The Art of Social Selling

Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Other Social Networks

The Art of Social Selling

Author: Shannon Belew
Pub Date: January 2014
Print Edition: $19.95
Print ISBN: 9780814433324
Page Count: 272
Format: Paper or Softback
e-Book ISBN: 9780814433331

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There are many possible reasons why you may be reading this book. Most

likely, it's because you're a sales or marketing professional who has

some level of responsibility for generating leads, closing sales, and

creating revenue in your organization, and you're constantly under

pressure to identify new strategies for delivering the goods. Perhaps

someone suggested turning to social media as a lead source. Perhaps

you've heard peers and industry leaders tout the benefits of this new

thing called "social selling." Or perhaps you're an influencer within

your organization who already understands the value of social

prospecting and need a resource to help develop a business case for

integrating social media into your current sales and marketing process.

No matter why you've picked up this book, the truth of the matter is

simple: Social selling is a strategy that every B2B and B2C sales and

marketing professional must understand in order to increase his or her

effectiveness and remain competitive in today's global marketplace.

It's a bold statement to imply that your continued value as a

salesperson or a marketer hinges on successfully incorporating social

media into your sales process. In reality, the decision not to adopt a

social selling strategy is not a game ender; you'll certainly continue

to generate leads and make sales. But you've got to wonder if what

you're doing now is enough to not only sustain but grow revenues for

your organization. Are you generating enough new leads? Are they high

quality enough to continue building your sales pipeline? Can you close

enough sales and do so soon enough to make quota? Consider that, on

average, only 43 percent of sales professionals make their quota,

according to a study from the Aberdeen Group. The same study indicated

that you're much more likely (79 percent more likely, to be exact!) to

hit your sales target if you're using social selling in your sales

process compared to your peers who are not using it. Even so, some of

you may still be skeptical of its value. After all, whether you've just

begun your career or you are a veteran within your industry, you've most

likely experienced some wins using traditional sales and marketing

techniques. Why change now?

Think of social selling as a numbers game. Take a look at the following


----Without social selling, 40 percent of sales teams make less than 80

percent of quota, on average. (Based on accumulated data from Xactly, a

sales compensation management company.)

----Salespeople using social media exceeded sales quotas 23 percent more

often than peers not using social media. ("Social Media and Sales Quota:

The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue," by Jim

Keenan and Barbara Giamanco, 2013.)

----In B2B organizations using social selling, 21 percent more sales

reps met sales quota and 31 percent more sales teams achieved quota.

(Research Brief: "Social Selling: Leveraging the Power of User Generated

Content to Optimize Sales Results," published by Aberdeen Group,

February 2012; distributed on SlideShare.)

----67 percent of B2C companies surveyed use Facebook to generate leads,

and 43 percent say they get leads from Twitter. ("State of Digital

Marketing 2012 Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----39 percent of B2C companies receive sales from Facebook and 19

percent land sales from Twitter ("State of Digital Marketing 2012

Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----44 percent of B2B companies turn to LinkedIn to generate leads with

23 percent of B2B companies gaining sales from LinkedIn. ("State of

Digital Marketing 2012 Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----60 percent of best-in-class companies train salespeople in how to

engage in online conversations with prospects and customers compared to

only 19 percent of laggard companies. (Research Brief: "Social Selling:

Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content to Optimize Sales

Results," published by Aberdeen Group, February 2012; distributed on


----Best-in-class companies are three times more likely to identify and

utilize external social influencers to support the sales process

compared to laggard companies. (Research Brief: "Social Selling:

Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content to Optimize Sales

Results," published by Aberdeen Group, February 2012; distributed on


Percentages like those above favoring social selling didn't happen

overnight. While I can't pinpoint an exact date that organizations first

realized their prospects and customers were on Facebook, Twitter,

LinkedIn, and other social networking sites, you have to understand that

social media has been in existence for barely a decade. Some of today's

most successful social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, first made

their debuts in the very early part of the twenty-first century, while

others, like Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, have been around for only

a few years and yet are boasting record-setting numbers of new users.

