In this article, I’m going to discuss the importance of Social Selling, and how to do it well. Let’s start by looking at what we mean by the phrase Social Selling.
Social Selling is the art of striking up a relationship and rapport with a prospect, then nurturing the relationship until they become a quality lead. Yes, it’s part of the sales process, but instead of relying on the traditional method of cold-calling, social selling utilises social media to initiate and build a relationship with your prospective clients until they are ready to engage your services or buy your product.
Cold calling has always been something of a blunt instrument when it comes to identifying leads. But the beauty of social media is that you can use it both for research AND as a sales tool. You can find out who the key people are at the companies you want to target, how long they’ve been there, what their interests are – and whether they are connected to one of your existing contacts, which may be a good way of initiating contact.
How to Use LinkedIn as a Social Selling Tool for Business Relationships
You could, in theory, use any social media platform as a social selling tool. But my passion lies with LinkedIn, and for a good reason:
Over 80% of all B2B leads generated by social media come from LinkedIn
That’s why I recommend that my clients in the B2B sector use LinkedIn to initiate those all-important connections that can lead to a long-lasting (and ultimately profitable) relationship.
Before you start, make sure your profile is appealing as possible – written with your ideal client in mind. Rather than simply focusing on your achievements and your career history, look at it from the perspective of your ideal client – show what you can do for them and how you can solve their problems.
The truth is: most people on LinkedIn don’t use it to anywhere near its full potential – in fact, my experience tells me that only around 2% are using its full potential.
How to Nurture Relationships
Once you’ve connected with a prospect, DO NOT go in for the hard sell. Create and share content that will be of interest to your prospective clients. Engage with their LinkedIn activity by liking and commenting on posts to add value.
Build a rapport with them – when you reach out and contact them directly, find some common ground, talk about their business, their successes, their needs. Make it about them!
The Importance of Following Up
Not following up after the initial connection request is one of the most common mistakes I see on LinkedIn. Some business decision-makers, get dozens, even hundreds of connection requests each day. If you don’t follow up after the initial contact, you’re not going to stand out from the crowd.
Follow up and be proactive – make a record of who you’ve contacted, and then follow up 7-10 days later. Again, keep it about them, and continue to build that rapport.
If you find juggling multiple leads and follow-up dates overwhelming, why not message me and see how my leads tracker can help you avoid missed opportunities and know the status of every potential prospect at a glance?
How Different Channels of Communication Can Be Incorporated
The most common mistake many people make once they have finally connected with someone and piqued their interest is to keep chatting away online. Don’t get me wrong – online messages through LinkedIn are great for making initial connections and keeping in touch with people.
But when it comes to selling your service or product, you’ll have much more success if you get the conversation offline.
After building rapport with a few messages back and forth, ask your potential prospects if they want to schedule a quick call, or a virtual coffee over Zoom, to discuss things you can help them with. When you get them on the call, that’s the time to make your sales pitch – while still avoiding the hard sell.
When to Let Go!
Not all potential leads will convert to sales, and that’s OK. It’s important to recognise when to let go – desperation is not a good look, plus it’s a waste of your valuable time and energy.
- If your new connection doesn’t actually have decision-making authority for your service or product, politely ask for an introduction to the appropriate person, and start the relationship-building process with them instead.
- You’ve made a connection, and when you contact them, they’ve now left the business you want to work with. If they’ve moved to another business that you’re interested in working with – great! Think of it as a bonus lead – and don’t forget to target their replacement at their previous company. Perhaps they are between jobs – continue to engage with their LinkedIn activity by liking and commenting on posts – you never know where they may end up working in future.
- When a prospect asks you to stop contacting them – respect that and move on.
- In a situation where your prospect is rude or abusive – block, disconnect, and move on. You can’t win them all!
How to Measure Whether Your Social Selling Is Working
A good way to check how well you are doing at social selling is to check out your LinkedIn SSI score – it’s totally free and you don’t need any special subscription to view your stats.
Your SSI – Social Selling Index – gives you a rating on how well your lead generation efforts are working, on a scale of 0 to 100, and measures how effective you are in 4 key areas. LinkedIn’s own content provides some helpful guidance on how to improve on each area:
- Establishing your professional brand
- Finding the right people
- Engaging with insights
- Building relationships
You can see which areas need more work by looking at your scores for the 4 components. Maybe you need to engage with insights more, or you just haven’t connected with the right people yet?
Click here to find out your SSI score: https://www.linkedin.com/sales/ssi
We’ll explore your Social Selling Index (SSI) in greater detail in my next blog.
Making Social Selling Part of Your Business DNA
Your LinkedIn SSI score will give you a great steer on whether your engagement is going in the right direction, but the ultimate proof will be when your consistency and hard work starts to pay off in terms of leads that convert to sales.
It’s a continuous cycle – social selling needs to constantly be on your agenda and to-do list. And if you have a team, it needs to be on their radar as well – whether pursuing leads of their own or supporting you with your social selling efforts.
It won’t happen overnight, but if you follow a proven social selling methodology in a consistent manner, then eventually you will start to reap the rewards!