Would you like to generate more leads and sales, without the awkwardness of cold calls or uncomfortable sales tactics?
What if I told you there was a way that you could quickly and naturally get more leads and sales using LinkedIn? And it doesn’t involve a complicated or expensive sales funnel.
I hope you are not one of those who are thinking, how can I generate more sales using a platform built to find a job.
If you don’t know this already, don’t be fooled, while LinkedIn may have started out (and is still currently used) as a great place to find or be found by your ideal employers, it is so much more.
LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B relationship building platform. Its functionality is entirely built around helping you to create your professional brand and then find, connect and build a relationship with others in a professional setting.
LinkedIn is no Facebook. No one wants to know what you had for lunch or see funny pics of your cat or dog. What they do want to see, however, is how you can help them solve their unique challenges and problems (more on that later).
You might also have doubt that your target market, or ideal clients, are on and actively using the LinkedIn platform.
If you serve a B2B market, then there is an excellent chance indeed that LinkedIn is full of your ideal clients. LinkedIn is widely used not only by business owners, professional service providers, marketers, sales reps and executives but also by C-Suite leaders. This makes LinkedIn the best social network to connect directly with decision-makers of all kinds.
In fact, did you know that:
- For B2B, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than any social media platform. (Source: Hubspot)
- More than 80% of all B2B leads generated from social media come from LinkedIn. (Source: LinkedIn)
- There are 8.2 million C-level executives on LinkedIn (Source: LinkedIn)
- LinkedIn’s membership has nearly quadrupled to exceed over half a billion members (and is growing daily).
There is compelling evidence that if you serve a B2B market, you need to be using LinkedIn for lead generation and social selling.
What is Social Selling?
Perhaps you are thinking this sounds like just another pushy sales tactic.
This couldn’t be farther from what it actually is. Simply put, social selling is the art of building and leveraging relationships.
Social Selling = Relationship Building
Before I dive into the why and how of successfully using LinkedIn for social selling, I want to talk to you about the importance of your LinkedIn network.
Grow Your LinkedIn Network
While it might seem evident that growing an extensive LinkedIn network is essential, it may not be entirely for the reasons you think.
The first reason that this is important, is it shows people that you didn’t just throw up a profile yesterday. When you see someone with fewer than 500+ connections, it may trigger some red flags, such as:
- Is this a real person or a fake or spam account?
- Why does this person have such few connections?
Alternatively, if someone sees someone with a vast network, the perception is often that this person must be credible to be connected to so many people
The second reason, which is even more important, is that when you are searching for your ideal clients on LinkedIn, you can only find people who are your 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree connections or that you share a group in common with.
This is also the case if someone is searching for people who do what you do. If you are not their 1st, 2nd or 3rd-degree connection or share a group with them, you won’t show up in their search results, and that is a lost opportunity.
If you have a small network this will severely restrict your ability to find your ideal clients, should you want to use LinkedIn for social selling.
That being said, building a high-quality network is far more critical than the size of your network.
So, while you want to build an extensive network, focus on filling it with your ideal clients, partners, colleagues and industry peers.
LinkedIn permits you to join up to 100 groups, which allows you to significantly expand the size of your network (potentially by thousands or even millions of people). This makes joining LinkedIn Groups a worthwhile exercise, even if you never visit them.
The secret to making the best use of the LinkedIn Groups you join, is to targeted groups that your ideal clients are members of NOT your own industry groups, which are only filled with your competitors.
Now that you understand the importance of your network, let’s dive into the five steps to leverage social selling on LinkedIn to generate more leads, clients, and sales.
Master the 5-Step B2B Social Selling Funnel
Step 1: Find & Connect with Prospects
To find and connect with prospects on LinkedIn as part of the social selling process, it is essential to know as much about your ideal clients as possible.
To begin, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your ideal client (and, more specifically, who are they on LinkedIn)?
- What is the typical language of their business, industry, or organization?
- What kinds of challenges do they face?
Next, think of titles of the decision makers you are looking for (i.e., Digital Marketing Manager, VP of Marketing, CMO).
To get even more targeted, what industries are they in? Where are they located (city, country)?
Once you have this information, you can easily find them using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
LinkedIn Advanced Search
LinkedIn Advanced Search if an excellent tool for finding prospects to connect with.
