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Social media is more than a marketing tool — platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest can amplify your sales team’s performance.

According to a report from Aberdeen Research Group, sales reps who have leveraged social selling in their sales process are 79% more likely to attain their quotas than those who don’t use social selling in their sales process. The industry average for sales reps meeting their quotas? It’s only 43 percent.

Team members using social media also consistently outsell their peers. More than 40% of salespeople said they’ve closed between two and five deals as a result of social media and more than 10% of the respondents said; “Yes, It directly contributes to my closes.”

An effective social selling program requires planning and clear communication. Sales reps need to feel empowered with a process that is repeatable, scalable and measurable — a true growth driver for your marketing and sales funnel. Here are some ideas to help you — and your fellow sales reps navigate the social selling ecosystem.

Idea #1: Harness Twitter for Tough Intros

Having trouble reaching a key contact via LinkedIn or email? It happens to the best sales reps — but you don’t need to let the contact fall through.

Twitter is much more than a consumer networking tool — it’s a B2B networking goldmine.

The biggest reason why prospects ignore your emails is that they’re busy. Twitter simplifies communication into short, swift interactions. A tweet can help you break through communication barriers to establish that initial point of contact and direct connection.

Idea #2: Create Twitter Lists

The biggest challenge with Twitter is that it’s challenging to keep track of every single potential contact. Twitter lists can help you streamline information about contacts — to organize details about potentially interesting people.

You can also subscribe to lists to monitor conversations in fields that interest you. You don’t need to be an active Tweeter — rather, listen between the lines and pay attention to trending topics. For example, here’s a great Twitter list of sales experts that was curated by @billrice.

Idea #3: Tap Into Question and Answer (Q&A) Engines

Questions drive content on the Internet. Next time you’re using your favorite search engine, take a step back to ask yourself why.

You’re likely looking for a specific piece of information or seeking an answer to a question.

Q&A engines can help you answer questions in a way that reaches ‘askers’ at scale. Two networks to scour include Quora and Clarity Answers.

As a tip — don’t spend your time answering anything and everything. Instead, focus on the questions that are likely to yield the highest impact. Quora, for instance, will tell you how many people are waiting for an answer. Clarity Answers sends a 1:1 email alert to the person who posted the question.

Idea #4: Read & Blog as Much As You Can

Blogging is the ultimate community-builder. The more you read, the more you’ll learn about your prospects — you can even cite these individuals in your company’s own marketing materials.

Use blogging to spark conversations. Have you read something interesting about somebody? Reach out to that person. Are you looking you learn more about a prospect? Consider interviewing him or her for a blog post.

Blogging is a great way to spark conversations while adding human-to-human value. You’ll never cold-pitch a prospect again.

Idea #5: Embrace the Ecosystem

Consume as much content as you can. Familiarize yourself with your company’s marketing materials. These resources will quickly become your social selling arsenal.

Social media conversations are organic, and you’ll need to contribute talking points on the fly. As a sales rep, you’re probably well-prepared to jump into any conversation. With content, you’ll be able to amplify the reach of your messaging while always delivering tangible value to your audience.

With content, you’ll always have something to ‘give’ — a valuable resource that enables your customers and prospects to learn and grow.

Final Thoughts: Stay Nimble

Agility is the key ingredient for success in social selling. A clear-cut process will only stifle your growth potential. You need to feel free to act swiftly — with agility. Let conversations evolve naturally, and never — ever — feel pressured to force a sale. Embrace multiple channels, be personable, and always look for creative ways to spark conversations. That’s the heart of social selling.

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