By Tom Fournier
Have you been considering a social selling initiative?
Why should this be a consideration? In short, traditional means of outreach, marketing and advertising are quickly losing relevance. This is not where your potential buyers are looking for insights and options.
In a previous blog post I shared information on the changing B2B buyer and how they preferred not to interact with a sales representative and how they would rather do research on their own.
There is an old sales adage that “you need to fish where the fish are.” These days, that means trying to sell in social media settings. For Business to Business, that most often means LinkedIn.
What should a sales representative consider as they try to step up their selling efforts on LinkedIn?
First, they should evaluate their profile. Does it reflect someone conducting a job search or someone establishing their credentials to act as a solution provider or expert resource?
The next consideration is to look for industry related groups to join. Actively participate in these groups by commenting on posts and demonstrating knowledge and expertise. Participation in these groups is also an opportunity to identify prospects.
Once a prospect is identified, should a connection request be immediately sent? Perhaps it can, particularly if the prospect has been met before. If there is not a familiarity, there is an increased likelihood that the connection request will not be accepted. To increase the chances of making a connection, there are ways to warm up a prospect before requesting a connection.
A good start is to view their profile. It can be flattering or spark interest when a prospect sees that someone has been looking at their profile. The key is to be sure that this is not in some variant of a private mode. The prospect should know who has been looking at their profile. While looking at their profile, rather than pressing the “connect” button, go a little further to the right and click on “more”. There is a “follow” option. Once a prospect is followed, a sales representative can then begin liking their posts/activities and if appropriate commenting on their posts. As a relationship is established, a connection request can be sent and is more likely to be accepted.
Once a connection has been established do not rush in with an offer or a request for a meeting. When this happens to me (people do try to sell me on LinkedIn) I find it quite aggressive, presumptuous and even a little offensive. A sales representative should continue to “warm” the relationship and also continue to be active on LinkedIn with their own posts and actions to continue to build their credentials.
What sort of activity should a sales representative have on LinkedIn?
First and foremost, make it a professional forum. LinkedIn is a business community not a place for religious, political or personal commentary.
One of the easiest ways for a sales representative to participate on LinkedIn and establish expertise and credentials is to share or post articles and content related to their industry or role. This is called curating content. This always works best if the poster adds some comments reflecting their own thoughts on the content. Create a positive impression, post content and offer supporting comments rather than critical or negative comments.
As confidence grows, consider creating content. This is extremely frightening and nerve wracking but people tend to be receptive and supportive. If someone is really bold, they should try filming themselves for a brief video introduction. I was blown away by how much more reach your content will have with a video introduction.
If the company is creating digital content and/or forums for interactions with customers; this should be shared and promoted by their employees. Individuals have a higher following and more interactions with customers than a corporate LinkedIn profile.
For advanced selling on LinkedIn, do check out their “Navigator” add-on. It is an added cost but it does declutter the LinkedIn feed and allows for interesting insights into potential prospects.
Check on the resources that LinkedIn offers on selling. They are quite good.
Above all, to be effective on LinkedIn, it should be a frequent activity. I make a survey of LinkedIn part of my morning routine.
If you have an interest in this area, I would be more than happy to deliver a presentation or keynote on this topic.
Tom Fournier, founder of the Shade's Mills Group, history enthusiast and happy walker!