The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Other Social Networks


Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are changing the way consumers make purchasing decisions . . . and tapping into these online communities has become a necessary part of any integrated sales strategy. Citing enlightening research and real-world examples, this smart, practical guide presents readers with a detailed methodology for growing sales and expanding their customer base using social media. Readers will learn how to:

• Use content and conversations to build online ...

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The Art of Social Selling: Finding and Engaging Customers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Other Social Networks

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Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest are changing the way consumers make purchasing decisions . . . and tapping into these online communities has become a necessary part of any integrated sales strategy. Citing enlightening research and real-world examples, this smart, practical guide presents readers with a detailed methodology for growing sales and expanding their customer base using social media. Readers will learn how to:

• Use content and conversations to build online relationships that transition to sales

• Execute realistic sales strategies for each of the major social media platforms

• Spot social media trends that may influence future buying behaviors

• Sell online in B2B and B2C environments

• Turn social shares (likes, favorites, +1s) into social sales

• Set tangible goals

• Use online tools and analytics to track social influencers and identify relevant conversations as they are happening

Complete with a chapter dedicated to capturing mobile sales—a segment poised to explode as the adoption of smartphones and tablets grows—The Art of Social Selling is essential reading for every sales professional.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"...provides readers a practical guide with a detailed methodology for growing sales and expanding their customer base using social media."

"If you are a salesperson… make The Art of Social Selling the next book you read." --Eric Jacobson On Management And Leadership

"Belew's focus is narrow and deep, thoroughly exploring the role of social media in the realm of sales and selling." --Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814433324
  • Publisher: AMACOM Books
  • Publication date: 1/14/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 802,668
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

SHANNON BELEW is a digital marketing advocate and top-selling author of Starting an Online Business for Dummies, All-in-One. She currently manages the online marketing and lead-generation efforts for a global IP telephony company. Her blog,, focuses on topics including social media, social selling, mobile strategies, and content development.

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Read an Excerpt


There are many possible reasons why you may be reading this book. Most

likely, it's because you're a sales or marketing professional who has

some level of responsibility for generating leads, closing sales, and

creating revenue in your organization, and you're constantly under

pressure to identify new strategies for delivering the goods. Perhaps

someone suggested turning to social media as a lead source. Perhaps

you've heard peers and industry leaders tout the benefits of this new

thing called "social selling." Or perhaps you're an influencer within

your organization who already understands the value of social

prospecting and need a resource to help develop a business case for

integrating social media into your current sales and marketing process.

No matter why you've picked up this book, the truth of the matter is

simple: Social selling is a strategy that every B2B and B2C sales and

marketing professional must understand in order to increase his or her

effectiveness and remain competitive in today's global marketplace.

It's a bold statement to imply that your continued value as a

salesperson or a marketer hinges on successfully incorporating social

media into your sales process. In reality, the decision not to adopt a

social selling strategy is not a game ender; you'll certainly continue

to generate leads and make sales. But you've got to wonder if what

you're doing now is enough to not only sustain but grow revenues for

your organization. Are you generating enough new leads? Are they high

quality enough to continue building your sales pipeline? Can you close

enough sales and do so soon enough to make quota? Consider that, on

average, only 43 percent of sales professionals make their quota,

according to a study from the Aberdeen Group. The same study indicated

that you're much more likely (79 percent more likely, to be exact!) to

hit your sales target if you're using social selling in your sales

process compared to your peers who are not using it. Even so, some of

you may still be skeptical of its value. After all, whether you've just

begun your career or you are a veteran within your industry, you've most

likely experienced some wins using traditional sales and marketing

techniques. Why change now?

Think of social selling as a numbers game. Take a look at the following


----Without social selling, 40 percent of sales teams make less than 80

percent of quota, on average. (Based on accumulated data from Xactly, a

sales compensation management company.)

----Salespeople using social media exceeded sales quotas 23 percent more

often than peers not using social media. ("Social Media and Sales Quota:

The Impact of Social Media on Sales Quota and Corporate Revenue," by Jim

Keenan and Barbara Giamanco, 2013.)

----In B2B organizations using social selling, 21 percent more sales

reps met sales quota and 31 percent more sales teams achieved quota.

(Research Brief: "Social Selling: Leveraging the Power of User Generated

Content to Optimize Sales Results," published by Aberdeen Group,

February 2012; distributed on SlideShare.)

----67 percent of B2C companies surveyed use Facebook to generate leads,

and 43 percent say they get leads from Twitter. ("State of Digital

Marketing 2012 Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----39 percent of B2C companies receive sales from Facebook and 19

percent land sales from Twitter ("State of Digital Marketing 2012

Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----44 percent of B2B companies turn to LinkedIn to generate leads with

23 percent of B2B companies gaining sales from LinkedIn. ("State of

Digital Marketing 2012 Report," Webmarketing123, 2012.)

