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Expert advice on the art of social selling

Anneke Seley reveals how a social selling strategy can really pay off. And she should know. She wrote the book on it.

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“Social selling is about connecting with buyers and not just pushing products.”

—Anneke Seley, author of Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology

A growing number of sales professionals are discovering the power of social media channels to engage customers and drive sales. No one knows this better than Anneke Seley, the twelfth employee at Oracle and currently the CEO and founder of Reality Works Group, a sales strategy and implementation services firm. Seley, along with Brent Holloway, literally wrote the book on helping sales teams achieve sustainable growth using next-generation sales opportunities in Sales 2.0: Improve Business Results Using Innovative Sales Practices and Technology. She shares her thoughts with Potential at Work on how the right social selling strategy can unearth new sales opportunities.

What are some of the most common mistakes salespeople make when using social media channels to connect with customers?

Seley: More and more salespeople are gravitating to online and social platforms to bring their organizations into the future. That’s because adding social channels to phone and web interactions with consumers can give companies a new competitive advantage.

Social selling is about connecting with buyers and not just pushing products. It’s about asking consumers thought-provoking questions, forming a relationship with shoppers, providing relevant content, and being helpful. More sales professionals need to remember to stay away from generic product pitches through social media channels. Instead, they should approach consumers from the perspective of, “How can I help you and your organization succeed?”

It’s important that sales teams use the appropriate social media channels for a particular buyer based on product, territory, and industry.

How important is it for sales teams to create their own social media presence?

Seley: Social selling is a prime opportunity for branding. You do not want to be just another sales rep sending a customer an email. Rather, by demonstrating that you actually have a personality online, you can better display your leadership skills to a customer. That includes everything from posting the right photo on a Twitter account to attaching the right content to your company’s LinkedIn profile.

Another way a sales professional can build a social media presence is to encourage and enable employees to share relevant content on their own. Provide employees with collateral such as white papers and reports to share with customers via popular social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook. In doing so, you are amplifying the fact that your company can provide great information to a wide community of people and that it’s aligned with the brightest thinkers in the field.

What role does data play in a successful social selling strategy?

Seley: Data is extremely important when it comes to social selling, but it has to represent the whole picture. In fact, integrating systems is a giant opportunity that a lot of companies miss. That’s because many companies have disparate systems for different types of data. However, when these disparate sources of data are integrated, a sales team can gain a single view of its customers. Now it’s possible for sales reps to focus on the most valuable customers at the right time with the right message, which is a huge sales productivity gain. And they can also avoid inundating the wrong customers with inappropriate sales activity.

Learn how to implement Sales 2.0 strategies by reading Anneke Seley’s book, Sales 2.0.

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