Does your sales process have to drastically change to implement social selling? Not a chance. Social selling is making a few tweaks to your daily routine to align yourself with the new buyer’s behavior. These tweaks will be like putting high-octane fuel in your racecar. Here are a few of the concepts and terms you will hear amongst social selling circles.

Social Proximity – refers to using your social connections and those of your sales team and other colleagues. You will find that if you’re always growing your network that you generally always have some sort of social connection to a prospective buyer. The more mutual connections the higher the social proximity, and a thus higher likelihood of getting a good and quick referral or introduction. This is always the best way instead of the “stranger” approach.

Sphere of Influence – The sphere of influence concept allows salespeople to map and understand the best way of leveraging existing relationships within a target organization. LinkedIn is an amazing tool for allowing you to see which connections you have in a company and empowers you to find out which decision-makers or potential champions you can leverage. Here’s an example, Go to your prospect’s company page on LinkedIn. Look at the top right corner and look at your 1st and 2nd-degree connections.

Is there a decision-maker in the company that you can give you an introduction to your prospect? It’s always much more successful in getting a connect right away when you leverage these relationships. Use t to stand apart from the spray and pray reps who send generic requests and stay at the “stranger” status. Find out the quality and size of your sphere of influence in the next organization you’re working on.

Social Surrounding – Socially surrounding your prospect involves you having a 360-degree view of the individual both professionally and personally. This is when true relationships can form and the best selling conversations take place. It eliminates the need to build rapport on the call because you’ve already done it over social. Now you can focus on a deep business exploration. Here’s an example:

  • I am considering a potential lead, perhaps a director of Marketing in an organization
  • I look at my sphere of influence in the company using LinkedIn a use a mutual connection to include in the LinkedIn invitation.
  • While I’m doing this I follow the company page too.
  • I then use their profile to link out to their Twitter profile and begin following them there.
  • I favorite a relevant tweet and retweet something interesting.
  • I head back over to LinkedIn and “like” of his posts.
  • Now I find a LinkedIn Group they’re in and join it.

The above actions take place over a series of days or even a couple weeks, and throughout the entire process, you need to be mining for information and looking for the context you can use to initiate a touchpoint. Sooner or later an opportunity will present itself where it makes sense to jump into a conversation with this person and move toward a social conversation. It really takes the outbound approach that is traditionally cold and warms it up substantially.

Buying Triggers – A buying signal or trigger event is an indication of purchase intent and buyers are giving them away, for free, on social media. These can come in hard or soft forms. An example of a hard trigger is somebody asking about the price or feedback around your product or that of a competitor. An example of a soft trigger might be: let’s say we sell baby cribs and we monitor people who are researching baby names. This intel tells us that in several months’ time this same person will be needing/shopping for a baby crib. By monitoring your prospects and the right topics on LinkedIn, Twitter, and more, you can pick up on these around your product or service.

In the B2B space, common buying triggers or process change signals you can listen for over social include:

  • The uptick in marketing or advertising spend
  • Funding events
  • Geographic or territorial expansion
  • Government approvals
  • Strategic or mid-senior level management hires
  • The uptick in product or service adoption
  • Additions or changes to the board of directors
  • New product releases or iterations

Buyer 2.0 – This refers to the new behavior currently being exhibited by buyers. As a result of the internet, buyers have unprecedented access to information and reviews before ever talking to a salesperson. For B2B vendors to successfully attract and engage these buyers, new approaches, thinking and technology must be applied. Experiences must be consistently valuable and timely. The numbers fluctuate, but it’s estimated that buyers are now engaging reps with the buying process 65% complete. How are they getting this information? Through blogs, forums, and instant feedback from your customers over social media.

Understanding these concepts and behaviors can accelerate your social selling prowess and success. I’m always available on Twitter and on LinkedIn to answer questions and share best practices with your social sales team.