Social selling is often misunderstood and poorly executed.
This article will share insights to help you better understand and leverage this in your go-to-market efforts. In this article, we will cover:
- The definition of social selling
- High-level guidance on how to properly use social selling in B2B sales
- Tactics you can leverage for social selling on LinkedIn.
What is social selling? Let’s take a closer look.
Social Selling Definition
Social selling is a set of strategies and tactics, most often leveraging social channels, to build relationships with potential buyers and existing customers. As a result, sales people build trust with potential clients, trust that ultimately results in multiple sales opportunities over their careers.
Social sales are often confused with the equivalent of cold calling using social media platforms. Social media cold calling is not social sales.
Social selling is not a lead generation tactic. Building relationships, achieving a trusted advisor status is a great way to be top of mind for your B2B buyers when they have a new challenge to solve.
Social selling is not about sending automated messages and workflows to new leads and potential prospects. Please stop.
Building relationships is a great way to be a life-long top-performing sales rep, and this is one of the most significant benefits of social selling.
Social Selling Strategy and Guidance
Have you established a personal brand that defines who you are as a seller?
Do you have a network of past clients who consider you a trusted advisor?
An effective social selling strategy is a part of your overall sales strategy and requires a thoughtful approach. To be successful:
- Get clear about your ideal customer profile (ICP). What personas, job titles should you fit your ICP?
- What use cases and business challenges can you solve?
- Who do you already know that you have strong relationships with, who already considers you a trusted advisor?
- Using a solution like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, identify the right prospects based on the personas and job titles you should sell.
- Get clear about the role of social selling as a part of your overall sales strategy.
- Ensure your social profiles working for you.
- Start to build brand awareness for you and your business.
Let’s do a deep dive on each of the above bullets before diving into tactical best practices.
Get clear about your ideal customer profile (ICP)
Social sellers sometimes fall into the trap of thinking that all social media accounts are prime candidates for their message.
They are not.
The goal of social selling is to aid you in building relationships with potential buyers and key decision-makers who might want what you sell.
In other words, the goal of social selling is to support your efforts to build relationships with prospective customers.
As with any form of selling, you must be clear about your target audience within your target market.
What use cases and business challenges can you solve?
You should now be clear about the right people with which to connect.
As a next step, are you clear about what pain points you can help your new customers solve?
Do you have a case study (or preferably many case studies) that you can share with prospective buyers that show you solving pain points for other customers just like them?
Do you have relevant content for the people with whom you want to connect? This content could speak to challenges in their industry, video content from thought leaders who are well-respected by the people you will try to connect.
With whom do you already know that you have strong relationships?
As with all sales tactics, you want to begin your journey with those with you who already have great relationships.
Do you have potential b2b buyers with whom you already have a trusted relationship?
Are friends or family in your target audience?
Reach out to these people first to validate your message and your overall approach.
Starting with friends and family is a great way to get comfortable with your approach in a low-pressure way, with people who already respect you and who will give you honest feedback.
Identify the right prospects based upon the personas and job titles to whom you want to sell.
For most B2B Sales Reps, the majority of their potential customers are on LinkedIn.
If you can afford it, get an account with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and start narrowing down those in your target market.
We’ll dive into the specific tactics further down in this article.
Get clear about the role of social selling as a part of your overall sales strategy.
Most sales pros use a mix of strategy and tactics to get the job done.
Where do social sales fit into your overall mix?
Maximize the design of your social profiles.
Too many sellers have LinkedIn profiles that look like resumes.
Many have Instagram, Twitter, or other social media profiles that are not in line with their professional brand.
We’ll do a deep dive into this further in this article.
Start to build brand awareness for you and your business.
Good social listening skills are the first step towards this goal.
Not simply providing valuable information and valuable content, but also merely being helpful without looking for something in return.
I share in-depth thoughts below on this as well.
5 Prospecting Tips for Linkedin Outreach
Matt Jennings developed this section of prospecting tips.
Linkedin is considered one of the top ways to connect with other professionals and grow your business. But unfortunately, it’s also for this reason that Linkedin has become a more challenging platform to stand out on. With over 610 million members, how can you ensure that your outreach is seen by those who matter most?
