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9 Steps to Get Your 'Social-Selling' Program Off the Ground With platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Linked becoming a necessity for small-businesses owners, here is how entrepreneurs can implement a social-selling strategy.

By Daniel Newman Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

These days small businesses are being bombarded by consultants, pundits and thought leaders telling them they need to get their businesses on social media.

With hardly a moment passing where we aren't told to follow something on Twitter or like a page on Facebook, the proliferation of social has reached epic proportion. With this hyper-awareness comes a certain sense of urgency for most entrepreneurs -- primarily the desire not to miss the ball on social media.

With this in mind, the desire alone doesn't serve much purpose: Companies need to focus on an agenda or goal. One way to do this is using social media to ramp up revenue, specifically through a tactic called "social selling." In the age of Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and what seems like a million other social platforms, the idea of social selling is for companies to use content, social media and traditional communication channels to more successfully sell. (Otherwise, businesses may not be able to keep up with their competition.). Think about it. As social media has evolved, consumer behavior has changed. No longer are they relying on one channel (a sales person) for information, but they are actively seeking out data on the Internet – everything from your products, evaluating your vendors and looking at clients – before making a decision.

Related: Shark Tank's Robert Herjavec on Great Business Pitches and Why Sales Reps Need to Be Chameleons

And consumers are coming out in droves on social media to find this information. Indeed, there are currently more than 1 billion regular monthly users across social media platforms. And buyers tend to do their research before making a purchase, with the average consumer viewing more than 10 pieces of content prior to making a purchase. Plus, people are much more likely to make a purchase when someone they know (via social) recommends it. Seems like a win-win for businesses – that is if a company implements it correctly.

Here are a few tips to get your business (and customers) invested in social selling:

1. Get your sales team on board. Make sure you introduce them to the premise of social selling. This means spending time mining data and information that helps them understand how social media may help them connect to customers and can lead to sales.

2. Take baby steps. Sales executives often need some simple tactics such as how to use social media or content. I usually recommend a very simple program where the sales execs share three to five pieces of content a week via LinkedIn or email with at least five different customers and prospects. Make sure the customer gets a personalized message that says why the content is being shared and why it matters to the client. I also recommend setting up a follow up in the email that spells out an explicit action, like a follow-up meeting.

Related: The Tough Love Guide to Selling

3. Show results. Wins don't have to be just sales. I advise clients to track conversations and appointments generated from the tactics I suggested above. For instance, have the sales person mark down responses to their social-selling tactics, coffee or other meetings that they may have led to and then of course any revenue opportunities that can be directly correlated to the efforts.

Once you got you sales team on board, here is how to customers excited about social selling.

4. Have your ear to the ground. Keep an eye out for content that is useful for your clients. Generally the content should be on topic and with some good tips or actionable items. Note that these may also be good for future clients and prospects.

5. Keep track. When you find useful content, it is a good practice to keep an Excel or Word document where you keep the article titles, links and main topic. Also, look to software that can help keep track of metric, like views, clicks and time spent examining the content.

Related: 5 Lessons From Sales for Entrepreneurial Success

6. Find connections. Look for opportunities to pair the content with specific clients. Keep tabs of this in your document to know what you sent to an individual. Over time you should build an aggregate of useful content that helps provide more clarity to your message and your customer needs.

7. Make it meaningful. Deliver the content with an email and a simple message that helps the customer or prospect understand the topic and why you think it is important. Often referring to a previous conversation where the topic was discussed.

8. Include a call to action. Make sure the client needs to take some sort of step. Some examples include a follow-up call or a meeting, where you can discuss the information.

9. Be consistent. The response rate will likely not be 100 percent but that doesn't mean clients aren't reading it. With so much information out there if you can be the person that consistently delivers solid content then you will be front of mind when buying decisions are being considered and made.

Related:5 Elements of an Irresistible Call to Action

Daniel Newman

President of Broadsuite

Dan Newman is the president of Broadsuite where he works side by side with brands big and small to help them be found, seen and heard in a cluttered digital world. He is also the author of two books, is a business professor and a huge fan of watching his daughters play soccer. 

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