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Should salespeople use social media?

March 12, 2015

A new study reports that only 31% of salespeople make social media a part of their sales process. That means that 69% aren’t networking online in order to create prospects and opportunities. So, should salespeople use social media for prospecting and lead generation?

Be part of the conversation

Not being active on social media effectively means excluding yourself from the primary place where people communicate and find help, insight and advice. Perhaps the reason more salespeople aren’t using social media is a lack of understanding as to what it is and how to use it. One way to understand it is as a place for networking.

And listen to what people are talking about

Social media is a place where you have an opportunity to listen to what potential prospects think. What questions do they ask? How do they frame their problems and needs? What topics come up again and again?

1. Build relationships with potential customers

This is a straightforward way to take your sales process into social media. Follow people in your industry. Start with existing customers, add some influencers and commentators and then look for prospects and people you’d like to talk to.

Keep your focus tight and don’t follow people for the sake of it. Keep the noise to a minimum so you can listen to what’s going on and find the hashtags (topics) that are being referenced.

To begin with, just listen and lurk around the discussions. You’ll get an idea of who the power players are and what topics get most interest. As you build your confidence, you can start to take part and offer insight and experience.

2. Use the social networks that work for you

Pick the social media platforms – or platform – that is most relevant to your business. LinkedIn and Twitter are usually a good place to start for B2B – but that might not be the case in your sector. There might even be a professional forum that serves your purpose.

3. Seek and join groups, communities and #chats

Within each social network there tends to be a way of focusing the discussion. On LinkedIn there are groups, on Twitter there are hashtags. Learn where the action is and then focus in on the most active and relevant channels.

4. Use alerts and monitoring

Having a tool – such as Hootsuite or Hubspot – to help you follow activity and monitor specific conversations will become essential. It will ensure you don’t miss out on opportunities to join the most relevant and interesting conversations.

5. Be patient

I find it’s not always easy telling clients to be patient but in social media it’s essential. The keys are to listen and learn. Understand the space and how people interact.

If you ever doubt this wisdom, think about the ‘real world’. How do people generally feel about someone who interrupts their conversation just to talk about themselves?

When you find an opportunity to share your knowledge or comment, don’t race straight to pitch and close. Offer help and the benefit of your experience and, by all means, invite them to check out some interesting content on your website.

6. Ask your marketing team for killer content

In order to progress the conversation and nurture them into leads, make sure your company website is stocked full of blogs, guides and papers that help your prospects. Ideally, your marketing team or inbound marketing consultant will give you enticing headlines, easily digestible blogs and killer white papers – all with impactful visuals ready for sharing on social media.

When the time is right, introduce links to content into your posts or reference them when discussing specifics. If they’ve been set up correctly, the best, most valuable content will be on landing pages with lead capture forms. When and if the time is right, prospects will see there’s something of value and share their details with you, ready to start a proper conversation. Ready to become a lead.

To discuss how to add social media and inbound marketing to your sales activity, contact Why Digital today.

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