Sales and marketing professionals are buzzing about ‘social selling’ these days. We recently attended an event with a number of sessions on social selling (say that three times fast), and thought, ‘isn’t this all just selling?’

A lot of the social selling authors out there address the fact that millennials have been rising in the ranks to decision maker and that they hate to feel like they’re being sold. Is that really unique to millennials or a new concept at all? No, no one has ever liked being sold.

Experts out there will tell you that you need to be a thought leader over social outlets to get prospects’ attention. Before you go spending a lot of time teaching people how to tweet, imagine a time prior to the internet. Sales representatives were the experts because they had to be. There were very few non-biased outlets you could go to back then to understand whether or not a solution was truly right for you or your business. Buyers had to get an education from their sales rep – not just about the particular product or service but help understanding if this is something that they actually even need. Sales reps engaged with buyers early and often in the buying cycle because they were the only ones communicating with the prospects. Fast forward twenty-five years to today: Is the inverse true? Is it not necessary for sales reps to engage during the early stages of the buying cycle or at least appear to be an expert in their field? Absolutely, they must. Essentially, the channel for sales rep engagement may have changed, but the conversation is still the same.

Social selling experts are armed with a lot of tips and tricks for how to use social media to sell and it is important to learn the intricacies of each channel to be able to effectively use them. Likely the most important tip in B2B selling? Your LinkedIn profile. Google is full of tips to make your LinkedIn profile attractive to whoever you want to attract whether it be prospects, potential employers or recruiters. In reality, these tips are the same tips we all learned years ago with regards to building your resume. The only difference is that it’s now online.

The most tragic part of the social selling craze? Salespeople think social selling is the same thing as social media marketing. We’re here to tell you they are two entirely different things! While salespeople and marketers have the same ultimate goal of more revenue, they go about using social to get there differently, or at least, they should. In most B2B organizations, marketing uses social to support revenue a couple of ways:

  1. Grow customer loyalty
  2. Retain and Support Customers
  3. Grow relationships with industry experts
  4. Drive awareness through syndication of original content
  5. Drive top of funnel leads
  6. Have educational online conversations with potential prospects prior to sales engagement

Sales people should be using social to grow revenue in these ways:

  1. Market themselves as a thought leader in their industry
  2. Engage personally with customers and prospects
  3. Prospecting for new customers
  4. Account mapping
  5. Stay up on industry landscape and trends
  6. Competitive analysis

Now that we all know what social selling really is and how it’s different than social media marketing, don’t let anything else drive a wedge between your sales and marketing teams. Check out these tips for sales and marketing alignment.