Social Selling has many definitions. I believe, done right, it is defined as:
“Social Selling is about building rapport, providing real value, developing trust and credibility by being a resource…
Understanding that the sales will come when the time is right.”
This comes down to detaching from what the prospect is worth to you and attaching to what you are worth to your prospect.
The challenge that many sales professionals face, especially when it comes to leveraging Linkedin for business development, is they treat it like cold calling.
They look at it as a numbers game, that all the profiles as “leads,” and that if they connect with enough of them, someone just might take their call.
But LinkedIn is different than a cold call. If you dial a number and someone picks up or listens to your message, and they don’t like it… they simply hang up. No harm, no foul.
But on LinkedIn, it is different. On LinkedIn, they see your profile, your name, and your company, which can damage your reputation.
Here is what we hear from sales professionals:
- I have thousands of connections but no conversations
- When I ask for conversations from prospects, I get ghosted
- I share content, yet no one engages
- Everyone says I need to use LinkedIn, but I can’t figure out how to do it successfully
Here is what is broken:
- Their LinkedIn profiles are self-centered, not value-centric
- They tend to connect and pitch
- They often connect and forget, leaving lots of potential conversations on the table
- They are stuck in random acts of social, which produces random results
- They post and ghost, not taking advantage of the engagement
- Sharing topics they want to talk about, NOT what their prospects want to consume
- Not Leveraging Referrals and Permission to Name Drop
If you are in sales, your primary goal of LinkedIn for Social Selling should be converting your connections to conversations.
Begin by looking at LinkedIn as a 24/7 tradeshow, conference, or networking event. There are thousands of people in the room, and the goal is to find the right people with whom to start a conversation.
You don’t walk up to random people, hand them your business card (connection request) and then proceed to go into your company pitch about how you help companies just like them… do you?
And if you did, that would quickly turn off your new connection, both in-person and online.
It takes authentic conversations to make LinkedIn for Social Selling to work. It takes transparency and clear communication for LinkedIn for Social Selling to work. It actually takes work to master the art of LinkedIn for Social Selling.
But, it can be fun. It isn’t the boring repetition of smile and dial. It is about slowing down your outreach to speed up the outcome.
It starts with positioning your profile as a resource, a place where your targeted buyers resonate with you, where they learn something new that gets them thinking differently about their current situation.
The headline has one job, and that is to get your targeted buyers to keep reading. It should clearly state who you help, how you help them, and the expected results, as that will create some curiosity and get them interested in reading more.
The About section should NOT be about you. You haven’t earned the right for them to care yet. It should be about them. Their challenges and stand-alone insights bring value, even if they never work with you.
The Featured section should be filled with visual content that isn’t a pitch but a resource that leads them to your solution.
And, make sure that your experience is more about how you help your clients, not just what you do.
Focus on content once your profile is converted from a resume to a resource.
There is leveraging curated content generated from a 3rd party source that will resonate with your buyers and create conversations.
Next, there is original content that generates curiosity and engagement. This doesn’t have to be long-form content. Videos, polls, quotes, questions, LIVE streaming, interviews, eBooks, infographics are all original content that can attract, teach, and engage your buyers.
And, engaging on other people’s content is a form of thought leadership. Find influencers (not competitors) that attract your buyers and leverage their reach to start conversations through comments and connections.
But don’t just share content on your newsfeed, be sure to get it into the inbox of your targeted buyers with a personalized message of why it is of value to them.
Nurture your connections. Sales professionals typically have thousands of connections that they have been ignoring. Take inventory. Export connections into a spreadsheet or use LinkedIn’s powerful filters to identify the clients, prospects, and referral partners you’ve ignored. Use content, or request their point of view to start conversations,
Lastly, LinkedIn’s most powerful feature is the ability to filter and search your connections’ connections. Search your clients and networking partners’ connections to identify who they know that you want to meet, run the names by them, and ask for introductions or permission to name drop. This is simply the fastest way to pipeline.
It doesn’t matter if you are brand new to sales, or a seasoned professional. Leveraging LinkedIn for Social Selling is, in my opinion, the most productive and fun way to fill the pipeline.