The Right and Wrong Way to Deploy Social Selling

The Right and Wrong Way to Deploy Social Selling

If you are like many B2B companies, you tried using social media to generate more prospects and clients – but with little success.

Many people think social selling is about pitching. Nothing can be further from the truth.

Social selling done right does generate sales, but it is not about selling at all.

Social selling is the process of actively engaging prospects, building relationships with them, establishing trust, and then ultimately moving them into the buying process.

In fact, social selling can be a powerful addition to your sales strategy, producing impressive results.

Consider the following statistics:

Social selling statistics

Social Selling, Digital Sales, Digital Selling – Oh My!

The term digital transformation is used a lot these days. The same goes for other related terms, such as social selling, digital selling, digital sales, employee advocacy, sales enablement, etc.

Many digital tools and processes exist to help you find and connect with prospects. Regardless of which tool you employ, social selling comes down to educating and building relationships with prospects on the platform(s) they use.

We know the effectiveness of cold calls and impersonal emails has decreased substantially. On average, two hundred emails flood your prospect’s inbox every day – most of them unwanted.

While many businesses have a hard time reaching their target markets using traditional methods, social selling continues to grow.

Research shows 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level or senior-level executives use social media to make purchasing decisions on platforms such as LinkedIn. They use these platforms to research and exchange information on vendors and their products or services.

In fact, 74% of today’s B2B buyers conduct more than half of their research online before making a purchase.

Whether we like it or not, social selling is happening in every industry all over the globe. Today, any company desiring success incorporates a social selling strategy into its overall sales and marketing strategy. To become part of the success statistics of social selling, you need to deploy your social selling strategy the right way.

In this article, I share the mistakes B2B businesses, brands and sales professionals make when deploying social selling – and what to do instead.

10 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Deploying Social Selling and What to Do Instead

Don't make these 10 mistakes when deploying your social selling strategy.

1. Not setting goals or having a strategy

Social selling is a waste of time if you don’t set goals. Without clear goals and metrics to measure them, your actions will be random. Random actions produce random results. 

What to do instead:

Determine your social selling goals. Your goals will dictate your social selling strategy. Describe them in specific terms so that you can measure them and see when you achieve them.  

Your social selling goals should align closely with your company’s goals. Identify the goals outlined in your business plan that can be achieved through social selling.

If you don’t have access to the company business plan, think of the general goals important to your company, for example:

  • increase sales and revenue
  • increase brand awareness
  • establish your authority on your topic – become an influencer
  • build a loyal community and followership
  • attract more leads and buyers
  • build relationships with new buyers
  • maintain and improve relationships with existing buyers
  • improve customer service and retention

2. Not taking the time to research

Not researching your prospects prior to engaging with them will handicap your social selling strategy.

Successful social sellers know they must build relationships with their prospects. You can’t build relationships with people if you don’t know anything about them. To initiate contact without knowing anything about your prospect is futile and wasteful.

What to do instead:

You must find out as much as possible about your prospects. Let’s face it: not all clients are created equal. You want to focus your energy on the potential clients who are the best fit for your product or service, to whom you can offer value and who would most benefit from your offer.

To market to your ideal clients, you need to know your target market really, really well. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • What is the typical language of their business, industry or organization?
  • What kinds of challenges do they face?

When doing your research, think about the conversations you’ve had with prospects and past and current clients. Answering the following questions will give you insight into their challenges:

  • What is the specific problem they are facing?
  • How is that problem impacting their life, job or business?
  • What is the worst-case scenario they face and what will they lose if they don’t get that problem solved?
  • What has stopped them from finding a solution sooner?
  • How do they specifically describe their problem (in their language)?

3. Using the wrong platforms or channels

While you may want to become ubiquitous on social media, it is a mistake to try to be everywhere, unless your company has a very large budget.

Even with a large budget, it doesn’t make sense to be on social platforms your ideal clients don’t use. Such a blanket approach is a huge waste of time and resources and is not usually sustainable.

What to do instead:

Choose the right platforms based on your research. Once you research your ideal clients, you will know what social platforms they use personally and professionally. Deploy your social selling efforts specifically on those platforms to avoid wasting your time and resources.

For B2B social selling, use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the most used digital platform by professionals and decision-makers. It provides ungated access to professionals from all over the globe as well as leaders of every Fortune 1000 company.

The most significant social selling successes have been achieved using LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. Statistics show LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter.

And that’s with the majority of people using LinkedIn ineffectively. Very few LinkedIn users are effective at building relationships with their prospects. Most lead with their sales pitches. That doesn’t work. That kills rather than builds relationships on LinkedIn or any other platform.

4. Treating your LinkedIn profile as a resume

Using your resume as a substitute for a client-centric LinkedIn profile won’t help your social selling efforts.

Unless you are job hunting, your LinkedIn profile should be 100% client-focused. Not to mention, no social selling will take place if decision-makers are not accepting your connection requests because they are turned off by your LinkedIn profile.

What to do instead:

Create a professional and client-centric LinkedIn profile. A well-optimized profile:

  • attracts leads and clients organically
  • enhances your professional reputation
  • builds your credibility and authority
  • establishes trust much faster
  • facilitates relationships with decision-makers
  • stands out and leaves a lasting impression

Instead of making your LinkedIn profile all about you, show your prospects you understand their problems and speak their language. Demonstrating your expertise on your subject will help them see you as a possible solution for them.

To speak the language of your prospects, research them first (point #2 in this article). Use the gathered information to create a compelling, client-centric profile that will have decision-makers clicking Accept in response to your connection requests.

