Social Selling on LinkedIn Is Here To Stay and the statistics back it up.
First of all check out these incredible stats, that show the power of LinkedIn Social Selling:
- 3 out of 4 B2B decision-makers, and 80% of C-suite execs, use social media to inform buying decision
- Almost 70% of buyer journey now takes place in digital channel
- 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn
- 1 out of 2 LinkedIn members say they’re more likely to do business with companies they’ve engaged with on the platform
LinkedIn Social Selling – New World
LinkedIn Social Selling! If you’re not taking advantage of this new world, then frankly you aren’t performing at your best in your role. Sure, there are a million social networks, from the established group of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and so on, through to the newer entrants such as Tik Tok. Whats app is used as a social network tool too, by some. But what you’ll discover is how they all settle into filling the needs of different marketplaces.
Did you realise that 80% of B2B social media leads are generated from LinkedIn? That’s right, 4 in every 5 of B2B leads are generated from LinkedIn. And here’s another statistic that might interest you – 50% of companies say they are more likely to buy from someone if they’ve engaged with them on LinkedIn.
This new world then is one full of opportunity and potential economic growth. But there’s something more than that. There’s something about the evolution of the sales cycle that makes the whole thing just a bit more pleasant to be involved in, for both the buyer and the seller.
Before Social Selling Came Along
Let’s take a trip down memory lane into the past. If you worked in sales before the creation of social media, or even before the internet, then your sales cycle looked very different. There would have been a whole load of cold calling to possible prospects. If you managed to get past the gatekeeper, who is likely pissed off that people keep ringing, and you finally get the decision maker on the phone then you’ve got do to a whole all manner of things in short order.
They don’t know you, and you don’t really know them – sure you might have put 10 hours into calling other people in the company, working out who knows who, who influences things, what their pain points are, what their buying cycles look like etc, but you don’t really have any relationship with the buyer. So, here come your big 5 minutes of prime-time action speaking to the decision maker. Are you ready? Because the egg timer of sales fate is already running down and as a minimum you need to:
- Build rapport with the buyer. Not easy to do in an authentic way that matches buyer and seller as equal parties in the relationship. The dynamic is such you want them to perform an action. You want them to buy something. In an ideal world you want to be equals with the buyer respecting your knowledge, expertise and value. You want them to feel a kinship with you that you have the key to their lock. Less than 4 minutes left now. Get on with it.
- Establish credibility & authority. Why should this person give up their time for you? Do you know how many people sell widgets like your product or your service? You’ve got a USP. So what? During this call, you can tell your buyer of all the companies that do business with you, but it’s just words. They might be picking their nose and eating it whilst talking to you and you have no idea what’s stuck and what hasn’t. (in terms of your messages, not his / her nose findings).
- Show scarcity. No, there isn’t an unlimited number of your widgets. There’s only just enough to include your buyer in the next round of widgets and only if she acts really quick. I hope you’ve built your rapport and demonstrated your authority and credibility by this stage – because let me tell you, your scarcity move works best when it stands on the shoulders on how you are perceived by your buyer.
- Create action. So, it was a nice chat, but they are not going to do anything about it. And the moment fades, the inertia kicks in and you are relegated back to dealing with the gatekeeper. If you couldn’t gain some form of commitment to action in your call, then it becomes a lot harder as time goes on. And that’s it. Time is up.
LinkedIn Social Selling Is Civilised
What’s so fascinating is that so many companies cling to this way of working. They spend huge sums of money of salespeople work in these desperately old fashioned modes. Sure, maybe they recognise that LinkedIn has the potential for lead generation, but they don’t know how to execute the opportunity fully or properly.
So, moving our brains back to the modern world of social selling and getting a marketing strategy for LinkedIn to assist with you LinkedIn lead generation.
What makes the whole process so civilised is not that the goals or objectives have changed – we still need to build rapport with buyers, create authority, demonstrate scarcity and in the end hop on phone calls with them, meet them and win their business, but when you’re using LinkedIn for marketing and sales, this entire process can be slowed down. You can take the time to engage with your buyers’ content. Show your value through meaningful comments and dialogue. You can clearly highlight the value you add by creating content that deals with their common questions and pain points. Meaning that by the time you’ve moved from online LinkedIn connection through to offline sales opportunity, many of the important steps have been completed and now, guess what, you can just speak. At a human to human level safe in the knowledge that you both want to be on the call.
