Social selling is more about social than it is about selling. Think of it in terms of golf. The best golf players have one thing in common: They excel at getting closer to the target to minimize the number of putts. All of us will always be in difficult positions throughout a round of golf, but bringing the ball back on the fairway then onto the green is when you can really impact your score.  My drives still love the woods at times, but if I can hit the fairway most of the time 150 yards or fewer to the green… I’m gold.

Social selling is similar. Getting closer to the pin is about building trust with your targets. Your social selling score improves when you gain their trust in the fewest moves possible. I’ve asked engagement and technology expert Dominique Lahaix, the CEO of eCairn, to give us the top five ways sellers can best improve their social selling activities.

Dominique: Most sales reps are frustrated about social selling. They know it’s the way to go, but whatever content they push in social doesn’t seem to work. Social selling is actually quite simple if you forget the “selling” part and see that all you have to do is listen to people and engage in a conversation.

The recipe (as in real life) is focus, listen and help. Focus is key because you really want to build a relationship with people who matter.

As you start listening to your prospects, you realize they provide plenty of opportunities to engage. Here are my top five:

  1. Request help. Prospects are frequently looking for help. For example, a prospect says, “I’m looking for an office manager, a web designer, someone that has done x, y or z.” They also publicize their job openings. A reply like: “I may be able to help. Follow me and we can discuss in private,” will always open a discussion. The next step (trying to help) offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate your listening skills… and earn your network and score a few trust points.
  2. Talk about their content. If you’re in an industry where prospects write content (in B2B this is big), this one is critical. When a prospect writes an article, he/she not only invests a few hours of time but will have an undivided attention to whatever happens to the article in the following days. If you read and spend your time writing a well-articulated comment, you will get noticed and will earn the right to talk.
  3. Go to events. Prospects go to events, talk at events and organize events. These events are great avenues to leverage a social trigger for a “real life” meeting. The easiest way is to go to the event and use social to ask questions. When you get the chance to meet at the event, the question will come as a reminder that you already know each other. If they present, you’re back to No. 2. Ask for the material, and bingo. Also take opportunities to sponsor events where your prospect speaks.
  4. Send tweets that are emotional. A picture is worth 10,000 words. One prospect once tweeted that she overheard a girl in Central Park telling her boyfriend, “Someone with a dog as a phone background picture must be a good person.” The sales rep replied with a picture of his dog. Bold move. The prospect sent back a picture of her dog. They followed each other and started to discuss.
  5. Fix broken or outdated links. You can’t imagine how often people keep outdated links in their LinkedIn or Twitter profiles. By letting them know, you send a signal that you are interested in them. They surely will visit your profile back and, more often than not, you’ll get a call or meeting.

Yann: Thank you for bringing your hands-on experience with the Miller Heiman Group community. You can follow @Dominiq on twitter.

See you next time for No. 3 as part of the 18 Ways to Master the Game of Social Selling.

About the author: Yann Ropars is the vice president of digital marketing at Miller Heiman Group. Follow him on Twitter @YannR.

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