12 Most Useful Tips to Get the Sale in Social Media

12 Most Useful Tips to Get the Sale in Social Media

Social Media is a powerful platform whose driving force is community building. By most definitions, community building is counter-intuitive to selling. And if social media isn’t about selling, why should a business care?

They should care because their consumers care. We’ve all heard and seen the overwhelming statistics about the adoption of social media as the primary source for pre-purchase product research as well as the prioritization of the medium for personal communications and referrals. But how does a business reconcile their need to sell to this online community and the anti-sales sentiment of that same community?

Below is a list of the 12 Most Useful Tips to Get the Sale in Social Media based on my experience working with mid- to large-sized companies.  Admittedly, some are “no-brainers” and just plain common sense, yet many sales organizations get hung up on the technology that they forget the simple things. Others are new ideas for generating sales that have been created in response to the “community-building vs. selling” realities of social engagement. Either way it’s a good exercise to use this as checklist for your own sales team’s activity.

1. Don’t ask for the Sale

I know. Sales heresy! The essence of community building is the creation of an ecosystem where members of the community support each other. A salesman is seen as a predatory animal circling the safety of the group. When under perceived attack, the group closes itself off or gathers together to fight off the threat. You must understand how to become a member of the community rather than the outsider.

2. Ask for the Sale

Wait, what?! Social Media heresy! Point #1 notwithstanding, the trick is to understand HOW to ask for the sale in these networks and WHEN.  Asking for the sale in social media requires a complete rethink of traditional tactics but it must, and can be done. Further, selling in social communities for most businesses is a long-term process and one that requires patience.  Some of the following tips will help.

3. Support Influencers

If a direct sales pitch make you an outsider in social communities have an insider make the pitch for you! Identify leaders within the target community who have influence over its members, understand what their motivations are and then fulfill their needs. In turn, they will promote your product or service “from the inside”.  And you’ll be there waiting to pick up the phone when they call.

4. Generate Reviews and Testimonials

Look to your existing, satisfied customers and where they are engaging online. Chances are their online networks are full of prospective customers. Ask (there’s that “ask” word again) those customers for introductions to others in their online networks. And don’t forget to ask for official testimonials in writing or video to use on other web properties.

5. Engage Disgruntled Customers

Equally important to the happy customers are the disgruntled ones. Social media has given them the power to affect your ability to sell by painting a negative view of your business or product before your sales team can make the call. This is a pre-emptive tip but one that will aid in the proactive sales effort. Secondly, publicly addressing poor customer service issues can turn the negative customer into your strongest brand advocate and demonstrate to the world how much you care about the customer experience. The effect of the public display of concern will far outweigh the negative impact of the original complaint.

6. Public Acknowledgments

Where ever possible, acknowledge the “friends of the brand”, your staff, suppliers or customers. Calling them out publicly elevates their status, which in turn drives loyalty and repeat business. Further, it sets the expectation for what prospective customer might experience if they were to engage your business.

7. Broadcast Yourself

“Don’t tell me, show me” is a critical adage in social communications. We’re inundated with statuses, tweets, blogs and other text-based marketing messages. Differentiate yourself with a video blog or video testimonial on your site or a branded YouTube channel. Users choose to view a video, which is less threatening that a direct sales message in this medium.

8. Engage Your Customer Service and PR Teams

The lowest hanging fruit in any sales funnel are existing customers. Upselling those who have already shown affinity to your brand is easier and can be more profitable for the business. If your customer service or PR teams are engaging staff, prospects and customers online, be sure that they understand how to uncover upsell opportunities and coordinate your offline “follow up efforts” with them.

9. Sponsor an Online Community

You can be a member of a community without active participation. Enabling the community to exist through donations, resource support or moderation demonstrates your interest in that group, which will drive brand affinity. Brand affinity increases the likelihood of members calling you directly or being receptive to your offline call.

10. Create an Online Customer Community

One of the move valuable lessons learned by businesses engaged in social communications is the power of inclusion. Establishing communities that ask members to help create, vet or modify a product creates a sense of ownership. This is easily done through Wikis, extranets or Facebook groups. That sense of ownership will drive a more powerful brand awareness  among customers, within their other communities as well as increasing loyalty and repeat business.

