There’s a lot of conversation right now about social selling and how salespeople need to embrace this “new rule of selling”. Except, social selling isn’t really selling. It’s marketing. Social selling is salespeople using social media to directly interact with their prospects. Essentially, it’s marketing for salespeople.

By now your marketing and sales teams should be working very closely together (and may even have the same Vice President overseeing one “sales and marketing” department). Hopefully your regular meetings are collaborative and helpful to the whole team. But if your marketing department hasn’t had a chance to brief you on some of the marketing that the sales team should be doing as well (aka, “social selling”), here are five marketing tips for salespeople:

1. Learn How To Use Social Media
Get established on the same social channels as your audience: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Youtube, Instagram. Don’t feel like you have to sign up for every one unless your prospects are genuinely there. Get a feel for the discussions, groups, and content that is being posted, shared, and liked. Before you post anything remember that most companies have social media policies that outline what is appropriate for employees to share, so be sure to understand your company’s policy first.

2. Create a Personal, Professional Brand
This is not the opportunity for you to share cute pictures of your dogs and kids, or to rant about how bad the traffic is. Your presence on these social sites should reflect who you are as a professional as well as represent your company. In other words, keep your personal profiles separate from your professional profiles. Use the same avatar (hopefully a professional headshot) for all social media sites to make it easier for your prospects and peers to identify you. In the areas of your profile designated for a caption, use a descriptive statement rather than just your title. For example, mine is “Accelerating Sales Velocity Through Strategic Marketing Programs” rather than “Director of Marketing”.

3. Contribute and Distribute Content
Social media is meant to be, well, social. That means you want to participate in conversations and share ideas. This isn’t the place for hardcore self-promotion. Although it’s completely appropriate to share your company’s current promotion, you want to stick to the 80/20 rule and keep that in the 20%. If you want people to follow and engage with you, be a source of information by sharing industry news and trends, articles and blog posts. Some of them should come from your company, but not all of them. Work with your marketing team to find out if there are free assets (ebooks, checklists, guides) that are appropriate for you to share.

4. Nurture Your Leads
Hopefully you’ve heard your marketing counterparts talk about lead nurturing. Lead Nurturing is the process of providing informational content to your sales leads before they’re ready to buy. This is different from distributing content in social media, as referenced above, since in that case you’re distributing a broad range of information to all prospects in the hopes of finding the qualified sales leads. Once someone has been identified as a qualified sales lead (using whatever parameters your team has agreed upon to identify when a person moves from prospect to marketing qualified lead to sales qualified lead, etc) that’s when you want to nurture that lead with information that is more specific to his or her needs.

5. Analyze What Works and What Doesn’t
Embrace the importance of understanding lead source! Maybe you thought you’d find a lot of your prospects re-pinning your infographics on Pinterest but that isn’t the case. That’s OK, focus your efforts elsewhere. Take the time to understand which assets are the most popular (webinars, downloads, etc.) and which sites work best for your audience. Your marketing team should be able to tell you which lead sources have the highest conversion rates, so build off of that (please remember, however, that the marketing reporting is only as good as the data that gets entered into your CRM, so keep it updated!)

With a 100% higher lead-to-close rate than outbound marketing (source: State of Inbound Marketing, 2012), social media is an important element to the sales and marketing funnel. It doesn’t matter if you call is social selling, or salespeople’s marketing, or just plain marketing, the important thing is that you’re doing it.

Contact us or call 800-524-1994 for more information about helping your sales team get started with social selling.