Drive Better Business Leads Through Social Selling

  • How to get a business leads in social media?
  • How to generate more business leads from social selling?

There is a myriad of reasons a company should have a presence on social media. If done correctly you’ll become an industry thought leader, prospects can find you easier, nurturing business leads becomes second nature, and customer support is implemented on the fly. Each reason is valid, and every business leverages their social accounts differently. The first thing we need to get out of the way is the difference between social selling and social advertising. Often in business and life, semantics and jargon can make things somewhat convoluted. So, let’s quickly clarify.

What is social media advertising?

All social media advertising means is that you are going to be paying to have ad placements on social media sites. It’s traditional advertising but wait for it, on social platforms. Currently, the biggest player in this realm is Facebook and by quite a large margin. In 2016 Facebook raked in over $5 billion in the first quarter. The only competing digital ad giant is Google, which is focused primarily on its search advertisement revenue.

What is social selling?

Social selling is a completely different animal. This social approach means interacting, listening and connecting with potential customers through social media. This could mean commenting on posts on Facebook, joining groups on LinkedIn, or retweeting people of interest on Twitter. It can represent any number of actions within social platforms, however, it’s entirely organic – meaning not paid for – and aims to be non-intrusive to those all-important business leads. Let’s talk about what’s really different here.

Cold Calling and Emailing.

Cold calling is the traditional way of communicating that is still commonly used today for lead generation – think your average sales development rep. The problem with this method is that people are not receptive to it. It’s intrusive, annoying, and ignored. No one likes getting a call in the middle of their workday to be asked to buy a product they’re not even in the market for. Not to mention the burnout rates on SDRs is often quite high because of the negative feedback that comes with the job. The drawback of cold calling is that there’s little to no information about the customer and anyone who’s worked in a call center can attest that the success rate of this method is low.

Email is a little bit better because the recipient isn’t forced to talk to anyone and they can simply delete it if they have no interest. The problem is much the same as it is for cold calling. Many times, these lists have been purchased, and the people on the receiving end have been mass blasted continuously, don’t care about your services, or the emails are just plain bad due to periodic turnover.

When it comes down to it, these methods are time-consuming, based on volume, and by extension, they’re a bad investment of resources. There is a better way to meet sales goals that will also make customers and employees happier. The answer is, as you may have guessed, social selling!

Social selling helps you create a network that produces a flow of business leads ready to buy. With an added bonus from this personal approach, they are more likely to not only buy from you but also recommend you to friends in their field.

Research shows that:

78% of salespeople who use social media to sell out-perform those who don’t.”

– Forbes

Who does social selling work best for?

Social selling is undoubtedly a must have a strategy as it interacts with people on a one-to-one basis and helps to personalize a brand. However, it’s a strategy that is better suited to specific types of businesses. Social selling will typically work best for companies looking to sell moderately or very expensive goods or services. If you sell a product in a niche market that is considerably expensive you’d be best served by this selling method. This strategy is typically most advantageous in the B2B space. There are exceptions like people who sell solar panels, pools, boats, etc, to customers, in this case, the cost of the good and potentially the profit margin would justify taking the time to invest in social selling. For people working in the B2B space who sell specialized software, services, or products you are the crowd best suited to implementing a social selling strategy to generate those marketing leads.

The Selling Socially Bandwagon.

In the “good old days” of cold callers, sales reps would take out a phone book, start at ‘A’, and just started calling down the list of numbers. This was somewhat effective because it was one of the only options available to drive business leads at the time. Though, today we’ve evolved! Technology has propelled us beyond the landline phone. A recent survey conducted by GeekWire found that 52% of adults in the United States do not even have a landline in their home. This cell phone only lifestyle is without a doubt going to increase, meaning there will be fewer people that can be reached by old cold calling strategies.

Today 90% of buyers are starting their journey online. The customers of today are technically savvy and are willing to do their own research on products. If someone tells them something they are inclined to double check for themselves. The ubiquitous nature of information online has created skeptics of us all. Now more than ever buyers are informed about their purchase decisions.

Social selling builds credibility for your brand. The more time you invest in social media, the larger your network becomes and the more you start to become an influencer in your industry. This helps you too as people like to work with other who are highly regarded and have a substantial following.

How’s it work?

The first thing to understand about social selling is that you can’t talk about your product or service right out of the gate. It’s cheesy and unoriginal. This strategy is more about listening and responding than it is about letting people know how great whatever you’re selling is. Like all great business results, social selling follows the 80 – 20 rule. 80% of your posts should be personal, informational, and engaging, the other 20% can be pushing your products or services.

Best Social Channels for Social Selling: It Depends.

I heard that sigh. I’m sorry, there is no magical, “this is what works for everyone.” Every industry and every business has better success when they analyze their target market to determine which networks they are actively engaging. I’ll generalize – and I mean really generalize – which platform work best for B2B vs B2C:

  • B2B – LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, Quora
  • B2C – Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Reddit

There are no solid lines within these categories. Even further, don’t try to utilize all these social networks or your content will suffer from being too thin. Take the time to figure out where your customers already are hanging out and pull your efforts into those central locations.

Now, for an example, I’ll take two of our favorite, and most valuable social platforms at Matrix.

Twitter and LinkedIn.