Today, managers get flooded with Linkedin inMail messages and connection requests so regularly that most requests and messages will often be ignored. So how do you ensure your Linkedin outreach is seen and doesn’t get lost in the shuffle?
Build Value Before Asking for the Sale
Gary Vaynerchuk said it best in his book titled ‘Jab, Jab, Right Hook’:
“There is no sale without the story; no knockout without the setup.”
The same is true when it comes to Linkedin outreach. To get noticed on Linkedin, you must focus on giving value before asking for anything in return. People don’t just buy solutions; they also buy the stories attached to those solutions.
We’ve all experienced that sales professional desperate to hit a sales number at the end of the month. Unfortunately, they’re the ones that are constantly product pitching without actually taking the time to deliver value, get to know us, or understand our needs. In the world of Linkedin outreach, it’s the long game of building your network, providing value, and providing a story through engaging content that will generate long-term results. Not spamming 150 people a day asking them to buy your product.
Suppose you are the person that is consistently providing value on Linkedin and portraying yourself as the expert in your field. In that case, you could soon find yourself with opportunities where people turn to you for help and advice.
Build trust and provide value across your Linkedin network; the payoff will be worth it.
Here are seven ways to start adding value to your prospect’s Linkedin newsfeed:
- Like and comment on a prospect post
- Share a prospect’s content
- Connect the prospect with other professionals in your network who can help them
- Send the prospect a personal message complimenting their work
- Ask the prospect about their challenges
- Provide educational content from your industry
- Deliver actionable insights that your prospect can take to solve their problem
Tailor Your Outreach Efforts
When it comes to Linkedin outreach, it’s important to remember that not all messages are created equal.
A generic message that looks like it was sent to 100 other people will not cut it. To cut through and get the attention you desire on Linkedin, you need to make your message stand out. The best way to do that is by tailoring it to the person you’re reaching out to.
Consider the following when tailoring your message:
- The prospects’ title and company and how it is relevant
- The prospects’ specific challenges and how you can help
- Something you have in common with your prospect
- A recent accomplishment your prospect has achieved
- An article you read that you thought your prospect would find interesting
Taking the time to personalize your message will increase the likelihood of getting a response and show that you are invested in building a relationship, not just making a sale.
Don’t Spam Your Network
The last thing you want is to spam your Linkedin network with messages to buy your product or service. Not only is this a great way to get yourself ignored, but it will also stall your reputation, making it harder to build trust with your prospects.
To succeed with Linkedin outreach, you need to take the time to build relationships and add value. Doing this will increase the likelihood of getting your message read and generating long-term results.
Use Social Triggers to Prioritize your Outreach Efforts
For those unfamiliar, social triggers can be a good indicator of how you should prioritize your Outreach efforts.
A more traditional example of a trigger is often used in email outreach where a sales professional may reach out to a prospect when they have opened an email three times or more or clicked on a link. These actions by the prospect can signal intent and provide a good indication for the sales professional that the prospect may be worth reaching out to.
With Linkedin Sales Navigator, you can see who within your network is interacting with your content. With this information, you can set actions to continue the engagement.
Appropriate actions for social triggers could include:
- The prospect posts content: You like, share or provide a thoughtful comment.
- The prospect likes a post of yours: You connect with the prospect or reach out to them via DM (direct message) or email and continue the conversation.
- The prospect comments on a post: You respond thoughtfully to the comment in question or reach out to them and continue the conversation privately.
- The prospect shares your content: You like, comment or share one of their recent posts.
If someone in your network is engaging with your content, there is a good chance they are interested in what you do and would be open to hearing more.
By utilizing social triggers in your outreach strategy, you can prioritize your efforts and focus on building relationships with those who are already interested in what you do.
Consider your Target Audience, and Build your Network with Them in Mind
Remember your purpose when interacting with the Linkedin platform. This is a professional network, so it’s important to consider who you want to be connecting with.
Here’s a hint, the people you connect with should be your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Furthermore, you also want to build your network with people engaging with the platform regularly.
