When you think of social selling, I wouldn’t be surprised if every spammy message that ever made you hit the “Report Spam” button came to mind.
The truth is, when done right, social selling can produce an ROI unlike any other social media marketing tactic. LinkedIn has been proven to be 277% more effective for lead generation so this article is going to focus on social selling with LinkedIn.
When I’m training a sales team or a professional organization on advanced social selling techniques, here are the six major components I ensure they master:
- Laying the foundation for your success with a professional and well calculated online presence
- Creating value & positioning yourself as a authority on your topic through quality content
- Growing your online network with targeted prospects
- Engaging with prospects to create a dialogue
- Building the relationship over time by continuing to provide value while displaying thought leadership
- Moving the conversation offline
19 Steps To Social Selling [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Laying The Foundation For Your Success
1. Have a professional headshot and a fully completed profile
You cannot start advanced social selling tactics until you have a LinkedIn profile that is 100% complete and professional. If you haven’t done this yet, stop everything and read the 21 Steps To Creating The Perfect LinkedIn Profile right now.
2. Ensure your profile is client focused
The truth is, your clients don’t care about you. They only care about the solutions that you can provide to their existing problems. Social selling on LinkedIn begins with a profile that speaks to your target audience not a boring bio all about you.
3. Strive to get 5-10 recommendations for your current position
Testimonials and recommendations are powerful and they hold even more weight on your LinkedIn profile since prospective clients can investigate who is actually giving them to you. If you have experience that includes well-known companies and clients, you’ll want to do everything you can to get them to provide a LinkedIn recommendation for you. I can’t count the number of leads and new clients I’ve gotten based on my recommendations alone!
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE: Ask yourself if you look impressive to potential prospects when they check out your website and your LinkedIn profile. Do not move on until this is done!
Create Value & Display Thought Leadership
4. Create compelling, high-value content
Part of your social selling process should include creating content to address the various concerns your prospects have as they move through each stage of the sales cycle. Today’s consumers are smart and they are doing research long before they ever speak to you, so make sure it’s your content they are coming across.
5. Curate popular content created by others that is relevant to your target market
The next best thing to creating your own great content for is finding and sharing helpful content others have created. The idea is to become known for having your finger on the pulse of all things related to your industry.
6. Stay top of mind with connections by sharing content via daily status updates
Each day share at least one piece of valuable content through your LinkedIn status update. This will become more effective as you grow your network with prospects. You will start to have your content seen by your 2nd and 3rd degree networks as your 1st degree network starts to engage with your content.
7. Share a compelling article that is relevant to your ideal clients in highly targeted LinkedIn groups
Whether it is an article you’ve written yourself or one a great one you found through one of your reliable content sources, share compelling content inside targeted LinkedIn groups up to once a week. Think about how you can create a conversation that will engage the entire group, not just sharing content that makes you or your industry look good.
FOR EXAMPLE: An accountant sharing an article entitled “13 Tax Errors That Can Trigger An Audit”, in LinkedIn groups targeted at entrepreneurs.
Grow Your Network: Closing The Gaps Between You & Prospects
8. Connect with all existing colleagues, clients and any other professional connections you already know outside of LinkedIn
LinkedIn only makes it easy for you to connect with 2nd level connections, aka people that are connected to your connections. This is why it’s important to connect with as many people as possible in the beginning to open up your network. Start by connecting with people you already know from colleagues to clients.
9. Join LinkedIn groups that are relevant to your target market
You can join a maximum of 50 LinkedIn groups. Place less emphasis on joining groups relevant to your industry and more on groups that focus on the industries or interests of your target market. It is through these groups that your network will widen and make it easy for you to directly connect with prospects that you wouldn’t otherwise find.
10. Use advanced search to find new, targeted prospects to connect with
Your social selling strategy wouldn’t be effective if it didn’t connect you with new people! Discussing all the different ways to do this is beyond the scope of this article, but I highly encourage you to read The Guide to Network on LinkedIn For Business.
11. Connect with 2nd and 3rd level connections that have engaged with your content
Keep an eye out for anyone in your extended network that has engaged with your content. 2nd level connections are especially crucial since they know someone you know!
12. Use LinkedIn tags to categorize new connections (i.e. hot prospects, strategic alliances etc.)
When the LinkedIn Contacts feature became available on personal profiles it changed the game entirely for prospecting on LinkedIn. One of the best changes to LinkedIn Contacts was the improvement to the Tag feature. Use tags to easily mark hot prospects, existing clients, strategic partners or anything else that helps you group your connections together to stay organized and efficient.
Engage & Interact – The Quest To Initiate Dialogue
13. Create new discussions within relevant LinkedIn groups to get in front of potential prospects
Creating new discussions within LinkedIn groups is an easy way to stay in front of other group members that could turn into leads and clients.
14. Leave thoughtful comments on other people’s content and discussions in LinkedIn groups that contain your target market
Simply saying, “Great post!” is not good enough. Spend 10 minutes every few days to look through LinkedIn groups for discussions you can add real value to.
15. Check daily to see who is viewing your profile
It’s useful to check out who is viewing your profile to see if there are potential opportunities to initiate dialogue with prospects or anyone else that may be spending sometime checking you out. My preference however is to NEVER approach the conversation saying “I see you viewed my profile.” I’m sure you can come up with a more clever way to initiate a conversation.
16. Comment on status updates from connections in your network to stay top of mind
Surf through your home page on LinkedIn and look for opportunities to interact with your connections. It could be as simple as commenting on a blog post they shared or congratulating them on a new position.
17. Keep in touch with prospects by sending them high-value & relevant content with no pitch attached
The key here is having no pitch attached. Come from a place where you genuinely want to help somebody otherwise you will be seen as a self-serving spammer. Your social selling tactics don’t benefit you if they are ignored by prospects.
18. Use LinkedIn’s Reminder feature to ensure you follow up and continue to build the relationship
Remind yourself to keep in touch with valuable connections by using LinkedIn Reminders. You can find them on any of your connections’ profiles. People you just met over the Internet aren’t going to trust you right away. You need to build a relationship first so make sure you have done that before you move to the next step.
Moving The Conversation Offline
19. Request to move your dialogue offline
Once you’ve established rapport and started to build a relationship with a new connection, it’s time to request to move the conversation offline. Depending on how you do business, you’ll want to set up a phone call, Skype call or in-person meeting.
By the time you’ve reached this point you should have proven three things:
- You are credible & knowledgeable in your industry
- You are aware of a problem they might be experiencing
- You have an effective solution that will fix it
Social selling isn’t about pitching; it’s about building relationships and adding value. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to move the conversation offline – this is where you will turn a prospect to a client.
- Take action when there is an open door for dialogue and then request to move your conversation offline.
- Position with their needs first.
- They must have a need for what you’re offering.
- It’s not all about prospects – keep an eye out for great potential strategic partnerships and referral partners.
- 21 Steps To Create The Perfect LinkedIn Profile
- 6 Steps To Turn Online Contacts Into Clients
- The 15 Best FREE LinkedIn Training Resources
- LinkedIn Etiquette: 20 Do’s & Don’ts [Infographic]
- How To Build The Perfect LinkedIn Headline
- The Guide To Networking on LinkedIn For Business
Social selling when used properly can produce much better results than traditional sales and marketing approaches. Some of the largest companies in the world are using advanced social selling techniques very successfully. You can too.
What do you think? Have you tried social selling on LinkedIn? What successes have you had? Share your questions and comments below.