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What is Social Selling?

What is Social Selling?
Summary: How do you go about building relationships with business people in today’s hybrid working world? Follow our 5 steps to mastering Social Selling.

Social Selling – you may be familiar with the term, but what does it actually mean?

Social Media Marketing? No, that’s something different.

Social Media Advertising? Nope, that’s something else too.

In short, Social Selling is all about becoming acquainted and building relationships with potential business prospects through social media channels such as LinkedIn.


What is Social Selling?

Social Selling is using social media for lead generation.

In our increasingly hybrid working world, opportunities to network face to face have reduced, telemarketing has the challenge of reaching people working from home to address, and trade fairs are not up to previous capacities. So, the task for many businesses is to how to generate new leads when the opportunities to meet and speak with people are reduced.

Social Selling is where salespeople are focusing their efforts in today’s competitive digital marketing landscape.


Social Selling 101s

Social Selling is all about meeting, becoming acquainted, and building a mutually beneficial relationship with interesting business people online. It is not acquiring a long list of irrelevant contacts.

Also, no-one wants to be sold to on LinkedIn. Don’t bombard people with salesy DMs – that’s spam. Talk about the problems you solve and share interesting & relevant content instead.

Once contacts start to have meaningful interactions with you, they start to know, like and trust you, and only then will they check out your website, or ask for a call or a coffee to hear what you have to say.


Is Social Selling all about LinkedIn?

If your business finds new prospective customers on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, then they can also be Social Selling channels that work for you. It’s all about identifying the channels where the people you want to meet look for products or services like the ones you offer.

As the predominant business focused social media channel, LinkedIn is however the obvious choice for B2B.

With 31million users, of whom 70% access LinkedIn once a week or more, the power of LinkedIn to get in touch with the people you want to meet is undeniable.

LinkedIn also actively encourage well executed Social Selling – so Social Selling is ok, you are not cheating the system. Their Sales Navigator and Insights tools help you filter the publicly shared data on the platform to identify and reach the people you might like to build a relationship with. They also build an SSI (Social Selling Index) score for you so that you can see how you are doing from their perspective.


Does Social Selling work?

LinkedIn quotes the following data :

  • +15%more sales pipeline created
  • +42%larger deal sizes closed
  • +59%total revenue influenced by Sales Navigation
  • +45% more opportunities than peers with a lower SSI
  • 78% of Social Sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media

With 4.2 billion people worldwide active on social media, of which over one third saying they use social media to research brands, you can see that the potential reach is huge.

Social Media for Brand Research

Source : The Global state of Digital – Hootsuite


5 steps to mastering Social Selling

1. Establish your personal brand

What will your prospects understand about you from your profile?

Be clear about who you are, the problems you solve, who you help and what you do. Showcase your career history, skills and successes through the lens of your target customer so that your profile passes the 5 second rule. (If someone can’t work out what you do & how you might be able to help them within 5 seconds, chances are you’ll lose them). To quote Neal Lappe, one of our compatriots in the US “If you’re not special to someone, you’re not be special to anyone”


2. Provide value

Think carefully about what you post. Is it interesting and useful to your target audience? Does it showcase what you do effectively? Does it demonstrate your brand culture and personality? People do business with people, even online, so a personal perspective is always more effective than corporate style message broadcasting.


3. Build your connections strategically

Consider the profile of the people you want to target through the platform.

Identify them – either manually, or through a tool like Sales Navigator – and check out their profile. Follow them, join groups they belong to, see what they talk about and engage with their posts.

If you like what you see, and once you’ve engaged enough that they should recognise your name, send a connection request – always with a personalised message explaining why you’d like to connect with them.


4. Build relationships

Keep the conversation going. Ask insightful questions, share useful articles and maybe try social listening. You are building “know, like and trust”, not selling. If you feel that there is common ground, ask for a chat to understand more about what they do (it’s about them, not you).

Remember, not everyone checks their messages every day, and not everyone will be in the frame of mind to hear what you have to say when you contact them, so remember to keep posting to stay top of mind.


5. Measure your results

Social Selling takes time.

Use the Insights from your Social Media platform to measure the reach and engagement of your posts to make sure you are hitting the right tone for your audience. If you reach 5% of your audience with a message, that’s typically good for most people, so keep posting!

Track the % of connection requests converting to connections and the number of messages you send which won replies, and adapt your tactics based on the results.




Social Selling is a key post pandemic Digital Marketing trend, and there are a variety of approaches to getting going. There is reading articles like this and finding your own way through trial and error, or you can attend a Social Selling Mastery course like the one that we run. Alternatively, you can outsource the whole process – please contact us if you’d like to find out more about our LinkedIn profile refresh, Mastery Course or Social Selling Support.

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