For the above reasons, using Linkedin for outreach needs to be less spammy and more strategic. Even though reaching out to and engaging with the right prospect may take longer initially, you will build a much more highly engaged network over time.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started on the right track when it comes to building your ideal network:
- Use keywords in your profile so that prospects can easily find you
- Join groups that your ideal customers are also members of, and interact with them
- Make sure the prospect has interacted with Linkedin in the last 30 days
- When connecting with someone, take the time to personalize your request
By following the above tips, you’ll be well on mastering Linkedin outreach and generating high-quality leads. Just remember, the key to success is to focus on building relationships and adding value. If you can do that, you’ll be sure to see results.
Play the long game, and you will see your results compound for the long term.
Social Selling Tactics
It’s time to start talking about best practices for sales professionals.
In this section, we will expand upon the items covered in the strategy section above. We will expand upon:
- Identifying the right prospects based upon our ICP
- Designing your social profiles to support your selling
- Building brand awareness for your business and you.
- Tactics for being an excellent social citizen and, ultimately, a great trusted advisor.
Identifying the right prospects based upon your ICP
There is an infinite number of ways to find your ICP on various social media platforms effectively. We will not cover them all here.
This section will share the approaches you can use, along with examples using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, to either use in that platform or translate into others. If there are request to add information for other platforms, we will gladly do so in the future.
When you log in to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, the top of the user interface will look like this.
Identifying Target Accounts
In your social selling activities, consider if you are using an ABM approach, or trying to identify ideal customers in general, you will first want to save the target accounts.
Click All Filters, which sits to the right of the search box at the top of the page. This page will load, and you should now select Account filters.
Based on your criteria, either add company names, sizes, geographies, or other vital filters representing your target accounts.
Run the search, and you will see something along these lines.
The important step now is to click on the Save Search button and name this search, perhaps using a name like Target Accounts, Target Market, Social Selling, or anything else you will use for additional searches.
We have our target accounts saved off; now, let’s begin identifying people who fit our ICP.
We will once again click on the All Filters button, this time staying on Lead filters.
First, click on the Custom Lists option and choose the Saved Account list from just above. Selecting this saved search will narrow the search for people in those companies that best fit your ICP (skip this step if you chose not to restrict your targets based upon the company where they work).
At this point, you have a lot of options for narrowing down and finding your ICP. Here are a few tips for your consideration:
Start with the Relationship option and choose 1st Degree Connections (your connections).
After you identify ICPs in this group, you can move to 2nd Degree Connections (connections of your connections) and beyond.
If you only sell into specific industries, identify these in the Industry filter.
Other Key Filters
There are many other filter options. For choosing your ICP, however, you will most often be leveraging these additional filters:
- Title. LinkedIn does not have every possible job title and will only show you a list with a finite set of known titles. You can type in specific titles not on the drop-down list as needed.
- Company headcount
- CRM Contacts. A yes/no option comes in handy if you have the Salesforce integration configured.
Do you want to be successful or fast?
If fast, use an automation tool, blast everyone with the same message, and be happy with the 1-2% response rate.
Now, let’s do this right instead.
Crafting your message
Take the time to craft a few sentences that clearly explain:
- The pain points you solve for people like the person to whom you are reaching out.
- Examples of businesses like theirs that you have helped.
- A clear call to action.
Now, never send these pieces out on their own. Do the following to create a customized outreach for every person you reach out to in this manner. Again, do you want fast or correct?
Now, never send these pieces out on their own. Do the following to create a customized outreach for every person you reach out to in this manner. Again, do you want fast or correct?
- Review their LinkedIn profile
- Review their company profile
- Review the company’s website they work for and any other social profiles or blogs they link to in their contact section.
Find something unique about their experience or interest that connects you to them or the problems you help solve.
Now, craft a lightly customized version of your message that lets them know you took the time to understand who they are and what matters to them.
This custom approach takes longer but delivers results.
With 2nd Degree and 3rd Degree Connections, you need to do even more. Identify a shared connection who can introduce you to them directly. Use that custom-tailored message to help your relationship make the introduction.
How to request new LinkedIn connections
From within LinkedIn Sales Navigator, conduct a search as already discussed earlier in this article.
