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Sales is about building relationships and networks, and that's exactly what social media is made for. Often, social media has been considered the purview of the marking department; however, it’s important for sales reps to get in on the action too. Used appropriately, social media can help you to produce more qualified leads, as well as spotlight your industry expertise.

1. LinkedIn outreach – LinkedIn has said that an InMail is 30 times more likely to get a response than an email and 10 times more likely than a cold call. They even back this up with a response guarantee. If you don't get a response in 7 days, they’ll issue you an InMail credit to send another one. Therefore, it may be worth your while to test the waters by sending a few of your sales pitches via LinkedIn.

Who’s Viewed Your Profile” is another LinkedIn feature that can create new opportunities for sales reps. By showing you who has recently viewed your LinkedIn profile as well as the other profiles that those people have viewed, you can deduce whether someone may have been visiting you because of an interest in your product or service. When appropriate, reach out to them with a quick note such as “Hello, I saw that you recently visited my LinkedIn profile, were you looking for (insert your product/service)?”

2. LinkedIn for CRM – LinkedIn has become somewhat of a godsend for CRM users everywhere. Gone are the days of contact records populated with inaccurate, out-of-date information. Today, discovering whether someone has resigned, gotten a promotion or is celebrating a work anniversary (all great reasons to follow-up with a lead) is as easy as visiting their profile on LinkedIn. Many of the top CRM systems now have integrations that make updating your contacts with information from LinkedIn a breeze.

LinkedIn has also recently launched LinkedIn Contacts, a CRM rich feature that brings together all your address books, emails, and calendars from Outlook, Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and your iPhone address book and keeps them up to date in one place. From these sources, LinkedIn automatically pulls in the details of your past conversations and meetings and adds these details directly to your contact’s profile page in LinkedIn.

3. Twitter updates – Are you following all of your sales prospects on Twitter? You should be. It's a great way to learn more about them, their interests and to see what they're talking about. Retweeting their content is also a good strategy to getting on their radar in a non-threatening way. Once you know what they’re interested in, you can tailor your pitch to meet their needs or forward them a relevant article on the subject that they may find intriguing.

4. Quora answers – Savvy sales reps troll the boards of Quora in search of questions related to their business, product or service. By becoming an active participant on the topics related to your industry, posting thought-provoking questions and providing valuable answers, you are positioning yourself as an expert in your space. It can also bring awareness to the products/services that you offer by including links back to content on your website for more information when it makes sense to do so (be careful not to spam).

5. Personal branding – Each of these methods of social media interaction have an impact on your personal brand. Everything you post, every InMail you send, every retweet and every Quora answer is a direct reflection on you. There is an immediate opportunity for you to use these platforms to position yourself as a thought leader in your field. Ultimately, you being seen as an expert at what you do will result in an increase in sales and improve upon the reputation of both you and the company that you work for.

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“This article was originally posted by Prialto: The Virtual Support Service for Executives. Prialto Virtual Assistants are geared to actually pull your business forward and make delegating easy” 

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