These two social platforms are the leaders in social selling. Twitter, because the interaction is so free-flowing and LinkedIn because it’s a professional network where people go for business-related content. These are our two strongest places to build a social presence.


On Twitter Here’s What You Need to do:

  • Follow industry leaders and or people you think would benefit from your product. Connect and create relationships with them. They are allies and can possibly become your biggest fans.
  • Dive into relevant information about your industry that gives value to your followers. This could be topics you’ve written, or it could be an article from a trustworthy journal or website. I use Google Now, Feedly, Buffer, and Google Search Notifications to find fresh articles related to marketing trends.
  • Share these findings with your followers and Tweet something original in addition to the article link. This could mean adding a piece of relevant information or a short quote. Just don’t put the title of the article as the tweet.
  • Make sure to monitor your feed. You can search for hashtags looking for people who have tweeted about a problem that you could solve.
  • Comment on someone’s post before trying to direct message them. This helps build a rapport.
  • Retweet, Like, and Share.
  • Create personalized Twitter Lists.
  • Add hashtags to the market you’re in or a specific segment of a market you want to reach. Example: #digital or #inbound. Don’t go crazy, one or two is plenty.
  • Don’t use automated messaging systems unless you can make an incredibly unique message that doesn’t come across as impersonal. They are overrated and can easily turn away new followers.


linkedin social selling

On LinkedIn Here’s What You Need to do:

  • Have a high-quality picture of or your company’s logo
  • Have a description that says who you are, what you do, and maybe a little something personal
  • Create a detailed product or service sub-pages.
  • Make sure employees are updating profiles and listing your page. You want to look like a real company!
  • Join related groups and add valuable content to their threads.
  • Utilize LinkedIn Pulse to publish long-form content to the masses. People literally make a living off this feature.

Learn From the Best.

If you want someone to look up to look no further than Tim Hughes. He remains the largest proponent of social selling.

Here’s his Twitter bio “#1 Global #Socialselling Pioneer and Innovator, Speaker – Co-Founder of Digital Leadership Associates – Views are my Mum’s #Sales #Marketing.”

It’s short, sweet, punchy, and I know all about him that I need to know. He’s got related hashtags and below the bio a link to his website.

Advantages of Social Selling.

  • It’s better for employee morale. No one likes to hear the word no. It’s such a small word that holds a significant amount of power over most people. Hearing 98 no’s every day for two years can decrease performance results of sales reps rather than inspiring people to try harder.
  • Reach people in their space and on their terms. 82% of online users can be reached through social media.
  • Employees who utilize this selling method are more likely to be promoted than their peers.
  • You’re getting qualified business leads from individuals who have a need to work with you. Not people that have been interrupted by cold outreach.

Disadvantages of Cold Calls and Emails.

  • Cold calling can make people view your company less favorably. There’s a potential lasting negative impact of using the practice.
  • If your email bounce rate is too high you run the risk of being flagged as spam. High spam rates can permanently drop future emails sent to protected servers.

Things to Keep in Mind.

In order to connect with someone important to you on LinkedIn, you need to show that you are interested in them. It’s too easy to become just another sales or marketing cronies trying to squirm your way into their news feed.

Look at what they’ve posted, is there anything that tells you what they are all about? Do you have a mutual connection that can act as an intermediary? Tailor a personal message that focuses on their interests and then send the invite. People want to know that an exchange is not one-sided. They want to know that you took the time to learn about them before sending a generic ‘insert name here’ message.

Do not pitch to people immediately on LinkedIn or Twitter. Meaning right after they connect with you. The last thing you want is for people to think of you as just another salesperson.

When you start with what’s at stake for the buyer, you earn the right to their attention.”
– Jake Sorofman

You need to talk about a common interest in order to build a rapport. You need to do research to make sure this person is in the market for your product. Again, go slowly establishing a connection takes time. It’s best to wait a week before trying to interact directly with someone. Spark a conversation by asking them about their industry like what are the biggest challenges for them. Send them content related to the problem that you solve.

Industry Trends

As stated earlier consumers are doing their own research which means their completely bypassing the traditional sales rep. In fact, 60% of consumers are going through the sales cycle without ever talking with a salesperson. Buyers trust other buyers far more than they trust a brand. This is why it’s so important to start creating buzz, fuel the digital flames, and build a social testimonial base. If you can get these people you’ve worked with and helped to tell other people about their experience and give you a good rating your previous qualified leads will help you generate new leads that could be their, friends, family, or other people in their industry.

External Resources

I highly recommend you view this video where Jill Rowley speaks her mind about social selling. Here’s one of her most insightful tips from the video:

Using social networks to do research on the buyer, the buying committee, and their sphere of influence to be relevant to build relationships that drive revenue, customer lifetime value, and advocacy”
– Jill Rowley

Get out and do it.

Social selling is an incredible tool and one that can overcome many of the hurdles sales teams face every day. It’s not something to be feared, or overlooked, it’s something that should be embraced. There’s no better way to make customers and employees happier. Get out of your comfort zone, build a social friendly brand, and build those business leads the right way.

Further Reading

We’ve broken down the best social media management tools on the market. If you need help guiding your social media efforts check this out: The Top Social Media Management Tools.

Thank you so much for reading! Do you have any concerns? Do you think we missed anything important? Let us know in the comments.

*This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been republished to include updated material.


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