In terms of lead generation tactics, social selling is the new kid on the block. While social media has long been heralded by marketing departments as a means to building brand awareness and directly connecting with customers, not everyone has made the critical leap from awareness to generation.

A leap that affords organizations the ability to capitalize on the social audience they’ve most likely spent years investing in – without paying for additional targeted ads or promoted posts.

Get the guide to beginning a successful outsourced sales partnership.

What is Social Selling?

Simply put, social selling is salespeople’s use of social media channels to connect and interact with prospects, generate new leads, and nurture open opportunities.

While definitions can encompass use of both a brand’s and individuals’ social media accounts, it differs from social media marketing in that it is a tailored approach focused on engaging with specific people rather than large audiences.

Social Selling: Strategies that Stick

Social media is a big world with billions of users connecting and engaging with one another across the myriad of platforms. Knowing where to start can be intimidating.

Number of social media users from 2017 to 2025, Statista.

But in the end, social media is all about creating connections (literally), which means building out relationships with engaging content and relevant interactions.

Much like reaching out to cold leads via email or phone, social selling requires multiple touches and engagements to drive results, and your strategies will encompass both direct and indirect approaches to lead generation.

Indirect Strategies

While you may have more difficulty tying these strategies directly to results, your indirect efforts will build brand awareness and familiarity, resulting in a clear uptick in things like leads visiting your website more often or downloading your content.

  1. Offer Real Value in Your Feed

Success in the social sphere requires you to be social, sharing posts and perspectives to engage your audience. That means simply sharing links with no context or additional perspective won’t cut it.

The value you offer is directly related to the content you are publishing and sharing plus the additional commentary or unique insight you provide along with it. One without the other is a recipe for unfollows.

Types of content you can share include:

  • Blogs and articles from your organization
  • Relevant news pieces from trusted industry sources or publications
  • Interesting posts from thought leaders or trusted experts
  • Upcoming webinars/events you are hosting or attending

And the best part is, once you start posting regularly, you start showing up in your audience’s feed regularly, establishing yourself as a thought leader with a clear perspective in your industry.

Bonus points if you can tag people in your posts to start a real conversation around a given topic.

  1. WIIFM

With every post and outreach you should be answering the question: What’s in it for me? The me being your audience or potential lead. This will also relate to your direct outreach efforts, but for indirect purposes, thoughtfully posting articles, snippets, or questions that are contextually relevant to your leads will increase the likelihood of engagement and ongoing conversation.

  1. Join Relevant Groups

One of the best parts about social media? The groups. This is the perfect place to find a bevy of untapped (and probably qualified) leads. Joining relevant groups will not only expand your audience but expand your perspective on the topics and touchpoints that your audience is interested in.

Note: Don’t just join a group to join it. If you want to generate leads you need to participate in the conversation and add your perspective on specific topics.

Direct Strategies

Think of this as your 1:1 approach, requiring tailored messaging – say goodbye to any canned templates. For this reason, you will need to be specific in your messaging and purpose for outreach.

  1. Connect with the Right People

Because the direct approach to social selling and lead generation requires such personalization and targeting you don’t want to waste your time with leads that don’t fit your ideal customer profile.

Social media is like an encyclopedia of information on your leads, do some digging and find the audience that fits your objectives.

  1. Start Small

Nothing is worse than a random or unsolicited connection. A great place to start your social engagement is by checking out what they are sharing in their own feed, commenting on something that relates to your outreach or simply liking a post that they’ve recently shared – these simple actions can do wonders to gain you familiarity when you do go to connect.

  1. 3×3 Research Method

If you want your new leads to hit accept on your request, you need to relay exactly why you’re connecting and how it’s beneficial to their social sphere, which means you need to do your research. The 3×3 method breaks down like this: find 3 pieces of relevant content that can then be personalized within roughly 3 minutes by simply scanning the prospect’s profile for likes, shares, other areas of interest.

Personalizing your message to your audiences’ interests and perspectives heightens the chance of them accepting your request and engaging in a meaningful (lead generating) conversation. 

  1. Don’t Let Your Social Efforts Stand Alone

Social selling shouldn’t be your only channel of outreach. In an ideal world, you should be pairing social engagement with a follow-up email or phone call, ensuring you never overuse any one individual channel.

Need help? Partnering with an outsourced sales development service makes it easy to connect with qualified leads right away, so no one falls through the cracks.

Social Selling: Tools of the Trade

In today’s digital world, there’s no need to do everything manually. These tools will aid your social selling and lead generation efforts to ensure you never waste your time on a less than stellar prospect.

  1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator

This tool may just be your new best friend, offering insight and information on new leads and prospects to include in your network.

  1. Social Scheduling Platform

Posting natively can be extremely time consuming, wasting precious hours that should be devoted to connecting with new leads. Using a social publishing platform can ease that burden and help you streamline your posting schedule, ensuring you never miss a posting opportunity. Great options include Hootsuite, Buffer, and Okotpost.

  1. SparkToro

Not sure what your audience would find relevant? SparkToro’s Audience Intelligence provides the kind of insight that will be invaluable to your social selling game with access to the who your audience is following, what they find interesting, and where you should be posting. It can even help you find lists of potential prospects and influencers.

  1. Sales Prospecting/Lead Tool

While these types of tools won’t give you the social handle of your target audience, they will give you enough information to find them on social and begin to build out that connection. Whether you use ZoomInfo or AeroLeads or any of the other alternatives, this database of leads is a great place to begin your social efforts.

  1. CRM

Your CRM is your goldmine of customer information, and it should include social contact as well. Tracking social efforts will only help to qualify leads and offer valuable insight into their pain points and potential business with you.

While social selling may be relatively new to the game, it has proven to play in the same weight class as some of the best lead generating tactics. You just have to start connecting.

Considering Outsourced Sales Development?

Don't make your decision until you read our guide to creating a successful partnership for growth.

your guide to partnering for growth mockup