Did you know that 61% of sales representatives believe that selling is tougher than it was five years ago? You need to invest a lot of time and effort into finding prospects.

Even then, you may not find people who are interested. In fact, according to the previously cited study, 50% of initial prospects may not be a good fit. Agreed, getting more sales is not an easy task.

So, how do you drive sales?

According to Dean DeLisle, CEO and Founder of Forward Progress, the answer is social selling. Promotional advertisements are passe. If anything, they may come across as pushy.

Instead, your focus should be on building meaningful connections and growing your influence.

In this article, let’s take a look at what social selling is and how you can make the most out of it.

What is Social Selling?

Unlike cold calling, social selling doesn’t aim to disrupt or interrupt your prospect’s life. The aim of social selling is to build a rapport with your prospects using social media tools.

According to Dean, this is the definition of social selling:

“It’s (about) building trust in relationships with an intent to close more sales and move faster through the pipeline with whatever social or digital tools you need. Like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or whatever it is, wherever the audience you’re selling to hangs out.”

It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. It’s about knowing your audience and their preferences and catering to them. The key is to leverage social media tools to build connections and leverage relationships to get ahead professionally.

Social selling is not a hard-closing technique. It requires a lot of patience. You can’t expect to see immediate results with it. It’s like nurturing your leads.

You’ve got to be consistent with your efforts. It’s a tactic that is always ongoing, but there is no guarantee that you’ll get any tangible results out of it.

How Can You Leverage Social Selling for Your Business?

Now, you know what social selling is.

But how can you get started with it?

Here are some tips from Dean DeLisle:

1. Follow Your Audience On Social Media Channels

A big part of social selling is understanding your target audience. You need to understand their likes, dislikes, and interests.

But how can you do that?

Thankfully, we live in a digital world. So, it’s easy to figure out these preferences if you can follow them on social media channels.

So, the key is to find out which channels your audience likes to hang out on. LinkedIn is a natural fit for businesses as you can connect with professionals and find out what they do.

On the other hand, Twitter is great to find out more about your audience’s personal interests. By checking who people follow on Twitter, you can find out more about what interests them.

On Facebook and Instagram, you may get to see family interactions and holiday pictures.

You can start off with one social media platform and then figure out where they’re active and sharing the most content.

2. Leverage Social Media Listening Tools

Social media listening and monitoring tools enable you to monitor online conversations to check your brand mentions and relevant keywords. It’s great to keep track of your brand positioning.

But at the same time, you can leverage these tools to listen to your brand advocates and people you want to connect with.

To make the most out of these tools, you should make a list of the top ten brand advocates you have and then track them with these social listening tools.

Similarly, you can also leverage these tools to connect with influential people.

How?

If you’re looking to land a deal with Microsoft, for example, you need to connect with the person who influences their buying decisions.

With the help of social listening tools, you can find connections in their inner network and get to know more about their team.

Tools like Sprinklr and HubSpot can help you find out what’s important to them. In a nutshell, these tools can help you familiarize yourself with them even before you connect with them.

Additionally, you can also set up alerts to get notified if there is a potential sales opening. It can help you reach out to the right people at the right time.

If you get a notification that another business is looking to partner with a company in your niche, you should connect with them right away.

3. Use Advocacy Platforms

One of the most underrated strategies for business growth is employee advocacy. If you want to amplify your reach and boost your visibility, employee advocacy can do wonders for you.

Get your employees to share stories about their achievements, events, or even a normal day at work. Just let people know what your work culture is like.

By putting out more content, you can build more credibility in your niche. It can also drive brand awareness and engagement.

To leverage advocacy, Dean DeLisle suggests various tool, including:

  • GaggleAMP: This employee advocacy tool lets you segment the content that you send to different groups. To incentivize employees, you can also leverage its gamification feature which allows employees to win rewards for their actions.
  • LinkedIn Elevate:  If your preferred social media channel is LinkedIn, this tool is your go-to resource. Using this tool, you can share quality content and make sure it’s reaching your network at the optimal time.
  • LinkedIn Navigator: This sales tool helps you target the right people, engage with prospects, and nurture them. It also provides customized lead recommendations for every business.

4. Ask For Referrals

Your aim should be to reach a level of trust where people can count on you. If they are working with you, they should be assured that you’ll provide value for them. Once you establish that level of trust, don’t shy away from asking for referrals.

How?

Politely ask them if they know anyone who might be interested in your work.

If you’ve already found someone you’d like to get introduced to, politely ask them if they can help you out.

It’s a simple tactic that can go a long way in growing your social influence.

Conclusion

Let’s be honest: cold calling won’t get you very far anymore.

If you want to drive sales, you need to nurture your leads. Social selling allows you to build meaningful relationships with your prospects by engaging them.

To succeed with social selling, you should leverage social media listening and employee advocacy tools. They can help you understand your audience and get more visibility. To expand your influence, you should also ask for referrals.

Do you have any questions about social selling?

Please share them in the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer them!

Shane Barker is a digital marketing consultant who specializes in influencer marketing, product launches, sales funnels, targeted traffic, and website conversions. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, influencers with digital products, and a number of A-List celebrities.