Forward-thinking sales professionals who have fully embraced social selling understand that sharing relevant and valuable content is the lifeblood of social selling.

But there is more…much more.

While creating and curating content is vital to leveraging social media as part of the selling process, I would argue that when, where, and how that content is shared – its sales context – is more important to social selling than ever before.

Given the continuous assault upon our buyers’ senses by a seemingly infinite supply of content, it is seemingly more difficult to achieve relevance each day.

This endless content cascade is borne of our own creation:  if we gather all the data (including content) from the beginning of time to the year 2000, it’s still less than what we create in one minute.

So, what exactly does adding value through sharing relevant content mean if a sales conversation exists in a vacuum? If the content is shared and no prospect interacts with it, does a sale ever occur?

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There is a better way to achieve social selling success. Let’s look at three contextual cues prior to sharing any content with your buyers and prospects.

1. Timing is everything.

As a sales professional or vendor, if you are unable to provide your buyer or prospect with the right tools, guides, and information to assist him or her at the right time, on his or her terms, you have lost your opportunity.

According to research from Corporate Visions, 74 percent of buyers choose the company or sales rep who was FIRST to add value and insight. But don’t look for the quick hit. Just as you would never propose marriage on the first date, you must avoid the “connect and close,” hard-sell mentality at all costs.

Content that does not resonate with your prospective buyer needs updating – and fast. Failure to act risks the loss of untold potential leads.

2. Messaging matters.

Why do most people fail to answer a call from a telemarketer or immediately hang up when encountering one? It’s simple – their message is often intrusive and interruptive, their delivery is hollow and unctuous, and their content has little or no value for the recipient.

What type of initial connection do you create with your audience? Are you a social stalker? Do you nag clients, customers, or prospects when an email or phone call goes unreturned?

Remember, perception is a reality. Your actions as a sales professional or sales development professional (SDR), as well as those of your team, are a reflection of your product or service in the mind of your audience.

Lack of research, stiff language, a focus on you, rather than on your buyer or prospect – these are a few common messaging errors that will earn a quick and certain rejection (from your client).

Take your cue from an industry that experiences constant rejection, like telemarketing: it’s imperative to capture your buyer’s attention at “Hello.”

3. Location, location, location.

Real estate is not the only vertical that values location. You may provide the right message at the right time based upon your buyer’s behavior, but if your message is not delivered to the proper social media platform where your buyer can engage with your content, you cannot expect to connect and capture any business.

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Communicate with your prospects on social media where they are most active. Avoid speculation; let data drive your online activity as you leverage your prospect’s social networks to build an authentic snapshot of your prospective buyer.

Don’t forget, it’s crucial to listen before you engage. Preemptive competitive intelligence will help the conversation flow naturally: both in the right location and when the right time arrives.

Sales Context Helps Social Selling

If you think of context as proper perspective – the lens through which content will be viewed – context provides a more personalized experience for your buyer.

The most successful sales organizations will incorporate a seamless alignment between internal sales and marketing teams to create a content repository for each stage of the buying journey (discovery, research, and purchase phases).

It’s imperative that as each lead passes through your sales funnel, the right content is delivered to the right prospect at the right moment. Successful sales professionals listen for contextual cues and trigger events to move online, offline.

That’s when the true social selling magic really happens: a sale.

This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.


Kevin Thomas Tully is a globally-recognized Social Selling and Big Data strategist who employed the principles of Social Selling long before the term entered the popular business vernacular. A Johns Hopkins-trained data scientist, Kevin has applied true buyer intent data, predictive analytics, and data mining to the sales and marketing process for more than a decade to gain a strategic marketplace advantage for leading brands worldwide.

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