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For years, sales professionals were considered a primary source of product information, providing recommendations and expertise that customers relied on to make purchase decisions. The advent of social media has changed that dramatically.

Between online reviews, blogs, social media, online demos, and other sources, many buyers have already made up their mind before they even speak to a salesperson. In fact, research firm Forrester found that buyers today might be up to 90% through their decision-making journey before they even reach out to the vendor.

In the conventional sales game, that's a problem. Modern sales pros must find new ways to become a part of that process earlier, to become part of the conversation before the customer has already made up their mind.

Social selling has emerged as one way to harness this new opportunity by engaging in a two-way conversation with customers and potential customers.

By interacting directly with audiences via what has become a preferred method of communication for millions, social sales pros can listen and respond to questions and concerns, and provide proactive, helpful information; all that helps to build engaging, trusting, and loyal relationships that ultimately spur sales.

Adding social selling to your marketing mix might seem like an overwhelming task. How will you keep up with engaging each potential customer?

With so many networks and potentially millions of customers to interact with, this could be a fulltime job—and for many companies, it is. But social selling goes beyond responding to posts and direct messages; it means tapping into that treasure trove of valuable customer data to find precisely the prospects you should be focusing on.

With the right strategy and a smart approach, companies of any size can harness the power of social selling to boost sales results, without adding to their already long To Do list, and without adding staff. Here's how.

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image of Ran Gishri

Ran Gishri is VP of marketing for Leadspace, a pioneer in social lead targeting. He has helped introduce social lead targeting to recognized B2B brands such as Marketo, Jive, Badgeville, and Stylesight, to increase sales and marketing ROI and optimize outbound and inbound lead generation.