The Big Picture: Sales Development on Social

Published June 5, 2020

How many ingenuine, out-of-touch sales messages do you receive on social every week?

Here are direct quotes from just a few of the many in my LinkedIn inbox:

“I definitely think our business could benefit from each other and I’d love to have a chat”

“In case you’re aspiring to take the next step up in your career, so I wanted to send you something that can be a big help”

“Thanks for connecting & your interest in our event” (Wasn’t interest, just connected)

“I would love to hear more about your biz dev, do you do outreach to companies?”

“There might be some opportunities for us to work together. We are an excellent solution for…”

Despite recent clapback from the community against these selfish, unsolicited pitches on social, it’s unfortunately still a very prevalent approach in the B2B world.

Why?

Because social is a different context from direct selling with cold calls or emails. Yet many sellers don’t recognize the difference.

Many personal and professional benefits exist for social users, but it takes the right best practices to create positive experiences for those in the community.

To use social networks correctly, SDRs need to understand how to navigate information, relationships, content, and conversations within this unique digital environment.

Here’s a breakdown of the 4 key elements behind using social as a sales professional.

Market Knowledge

At the core, social is a digital highway of information exchange. LinkedIn profiles, company pages, posts & activities, targeted groups, and more.

Every time a qualified account or prospect interacts on social, they provide invaluable insights on their priorities, personality, goals, interests, and challenges.

An SDR has to balance their level of personalization & preparation for conversations with the amount of time it takes to research that information.

With social, reps can get real-time intelligence on key stakeholders while gaining access to a reservoir of contextual data like previous experience, connections, and new team members.

Audience Development

Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook are massive communities with an unending flow of content, so they have to manage how audiences grow & optimize how content is distributed.

A one-to-many environment is not the best place for direct sales outreach, but it’s an excellent stage to build personal brand and attract people that care about targeted topics.

In contrast to social selling, audience development is about finding your tribe, sharing value with the community, and building authority within your industry.

Rather than generating sales opportunities through high-volume, direct sales touches, social is about the long game: growing and building trust with a targeted community to improve performance on outbound-focused channels like phone, email, direct mail, etc.

Networking Relationships

Relationships are at the core of sales.

One great, authentic connection with someone in your professional network can generate future learning, referrals, testimonials, partnership collaborations, and even career opportunities.

However, your momentum with new relationships on social media can plummet if you’re sending automated, sales-focused messaging to everyone you find.

Not only does this messaging disrupt your ability to create one-on-one relationships, it can also degrade your reputation within the targeted communities you care about most.

Instead of a cold pitch message to everyone you come across, imagine the momentum you could create by building long-term relationships and creating positive experiences.

Social Influence

At the end of the day, social in the context of sales development is about influence.

SDRs can use market knowledge, audience, and relationships on social to influence the thoughts and decisions of qualified buyers, both inside or outside of their network.

The ability to influence on social is the difference between powerful thought leaders and the mass majority of B2B sellers that aren’t seeing success.

Are you staying up-to-date on topics & changes in your space?

Are you creating value for and connecting with the audience you want to grow?

Are you building memorable, lasting relationships with your network?

When the focus shifts away from “social selling” to social influence, you separate yourself from the overwhelming number of people that fill inboxes every day.

Conclusion

In the grand scheme of a sales development playbook, social is still a relatively new channel.

As more social users push back against direct sales on social, the mass, generic messaging approach will become less effective and more damaging to your future online reputation.

However, a growing number of sales leaders, managers, and reps are providing massive value to the community on social, creating opportunities for their business without the need to pitch.

With the right mindset behind how to leverage social networks within your sales development process, you can unlock new ways to connect with buyers and create opportunities.

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