Gone are the days with four hour time blocks to dial for dollars. Successful Reps now spend their four hours tapping into social networks to win business. Why? Because Buyers spend more time online, gathered around their social networks. Today’s Buyer finds influence in Twitter and LinkedIn, not their email or voicemail.

This article outlines the skills of the Social Seller. I discuss 7 ways these new sellers outperform the competition. Then I provide several tools for success in the Social Seller Mobile App Guide.


Why Buyers want Social Sellers

I recently met Jill Rowley, a Sales Rep at Eloqua.  She is on the leading edge of the Social Selling movement. Jill is buyer-centered and focused on ways to personally evolve with her market.  She consistently taps into her social network to grow her business. She has adopted the critical skills of the Social Seller. How successful is she? Jill remains Eloqua’s #1 Sales Rep since 2006.


Surely Jill has made adjustments since 2006. The market moves quickly. But today, she and others like her are focused on what works.  They are in touch with a few trends of the current reality:


  • Buyers spend more time online. 57% of the buying process is completed before buyer-rep interaction. (Source – CEB, The New High Performer Playbook, Arlington VA, 2012). This means the Buyer is researching before you enter the picture.


  • Social networks have earned a place in the business ecosystem. According to LinkedIn, the network now has 200 million worldwide subscribers. The platform has integrated user-generated news feeds to facilitate business dialog. Users flock there not just for contacts, but for insights.


  • Thought leadership is more valuable than your product pitch. All of our client research on this topic at SBI yields the same result.  Buyers want thought leadership because they “value insights over product presentations.”


Social Sellers are the best of three types of Reps

The most successful Reps are the Social Sellers.  They are efficient with their online time.  Other Sales Reps can’t keep pace with them. Here are the three types of Reps to consider:


  • Digital Daydreamer. These individuals are distracted. They consume nonsense “suggested” to them by search engines, social networks, or video portals. They don’t add value to the organization. They are Self-Centered, Unfocused, and read Non-Relevant information.


  • Contact Collector. This type of Sales Rep cares about appearances. They worry more about quantity than quality. They “accept” invitations to connect because they believe a higher friend count defines influence. Though they consume Relevant information, these reps tend to be Self-Centered and Unfocused,


  • Social Seller. They are Buyer-centered. Social Sellers do not think of themselves in terms of “selling.” They think of themselves as helping others buy. They connect effectively through social media platforms and promote their personal brand.  They don’t waste their time scanning Facebook. Social Sellers are Buyer-Centered, Focused, and Relevant.


social selling cube


The 7 Critical Skills of the Social Seller

So how do Social Sellers evolve?  They thrive in the fast-paced, demanding online world.  And the market rewards them with revenue.  But their success will always rely on these seven skills.


  1. Define your personal brand. Focus on the industries of your clients. Marry your natural interests with their needs.  Then brand this marriage as though you are a product. Your entire online and offline presence must consistently represent that brand. Jill Rowley has a solid personal brand. She is not passionate about selling.  She is “passionate about helping Marketing teams increase their contribution to the Sales pipeline.”
  2. Better inputs lead to better outputs. Focus on sources and topics that make you smarter.  You need to choose the best possible information sources and read them often.  If you are an online ad sales rep, then read AdAge or MediaPost daily. The best way to influence the Buyer is to consume the best information.
  3. Expand your sphere of influence. Be a smart builder.  Build your online network such that it helps you sell. When you get a business card, immediately connect to them via LinkedIn. Add a personal note, not the generic LinkedIn salutation.  Sincerity builds trust.  Only when you are trusted can you be influential.
  4. Don’t sell, help others buy.  The Buyer-centered approach assures you speak in terms relevant to real problems.  Buyers don’t care about your product.  They care about solving their problems. Your personal brand and the information you share must reflect this.
  5. Online activities should lead to offline results. A growing LinkedIn network must lead to sales. Social Sellers have the ability to transition a virtual conversation to a real opportunity. (Read more here)
  6. Embrace the digitally integrated lifestyle. Social Sellers are always connected.  Information moves quickly.  The successful Sales Reps are those who are quick to learn and adopt. This requires a constant state of learning throughout the day.
  7. Let technology do the work for you. Social Selling is impossible without technology. You must be connected. Today there are many excellent mobile apps that enable the Social Seller.


Enable yourself with the mobile technology

Social Sellers are constantly in touch with the market. To be one,  you must be mobile. To help you use the 7 critical skills, download the Social Seller App Guide.  The Guide provides you with tools beyond LinkedIn, Twitter, and Chatter.



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Dan Bernoske

Develops innovative revenue growth solutions and designs the SBI client experience.

Prior to SBI, Dan held business development, sales, and product management leadership positions at several start-up companies, developing Apple iOS platforms and E-Commerce-based social networks. Most notably, Dan was co-founder of Video Lantern, an online video advertising sales and operations firm. He is Six Sigma certified from GE.

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