socialmediaA new research study unlocks the key to using social media for sales.

Social engagement.  Is it just another term to check off your buzzword bingo card at your next sales meeting? Not really. It simply means having robust conversations, exchanging ideas, providing insights, and sharing expertise—whether we’re online, on the phone, or meeting in person. It’s what salespeople do—or should be doing—all the time.

Does this sound like a lot of giving? You bet, and it’s critical to increasing B2B sales effectiveness.  By sharing information, ideas, solutions, and even referrals with our clients and prospects, we become trusted resources.

Put simply: By giving to them, we give them a reason to buy from us.

CSO Insights agrees with me. The newly-released “2014 10th annual Lead Management & Social Engagement” report uncovered an emerging trend in B2B sales this year: social engagement.

The report explains:

Defining some terms in the Wild West of social is especially useful. Social selling (i.e., reaching out to individuals with offers and follow-ups) is different than social marketing (i.e., putting thought leadership and other quality content out to build brand awareness). Separate still is social engagement, an umbrella term that includes social engagement and social marketing but has a broader notion of networking and participating in and creating a dialogue through group discussions, tweets, and more.

While social engagement may seem more noble or altruistic, what really is energizing ssis the adoption of social in the B2B world is the view that it is another channel for executing sales strategy.

Not every social outreach is going to result in a sale, nor should it. As you become more immersed in the “social stream,” you’ll find it has more to do with contributing and, as a result, being recognized as knowledgeable and credible. Credibility is synonymous with “trust” in the B2B world, and for all that has changed, one thing hasn’t: lack of trust will kill more deals than lack of money, urgency, and need combined. And high levels of credibility and visibility will increase your lead flow, brand awareness, and win rates.

This proves what I’ve been saying for the last two years: Social selling only works if you’re actually social, not just selling something.

For more on social selling strategies that work—and some that don’t work—check out the latest from No More Cold Calling:

Around the World in 80 Minutes: No Passport Required

While social media is not the end-all, be-all for sales, it does offer endless possibilities to expand our networks—to meet people all over the world, and to reconnect with people right in our own backyards. It reminds us to catch up, learn what’s happening in people’s lives, find opportunities to start new conversations, and strengthen our relationships offline—all of which can help drive referral sales. (Read “Around the World in 80 Minutes: No Passport Required.”)

Why Your Email Goes Unanswered

We all know digital communication isn’t as personal or powerful as a live conversation. But we tell ourselves that it’s faster, easier, and more convenient. And that’s just not always true. Digital conversations often take longer and become far more complicated than a simple phone call. (Read “Why Your Email Goes Unanswered.”)

Say Goodbye to Bad Business

Working with PITA (“pain in the ass”) clients isn’t just an unpleasant experience; it’s an opportunity cost. PITA clients push you to cut your price. Once you do, you’ve locked yourself into a downward spiral. It’s like one of those rides at Disneyland where you go round and round and think you will either lose what’s in your stomach or your head will spin off—and you really don’t care which happens first. (Read “Say Goodbye to Bad Business.”)

[Message to Management]: 14 Things Top Sales Managers Do

Sales execs tell me they don’t have time to coach their teams. But by now everyone knows that coaching and training are what turn salespeople into top performers. In this guest post, Mark Hunter (a.k.a. “The Sales Hunter”) outlines 14 tendencies that separate mediocre sales managers from extraordinary sales leaders. You might be reminded of something you forgot and should be doing to drive performance. (Read “[Message to Management:] 14 Things Top Sales Managers Do.”)

PowerPoint Is Killing Your Sales Presentation

In school, we used to learned how to reason, how to communicate, how to question, and how to argue our points of view. This was before the digital world came along and wrecked our communication skills. Find out why technology deprivation can strengthen your sales skills, and how to keep PowerPoint from wrecking your next sales meeting. (Read “PowerPoint Is Killing Your Sales Presentation.”)

How to Get Prospects to Call You Back

I see you. I know who’s calling. If I don’t recognize the name or number on my screen, I won’t answer. I’ll wait for you to leave a message, but you won’t. No one leaves a message when they’re just cold calling a list. They’re expecting someone to pick up the phone and actually listen. Reality check: Cold calling success rates are dismal. (Read “How to Get Prospects to Call You Back.”)

Do Your Connections Count?

Thousands of people have subscribed to my newsletter. But I’m not connected with thousands of people on LinkedIn. The reason is simple. LinkedIn is not a numbers game. So stop counting connections and focus on creating connections that count.

Of course, just because we aren’t connected doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. Click through to my LinkedIn profile. Am I the type of professional connection that makes sense for your business? Can we help each other? If you answered “yes” to both questions, send me a personal invitation to join your network. But please don’t use the standard LinkedIn invite. Make your case, and let’s start a conversation!