If you only have an hour of the sales team’s time, what can you really teach them about how to use social media in their day-to-day work? The answer depends on how well you plan up front to make the education process as compelling and simple to digest as a post on Twitter or Facebook.

As the holidays draw closer, there might actually be a few extra windows of opportunity to get sales reps together and talk about social selling, but even if there’s not, the important thing is not to treat a lunch n’ learn on the subject as a one-off event. Instead, use social selling sessions to learn as much as you teach about the team’s level of aptitude and their willingness to engage via new channels. You take care of ordering the food. We’ll provide some other things to keep in mind:

Make It Live, and Real-Time

Walking through a canned slide presentation won’t make much of an impression on sales reps if they aren’t already familiar with social media services and how to use them. Instead, use the company’s brand account (if there is one) or even your own to demonstrate the basics they’ll need to get started. Some examples include:

  • Choosing the right platforms: People might have kids who use Snapchat, and they might even use Facebook in their personal lives, but customers are prospects might be more likely to engage on business-oriented services such as LinkedIn or Twitter. Discuss the options and steer them to the best choices.
  • Account setup and logging on: This is a good time to reinforce proper security policies by choosing passwords that are difficult for others to guess.
  • Profile setup: Have a good example ready with a professional headshot, a succinct description of your company and the value it provides, and how to include links back to your site. Take a few minutes to have attendees write their own short bios for Twitter or LinkedIn to help them position their personal brand.

Emphasize Listening As Much As ‘Talking’

The best sales reps know they can’t drown out their customers if they want to grow their business with them, and the same thing applies to social media. It’s not merely a matter of sharing content from our blog but using social media as a research tool. There are different ways to do this across various services, and these are just a few of the examples:

Twitter: Explain how hashtags on services like Twitter can offer a quick and easy way to understand what customers and prospects are interested in and what stage of the buyer journey they’re on. Start with hashtags that use your product or service type so they can see what people are currently saying about it, whether it’s positive or negative, so they are better armed when they have live conversations.

LinkedIn: Identify a few open groups related to your sector or typical customer profile and show how joining one would allow them to monitor discussions about typical pain points or other interesting trends. Do a search on a specific job title to show prospects who are not only on LinkedIn but publishing their own thought leadership content on Pulse, which could be a way to better understand their priorities if they make contact later on.

Quora: This often-overlooked social media service is based entirely on everyday people asking questions on all types of topics, including recommendations on the best products or services in a particular area. Sales reps can use this to get competitive intelligence about what rival brands are getting mentioned, as well as a sense of who the real influencers are.

Point People To What To Share Besides ‘Please Buy Now!’

There’s no better way to lose followers than by constantly making a hard pitch on a regular basis. Instead, help your sales team build credibility and rapport in a social media setting by giving them examples of the content they can easily link to without doing a lot of writing. Your company may produce its own content, but curating third-party sources is always a good idea. This can include:

  • Blog posts from industry analysts, the mainstream media or even your own customers
  • White paper or other research that helps make the business case for your products and services
  • Videos or other multimedia recaps or events and industry conferences some people might have missed


Set Reasonable Expectations To Nurture The Right Behaviours

Your lunch n’ learn attendees should not walk away thinking they have to be all social media, all the time. The better approach is to look for practical ways they can augment what they’re already doing or position social media as a fallback tactic when nothing else works.

In a Q&A on Forbes, for example, social selling advocate Jack Kosakowski makes using LinkedIn, Twitter or similar channels both natural and strategic:

“The key here is to be efficient with your time on social media. Your time must be spent on revenue generating activities like prospecting, nurturing, and engagement.  This should only take between thirty minutes and an hour a day,” he says. “Analyze your day and figure out where your inefficiencies are in your process.  If you are spending 2 hours cold calling and you find you aren’t connecting during a certain time period, replace that thirty-minute block with social.  It’s important to be consistent so that social selling becomes a habit like your other tasks.”

As with lunch n’ learns on any topic, there may be a few questions that can’t be fully answered in the time provided. But that’s okay. This should be merely the beginning of an ongoing, open dialogue to help your team hit its quota and create more valuable customer relationships along the way.

Learn more about the anatomy of a successful social selling strategy here as well as in Saleforce’s free eBook: