Use Social Media to Sell & Build Relationships


By Pete Van Baalen

Fort Wayne Newspapers

“Before anything else and above anything else, we are relational creatures.” Today, even in this digital era where social media drives many aspects of our lives, that phrase still holds true.

In sales, social media offers a unique opportunity to connect with our customers, and potential customers.

With a small investment of time, a sales rep can end the era of the cold call and maximize their use of social media. Through a quick Google and LinkedIN search, you can quickly have a wealth of information about the company and key people you need to do business with. Learn the basics online so your offline connections are richer.

Here are some tips to using social media to enhance your sales conversations:

  1. Find out general information about the company, history, and industry trends.
  2. Identify how digitally savvy the business by their digital footprint (company website, blogs and social media).
  3. The “About Us” or “Contact Us” section, may tell you the person you need to reach for your sale. It is better to have a name in mind when you call the company instead of asking for the person blindly.
  4. Learn how the company sets up email for its employees through their website. For instance, if they do for their email protocol, you can often determine the email address of the person you need to reach.

Connecting with people on social media, especially LinkedIN, is about building a relationship first—not sales. The sales opportunity will come eventually, but it is best to not lead with that.

Send your new contact a message online, but don’t pitch them too quickly. It’s tempting, I know.

The initial goal is to build a relationship, add value to the partnership and gain their trust. You do that by engaging with them when they post something on their page. You send them relevant information you found about their industry. You post information about your industry, showing that you are an expert in your own industry.

The goals and tactics of using social media for sales isn’t different than traditional sales, but, the platform for the relationship has changed.


Pete Van Baalen, general manager for Fort Wayne Newspapers, is a member of the HSPA board of directors and president of Indiana Newspaper Advertising Executives Association.