Last week, I presented at an event in Denver called the Sales Symposium – put on by the smart folks at the Sales Expert Channel. I shared strategies for building meaningful (and profitable connections). You can view the Slideshare presentation here, and a summary of the high points follows.
In my experience working with hundreds of (mostly) enterprise sales reps, it became obvious that the best of the best were master relationship builders. Yes, they knew the principles of selling (territory planning, handling objections, etc.) – and they had good product knowledge, but even more important, they knew how to get prospects to know them, like them and trust them. And this goal always starts with making connections.
As we have shown with many client engagements, and for our own B2B company – LinkedIn (LI) is where you need to be. You can read many books, whitepapers and articles with lots of advice on how to leverage LinkedIn. However, this can be overwhelming, and overwhelmed people often freeze. So let’s start with a more easily digestible list: 10 things you can start doing now to get you on the path to double your social selling results.
- Align the messaging on your LI company page, you company website and your personal LI profile page. On all three locations, make it crystal clear what you do, who you do it for, and how it benefits them.
- Adjust your LI privacy settings to allow you to accept followers and to allow connections and followers to see your activity.
- Increase your number of connections and followers by looking at the profiles of existing connections and navigating to the “People Also Viewed” profiles on the right side of page. These will be similar to your existing connections and you can also use a mutual contact as an introduction: “I see that my friend Sally Rogers is a mutual connection”.
- Always personalize your connection request: “I am a fellow CU alumni” or “I enjoyed the point you made about xxx in your recent article.”
- Turn off private viewing in your privacy settings and reach out to those who view your profile (5-12% of these will connect).
- Follow interesting prospects and industry influencers even if they won’t connect with you. This way, you will see what they are up to and be able to like, comment and share their updates.
- Share all of your company’s LinkedIn updates and post your own updates on a regular basis. Good topics include company news, industry news, useful articles and awards. You can include some promotional posts, but I recommend this be no more than a quarter to a third of all your posts.
- Be active in sharing, commenting on, and liking the posts of your prospects and industry influencers. Pay special attention to “trigger events” like a job switch, promotion, award, and so forth. Don’t be so blatant about this that you come across as a stalker instead of an interested industry colleague.
- Boost the exposure of your posts by adding a hashtag (basically a keyword with the # symbol in front) to the end of your posts. For example, if I were referencing this article, my LinkedIn update would include hashtags like #socialselling and #LinkedIn.
- If you have a premium LinkedIn account, use the InMail feature to get through to prospects. LinkedIn claims that InMail is 30x better than cold emails at converting prospects. Not sure the ratio is this high but we have seen very solid results with InMail.
Please make sure that you take the above steps to connect and engage before you try to sell the prospect something. Your first engagement shouldn’t be a sales pitch. Also, I mentioned the Sales Expert Channel above. Make sure to visit their website and take advantage of the great content focused on helping you generate revenue faster and more effectively.