content-15When I was a sales representative at Eloqua (known as the EloQueen) selling into marketing departments, I read every publication marketing professionals read. And I didn’t just passively consume -- I also shared articles across my network and commented on others’ posts.

While it might sound counterintuitive, I tried to take the attitude of helping my customers above selling them. That’s why I emulated their reading and sharing habits as much as possible -- I earned their trust by knowing what they cared about and actively contributing to the conversation.

And the contributing part was key. Building knowledge was only part of the equation -- my newfound insights wouldn’t have helped me build a reputation as a trusted advisor if no one knew I had them.

For example, my husband reads the Wall Street Journal every morning. Meanwhile, I’m scrolling through the updates on my LinkedIn home page, liking, commenting on, and sharing other people's content. Although the information he’s consuming would be very valuable to the people in his network, he has no ability to share, unless he cuts out the article and physically sends it to one person. The impact of one-to-many far outweighs that of one-to-one.

You might think content belongs exclusively in the realm of marketing, but I beg to differ. In fact, I see the modern salesperson as more of a mini-marketer than a hard closing machine. That’s why my third pillar of social selling is “use content to (re)engage your buyer.”

But this is new territory for salespeople, and questions arise. I’ve tackled the answers to three of the most common below.

What content should I be sharing?

Lots of people share their company’s content, and that’s fine. Just make sure it’s not the only content you share. An endless stream of branded content from one source gets annoying fast.

Instead, get down with OPC -- other people’s content. What other people? Just about anybody who’s writing: analysts, bloggers, thought leaders, practitioners, experts, the list goes on.

When in doubt, observe your buyers. Take note of what they’re sharing on social channels, and subscribe to the publications they’re reading. Read and curate the content they’re interested in, and then dive into the conversation.

Does this mean salespeople have to or should be blogging?

In short: no. Most salespeople aren’t writers, and that’s okay. But you don’t have to be a wordsmith to go out and curate OPC.

However, if you’re inclined to blog or create other original content (salespeople are talkers -- what about a video?), absolutely go for it. Sander Biehn of AT&T won a $47 million dollar deal thanks in part to his blogging efforts! If writing is a passion, make it part of your social selling strategy.

I’m reading and sharing. Now what?

Finding and sharing content are important steps in connecting with your buyer through content, but there’s another key component that often goes overlooked: engaging. It’s great to share a thought leader’s article on Twitter, but how about retweeting others’ curated content, or liking a post on LinkedIn or Facebook? It’s fantastic to blog on the LinkedIn platform, but what about commenting on someone else’s blog? Don’t forget to get involved in the conversation, and help others promote their work.

If you start by emulating your buyers and curating and sharing the content they’re interested in, it won’t be long before others are emulating you. And at that point, you’re well on your way to trusted advisor status and #SocialSelling success.

Originally published Sep 15, 2014 6:00:00 AM, updated December 07 2016

Topics:

Social Selling