LinkedIn and Social SellingSocial Selling is a term that is spreading like wildfire. Koka Sexton, from LinkedIn says social selling is The Evolution of Sales. I agree completely; social selling has absolutely changed the sales process as we know it.

I also see social selling as a revolution of and for the sales professionals. We are free from the mass cold calling, knocking on doors, and manipulating our way to the decision maker. Our networking is purposeful, our meetings more productive, our pipeline is full, our sales cycle has shortened and our close ratio has gone up…right?

Well, if you have embraced social selling, then you would be nodding, smiling and agreeing with me. But, If you are still wondering what the heck is this new fangled thing called social sales is, and how to actually implement it, you are in the right place. Social Sales Link breaks social selling into 4 distinct categories:

1. Listen to your target market, their industry, clients and competition. Research and identify what your prospect cares about and needs. By discovering what articles they like, what blogs they share, who they follow and are connected to, we can begin to understand our prospect better than we ever could before. Although there are hundreds of ways to listen, here are 3 easy activities that you can do to listen to your target market on LinkedIn:

  • Visit your target markets’ profiles ie. clients, prospects, influencers and decision makers. Click on the down-arrow button next to “send message” or “connect” and choose recent activity. From here you can see who they are connecting to, what articles they haved liked, shared and even published. This is a powerful way to see what matters to them right now.
  • Join LinkedIn groups that are industry related and read posts and discussions. You will pick up on hot topics and trends.
  • Visit clients’ and prospective clients’ company LinkedIn pages and see what is being posted. Often, you will discover initiatives that are a priority to the company.

Be sure to use other sources such as Google searches, twitter and twitter monitoring programs, press releases, industry publications and blogs as well as company websites to get the entire picture.

2. Educate your prospects. Brand you and your company as the subject matter experts.

  • Begin with developing a “client centric” profile not a resume or summaries filled with “I” statements. The goal is to offer your clients content that shows them you are a thought leader and get them to want to engage with you. Just telling them your are great isn’t enough, give them substance and they will want more from you. If you do it right, your prospects will be contacting you directly, and isn’t that what we all want?
  • Take advantage of LinkedIn Publications, there is nothing more powerful than sharing your own content. Original strategies, ideas and tactics are what differentiate you from your competition and this is a fabulous platform to get that message out. Be sure to share this content in groups and even with targeted individuals.
  • Sharing other people’s educational content in your news feed is also a terrific way to educate your reader. You can aggregate content through google alerts, twitter and #tag searches (there are programs like BufferHootsuite and BuzzSumo that can make researching, aggregating and scheduling very simple).

3. Prospect on LinkedIn by leveraging your network for warm introductions and get your content in the inbox of your target market.

  • Identify who your clients and networking partners know that you want to know through searches on LinkedIn and ask them for introductions. CLICK HERE to learn how
  • Leverage LinkedIn Groups to find your ideal prospects and engage with them.
  • Create Advanced and Saved Searches on LinkedIn so that you will have qualified targeted prospects in a consistently filled pipeline every week. Really!
  • Make sure to engage with other posts from your network. Participate in discussions around what matters to them.

Be sure to use other tools for prospecting including twitter, Google+ and other platforms. BONUS: check out followerwonk.com and TweetAdder, twitter tools that makes finding the decision makers on LinkedIn easy.

4. Position yourself as the subject matter expert and the solution through thoughtful research prior to your first meeting. You can certainly use information gained in step #1 but the key here is to use this in your prospecting meetings. Often this step is much more targeted to the company and individuals you are meeting with. Gather information that will help you build rapport, offer industry insights and maybe even be prepared offer client solution ideas to problems that you uncover. Being prepared will ultimately position you to be the subject matter expert they need, set the bar and influence the buying decisions.

LinkedIn is just one piece of Social Selling, albeit a very important one. As mentioned above, be sure to develop original content, leverage twitter and Social CRM’s like nimble.com, listening tools and have measurable email marketing campaigns.

And, most importantly have a well defined plan to get the word out and bring the clients in. Need help with a plan, Schedule a call with Sally Jo.