At the end of September, Mark Elliot of Venture Accelerator Partners kicked off the fall season of the MaRS Best Practices series with a presentation about social media and the business-to-business (B2B) sales process at Social Media Week in Toronto.

In today’s market, there is a huge opportunity for sales teams to leverage social media to help with account management and prospecting, and to reinforce their status as subject matter experts. You can view my presentation from Social Media Week in Toronto below.

Here are the five keys to successfully using social media for B2B sales.

1. Pick the right platforms

Obviously, there is no shortage of social media platforms available to make use of. However, understanding which ones your customers, prospects and partners use for business is the key. From there, pick the top two to work with on a daily basis. For most B2B sales reps, the best platforms are LinkedIn and Twitter.

2. Create a plan

It’s very easy to let social media become a time suck. Conversely, it’s also easy to not be present on social media for large stretches of time. By creating a plan that has you spending 15 minutes on social media a minimum of twice a week, you can be incredibly and surprisingly productive. Sharing new content, connecting with people and engaging with other users are all activities that should be done regularly.

3. Share

I find that many people who use social media ineffectively tend to either not share or they only share information about their own company. Social selling—and social media for B2B sales in particular—is about connecting with your prospects on their own terms, so the key is to share a mix of third-party, customer, partner and original content.

4. Use tools

There are a number of great free social media management tools that can support your social media efforts. My favourite, and one I use every day, is HootSuite. It allows me to find great content, schedule posts and engage with prospects, customers and partners. It also has a great mobile app that is extremely handy for a salesperson on the road or in between meetings.

5. Marketing or leadership support

There are a few things that marketing and leadership teams can do to help sales teams succeed with social media. The first and perhaps most important is to help sales teams understand the value and support of using social media throughout the sales process. Second, they can create great new content on a regular basis to promote engagement at multiple levels. This gives sales reps the chance to point back to your site regularly and boost your organization’s credibility as a subject matter expert.

As always, if you haven’t started yet, make sure to create a plan before you start using social media for B2B sales.

To learn more tips on using social media to build reputation and to support B2B sales, check out this “Hot Tips for Startups” video.

Other resources:

Feature photo credit: Social media apps by Jason A. Howie CC BY 2.0

Mark Elliott

Mark Elliott is the co-founder of Venture Accelerator Partners, a company that provides part-time sales and marketing assistance to growing technology firms. Mark has over 15 years of sales, marketing and management experience. See more…