How to Use Social Media in Your Consultative Sales Process

July 17, 2012


Social media’s continued growth indicates it has passed the “fad” stage and is now a fixture in the marketing landscape. Some B2B sales organizations have been slow to develop social marketing strategies, and rightfully suspect the call of some gurus to abandon traditional outbound sales tactics. While social marketing enjoys certain benefits over traditional outbound methods, a good flesh-and-blood sales staff that has gone through professional sales training is still the best way to procure prospects and turn them into paying customers.

That being said, social media marketing is an excellent way to increase branding efforts and procure those aforementioned prospects when used in a professional manner. Here are some tips to help B2B marketers leverage social media.

1. Develop an editorial calendar

Rather than just randomly posting things when they “have time,” salespeople seeking to leverage social media should set up an editorial calendar to guide the type of content to be published, when it will be released and on which platforms. This will keep things organized and tie in a salesperson’s efforts with company-wide campaigns to ride the momentum of such things as new product releases.

2. Cut the sales chatter

For salespeople with professional sales training experience in consultative selling, this tip should come as second nature. Social media is about providing value and building relationships. Think of it like a cocktail party: overtly pitching will turn people off. Add value with great information, and you will earn the right to ask for the business later on.

3. Leverage LinkedIn — but don’t be obnoxious

LinkedIn is the king of B2B social media due to its more professional tone and wide adoption among business people. Some best practices:

• Build a complete profile, including resume, professional photo, etc. While recruiters use LinkedIn to check out prospects, so do business owners and corporate buyers with whom you are trying to get an appointment. Paint a thorough picture for them.

• Join relevant industry groups and post great information regularly on discussion boards. This is key to becoming a Top Influencer on LinkedIn.

• Keep it more professional than other social media sites. This means refrain from arguing and stay away from controversial topics such as politics or religion.

Every modern professional sales training program should cover LinkedIn best practices — it is that important.

4. Curate content so you don’t have to write it all.

Content curation is not the same as simply republishing something verbatim. This not only violates the copyright of the creator, but demonstrates laziness. Instead, post a small excerpt from an interesting article, making relevant comments for your audience and linking to the original source.

Content curation on your own blog or social media profiles can help establish your thought leadership as someone “in the know” who follows and respects other experts in his field.

5. Clean up your online presence

When trying to establish a professional social media presence, it is important to properly manage anything which might affect the desired online reputation and clean up unwanted material.

This means deleting unused MySpace accounts, ranting blog posts or comments written a decade ago, inappropriate Facebook photos and anything else which not only no longer reflects who you are, but might also be embarrassing. The point is to try to keep your online search results consistent when people search for you — and avoid unflattering content from skewing your image.

Social media marketing should become part of every organization’s professional sales training. It is a very fluid, dynamic field that can provide new business in volume, but requires proactive management as existing platforms change and new ones come online.