Social selling is getting a lot of traction. While it was buzzy pre-pandemic, it’s now a preferred avenue to connect with prospects virtually. But what is social selling, and how do you do it well?


Social Selling Defined

In defining social selling, let’s talk about what it’s not. It’s not the same as social media marketing or social media advertising. 

So, what is it? It’s the strategy of identifying and connecting with possible customers through social media. Relationship-building starts in platforms, and with the right approach, it can lead to opportunities. It’s cold calling for the 21st century with more legitimacy and credibility.

It supports those two things because you’re not some unknown figure on the other end of the line. Prospects have visibility into who you are, your experience, and shared connections.

It’s also not spammy. You shouldn’t bombard strangers with messages that are generic or intrusive. Rather, you want to develop trust and have meaningful interactions.


Most Media Organizations Are Doing the Basics of Social Selling

On a company level, having a business profile on social media sites is the bottom rung of the social selling ladder. Any promotional posts about your offerings serve as social selling, but the reach is only to those following the profiles. It can expand when you share these posts with your personal network. 

How Effective Is Social Selling?

There’s actually a way to measure this. It’s called the social selling index (SSI). LinkedIn introduced it in 2014, and it includes four components to determine the metric. It looks at whether you:

  • Establish a well-managed profile.
  • Find the right people on the platform.
  • Share relevant, conversation-starting content.
  • Build and cultivate relationships. 

You can find your SSI score on LinkedIn on your SSI dashboard. 


Does Social Selling Work?

Based on the data, it does! According to LinkedIn:

  • Social sellers create 45% more sales opportunities than those with a lower SSI.
  • Businesses that prioritize it are 51% more likely to reach sales quotas.
  • 78% of companies that use it outsell those that don’t. 

Further, with fewer in-person opportunities to network and meet customers, social selling can fill the void. Additionally, your customer base of advertisers is most likely active on social media to some extent. Many use it as a place to source products and find answers to challenges. 

Becoming a savvy social seller includes more work, which we’ll address next.

How to Become a Social Seller

To develop effective social selling skills, follow these steps.

Determine the Best Profiles

Most social selling occurs on LinkedIn for those in B2B, which you are. It also delivers results. According to LinkedIn, it generates twice the rate of new leads over other channels. Therefore, it’s probably the right channel for you. As this is likely true for most, we will be focusing on LinkedIn for the following steps.

Build Your Credibility

If you’re going to use social media to develop relationships, you must be credible! So, what does that mean?

  • Endorsements on your profile from other customers or peers: This will show that you have experience and effectively drive results for customers.
  • A complete profile that includes an appropriate headshot, title, work experience, education and skills
  • An above-average number of connections: If you don’t have many, advertisers may not think you’re legitimate.

Enrich Your Network

There are several ways to do this on LinkedIn. First, you can use the search feature to find mutual connections with existing customers or peers. This is beneficial because if you send someone a message, they’ll see that you have shared connections.

Second, you can join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your industry and/or region. For example, there may be small business forums for your city, which could be a goldmine for new leads.

Third, to target and identify the best prospects, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent tool.

Be Active

You can’t succeed at social selling without spending time on the platform. You may want to designate specific periods throughout your week to focus on it. Your activity should include:

  • Commenting, when it makes sense, to current customer posts with a helpful response: Doing so could help you stand out if others have similar concerns.
  • Posting content in groups they may find useful regarding advertising: It shouldn’t be promotional, only educational.
  • Sharing your company posts: You can do this by reposting the original one or creating your own. Add your insights to this to demonstrate thought leadership.
  • Monitoring prospects’ activity: If they share a grievance or a challenge, it’s time to message them to offer support. That message should be personalized and refer to their post. If true, you may also want to add that you both have mutual acquaintances, so it seems more natural.
  • Building rapport after connection: Once you connect with a prospect, you need to continue to foster the relationship. Focus on helping, not selling. When they are ready to buy, they’ll likely think of you first.

Resources for Social Selling

If you want to master social selling, there are numerous opportunities to learn. Hootsuite Academy has a social selling certification course. LinkedIn has a course as well. There are many more you can find with a simple Google search. 

One additional tool that can be useful is Crystal Knows. We’ve raved about it before and its features in creating prospecting plans. It’s a personality detection software that analyzes LinkedIn profiles and then provides insight on how to approach buyers.

Social listening tools can support these efforts as well. Hootsuite and other social media management platforms have them, allowing you to monitor for keywords.

hootsuite academy

Ready to Navigate Social Selling?

So, what is social selling? It’s a way to use the power of social media to connect and encourage relationships. It requires time and a strategic approach, but it can deliver big returns. 

Include it in your prospecting tool kit to generate new opportunities. Get more ideas and guidance on modern selling by watching our on-demand webinar, Research Rocks! How to Use Cool Tools for Selling Smarter.