----60 percent of best-in-class companies train salespeople in how to

engage in online conversations with prospects and customers compared to

only 19 percent of laggard companies. (Research Brief: "Social Selling:

Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content to Optimize Sales

Results," published by Aberdeen Group, February 2012; distributed on


----Best-in-class companies are three times more likely to identify and

utilize external social influencers to support the sales process

compared to laggard companies. (Research Brief: "Social Selling:

Leveraging the Power of User Generated Content to Optimize Sales

Results," published by Aberdeen Group, February 2012; distributed on


Percentages like those above favoring social selling didn't happen

overnight. While I can't pinpoint an exact date that organizations first

realized their prospects and customers were on Facebook, Twitter,

LinkedIn, and other social networking sites, you have to understand that

social media has been in existence for barely a decade. Some of today's

most successful social networks, like Facebook and LinkedIn, first made

their debuts in the very early part of the twenty-first century, while

others, like Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+, have been around for only

a few years and yet are boasting record-setting numbers of new users.

Somewhere along the way, people transitioned from using social media

merely as a way to commemorate small milestones of their daily lives to

using it as a medium for communicating meaningful ideas, building

important business relationships, researching products and services, and

interacting with brands in a very personal way. It's often said that at

some point during the social media transition period, the power shifted

from the brand to the consumer. From a marketing perspective, this means

that brands could no longer send one-way messages to consumers in the

form of advertising and think that would be enough. Instead, customers

began talking back to brands through social media channels. Marketing

has become a two-way conversation with the customer.

For sales, the transition to social media's use has been equally

startling. Prospective customers no longer come into an organization's

sales process at the top of the funnel, seeking general information or

awareness of your brand, and wait for the salesperson to guide them

through the company's buying process. Instead, prospects are defining

the buying process. They're using social media to compare their

purchasing options; they're turning to their personal and professional

online networks to research products and brands before they even talk to

a salesperson; and they're listening to what other customers say about

those products and brands.

By the time a prospect finally enters your line of vision, they're most

likely entering midway (or further!) through the buying process. They've

already done their fact finding, narrowed their buying decision to just

a few options, and most likely already established a relationship with

the brand. As a salesperson, your opportunity to influence the sale is

minimized. And should you and your organization not make a prospect's

cut for consideration, your ability to compete for the deal is unlikely

at best. At the very least, the social-media--savvy consumer has made

the sales process an uphill battle, putting you somewhat at a

disadvantage, particularly if you have not participated in the online


So how do you navigate the changing sales landscape? Adopting a social

selling strategy is the first step to making sure you remain on the map.

But it's more than merely getting on Facebook or Twitter and posting

your company brochures. I'm going to give away the entire secret of

social selling success right here in the introduction, without you

having to read the first chapter! The Art of Social Selling is based

entirely on your ability to build relationships. It just happens that

those relationships are made and developed virtually through social

networking sites, blogs, and online communities. Social selling is just

another tool for you to use--it's an extension of the traditional sales

process that you've already mastered.

If I had to offer one reason why sales and marketing leaders are slow to

adopt social selling within their organizations, it's because they've

misunderstood it. Often, it's assumed that your organization must

completely change to implement an entirely new sales process. But social

selling is an extension of what sales and marketing teams are already

doing, and integrating it becomes a matter of tweaking procedures and

learning how to have persuasive conversations through social media

instead of exclusively through the phone, email, or face-to-face

meetings. Adopting a social selling strategy is really no different than

the changes you make when incorporating any other modern sales tool.

In this book, I provide you with the resources you need to start

building toward social selling success. If you're new to social media,

don't worry. I'll help you understand key terms and give you a

sufficient overview of the various social networking sites so that you

can understand how to implement the principles and basic strategies I'll

be sharing with you. Of course, you've got to go into this process

acknowledging that mastering social selling takes time and persistence.

So, be patient, but be diligent, and it will pay off!

As you begin building your social strategy, there's another important

point to keep in mind. The only thing constant about social media is

that it continually changes. New social media platforms and applications

emerge, while existing social networking sites evolve to reach new and

sometimes different target audiences. Likewise, the features and tools

that are prominent on social networking sites today may be removed,

modified, or replaced with different features tomorrow. One of the most

challenging aspects of writing a book about social media is keeping pace

with all of the new and improved features and sites that are continually

being introduced. It's nearly an impossible task. However, I think it's

important that you, as a reader, have continued access to any critical

changes or updates to the social selling process. For this reason, I'm

offering you a way to keep up with the most important changes through my

website, There, you can gain exclusive

access to social selling updates and additional content (including some

content that didn't make it into the book). Once on the website, look

for the tab "Exclusive Content" and then enter the password: socialone.

It's that simple!

Oh, there's just one more thing before you begin reading. As I

mentioned, everything about social selling revolves around the

relationship between you and your future customer. For that reason, it

would be unfortunate if I didn't begin this book with an invitation for

you to connect with me! Here are the ways you and I can start to get to

know one another and for you to join the conversation:





If you have any questions or comments about the book, or simply want to

engage as a sales or marketing professional, I look forward to hearing

from you!

