Social selling on LinkedIn has become a vital cog in the sales process and as a means to interact with people for the purpose of building credibility. Social selling as overtaken many of the older methods of interacting with business audiences because while they can still deliver results, activities such cold calling and unsolicited emails are not as powerful as they once were. However, as smart salespeople are learning, if you combine the more traditional methods of selling in in conjunction with social selling on LinkedIn, your success rate improves. The main activity involves the use of the LinkedIn platform as part of the B2B sales process to create awareness and influence while gradually cultivating new connections.
Social selling on LinkedIn is great for building business relationships before a prospect even starts a buyer’s journey, to use content and articles to close the conversion gap and eventually move social conversations into an offline sales conversation. Social selling on LinkedIn is an additive process to existing sales tactics to connect with decision makers and influencers.
Social Selling on LinkedIn consists of five main steps:
It starts with establishing a professional presence on LinkedIn with clear Goals and objectives.
Next, it’s about finding the right people via research into Buyer Personas or Ideal Customer Profiles.
Then, engaging with those people with content, articles, research, insights etc.
Building trust which is about Credibility and Connecting (read below) is next step.
Ultimately, it’s about measuring the impact of our social selling activity, ROI factors such as Conversions, Mentions, References and Leads.
Social selling on LinkedIn should focus on building a communication channel between social media activity such as sharing content, information or articles and the sales call to maximize buyer interactions. So, Social selling concentrates on sharing quality content to kickstart one-to-one communication between the social seller and the connection.
The 6C’s To Social Selling on LinkedIn
The 6C’s to social selling on LinkedIn are;
Social credibility is about positioning yourself to have influence and high levels of perceived value to prospects or customers. At the practical level it is about creating professional social profiles, adding value in online discussions, demonstrating knowledge, writing and sharing quality content, being aware of industry trends plus seeking referrals from clients and co-workers to build our social brand. We should strive to be viewed as a subject matter expert and a go to resource in our industry or market for information.
Connecting on LinkedIn. The silver bullet of social selling is timing. Getting the attention of the right person for the limited time they are using the LinkedIn platform.
When it comes to social selling, the ABC of selling has moved from “Always be closing” to “Always be Connecting (with a purpose)”. It is important to note here that we need to build connections that lead somewhere, we all have had the experience of slowly realising the relationships we have been building is only a bridge to nowhere. No point in having 5000 useless connections, so plan out your ideal customer profiles.
Social content is about adding to the experience in the buyer’s journey with quality, useful and insightful articles or information. Also, the shared content should be a healthy mix of our own content plus content from other sources. A coherent social content plan maps to the buyer’s journey, giving it purpose and vision, and aligning all the content around a common set of goals for what that content should achieve.
Great social conversations should happen on purpose. To have conversations that win, your messages, content, and social selling skills need to work together. A key building block in social selling is for us to have valuable conversations with various decision-makers and adapt our value proposition to the unique situation of each buyer. When engaging in social conversations, we need to ask ourselves;
What do I want my connection and audience to learn?
What do I want them to feel?
What do I want them to do?
Social selling on LinkedIn has to have an ROI, taking a targeted social connection to a qualified sales lead. For this to happen, we have to use LinkedIn to incite buyers to do something different and do it with us. Our goal in social selling is to take the connection (lead) through Awareness and Consideration. The Presentation, Negotiating and Decision stages etc in the sales process is not part of social selling. We need to utilize social selling to create a buying vision in order to convert a connection into a qualified lead so they may engage in a sales conversation. Remember, that 80% of buyers actually make it to the end of the sales cycle and make NO DECISION according to Stanford Business School
To succeed, thrive, and prosper in social selling on LinkedIn, we need to be consistent, insistent, and dedicatedly persistent. The principal of P.D.O comes into effect here, as Process, Discipline, and Ownership (P.D.O.) is the key to unlocking social selling success.
It is also important to point out that social selling is not a shortcut to generating sales leads as starting purposeful relationships via social selling can take many touches and conversations. Consistency is part process (what you do) and part skill (how you do it).
Within 5 years, 80% of the buying process will occur without any direct human-to-human interaction.” – Gartner and Forrester
Sales training may be required to master social selling on LinkedIn, to learn how to influence and how we can bring to bear on customers and prospects’, by sharing content which is consumed, shared and commented on, then being visible via social conversations for the market topics we serve.