Nobody will tell you that being in sales an easy gig. Only the top performers get recognized and the people who under-perform are typically passed over for promotions or asked to leave. There are actions every sales person can take that will increase their chances at success and outside of “Sales 101” they should be investing in learning about and using every effective tool online and off to succeed. Social Selling in a B2B environment does work and there are some basic rules of social engagement every sales 2.0 leader should know and follow.

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Aim before you shoot, the spray and pray method with calls and email blasts doesn’t work. Sales people need to be smarter about who they are contacting and when they contact them. Using a sales intelligence tool and including social engagement will increase your sales performance based on a recent Aberdeen study.

Break the rules before they break you. Inside sales people should not live in a box. There are so many new tools available and sales teams should not be limited to only a phone and email as communication tools. Not using new media to connect with prospects is hurting your business.

Have a character but don’t be a character. Sales people should use social networks in a professional manner. This doesn’t mean that you need to come across as a robot, have some fun.

Lead from the front. Using social media for sales let’s you find and connect with more relevant people than any prospect list will allow. Connecting with people in the networks that they are already active in will get you more exposure and leave more lasting impressions.

Don’t confuse planning with training or talking with selling. Starting off with using social media for sales takes some planning and it has a learning curve. If you start off with just using LinkedIn and perfecting the process you will begin to understand how much of an impact social media can have on lead generation and identifying new opportunities. Don’t focus on the number of people you are connecting with, having a large network doesn’t mean anything if it’s not translating into new business.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The path to success is littered with failures. The most important skill any sales person can learn is that not every deal will be won. Getting up and working on the next opportunity is the name of the game and sales members need to learn from the mistakes they make. “Genius is 1 percent inspiration and 99 percent perspiration.”

Take risks and then more risks. The safe and easy route is a quick way to nowhere. Sales people that are strategic in thought and can execute effectively will have to assume extra risks. Maybe your plan was flawed or you zigged when you should have zagged with that new opportunity, regardless of what the situation is, you took a risk and you should own it. Continuing to take risks will force you to be smarter about your sales tactics and have the most impact on your career.