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Table of Contents






Using Social Media as a Prospecting Tool for Online

Sales 1

Tackling the Ever-Changing Sales Process 4

The Social Selling Mantra 5

Where to Go Fish 7

Social Selling Is a Team Sport 10



Bringing Together Social Marketing, Social Commerce, and Social Support 12

Meeting the Demands of the Social Customer 13

Capturing the Customer Experience 18

Taking Shape and Connecting All the Dots 22



The Ten Most Important Rules for Online Social Interactions 28

Rule #1: Be Genuine 30

Rule #2: Listen, Listen, Listen 32

Rule #3: Be Responsive 33

Rule #4: Follow the Leader 34

Rule #5: Tailor the Conversation 34

Rule #6: Be Helpful 36

Rule #7: Identify the Enter and Exit Signs 37

Rule #8: Maintain the Separation of Professional and Personal 38

Rule #9: Be Consistent 39

Rule #10: Admit When You're Wrong 40



The Benefits of Un-Selling in Social Media 41

Boosting Your Online Likeability 43

Lead Scraping or Lead Generation? 44

Moving Beyond Lead Scraping 46

The Truth About Un-Selling 48

Expanding Circles, Influence, and Recommendations 52



Understanding the Value of Peer-to-Peer Influence in Social Sales 53

Online Reviews: Word-of-Mouth Marketing on Steroids 54

Likes, Favorites, Followers, and Other Positive Social Indicators 61

Blogs, Forums (Groups), and Communities Matter, Too 64



Pulling the Social Customer Through the Online Sales Funnel 68

Understanding the Changing Sales Funnel 69

Developing Buyer Personas for Your Social Customers 72

Creating Content to Feed the Online Sales Funnel 74

Mapping Types of Content to the Social Networks to Engage and Build

Relationships with Prospects 79



Using Online Services and Applications to Help You Find,

Track, and Engage Social Customers 84

Social Information That Matters 85

Finding Purpose with Social Tools 90

Monitoring Tools 92

Influence Trackers 93

Social Sharing Tools 94

Content Curator Tools 96

Applications for Creating Content 97

Social Influence Measurement Tools 99

Mobile Apps 100



Building Social Selling into Your Schedule 102

Identifying Current Time Conflicts 103

Spending Your Time in Fishing Holes, Not Rabbit Holes 104

Conquering the Social Selling Conflict 105

Setting Clear Objectives 107

Designating Blocks of Time 108

Prescheduling Posts 109

Limiting Your Exposure 111

Using Your Extended Resources 112

Going Mobile 113



Determining Your Budget 115

Recognizing the Cost of "Free" and Investing in Your Success 115

Deciding How Much to Spend to Ramp Up Your Selling Game 116

Support Costs 119

Program Costs 121

Tools and Technology 124

Resources 125



The Components for a Realistic Social Media Sales Plan 127

A Strategy for You and Your Company 128

Establishing Your Goals and Objectives 129

Setting the Rules of Engagement 130

Conducting Your Research 133

Knowing Your Assets and Getting Organized 135

Developing an Outreach Schedule 137

Integrate Online and Offline Sales Efforts, then Repeat 138



Turning Connections into Sales 140

Expanding Beyond a Digital Resume 141

Social Media First Impressions Start with Your Profile 142

Expanding Your Connections 151

Paid Versus "Organic" Opportunities for Social Selling 156



Social Selling in 140 Characters or Less 162

Influential Tweets 163

Twitter Basics for Business 164

The Advantages of Using Twitter for Your Business 167

Equal Opportunities for B2C and B2B Prospecting 173

Best Practices and Tips 176



Targeting Your Social Customer Base 179

Using Your Personal Facebook Account 180

Using a Company Facebook Page to Turn Fans into Customers 184

Google+ : Turning Circles into Opportunities 190

Spreading Your Message on Blogs and Online Communities 194



YouTube, Pinterest, Infographics, and More 201

Visual Content That Helps Convey Your Message 202

Incorporating Visual Content into Your Sales Process 206

Sharing Visual Content Using Apps 208

Social Sharing Platforms Made for Promoting Visual Content 211

Putting Your Videos on YouTube 211

Pinning Your Visual Content to Pinterest 215

Sharing Top-Performing Presentations on SlideShare 220



Harnessing the Growth of Mobile Sales 223

The Influence of Mobile Devices by the Numbers 224

Mobile Commerce in Action 225

Social Selling and Preparing for Mobile Sales 227



Social Success Stories for B2C and B2B 231

Caron's Beach House, a Specialty Online Retailer (B2C) 231

Bizo, a Marketing Services Firm (B2B) 235

Shopify, an eCommerce Platform for Online Retailers (B2B) 238



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