The ABC of Social Selling with LinkedIn
This post was originally published at LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/abc-social-selling-linkedin-tom-laine
No, it's not Always Be Closing!
Social selling in 4 simple categories
The LinkedIn Social Selling Index metrics
- Create a professional brand - 75% of B2B buyers are going to social networks for information about the products and services they are considering.
- Find the right people - There are on average 5,4 people involved in a B2B purchase decision making process.
- Build strong relationships - 90% of decision makers don’t respond to cold calls
- Engage with insights - Like, share, comment. Add value. You don't have to produce much original content yourself, you could just become a source and a curator for relevant information.
(Sources: LinkedIn Insights Survey, 2014; CEB, “Sales: Why You Should Teach Customers How to Buy,” 2014.)
LinkedIn profile is not your CV, it's your brand and your reputation
The social selling LinkedIn to-do list
Create a full and keyword optimized profile
Add visual content; add cover picture, photo and attachments, and relevant links to your website, brochures, webshops, etc.
Remember to publish status updates at least on a weekly basis, make them worth reading - links, tips, stats, news, all relevant to your target audience. Become a knowledge hub for your niche, a trusted source of information, share your views.
Join relevant LinkedIn groups, and post to the chosen groups min. 2-4 times per month, preferably much more often (depending on a number of groups and your focus area). Again, become a trusted source of information, but also join the conversation, be helpful, don't sell, don't push. Build relationships and trust.
Create buying personas for your target groups, and you'll identify better where they hang out (which groups) and what might interest them (topics, content in general).
Write LinkedIn blog posts, min. twice a month, preferably once a week. And yes, make them worth reading (links, tips, stats, news, relevant to your target audience). Become a knowledge hub for your niche, a trusted source of information, share your views... You know the drill!
Check your metrics! Do your updates and blog posts add to your following? Do people like, share or comment your posts? Who are the people who start following, how do your follower and network analytics look like? Are you reaching the RIGHT audience? What kind of content they react best to? How does that effect your activity planning and content (style, topics, length)?
Follow LinkedIn blogs for useful content, statistics, and more. Comment relevant posts and add value. Use saved searches for Posts to easily get updates for the right content.
Network actively. Not just with people who approach you, but with people in your target audience, the companies you wish to reach - they don't yet have to be the right decision makers, you may not even know yet who influences buying decision or who are the network hubs!
It's easier and more successful to send invitations to people you've already "met" online, e.g. via groups or after commenting their blog posts. Use the group discussions or blogs as an excuse to send an invitation, remind people who you are and explain why you should network (because you're interested in the same topics!). Don't push!
Get to know your network and your target audience. Do you already know people from your target companies? Who are the most networked of them all? Who is the most networked person in that particular company who surely knows all the internal decision makers and can help you identify and even reach them? Who you should network with and befriend? Who are the key decision makers in a buying process? And ask for introductions to those you don't know yet well enough to contact directly.
One part of getting to know your target audience and network is to identify their interests, the groups they belong to and participate in, and then open the discussion about or at those instances! Remember, the closer you are to someone on LinkedIn (network level), the more information you see about their profiles and activity!
There are on average 5,4 decision makers in a B2B buying process! Do you know one of them, some of them or all of them?
Use network reminders to your benefit. Can you find interesting topics to discuss just by looking at their profiles, mutual friends or past schools, or do you need work anniversaries or birthdays to strike a conversation?
Use tags, notes and reminders in the target persons' profiles to remind you who you've discussed with, what you've discussed, the next steps, and when to get back.
You can also export your LinkedIn network for more traditional type of sales and marketing. Can you use the list for email marketing, social media marketing, or upload them to your CRM? Or vice versa, can you enrich your CRM data with social media (mutual friends, work history, studies, hobbies, life situation)?
(Source: Aberdeen’s Social Selling Impact Report)
Check your profile for profile views! No one comes to your profile by accident, there's always a reason. It may not be the right reason, but always a reason! Whether someone has performed a search for your name, the company you represent or keywords they are interested in. They have found you with a particular criteria high on the search results, and have decided to open your profile (most likely based on your profile Header). Remember, they probably have at least dozens or hundreds, likely thousands or tens of thousands or more people to choose from if they used a keyword search.
You've already ranked high enough on the search results to be found (Step 1), and you've either been very close to the top and/or your profile Header has been interesting enough for them to open your profile (Step 2). Your profile content (especially Summary) and the match to what they've looked for, defines whether you will be contacted or not (Step 3). Make contacting easy, write your contact details openly to your profile Summary, so people don't have to send introductions, use costly InMails or to send networking invitations just to reach you! Or worse, google your email address.
You can find a great amount of hidden leads just by following who's viewed your profile and then reaching out to them, asking what the reason may have been and how you can help! For me, that's worth a whole lot of money! A great number of decision makers search for content online before they ever talk to a sales person, or even before they've made a decision to buy a certain service or product. You have a chance to influence the buying decision before they've even realized what they are going to buy, which solution best fulfils the need. And that's worth muchos dineros!
Follow people and companies. Follow the people you find interesting (have you noticed the Follow-button?). When you follow someone, their updates come to your wall. Do you read it or is it too crowded? What do the updates mean to you, a reason to react?
And to build long-term pipeline, use your LinkedIn profile link in your business card and email signature. That way the people you meet and exchange information with, have an easy way to network with you. And vice versa of course, make it a habit to send LinkedIn invitations to people you meet and discuss with, you never know when they become even more relevant to you. At minimum level, LinkedIn is an address book that updates itself!
LinkedIn is a great database. Even if you don't find the right people now, save searches and alerts to identify if anyone matching your criteria joins the service or changes jobs and becomes more relevant for you. And of course, if you manage to identify those active networkers in your target company, they also know lots of people in real life, thus networking with them and befriending them helps identify even those decision makers who are not on social media.
Just remember, Social Selling is more about sharing knowledge and helping than aggressively closing deals. The deals will come if you manage to become a trusted source of information and a person who's easily approachable.