And that’s the odd thing about sales. There are so many books and courses out there that will teach you this technique or that strategy to open deals, close deals, make more sales etc. But in the end, what you should be aspiring to is to be able to just speak to people in a relaxed, honest and friendly way.
An effective LinkedIn marketing strategy creates the climate to make this possible.
How do you do it?
Make your profile stand out
Your profile is the place people will come to understand who you are. Sure, this needs to cover your professional value, but people buy from people, so don’t be afraid to add some personality to your profile.
There are some great recommendations, from LinkedIn, about how to optimise your profile for success. We’ll cover these in depth in a different post, but the top-level things you need to do are:
- Use a professional head-shot. Think about how you want to be perceived when you first walk through the door of your buyers office. You should be aiming for the same with your LinkedIn profile shot. Think professionalism and respect and dress in the way that matches the image you want to portray. If it’s suitable for a dating site, then it’s not suitable for LinkedIn
- Background image. Use this to show who you are, maybe what you makes you who you are, sports you’ve done, activities you’ve been involved in etc.
- Write a compelling headline. Don’t use generic terms. Avoid jargon and write in a way that is considerate to SEO and also your buyers’ needs and problems
- Your summary. This is your ’30 second elevator pitch’. The structure to think about is:
- Passion, what you really, really care about
- Background, how did you get to where you are
- Company, what is it you do again?
- Call to action, what should they do and why should they do it
- Use rich media. You can bring your profile to life by adding video’s, documents, presentations (from slide share) and more. If a buyer has made it this far and they are engaging with your rich media, it’s a real good sign. Your profile isn’t your CV. It’s your online reputation, so take advantage of the tools available here.
Finding the right people
You wouldn’t want to spend time chasing down the wrong contact and marketing to them as it’s a waste of both party’s time. It’s no different with your LinkedIn social selling leads. When you’re putting together your LinkedIn B2B marketing plan, take some time to think about who want to reach and engage with and why.
Now, here’s the thing. Sure, LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft, so they’ve got some cash already and yes they make a stack of money from adverts and the like. But they also have a mechanism to monetise the end user and that’s through their sales navigator platform. You can read this other post about whether you should buy sales navigator, but the headline is that it gives you lots more fields to search for people.
The standard (free) version of LinkedIn does give you ability to search by location, how closely you’re connected, industry and interests. But it’s far from exhaustive. The paid plan (sales navigator) on the other hand provides super comprehensive and detailed levels of searching, including function, seniority level and department. Yes, there’s a cost to this, but if you’re serious about finding the right people it can be a solid investment.
Engaging in the right ways
Get your opening message right. The rough structure to think about is:
- What do you have in common? Shared connections, an interest in dancing pigs etc. Draw on this first to build rapport.
- The ‘pitch’. Why have you got in touch? Make it concise and to the point.
- Call to action. What do you want them to do? Plus a bonus point if you make it easy for them to do it.
Using A Content Strategy
Content is a 2-way street. You can engage in the buyers content to show you are interested and have a credible opinion on what they are working on. And you can produce content that demonstrates just how good you are at you do.
Content is not just the posts that people are putting out on their own LinkedIn timeline. Keep an eye out for company news, such as big changes, share price changes, cost cutting, acquisitions etc. By the time these make it onto LinkedIn, your buyer will likely have been thinking about them in some depth and gives an opportunity to speak to them on their own terms.
Another area that provides a big opportunity is to monitor changes in job or role. Keep in mind, this can provide disruption in both positive and negative ways for the prospect, but you’ll rarely come off badly by acknowledging a change in role that someone has experienced and an interesting side effect is that senior people in new roles are frequently looking to make their mark and step in as change makers. This can be a great moment for establishing new sales opportunities.
Keep an eye out for the groups that your prospects are a part of. Join these groups and look to participate in a professional, courteous and respectful way. Don’t ‘sell’ in groups. It’s a platform to demonstrate your value, not to brute force your way into new opportunities.
Produce your own content. Give it your own twist. Sure, use facts and figures to look credible, but also place your own your slant on it. This will help buyers to understand the value that you bring to things rather than just showing you can reproduce facts and stats.
If you use these principles, you’ll do more than simply using LinkedIn for marketing. You’ll be building a reputation that carries you forward with potential buyers. Your aim is to become a trusted source of credible information for people. Going back to the stats at the top of the article – 1 in 2 companies prefer to buy from someone they’ve engaged with on LinkedIn. You can influence your chances of success by following the advice in this article. Call us for further tips and training, or simply to help you grow your network.
Let us know how you get on in the comments below.
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