workforce and they are the generation that has grown up with mobile devices and video. Because they are accustomed to communicating via social networks and video, social sellers need to begin embracing mobile and using video and image messaging to reach this generation.

“Your prospective buyers are online researching and exploring,” Social Selling Instructor Sandra Long says. “Videos are an excellent opportunity to inform, educate and entertain your prospects. Consider sharing video across the social spectrum.”

Social sellers who continue building and nurturing relationships through networking and personal contacts and who are willing to embrace video to get their message out will find continued success and growth in their businesses in 2018 and beyond.

A big thank you to all of the social selling experts who contributed to this article.

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