Somewhere along the way, people transitioned from using social media

merely as a way to commemorate small milestones of their daily lives to

using it as a medium for communicating meaningful ideas, building

important business relationships, researching products and services, and

interacting with brands in a very personal way. It's often said that at

some point during the social media transition period, the power shifted

from the brand to the consumer. From a marketing perspective, this means

that brands could no longer send one-way messages to consumers in the

form of advertising and think that would be enough. Instead, customers

began talking back to brands through social media channels. Marketing

has become a two-way conversation with the customer.

For sales, the transition to social media's use has been equally

startling. Prospective customers no longer come into an organization's

sales process at the top of the funnel, seeking general information or

awareness of your brand, and wait for the salesperson to guide them

through the company's buying process. Instead, prospects are defining

the buying process. They're using social media to compare their

purchasing options; they're turning to their personal and professional

online networks to research products and brands before they even talk to

a salesperson; and they're listening to what other customers say about

those products and brands.

By the time a prospect finally enters your line of vision, they're most

likely entering midway (or further!) through the buying process. They've

already done their fact finding, narrowed their buying decision to just

a few options, and most likely already established a relationship with

the brand. As a salesperson, your opportunity to influence the sale is

minimized. And should you and your organization not make a prospect's

cut for consideration, your ability to compete for the deal is unlikely

at best. At the very least, the social-media--savvy consumer has made

the sales process an uphill battle, putting you somewhat at a

disadvantage, particularly if you have not participated in the online


So how do you navigate the changing sales landscape? Adopting a social

selling strategy is the first step to making sure you remain on the map.

But it's more than merely getting on Facebook or Twitter and posting

your company brochures. I'm going to give away the entire secret of

social selling success right here in the introduction, without you

having to read the first chapter! The Art of Social Selling is based

entirely on your ability to build relationships. It just happens that

those relationships are made and developed virtually through social

networking sites, blogs, and online communities. Social selling is just

another tool for you to use--it's an extension of the traditional sales

process that you've already mastered.

If I had to offer one reason why sales and marketing leaders are slow to

adopt social selling within their organizations, it's because they've

misunderstood it. Often, it's assumed that your organization must

completely change to implement an entirely new sales process. But social

selling is an extension of what sales and marketing teams are already

doing, and integrating it becomes a matter of tweaking procedures and

learning how to have persuasive conversations through social media

instead of exclusively through the phone, email, or face-to-face

meetings. Adopting a social selling strategy is really no different than

the changes you make when incorporating any other modern sales tool.

In this book, I provide you with the resources you need to start

building toward social selling success. If you're new to social media,

don't worry. I'll help you understand key terms and give you a

sufficient overview of the various social networking sites so that you

can understand how to implement the principles and basic strategies I'll

be sharing with you. Of course, you've got to go into this process

acknowledging that mastering social selling takes time and persistence.

So, be patient, but be diligent, and it will pay off!

As you begin building your social strategy, there's another important

point to keep in mind. The only thing constant about social media is

that it continually changes. New social media platforms and applications

emerge, while existing social networking sites evolve to reach new and

sometimes different target audiences. Likewise, the features and tools

that are prominent on social networking sites today may be removed,

modified, or replaced with different features tomorrow. One of the most

challenging aspects of writing a book about social media is keeping pace

with all of the new and improved features and sites that are continually

being introduced. It's nearly an impossible task. However, I think it's

important that you, as a reader, have continued access to any critical

changes or updates to the social selling process. For this reason, I'm

offering you a way to keep up with the most important changes through my

website, There, you can gain exclusive

access to social selling updates and additional content (including some

content that didn't make it into the book). Once on the website, look

for the tab "Exclusive Content" and then enter the password: socialone.

It's that simple!

Oh, there's just one more thing before you begin reading. As I

mentioned, everything about social selling revolves around the

relationship between you and your future customer. For that reason, it

would be unfortunate if I didn't begin this book with an invitation for

you to connect with me! Here are the ways you and I can start to get to

know one another and for you to join the conversation:





If you have any questions or comments about the book, or simply want to

engage as a sales or marketing professional, I look forward to hearing

from you!

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