I was first exposed to social selling back in 2007 when I stumbled across LinkedIn. For those of you that know my story, I was a social media naysayer and definitely not what you would consider an early adopter. But after embracing LinkedIn and all it has to offer, I landed my first figure client. The fact is, it was the one of the easiest sales I ever made. From that point on I was hooked!
Since then I have been blessed to generate over $20 million in new business with LinkedIn and social selling. The good news is the skills and system can be learned. So let’s start the beginning!
What IS social selling?
Social selling is taking your sales process and utilizing social networks, tools and connections to amplify your results. Social selling, rather than traditional prospecting or cold calling, allows you to laser in your efforts and focus your time and energy on the highest concentration of revenue-generating activity.
The easiest way to define social selling is a system for finding and developing relationships with your perfect prospect by leveraging social networks.
More Importantly…Why social selling?
Research from Hubspot shows that nearly 3/4 of B2B buyers are doing most of their research online before making a purchase or contacting a salesperson. The most successful salespeople have embraced social selling. Research from LinkedIn shows that nearly 80% of sales people who engage in social selling, outsell those who don’t use social media.
3 Things about Social Selling that You Need to Know!
#1 Social selling is a time saver.
Check out these statistics from eMarketer => 39% are saving time by engaging in social selling.
Your prospects are sharing critical information on social media about their frustrations, needs, wants and challenges. This information is often available to you instantly (or with minimal effort). Think of how much time prospecting takes the “old way.” Or worse, you were taking a stab in the dark and addressing blanket needs and frustrations with all prospects. Social selling is a game changer.
I cannot stress this enough: Ensure that you are HIGHLY, HIGHLY TARGETED with your social selling efforts. It should be a 95/5 split >> spend about 95% of your time only with those 5% who are your precise customer avatar. Use the time social selling is handing you wisely and you won’t be disappointed.
#2 Social selling allows you to build stronger relationships before the call or meeting.
87% of B2B buyers say they would have a favorable impression of someone introduced through their professional network. Social selling affords you unprecedented access to expanded networks. Previously, you could ask members of your network if they know potential customers. Maybe they’d think of you down the line. Or maybe they’d think of someone who’s a fit for your needs. It’s an unscientific method at best, and it’s one that’s largely eradicated through social selling.
Social selling allows you to find your customer avatar and get that introduction, drastically moving the odds in your favor over cold calling or a passive business card or email.
#3 Social selling is a long-term investment.
Many salespeople are still stuck in that Alec Baldwin mindset of ABC or “always be closing.” Take that approach on social and you will quickly find yourself out of business (or looking for another job).
Social selling gives you unprecedented access to sales intelligence on your prospects and their companies. But the biggest difference between traditional and selling via social is the timeframe. You have to slow down the process. It’s a longer play. You’re strategically planting seeds of trust and value rather than beating people over the head with your “pitch.”
Research from InsideView shows that 82% of buyers view between five and eight pieces of content from a winning vendor. Creating, targeting and sharing content as part of your plan takes time. Invest the time and energy into developing and following a social selling system to stand out and sell more.
Social selling is not:
- Social selling is not hard selling your LinkedIn connections
- Social selling is not a set it and forget or push button solution
- Social selling is not Alec Baldwins ABC (Always be closing) sales method
- Social selling is not digital marketing, seo, online advertising or content marketing
How do I get started with social selling?
Now that you understand what social selling is and how it can impact your business, it’s time to get to work. The easiest way to get started is to stick to the basics.
– Define Your Personal Brand
I like to talk about personal branding because it’s still so largely misunderstood. In a blog post from earlier this year, I talk about an actual conversation about personal branding that I heard at Starbucks from a very confused consultant. She’s not alone, and that confusion is killing your sales.
Whether you realize it or not, you already have a personal brand. You’re cultivating it every day through your words and actions (online and off). And if you think that branding is best left up to your company or employer, think again. Today more than ever, people want to work with people, not brands.
Check out my full post on personal branding…then get to work defining and cultivating yours!
By the way, you may want to check out my 6 step process for optimizing your LinkeIn profile to enhance your personal brand.
– Find and Engage Your Target Market
One of the biggest challenges on social is staying focused. In order to become effective at social selling you really need to 1) identify and find your target market and 2) engage your target market with relevant insights.
Looking for even more detail? Once you’re past that 500-connection mark, it’s time to really refine your efforts and ensure you’re only connecting with individuals who fit your customer avatar. I walk you through the process here in my blog.
– Start Putting Out Content
“Content is king” – you’ve heard that one, right? Probably a lot, and that’s because it’s true. Nurturing those prospects and building long-term relationships — the cornerstones of successful social selling — requires consistent, strong content.
You can nurture your prospects and establish thought leadership by sharing relevant and helpful content written by others, and by writing and publishing it yourself.
When we refer to content in B2B world, it often starts with LinkedIn status updates. This is the easiest way to share content that keeps you top of mind and best positions you as a trusted resource with your prospects.
Start with the basics of sharing great content and you’re off to a good start. Blogging on your website (if you’re an entrepreneur or are self employed) is a great way to get people to engage with your brand off of social, and to introduce prospects to more about you than what is found in your LinkedIn profile.
You can also publish blog-like content on LinkedIn’s native publishing platform, Pulse. Each time you publish a Pulse post, your network receives a notification, so it’s a great way to provide value in a non-intrusive way.
Good content leads to engagement, engagement leads to conversation and conversation leads to relationship!
Now that you’ve got the basics of social selling, it’s time to ramp up your efforts and start increasing your revenue. I created and leveraged my social selling system to generate millions for my businesses and LinkedIn was a primary tool I used to get there.
Download a copy of my digital book for free, “The 7 Habits of Highly Successful LinkedIn Users.” It will help you create a profile that stands out from the crowd on LinkedIn and will help jump-start your social selling efforts.
P.S. Below are 3 more articles related to social selling that I think you will enjoy. Be sure to like and share if you think they are valuable and can help others.
“Stop the madness. There’s a better way!”
LinkedIn Marketing & Social Selling Consultant, Trainer, Speaker