The Advanced Search uses what is known as a Boolean search, and this gives you the ability to filter your search further, so that you can find the target market you are looking for.
Let’s say your ideal clients are VP of Sales. So, you would start by typing VP Sales into the search bar. Then click on the People option.
Next, you can improve your results by choosing only your 2nd and 3rd-degree connections, to eliminate the people you are already connected with, from your search results.
Further improve your results by using the additional LinkedIn Advanced Search filters, such as Location, Current companies, and several others.
If a search produces good results, you might want to save your search. To do this, just click on Create a search alert, located in the Saved searches box, located on the right side of the search results.
This is a powerful tool, because you will get search alerts directly from LinkedIn when people match those criteria. You can come back to these search results at any time and check for new leads and prospects. You can then go through each of the profiles, and reach out to connect with any who fit your criteria of an ideal client.
Send a Personalized Connection Request
Once you have found some prospects you wish to connect with, you will want to send a connection request that is personalized.
People receive connection requests regularly that are not personalized, and the question they are often asking themselves when receiving a request is, “Why is this person trying to connect with me?”
Your connection request should answer that question and compel them to accept. Frame your messages from their perspective, not yours.
Let me show you examples of connection requests I would and would not accept.
Would not accept: Melonie, I have a lead generation company and wanted to find out if you were interested in our services.
No, I am not interested! It’s a quick and easy IGNORE.
Here is one I would accept: Melonie, I love your book LinkedIn Unlocked. I have been applying what I learned, and I have already got 3 new clients from it. I’d like to connect so I can receive your updates. Thank you for all that you do.
Notice both of them told me why they want to connect, but only one of them got it right.
The other risk you take by not personalizing your request, is that after they click Ignore, they will also have the option to click I don’t know this person. When you receive too many of these, you land yourself in LinkedIn jail with a LinkedIn Account Restriction.
Step 2: Engage & Build Rapport
After someone accepts your connection request, think about the process you would use to build a relationship with that person face to face. To start, you would want to get to know that person and leave a positive impression on them.
You wouldn’t go up to them, shake their hand and say, “do you want to buy my stuff?” Or at least I hope you wouldn’t!
If you send a connection request to a prospect and they accepted, start with politely thanking them.
Also, show some interest in them, get to know them a little better by asking them a question to start a dialogue — if relevant or appropriate.
Most people just “collect connections” and never have conversations with them after the connection request. These same people complain that they aren’t generating any business from being on LinkedIn.
It’s the same as going to a networking event, collecting a bunch of business cards and then throwing them in the garbage when you get home, and never following up.
Step 3: Provide Value & Build Trust
The process of building relationships isn’t limited to just one message after you connect with a prospect. You’ll want to send additional messages to continue the conversation and where you can, add value to them and their business.
In this step of the B2B Social Selling Funnel, you need to build trust with your new contact by providing them with value.
You can do this in many ways. You can post insightful, educational and interesting information to LinkedIn that will help them with their job or business.
You can also share information with them via private messages.
The content you share could be your own or content created by someone else.
Whatever content you choose to share, it should specifically relate to helping them overcome a challenge or problem they are having.
Again, do NOT pitch anything. Your only goal is to build the relationship, positioning yourself as someone who provides value and is an authority on your topic, to increase trust.
When deciding what content to share, you must consider these questions:
- What are they interested in?
- What is important to them?
- What problems do they face?
Step 4: Build Relationships
There are many ways to build relationships. You can do so by showing interest in someone, helping them in some way, by educating them and of course by having conversations to get to know them better.
What are some ways you could build relationships with your new connections?
- Pay attention to their posts, like and comment on them
- Introduce them to someone in your network that they could benefit from knowing
- Share quality content with them that is related to their industry or current challenges
- Ask them questions to get to know them better
- Follow them on other social networks and engage with them there as well (Twitter is excellent for this because of the relaxed engagement style of the platform)
- Monitor trigger events for natural conversation starters
Remember this always: People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
The goal in this step is to stay on their radar, provide value, and build trust.
Step 5: Move to an Offline Conversation
The B2B Social Selling Funnel Made Easy
Done right, this B2B Social Selling Funnel will provide you with a predictable and consistent stream of new leads and sales.
It shifts the sales dialogue from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”
This powerful shift in thinking – and prospecting will help you generate more leads and sales, without the awkwardness of cold calls or ineffective sales tactics.