Are you generating new leads and clients with social selling on LinkedIn each month?
Are you able to clearly demonstrate a tangible ROI from your current social selling efforts?
If you answered no to either of these questions, you may be missing one or more of the essential elements of effective social selling on LinkedIn.
Whether you are just starting out with social selling on LinkedIn or have been doing it for a while, your success or failure will depend on four critical elements.
Even neglecting just one of these critical elements will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of your efforts to generate new leads and clients on LinkedIn.
These four essential elements are:
- Personal Branding
- Lead Generation
- Content Marketing
Let’s dive into each of these key elements to help you avoid making costly mistakes. These mistakes could not only reduce your social selling success but also damage your credibility and destroy trust you need to have with your leads and customers – the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.
Your Roadmap to Effective Social Selling on LinkedIn
Element 1: Create a strong personal brand with a professional LinkedIn profile
We live in a digital age. Over 5.135 billion people now use mobile phones, and over 3.196 billion of them are also social media users. (Source)
If you are among the 3 billion social media users, you already have a personal brand. Whether you realize it or not, your brand is being evaluated, consciously or subconsciously, by every person you interact with on social channels.
Given the data, I am sure you can see that your personal brand is critical to your success, particularly if some of those people are clients, partners or prospects.
If you are using LinkedIn, especially for the purposes of lead generation, you can be sure those decision-makers are viewing and judging your profile.
What is your LinkedIn profile telling them when they land on it?
Does it tell them you are professional, competent and trustworthy? Or is it an incomplete shell, outdated or unprofessional looking?
If it is the latter, you are severely hampering any chance you have at connecting and building professional relationships with these people.
Equally as important as having a professional profile is having a client-focused profile. It has to resonate with these same people (particularly your ideal prospects) when they land on it. You want them to know they are in the right place when they view your profile.
With this in mind, there are three things your personal brand (and LinkedIn profile) must do:
1. Build authority and credibility
Your LinkedIn profile must effectively build your credibility and position you as an authority on your topic. Highlight within your profile anything that showcases your expertise.
2. Describe how you solve your prospects’ problems
Demonstrate how you solve the problem your prospects have. No one cares about your business – everyone is focused on their specific challenges. Be the solution they are looking for. Make sure you describe it in your profile.
3. Increase trust and engagement
The ultimate goal of your LinkedIn profile (personal brand) is to develop and increase trust and inspire prospects to connect and engage with you.
To help you meet these three goals, I have created a thorough resource for you on how to create an All-Star LinkedIn profile.
Element 2: Personalize everything, and I mean everything
The importance of personal branding is not the only outcome of this new digital age.
The digital revolution has changed the way we buy – from teenagers looking for trendy new clothes to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies looking for service solutions. As a result, the way companies sell has also changed. One of the most notable changes has been personalization. Giants such as Netflix, Apple, Amazon, Google and Facebook are all providing personalized online content.
As the general population continues to expect more and more personalization, small- and medium-sized businesses are customizing the way they engage with their customers online as well.
With this focus on personalization, gone are the days of copying and pasting templated messages. Your prospects can see this a mile away. They are hitting the delete button, removing you as a connection or, worse, marking you as spam.
Even if you are selling to a company, you are first and foremost building a relationship with an individual. That individual has specific needs and challenges, and connecting with them on a personal level is necessary to show them you care about their problem.
Your customers and prospects want to be heard, understood, remembered and respected. Anything less than this will render you and your business obsolete. Your prospects will look for someone else who “gets” them.
Well-researched personalization is especially critical in your first message – the connection request – to your prospects. You have 300 characters (NOT WORDS) to give them a reason to accept your connection request. And the reason you give them must be framed from their perspective, not yours.
Even after your connection request is accepted, you must continue putting in the effort to create a unique and personalized experience for your new connection with each message you send. Display your commitment to providing value by only sending your connections messages and content that are of importance to them.
Companies of all sizes across all industries are discovering the need to make personalization a critical part of their present and future.
Why is personalization so powerful?
The psychology behind our need for personalized experiences is easy to understand. Primarily, it can be attributed to two key factors: a desire for control and information overload. (Source)
This means that when you know you’re getting something tailored to your interests, you perceive having some level of control over what you’re engaging with (even when you don’t). Personalization also can reduce our perception of information overload.
In short, we prefer personalized content because it is more relevant to us, and we are naturally more inclined to engage with information that we find relevant and interesting.
Element 3: Create a lead generation process to have conversations and build relationships
Having a professional personal brand and effectively using personalization is key to your success on LinkedIn. And directly reaching out to targeted prospects is the fastest, most reliable and effective way to generate leads and clients on LinkedIn.