5. Being a sales pitcher

Don’t ever start your communication with prospects with a sales pitch. No one likes a sales pitcher.

Attempting to sell to your new connection will kill a potential relationship faster than you can say hello. If your new prospect accepts your LinkedIn connection request and your next move is to send them a sales pitch, you risk getting yourself removed as a connection, reported for spam or ignored. None of those options are good if you want to see results from social selling.

What to do instead:

Go slow; build rapport; and start a dialogue. Don’t ask for too much too soon. And, yes, a phone call or meeting is too much to ask for in the first message! Before you can move your conversation with a prospect offline, you must build rapport and develop some trust first.

I share a highly effective rapport-building process called The LINK Method™ in my book LinkedIn Unlocked. The process consists of five steps:

  1. Find your targeted prospects.
  2. Send a personalized connection request – make it about them, not you.
  3. Build rapport – start a dialogue about them, and keep it simple.
  4. Add value – educate them on a relevant or important to them topic .
  5. Request an offline conversation – show them how they will benefit from the time spent with you.

I have taught this process to organizations large and small across the globe. With the right messaging, every one of them went from being mostly ignored to seeing exponential increases in response rates.

As I mentioned in point #4, before you start reaching out to decision-makers, you must optimize your profile to ensure your prospects accept your connection requests.

6. Not personalizing all outreach

The fastest way to turn off a prospect is through impersonal messages.

The LINK Method™ I outlined in point #5 only works when every single message in that process is personalized. As soon as a prospect feels you are treating them as another faceless contact in your network, your social selling will come to a grinding halt!

What to do instead:

If you want to deploy social selling successfully, you must make your prospects feel respected and important by personalizing your outreach. Anything less than this will render you and your business irrelevant to them. Instantly.

Well-researched personalization is especially critical in your first message – the LinkedIn connection request – if you want your new contact to click Accept. In a couple of sentences, you must give them a compelling reason why they should accept your connection request. And the reason you give them must be framed from their perspective, not yours.

Personalize each and every single message you send after that.

7. Asking for favors/introductions too soon

Asking for something from your leads or prospects, whether it is an introduction or another favor – before you build a solid relationship with them – is another huge mistake you can make in your social selling journey.

What to do instead:

You definitely want to leverage warm introductions, but you will be successful in this endeavour only if you ask people who know, like and trust you.

When you establish relationships with people, especially those to whom you have added value in some way, you can comfortably ask for introductions. People are much more likely to do a favor for someone who has done something for them, reflecting the social concept known as reciprocity.

8. Not sharing valuable content

Not providing value to your network will not yield any meaningful results from your social selling efforts on LinkedIn. If your prospects don’t get to know you and don’t think of you when they search for solutions to their problems, they won’t turn to you for help.

If you aren’t providing helpful content to educate and provide insights to your prospects and clients, someone else is – most likely your competitors. Your leads will take the path of least resistance and choose the company that has been helping them along their buying journeys, leaving you in the dust.

What to do instead:

Share content highly relevant to your target market, but do it in a way that inspires action.

As you build a network of leads, prospects and clients, stay on their radar. Many of them may not need what you offer right now but will in six or 12 months from now. Others may not pay attention to you until they see you sharing valuable content in their newsfeeds.

Further, consistently sharing high-value content, helping your prospects overcome a problem or challenge, establishes your authority on the topic. Your prospects will be more likely to think of you when they are ready to make a buying decision.

9. Not being consistent

It is a critical error not to be consistent with all your social selling activities. Irregular social selling actions will produce unpredictable and unreliable results.

What to do instead:

Whether you are building relationships face-to-face or online, consistency is vital to building long-lasting, profitable business relationships. 

Trust and credibility are by-products of consistency. To build and maintain your trustworthiness and credibility, remain consistent with your:

  • branding
  • messaging
  • outreach
  • content
  • social listening

10. Not measuring results

If you don’t measure the results of your social selling efforts, you waste a large amount of time and resources. If you don’t know how you are performing, how do you know what to do next?

Quite simply, you can’t improve what you don’t measure.

What to do instead:

If something isn’t working, and it’s wasting your time and resources, wouldn’t you want to know about it so you can fix it?

You must know what metrics you’ll use to track each of your goals, how you will measure that metric, how often you will measure it, and how you will adjust your strategy when needed.

By incorporating metric tracking right into your social selling plan, you will be setting yourself up for long-term success.

Deploy social selling the right way

Every top sales person I know understands the importance of relationships in business success. When it comes to social selling, the biggest mistake you can make is focusing too much on the sale and not enough on the relationships you need to build to achieve those sales.

People buy from people they know, like and trust. The best social sellers build relationships with their prospects, turning them into clients by following the steps outlined in this article.

When I train an organization in social selling, I help its team master the four pillars of successful social selling:

  1. the right profile
  2. the right people
  3. the right messaging
  4. the right content.

Avoid making the ten social selling mistakes detailed above, implementing the right tactics instead. Your prospects will regard your efforts to help them solve their problems as genuine, and not as an attempt to get a quick sale out of them.

If you would like help with deploying social selling the right way, I would be happy to talk to you about how I and my team can help you achieve your goals. If you are a small business, click here to book a call. If you have a sales team, click here.

Get a free checklist to increase your LinkedIn Social Selling Index and attract more leads and clients. 

Along with the SSI checklist, you’ll get a list of free resources that will help you elevate your personal brand, attract clients on-demand and increase your visibility on LinkedIn.


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