11. Develop or Curate “Decision-Making Content”

Demonstrating thought leadership is critical to establishing the required trust in your prospect database. Social Media provides you the opportunity to demonstrate this in the most cost effective manner possible by adopting a social communication strategy that shares company-created or 3rd party resources that address the needs of your audience.

12. Enable Your Customers

Ensure every engagement that your customers have with your brand, with the content you syndicate or the communities your sponsor, provides the tools to include those activities with others in their social graphs. Integrating tools like Livefyre or Shoutlet into your social communication plan will amplify the engagement and drive more people into your social ecosystem.

The key, regardless of the tactic that you choose to utilize, is to change your outbound sales focus from product- or business-centric to customer-centric. No matter how good your product is or how popular your brand is, you’re nothing without the customer.  It’s not about you so get over yourself. Remember people love to buy. They hate to be sold to.

My last piece of advice is the phrase I use to end my social media sales keynote presentation with: “Go forth and create social conversations, stop making announcements”.

Do you have a favorite  social media sales tip? We’ll update this list in the future so please post your experiences below.

Featured image courtesy of Vermin Inc licensed via creative commons.

Sam Fiorella


Sam Fiorella is a globetrotting interactive marketing strategist who has earned his stripes over the past 20 years in senior management roles with corporate sales &marketing teams as well as consulting for more than 30 marketing agencies. Sam’s experience with over 1600 Interactive projects during the past 15 years spans the government, finance & insurance, manufacturing, national retail and travel/tourism sectors. Currently, Sam is the Chief Strategy Sensei at Sensei Marketing, where he is charged with strategic campaign guidance and marketing technology development that power the Sensei Customer Lifecycle Methodology. Sam is a respected blogger and popular keynote speaker on marketing, branding and social media communications having presented at more than 200 conferences in the past 2 years. Follow Sam on Twitter or Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Super post, Sam! The first two points (read - Title) are brilliant :) Keep it up.


Thanks for this article Sam - enjoyed it. We all need reminders on the benefits of social media and ways in which it may be used to drive revenue. I often call it my hobby as I continue to learn more -- my explanation is that since I'm not making money from it, it must be a hobby!

One additional comment missing as shown in the aftermath comments ..... say it out loud and it rolls off people, record it and they may remember it, but if you write it down, it will be attached to you and can stay with you forever. Where's Erma Bombeck (Ms. Manners) in Social Media? I'd say manners in social media has to be over emphasized because many people forget that what they write, can come back to haunt them or give a negative first/lasting impression.


Jeannette Marshall




Am I just picking on you or are your posts (especially the ones on sales) a representation of all that is wrong with the social media marketing profession. I'll start with your first three points because the rest of the post is just social media "yada yada" stuff that are mostly indirect selling methods (which is ultimately what social media is).

1. "A salesman is seen as a predatory animal circling the safety of the group." Only someone who either never worked in sales, succeeded in sales or met a successful salesperson would utter such a sentence. It's an affront to those salespeople, like myself, who earned the respect and trust of my clients and my community during my 10+ years in the profession.

2. "Asking for the sale in social media requires a complete rethink of traditional tactics but it must, and can be done." Must? Nice blanket statement; would be nice if you explained exactly how because the "ask" for the sale always comes after the salesperson has earned the right to do so; in any medium. You might be able to sell a $10 ebook on social media but you're not gonna sell anyone $50k worth of office equipment on twitter.

3. As for influencers, "understand what their motivations are and then fulfill their needs" Huh?

12. "No matter how good your product is or how popular your brand is, you’re nothing without the customer." No need to drop in another buzzword ("customer-centric") because good products from popular brands get sold.

Ultimately, the social space is just a dangling carrot in front of prospective customers. The goal is to lead them to your site, to call for information, to come into your store, etc. It's not the place to ask for the sale. "Engagement" isn't selling. You'd know this if you ever had a sales meeting with a prospective customer that turned into a great discussion that ultimately didn't lead to a sale. Your sales manager would ask you, "Did you get the sale?" and you'd tell him all about this great discussion you had withe the prospect. "Did you get the sale?" You'd tell him how you both came from the same neighborhood and how you had so much in common. "Did you get the sale?" You get where this is going?