To be successful at social selling on LinkedIn, you need to have a well laid out process that includes a specific list of activities that you commit to doing consistently.
We know that businesses grow five times faster with a written plan. When creating a written plan, you must know what specific social selling activities you need to implement and why they are essential. You could do many things, but many of them are time-wasters and don’t produce a positive ROI – return on investment or return on impact.
This is why I created my proprietary formula – The LINK Method™ – which can turn LinkedIn into a predictable source of new leads and clients for you.
The LINK Method™ consists of the highest leveraging activities you can do on LinkedIn to generate new clients. It includes five critical steps:
- Find prospects
- Make first contact
- Engage in dialogue
- Build relationships
- Move conversation offline
Step 1: Find prospects
There are two highly effective ways to prospect on LinkedIn. The first is doing a targeted search for prospects using the Advanced Search function. The second is leveraging your network to gain introductions.
Step 2: Make first contact
After you locate potential prospects, you need to make first contact. This process starts with your initial connection request. It must be personalized – give people a reason to connect with you. What you put in your connection request message will largely determine your overall success. If your connection requests aren’t accepted, you are wasting your time.
Step 3: Engage in dialogue
You need to establish rapport and start dialogues with your new connections so you can begin to build relationships with them. You do this by following up with personalized messages. I call them the welcome messages. And if someone has sent you a message after accepting your request, keep the conversation going.
Step 4: Build relationships
The process of building relationships requires multiple interactions with your new connection. After the initial message, send them additional messages to continue the momentum, get to know them better and provide value to them.
Nurture, nurture, nurture.
Watch for trigger events, and use those as an opportunity to start conversations and build relationships.
Step 5: Move conversation offline
Finally, you need to move the conversation and the relationship to the next level – offline. No relationship with a potential prospect should be kept solely on LinkedIn or any other online platform.
If you’ve established rapport, begun building trust and provided value to your prospects, many of them will be willing to have an offline conversation with you, be it through a phone call, a video call or even an in-person meeting.
To be successful at this, you need to earn the right for that offline conversation by following all the previous steps described above.
You get to know your prospect, understand their challenges and, when appropriate, offer your solution – offline. And it’s offline that you convert a prospect to a client.
Element 4: Build authority, credibility and trust through content marketing
It is a fundamental truth that people buy from people they know, like and trust. To accomplish this, you need to build relationships based on trust and establish your authority on your topic.
It is harder to gain trust in the digital world, where you don’t get the chance to meet someone face to face. You need to find digital ways to help your prospects get to know, like and trust you.
Just how do you prove your expertise and help your prospects?
You do it through the ACT of content marketing, which over time will increase Authority, Credibility and Trust.
Content marketing is creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a defined target audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
The content you share can be your original content or curated content. Curating content is sharing content created by others that would be of value to your target audience.
Content marketing can come in many formats
Content can take many forms. It can be written, audio, video or graphic. For example:
Written content: blog posts, articles, guest blog posts, whitepapers, eBooks, reports, case studies, emails, surveys, etc.
Audio content: podcasts, interviews, expert interviews, Q&A sessions, FAQs, etc.
Video content: how to’s, product demos, testimonials, Q&A sessions, webinars, live streams, vlogs, etc.
Graphic content: infographics, images, SlideShare presentations, charts, graphs, quotes, checklists, etc.
To be successful with content marketing, you need to understand your potential prospects’ problems. Your goal is to educate them about your solution(s) to their problem or challenge through your content.
Content is education-based marketing. The key word here is education.
Your success will also depend on the quality of the content you are sharing. You need to ensure that everything you share is high-value from the perspective of your ideal client. What you consider high-value and what they believe is high-value may be different.
High-value content that inspires engagement should be:
- timely and relevant
- engaging and/or entertaining
There’s no better or faster way to build your authority than through creating and sharing high-value content.
Summing up effective social selling on LinkedIn
Social selling on LinkedIn provides unlimited opportunities for you to generate leads, clients and sales for your business. But it works only if you include all the elements necessary to ensure you put your best foot forward, connect in a personal way with potential prospects, establish authority, credibility and trust with helpful content and are pulling all your efforts together in a proven, well laid out lead generation process.
Skip just one of these essential elements, and you will severely hamper your results, perhaps even damage your credibility. Above all else, the most important thing you can do to succeed at social selling is to educate yourself (and your team) on the most effective strategies and best practices.
If you would like to learn more about mastering the art of social selling on LinkedIn, read LinkedIn Unlocked, the definitive guide to generating leads consistently and predictably. If you are a visual and auditory learner and would like more support than a book can provide, check out Cracking the LinkedIn Code 3.0, the most comprehensive online program on effective social selling on LinkedIn.