Should Sales Reps Care About Twitter? (and Other Social Selling Questions)

March 16, 2015 | Brendan Cournoyer
Should Sales Reps Care About Twitter? (and Other Social Selling Questions)

Sales reps have a lot of questions about social selling these days. For example – what’s the deal with Twitter?

With that in mind, here is a short Q&A to help answer some of your most burning Twitter and social selling questions.

Pretend I’m a rep who knows absolutely nothing about social selling – why should I care about any of this?

Should Sales Reps Care About Twitter

Social selling is a great way to engage directly with audiences who MIGHT be interested in learning more about your product or service. You can share content and ideas, learn about their interests, and connect with them on a personal level.

Sales reps are always looking for ways to get in front of more buyers. Well – to borrow an expression I never thought made any sense – social media sort of makes the world your oyster in that respect. 

Is that why my managers are pushing me to get on Twitter?

Probably. Or maybe they just want more followers.

I have 11 followers so far – is that good?

No.

Is Twitter the best tool for social selling? What makes it so valuable?

Well it’s not necessarily the best – nor is it the only game in town. LinkedIn is still a great place to engage audiences on a professional level, Facebook still has the most active users, and Google+ is still a thing some people insist on talking about.

I view Twitter as sort of a “best of all worlds” option. It has more active users than LinkedIn, and is more public than Facebook. It’s a good forum for sharing business-focused messages, but also a great place to find common ground with buyers on a more personal level. For example, their tweets can provide insight into everything from the town they grew up in to their favorite TV shows.

They’re like little 140-character ice breakers.

My favorite TV show is Two and a Half Men.

That’s great.

I was really bummed out that Charlie Sheen didn’t come back for the finale.

OK, we’re getting off track.

I mainly use Twitter to share content from my company’s blog a couple times a week. Is that social selling?

No, that’s not really anything.

But didn’t you say earlier that “sharing content” is a big part of social selling?

It is, but just mindlessly sharing out blog posts to a small and inactive following really isn’t going to get you anywhere. A Twitter profile isn’t an RSS feed – it’s about ENGAGEMENT.

Share content that your target audience would find truly valuable. Respond to tweets from others with links to related resources they mind find interesting. Share and retweet OTHER people’s content and comment on them in your tweets. Use hashtags to expose yourself to others interested in a certain topic and become part of a greater conversation.

What’s a “hashtag”?

Wow, really?

Just kidding. See? I do understand some of this stuff. So how does all this help me close a deal?

Well to be honest, in a B2B buying cycle, you’re unlikely to close an actual deal on Twitter. But (paired with other social selling activities) it CAN help you on your way to starting a conversation that eventually leads to a real sales opportunity.

For example, say someone on Twitter poses a question related to what your product does. You respond with a link to a helpful blog post on your site with more information. The person thanks you for the help, and just like that, you’ve exposed them to your brand and positioned yourself as a trusted source of information in this topic area.

You could then send a short, polite follow-up email, using their Twitter feed to break the ice (“I saw your tweet about the U2 concert. Rattle and Hum is so underrated!”), and informing them about your company in case they are still looking for help with Topic X.

You can then continue to share, favorite and comment on their feed from time to time.

Look at it this way – even if they aren’t ready to buy something, they KNOW WHO YOU ARE. You haven’t been pushy or intrusive; you’ve simply joined a conversation they started themselves. And social media helped you do it.

Well that sounds easy. Is that really all there is to social selling?

Of course not. I just made up a very specific, completely ideal scenario – and it didn’t even end with a sale. The idea is that by making an effort and being thoughtful about social media, you can potentially create a relationship that could eventually pay dividends down the line.

I can also tell you that several reps from other companies have used variations of social selling via Twitter when reaching out to me, and those messages always stand out from the pack.

This all sounds great. So what about people who don’t see any value in social selling? Are they just completely crazy?

Wow, you got judgmental about this quickly, didn’t you?

Look, the truth is, social selling alone is not suddenly going to make you reach triple your quota each year. It doesn’t supersede all other B2B sales strategies. It’s just another tool in your selling arsenal.

I think the biggest controversies around social selling come from those who lean too far on either end of the spectrum, where it’s either “the most important thing a rep can do” or “a complete waste of time.” Both have some totally relevant points to make, but I don't think either is completely right.

My view is that the value of social selling falls more in the middle.

Gotcha. So how do I get good at all this?

Practice?

Thanks, that’s helpful.

Honestly, I’ve always felt that the biggest barrier to reps being productive with social selling is a lack of commitment. It’s partly management’s responsibility to put salespeople in a position to be successful – whether that means investing in tools or simply educating the sales force. For example, Amar Sheth shares some great insight on the role sales enablement plays in helping reps succeed at social selling.

But ultimately, it still falls on the rep to make that commitment.

Where can I learn more?

The Sales for Life Blog has a lot of great content, and there are tons of thought leaders out there sharing ideas.  Really, just Google “social selling” and you’ll find a ton of great stuff.

Well I’m convinced. In fact, I’m setting a goal right now to get up over 20 followers by the end of the week.

Charlie Sheen would be proud.

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