Social selling has quickly become one of the most popular and effective selling tactics. As social media platforms grew in popularity, businesses began to recognize how essential social media is to the sales process. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 78% of salespeople using social media perform better than their peers.
  • Social sellers generate 38% more new opportunities than traditional sellers.
  • 62% of employees at large companies say social selling enables them to build stronger, more authentic relationships with customers and prospects.

Although we have covered B2B social selling in the past, there are many social selling mistakes that can actually harm your business.

Today’s blog post breaks down some of these social selling mistakes and provides alternatives for sales reps who want to improve their social selling efforts. Keep reading!

Social Selling Mistake #1: Leading with a sales pitch.

People use social media to engage with an online community, not receive unsolicited sales pitches. And yet, most prospects end up with a flood of messages from sales reps eager to sell them their latest product or service.

The strategy may be called social selling, but selling should not be your first inclination. If you try to push your product on someone too early, you can appear untrustworthy and indistinguishable from the many other salespeople on social media.

Alternative: Start a conversation.

When you first connect with a prospect on social media, introduce yourself and the company you represent. Then, ask the prospect questions aimed at starting a meaningful business relationship. Share informational content and interact with each prospect’s posts. Don’t focus on what makes your company so great– instead, focus on facilitating authentic interaction.

Once you have established a working relationship, you can recommend specific products and features. Above all else, prioritize the social element of social selling, and you’ll have more success in your attempts to engage prospects.

Social Selling Mistake #2: You engage with prospects before doing any research.

Social media facilitates easy and immediate communication between users. The downside to that convenience is this– sales reps can now reach out to prospects they know very little about. This can lead to several problems.

Consider this scenario: You reach out to a prospect and begin to ask them questions about their business – but the answers to these questions are readily available on their profile. Why should they take the time to answer your questions when you clearly didn’t take the time to do preliminary research?

Alternative: Research prospects before you contact them.

Learn as much as you can about a prospect before you engage with them. Look over their profile and collect relevant information. Perform additional research by visiting their company’s website and their other social media profiles. Prospects are more likely to connect with sales reps who demonstrate that they’ve done their research.

Social Selling Mistake #3: You only use social media for selling.

Many sales reps remain skeptical about the effectiveness of social selling – so they refrain from spending too much time on social media. They set up their profiles, blast out a few messages, and then log off. If that’s your approach, you’re only scratching the surface of what you can accomplish on social media.

Alternative: Engage with your community.

Start by establishing a social listening strategy so you can see what your customers and ideal prospects are discussing online and explore opportunities for cross-selling. Then, share content that will resonate with your target audience. Follow and engage with other businesses and individuals within your industry – share and comment on content you find interesting, answer questions and join in conversations.

Social Selling Mistake #4: You use the wrong platforms.

There are a wide variety of social media platforms at your disposal – but not every channel is created equal. A platform’s overall popularity may not mean it’s an effective tool to reach your ideal customers. If you are struggling to find success on social media, it may be because you’re not using the same channels as your customers and prospects.

Alternative: Follow your target audience.

Understanding your target customers is the key to any sales strategy, and social selling is no different. Analyze your buyer personas – or profiles of your ideal buyers – to uncover insights into where your target audience lives on the web. Then, focus your efforts on the platforms most popular with the users you’re interested in connecting with.

Social Selling Mistake #5: You send every prospect the same introductory message.

Sales reps often reach out to several prospects at once when they log into their social media accounts. To save time, you may be tempted to craft one standard outreach message and blast it out to every prospect you want to connect with.

Here’s the problem– prospects recognize these one-size-fits-all messages the moment they receive them. If your introduction reads like it was copied and pasted from a script, prospects will most likely ignore or delete your message right away.

Alternative: Personalize your outreach.

After conducting prospect research, create a personalized message that appears unique and genuine. Respond to a piece of content they posted, or ask them a specific question about their business– you can even lead with a fun or lighthearted comment about a personal hobby they post about. Focus on the quality of each message you send rather than the number of prospects you reach out to.

Social Selling Mistake #6:  You haven’t set goals.

Because social media is most often used for personal reasons, social selling can seem more casual than traditional B2B sales techniques. This mentality can lead sales reps to use social media without any clear objectives or overarching strategy.

If you don’t set quantifiable goals, you’ll be unable to measure your success and recognize areas which need improvement. Unfortunately, this mistake is common. In fact, 2/3 of companies have no social media strategy for their sales organization (source).

Alternative: Create a strategy and track your results.

Before you jump into social selling, set clear goals for each channel you use. Decide what metrics you need to track to evaluate your effectiveness, and analyze these metrics consistently. If you fall short of your goals, determine what adjustments you need to make to improve your performance on social media.

We recommend investing in a social selling or sales enablement tool that can track your target metrics and provide actionable analysis regarding your sales strategy.

Final Thoughts About these Social Selling Mistakes

We all make mistakes and fall into bad habits—especially when it comes to social selling. So, if you’re not seeing results with your social selling efforts, make sure you’re not using any of the improper tactics mentioned in this article.

For more social selling tips and best practices, check out the following blog posts:

Contact ZoomInfo today to learn more about our B2B contact database and how it can improve your sales processes.

About the author

Ryan Hadfield

Ryan Hadfield is a content marketing director at ZoomInfo, the leading B2B contact data solution.

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