Every business uses social selling. Including yours -- even though you might not realize it.

Social social selling is the process of building stronger relationships with potential customers based on truly understanding their needs and problems (in short, better knowing the people you hope to do business with.) That's why social selling is increasingly important to salespeople and business owners.

But just like any marketing and sales strategy, social selling is a skill -- and some are better at that skill than others.

The following is from Jonathan Lister, the Vice President of North America Sales for Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, about how to use role models to increase the effectiveness of your entire sales team.

Here's Jonathan:

Everyone needs a role model, no matter how long they've been in sales Ideally, the learning curve never stops if you want to stay current with the techniques that drive relationships and close deals.

This is particularly true if social selling is making inroads with your sales team (and it certainly should be). Early adopters of social selling can help whip up enthusiasm for social relationship-building, especially when everyone sees the good results.

Seeking out and supporting social selling champions brings value to your business. For one thing, they're fun to be around--their passion for building relationships is infectious. They tend to have greater clarity on trends driving sales. They're the forward thinkers who adopt fresh ideas ahead of the people who hesitate to try something new.

For example, Phil Amato, a marketing and communications manager at Microsoft, grew social selling adoption from 15 sellers to 3,000 in less than two years, much of which he credits to the tremendous passion and impressive results social selling drove.

If you're trying to make social selling an integral part of your sales strategy, the champions are the people to build stories around. Hard data from champions--like how many new contacts they make, and how many deals they close--will drive adoption of social selling.

For example, Qualtrics biz dev representative Bryce Nobles documented how he went from being one of the lowest performers on his team to one of the top 10% with social selling. But the other factor in adoption is storytelling about how well social selling works, and why it brings salespeople in contact with prospects they might not otherwise reach.

How do you identify your social selling champions? They tend to be people who are involved in social in many other aspects of their lives besides sales. They're the ones who are known for building large and strong networks with friends and colleagues. They're often content creators as well: They may be trying their hand at publishing as a way to broaden their influence with their networks.

They're typically "givers," not "takers"--that is, they're willing to forsake immediate payback for their social outreach efforts, in favor of creating strong relationships.

Keep in mind that social selling champions may not be the most successful deal closers on your sales team; however, since they lead the charge toward this key change in sales relationships, they're the ones who will create the change you need.

Also, don't assume that social selling experts will only come from the younger digital natives on your team. Look for the right behaviors, not the "right" age group. Maybe some recent grads will fit the champion model, but so will people who've been in the workforce for a while and who are open to fresh ideas.

Once you've identified your social selling champions, put them to work. Ask them to identify the next layer of potential social selling champions in the organization, so these people can get on board with the social selling program (under the tutelage of the champions, of course). Given champions' talents with networking, they are skilled at mapping your organization to determine who can help you build up social selling prowess.

When social selling is rolled out to the wider organization, champions can help by keeping the conversation going about social selling successes. They can congratulate their peers who see early success using social selling techniques, and they can give feedback to sales leaders on how well the rollout is going.

When you're choosing your all-star social selling lineup, pick people who have different approaches to the social selling challenge--for example, salespeople who weave in tried-and-true sales tactics, like identifying hot prospects and building new relationships, with social.

Social selling is new enough that its early adopters are using creative ways to overlay social with other sales methodologies, and their approaches may inspire some of your resistors. The message to your team shouldn't be "all social selling, all the time"--it should be about choosing the strategies that have always worked, but revving them up with social.