You might think I'm picking on you of late. I'm not. Unfortunately, I come across these posts via my stream and what this post looks like is an attempt to get eyeballs with its "tips to get the sale" title. Stop making the sales profession something it ain't, especially if you have little to no experience in sales as, at the very least, a Sales Manager. The sales profession is like the social media marketing profession: you got those that know what they're doing and those that hope people believe they know what they're doing.

"Until thy feet have trod the Road, Advise not wayside folk." ~Rudyard Kipling


Great stuff, Sam! Still learning the (what for and how to) of social media, your insights sure are helping me on my path. Thanks! John


Valuable info as usual Sam... thanks for sharing-- I'm watching you #WorldDomination


Great post, Sam! I love, love, love #5! It's a powerful way to use social media. Great list!



Thanks Jeanette. I like the hobby vs job delineation you made! The best jobs often start out as hobbies!

On your second point, sadly there are those that revel in publicity, even if it’s bad. The notoriety it gives them masks the true nature of other people’s true opinions, those that are spoken offline. But as with all areas of life, there is room for everyone in this space.

Variety is the spice of life…life would be boring without…etc, etc, etc.



Thanks sharing your opinions Dan. I always appreciate alternate points of view.

I was not aware of all the experience you've had driving sales for corporations using social media. But I'm happy to learn from you. I do wish to make a few clarifications however.

1) First off, I am/have been a salesman & business owner earning in excess of 6-figures for 20 years so your suggestion that I'm not a successful salesman is simply incorrect. Secondly, the words you wish to put in my mouth: me calling salespeople "predators" is also misleading. The point was how those in social communities - potential customers - view overt sales efforts by salespeople in those same communities. You're clearly misrepresenting the intent of the piece for some purpose, so I'll just leave it at that. You have my Skpe address. Feel free to call anytime to discuss it however.

2) I agree that a salesperson must earn trust & earn right to ask for the sale in any industry –online or offline. That was the theme of point number 1, which if I understand correctly, you seem to object to. You once again are misrepresenting my comments for some purpose when you suggest that I'm saying someone can sell $50K of office equipment through Twitter. What I said was that selling through social media can be done, it's a long term process (the exact opposite of just "Twitter" in fact), and you must have patience. And for the record, I - along with any others successful businesses – have sold office equipment and more in excess of $50K through social media engagements. Again you have my Skype number, I'd be pleased to discuss those with you if you're interested.

12) Yes, in fact I have had meetings with many customers - daily in fact - and subsequent meetings with CEOs and VPs of Marketing. Usually it’s been me in those positions. And yes, recently, we’ve discussed the relationship that is being built with customers’ offline and through social engagements. And again, yes we've discussed the "engagement" vs. "did you get the sale today" as we chart and track how we're building trust with those we engage - and at what point in that engagement it would be appropriate to offer a product or service for sale. I'm sorry that you have not had those similar situations in all your sales experience, but that does not make someone else’s experiences any less valid, nor a reason to be so derogatory about out it.

Finally, I don't believe you are "picking on me" and if you were, frankly I'd not give it a second thought. It does trouble me however that you continuously try and misrepresent the intentions of many of my posts and tweets for your own platform. A simple question to ask for clarification would suffice and probably add more to the community we're both engaged in. Or as we've done in the past - call me to discuss. I'll always take your call.

Thanks again for sharing your opinions.


@JohnFeskorn That's great!! My motto has always been: Feed Your Community, Not Your Ego. I'm glad I could be of some service. Reach out anytime. Twitter: @samfiorella


@jeanniecw # 5 is one of the more powerful tips. Think of this: Have you ever heard of a gruntled customer? Probably not. There seems to be more disgruntled customers no? So leverage them!! ;)


You know, I'm always skeptical about people that feel the need to start blowing their horns about how much they make and the big execs they have meetings with. Trust me, you don't want to get into a pissing match with me on who makes what and who knows who. A look at my website makes it clear who my clientele are and my level of involvement in my community. As for "driving sales for corporations using social media", give me a break. I know about driving sales using sales techniques that are tried and true - and still are. Maybe you should stop reading Brian Solis and pick up a book by Zig Ziglar ;)

Nice to see you got a little fight in you... @samfiorella


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