[I recently published these thoughts about social selling for a broad sales audience on the excellent Sales for Life website - and while we joke that ‘sales’ is still a dirty word in the legal landscape, everything I say here is what I would say to attorneys and their business development support teams interested in how to make social engagement part of business growth. Even if your conversations might sometimes take a slightly different form, the underlying strategy is the same: share meaningful content; interact with those connections who engage with you...]
I recently had the chance to present six sessions on social selling at a global sales kick off, and each session started with, “Let’s define social selling – what is it? Who can answer me?” If you were a betting person, you’d be wise to put your money on the answer being silence or courageous guesses. So, let’s break this down into the who, how, and why it’s worth your time.
Why should I share content on social media?
Sharing content is all about exposure. You want exposure for yourself as a thought leader, as someone who shares meaningful insights, and you also gain exposure for your company and the notable things it publishes or accomplishes.
Who sees the content that I share?
One of the most important components of your social selling strategy is to be connected with an audience with which you can engage and for your target market to be most of its structure.
This could be an entire article on its own, but for easy starters, do the basics of connecting with all your current colleagues, former colleagues, mentors, classmates and friends. Further, my team makes a habit of connecting with anyone we’ve had meaningful conversations with – discovery calls, demos, anyone that we’ve met at conferences, anyone who touches our deals on the client side, etc.
If you make a habit of doing this within 24 hours of speaking to those individuals, and of always including a custom note in the LinkedIn request – you will build a robust network in no time.
What kind of content should I be sharing?
This is the top question I get – what should I share and how should I share it? My mantra is to do a 50/50 split on sharing content that is related to the company I work for, and the other 50% goes to my own thoughts, articles I love, commenting on others’ posts or asks, or inspirational ideas that can benefit large groups of people.
Let’s start with your firm's content. Your marketing team likely does a solid job of putting out content – articles, upcoming webinars, infographics, press releases, videos, sponsorships of events, etc. – that’s a treasure trove of content to begin sharing. Popular services like HootSuite and Buffer all allow you to automate your shares and build a calendar of content so that it doesn’t require always being top of mind. Start there and schedule out promotional material so that you and your company get the benefit of this exposure.
...share the content that you consume and find meaningful.
Second, share the content that you consume and find meaningful. I try to allocate an hour every day to consuming content that educates me. I have an entire browser window dedicated to articles, TED Talks, HBR articles, etc. that I flag (much to the chagrin of every IT professional out there) so I can easily come back to them for review. Share these pieces with your professional audience – chances are they are just as interested in this content as you are and will like, comment on or even share your posts.
One key point on both types of shares is to always add your thoughts or messaging to the share. You’re far more likely to get engagement out of your audience if you share a piece of feedback as to why your share is smart or worth their time to consume. Use this as a chance to share how you think, why this was important to you and to showcase your intelligent insights. This is a key opportunity that allows you to build credibility with your audience.
Here’s an example of an easy way to share a post with your own thoughts:
Mine your “likes” and “comments”
And now for the final piece – the reason we do all of this in the end is to up our game of exposure and book more meetings that lead to more revenue.
As you continue to post, the volume of people that engage with your content will grow, as will the audience that sees your content. Each time anyone likes or comments on your post, a portion of their followers see that they recently interacted with a post, and will then see your content, which will then allow them to like or comment as well.
...I focus on my 2nd and 3rd connections as they are new for me, and thus new avenues with which to start conversations.
As this starts to happen, click on the number of people that liked your post and look through all those names. I do this daily and what I am most interested in are the 2nd and 3rd connections. My 1st aren’t as important to me because I already know these people; however not all of them have purchased from me yet, so I still make meaningful use out of their engagement.
With that said, I focus first on my 2nd and 3rds as they are new connections for me, and thus new avenues with which to start conversations.
So, here’s how I make use of those engagements and book meetings
I recently saw that a 2nd connection of mine liked my post about celebrating my five year work anniversary. I looked at his title and company, and saw that he was a senior director of sales for a technology company.
This piqued my interest as technology companies are one of my company’s top targets. I pulled up Salesforce and saw the company belonged to a rep on one of fellow VP’s teams, and that we hadn’t yet made headway in the account. After alerting the VP that I would reach out and see if I could make contact, I wrote this senior director a note.
The note was along the lines of thanking him for the engagement on LinkedIn, and noting that we’re both in sales and I see how our technology impacts my reps’ ability to sell, and I’m certain it could help him as well, so would he be open to meeting. I also leveraged that we had several connections in common (SMYKM, for those of you who follow what I constantly write and post about), which enhanced my chances of his reply. He replied in less than 12 hours, introduced us to their VP of Marketing, and we now have an opportunity that is 10K more than our ACV.
This isn’t a one-off win, but one recent success in a long line of wins. This is a rep and a leader on their best day, so imagine what could happen for you or at your own organization if even 20% or 30% of your sales team did this on an active and consistent basis. What kind pipeline and morale could you build as a result?
[Samantha McKenna is a Regional Vice President, Sales at ON24. Connect with her LinkedIn to learn how webinars can supercharge your firm's content efforts.]