With the contacts you want to connect with, click on the three-dot menu and choose connect. Use the tips for connecting with the new contact.
Now, here is how to request new LinkedIn Connections from directly within LinkedIn.
From LinkedIn, do a search. With the search results, note that you can click on the Connect button to the right side of the contact name.
How to see pending invitations on LinkedIn
Curious how to see pending invitations on LinkedIn? The best way is to navigate to the My Network section.
From this page, select the Manage link on the right side of the page. You will see this page with all the connection requests you have received.
How to cancel LinkedIn request
From the previous page, where we were reviewing all incoming LinkedIn requests, we can review how to cancel LinkedIn requests we have previously made.
Click on the Sent link to see requests that were sent and not yet replied by the connection. The page will look like this.
Choose Withdraw, and confirm that you want to cancel the request. You will now be unable to requests this contact again for the next three weeks.
Designing your social profiles to support your selling
Your LinkedIn Profile should not be a resume unless you are looking for work.
The design of your LinkedIn Profile is your billboard that will tell people why they should talk to you.
Here is advice for optimizing it to achieve the proper outcomes.
Your Profile Header
As you can see with my profile, take the time to craft a LinkedIn profile that represents the value you deliver, not your job history.
Photo and Banner Images
Leverage an appropriate photo. In my role of evangelizing enablement, I have my brand images. You should use a professional photo and an approved banner image for your company.
How to add a profile photo and banner image on LinkedIn
Navigate to your LinkedIn Profile. You should see something similar to this:
When you click on your profile image, a new window will be displayed.
As you can see, from this page you can Edit the existing photo (crop, change zoom, and so forth), Add a different photo, add a frame to indicate things such as the fact that you are looking for work or hiring, and Delete the photo altogether.
To update the banner, click on the pencil icon in the banner where you have similar capabilities as those for your profile photo.
How to personalize LinkedIn URL
We will take another look at your profile image.
Click on the Edit public profile & URL, link in the upper right corner. From here. you will be taken to the following page.
You can now click on the pencil in the upper-right corner, under Personalize the URL for your profile. Save this URL and you have updated your public URL.
The headline is your unique selling proposition that should clearly articulate your WHY, mission, and purpose.
Make this customer-focused, how you can help them, not how wonderful you are.
Avoid using language like “Consistently top-performing seller who always beats quota.”
Instead, use language like “Collaborative, problem solver, focused on helping customers overcome challenges with their CRM.”
How to add a Headline on LinkedIn
Let’s head back to our LinkedIn Profile. To update the headline, click on the pencil icon that is just to the right of your current company name, Bigtincan in the picture below.
A new popup will load which looks like:
From this pop-up, you can update your headline, record your name (always helpful), and adjust other settings from the top section of your profile.
Your About Section
Use your About section to expand upon your headline.
If your headline speaks to helping customers overcome challenges with their CRM, share examples of where you have done this for other customers and the value they saw as a result of it.
How to add About on LinkedIn
Let’s head back to our LinkedIn Profile. To update the About section, click on the pencil icon that is just to the right of the words About in your profile.
Your featured section is a great place to showcase videos, images, and other content types that demonstrate your ability to deliver value.
Include at least three pieces and try to use video for at least one of them.
How to add Featured Content on LinkedIn
You should know where we are going with this.
Demonstrate the value you have created for customers in each position you list on your profile.
Also, for each position, include the unique selling proposition for the business. You want to demonstrate the value you and your company delivers.
How to add Experiences on LinkedIn
You do not need recommendations from co-workers. Positive feedback from customers and partners is worth their weight in gold. These are your case studies and are solid gold.
When you deliver success with a customer and have built a trusted advisor-level relationship, ask them for their assistance in writing a recommendation on your profile.
How to add recommendations on LinkedIn
You do not need recommendations from co-workers. Positive feedback from customers and partners is worth their weight in gold. These are your case
How to add interests on LinkedIn
Building brand awareness for your business and you
Tactics for being an excellent social citizen and, ultimately, a great trusted advisor
Additional Tips and Tricks for using LinkedIn Effectively