Social selling… or as I like to refer to it “relationship building” has become a necessary tool for sales professionals, but to do it right is a bit of an art form. Never before has there been a time where your prospects have had such access to information. Information that will shape their perception of your business, your competitors’ businesses, and ultimately, their buying decision.
Thankfully there are a number of strategies and tools that you can use to help you locate potential prospects, provide value to them and then earn the right to have a conversation with them.
While this takes time and effort, it is something that can be accomplished in an efficient and effective way, using a proven lead generation strategy on LinkedIn. You can take this a step further and amplify your social selling efforts by combining your LinkedIn activities with Twitter and email marketing.
Start With LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the key tool to successful social selling. With over 380 million global members, LinkedIn will give you un-gated access to the decision makers in your target industry. In fact, LinkedIn:
- Is utilized by one out of every three professionals in the world
- Is the #1 channel to distribute content
- Drives more traffic to B2B blogs and websites than any other social media platform
- LinkedIn is considered the most effective social media platform for B2B lead generation
Further, LinkedIn dramatically increases the effectiveness of your sales efforts and shortens the length of your sales cycle. With it you can:
- Locate potential prospects
- Research prospects
- Connect with prospects
- Build relationships with prospects
- Stay top of mind with clients and prospects
- Stay organized with its built-in CRM tool
- Position yourself as an authority on your topic and in your industry
In short, LinkedIn is the ultimate relationship building platform.
The secret to successfully using LinkedIn for social selling is to have a repeatable strategy that keeps you on task and on track while reaching out and building relationships with your prospects. To be efficient you want to have a checklist that includes the activities you will do daily / weekly to further your sales goals, and move your prospects through the social selling funnel.
While this will vary with each individual and company, there are a number of activities that you should be doing daily. Click on the infographic to the right, for a sample of what activities you may want to consider incorporating into your daily social selling efforts.
Increase Your Reach And Effectiveness With Twitter
Twitter is the perfect tool to complement your LinkedIn social selling activities. With over 316 million monthly users (about 100 million active daily users) that resulting in more than 500 million tweets per day, there is a good chance that some of your ideal clients are actively using Twitter.
So what are they using Twitter for?
Many people use the platform as a news source or to follow the brands and businesses they are interested in. In fact, 74% of people who follow SMBs, follow to get updates on products. These people are also more likely to visit the company’s website and make a future purchase.
This makes Twitter a powerful platform for you to not only locate and do research on potential prospects, but it is also a great place to continue the relationship building process.
Finding And Researching Prospects On Twitter
There are a couple of great ways to find potential prospects on Twitter. One simple method is to locate accounts for your competitors or for businesses that would sell to a similar market and go through the list of people who follow them. The downside of this method is that the bigger their list of followers, the longer it will take for you to go through the list looking for the right individuals.
A more targeted approach would be to search for hashtags and keywords related to your business, products or services. This will bring up a list of people who are specifically talking about the topic you are searching. While you will likely find many industry experts (and competitors) in this list, you will also find potential prospects.
You can also use Twitter to learn more about the prospects already on your list. Simply type in their name (or better yet their Twitter ID if you have it) and look for them amongst the list of results.
If there are multiple people with that name and you are connected to them on another social media platform, you can compare profile images from both platforms. Once you have found the appropriate person, you will want to check out their profile. Look at their cover and background image, as this can give you insight into who they are. You will want to read their bio and check out what they are tweeting.
From this, you can often glean information about things that you share in common and what is important to them. Make sure to take notes and add these to the ‘notes’ section of their LinkedIn profile.
Building Relationships On Twitter
Once you have identified a potential prospect on Twitter and done your research, use what you have learned about them to participate in existing conversations that they are a part of. If you have already had some form of conversation with your prospect on another platform, you can further that conversation here as well.
In your conversations, you can share resources that they might find helpful, but these resources should include nothing that pushes your products or services on them. Keep in mind that it is vital your participation makes sense and adds nothing that could be perceived as “salesy” or a pitch.
Provide Value And Stay Top Of Mind With Email Marketing
Email marketing is another way to amplify your efforts with social selling.
When you send out your ‘thank you / welcome’ message to your new LinkedIn connections, you can include resources or a free offer that you have created. Ideally they will need to sign up for your email list to receive this freebie.
You can also share this resource on your LinkedIn profile, the occasional status update or on Twitter. By sharing it in these places, if you have created a resource that your market finds valuable, you will get people who you are not already connected to signing up for your list. These people are often highly targeted prospects.
Once they are a part of your email list, you will be able to stay top of mind. Continue to invoke the law of reciprocity and further increase your image as an industry expert by providing consistent value in the form of your newsletter. You may want to include one or two offers discreetly within in your newsletter (banners often work well) for those who are ready to take action. You can also send your list emails about events you are attending or hosting as well as the occasional offer.
By incorporating these strategies into your social selling campaign (new or existing), you will greatly amplify the effectiveness of your efforts and shorten your sales cycle.
The most important thing to remember is that during this process, your goal is to build relationships and provide value, NOT to sell. Selling comes later, once you have established a relationship and have earned the right to a conversation, whether in person, over the phone or on Skype. That is where the sale happens.
If you have done your job well up to this point, the sale is the next natural step in the progression of the relationship.