Social media is a necessary tool in today’s sales world. Unfortunately, misconceptions about proper use abound. It’s important that salespeople know when and how to use social media to communicate with clients and prospects. In his recent blog post for Richardson Sales Training, Clark Owen writes about how a rep’s posts affect his or her sales AND professional persona. He presents common beliefs regarding sales and social media and explains why each is true or false.

For example:

“Social media is all about being authentic, expressing your personal views, and sharing imagery that exposes others to what is happening in your world. Salespeople should be able to freely post and tweet what they want.”

While free speech allows you to post whatever you want to social media, the question is, should you? Owen believes smart reps post thoughtfully. Anytime you post, you open up “a whole new channel of information about who you are as a person — your lifestyle, your habits, and how you behave with others — which makes a long-lasting impact on professional reputations,” Owen writes. So, when posting, remember that each item creates and reinforces your online image. 

“You search LinkedIn to see which of your clients have profiles there and then invite them to become connections. Salespeople should also ‘friend’ clients on Facebook and ‘follow’ them on Twitter.”

This, Owen admits, is very tricky. “People have different values and sensitivities around their work lives and the privacy of their personal lives,” he explains. Reps should recognize that not all of their professional contacts would be comfortable with being “friended” or “followed.” Owen suggests asking yourself the following when faced with this dilemma:

  • How intimately do I want to be by sharing my personal life with my client?
  • What leverage might I be surrendering?
  • How much do I want to know about my client’s personal life?
  • How much exposure does my client have?
  • Would it put my client in a compromising position if personal relationships with suppliers were discouraged or against company policy?
  • If the relationship is too personal, what happens when I have to deliver a tough message or negotiate?
  • What if my client has to deliver a tough message to me?

Even if you feel like a social media expert, check out Owen’s entire article to see how your views compare. His tips can help you make the best choices when navigating the social media world as a sales rep.

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