Now that you have followed the expert advice in part one of this series and have taken steps to optimize your LinkedIn profile, it is time to rev the engine, start engaging and take advantage of the world’s most powerful B2B social media platform.
“Social selling is defined as the process of leveraging online platform tools to attract, teach and engage targeted buyers,” said Bill McCormick, Vice President and LinkedIn Strategist at Social Sales Link. “It’s not about connect and forget.” McCormick added that it’s called social media for a reason. “Don’t forget to be social.” Donna Serdula, (www.linkedin-makeover.com) author of LinkedIn Optimization for Dummies, has done over 5000 LinkedIn profile makeovers. She reminds her clients that the first step to success on LinkedIn is to determine why you are on LinkedIn and what you want out of it. “Once you know you are doing this for business development, then you need to start thinking about your target audience. What’s important to them?” asked Serdula.
Keeping the target audience in mind is critical as you begin to connect with prospects. Serdula said that when you ask someone to connect on LinkedIn, you always need to add a personal note. “Show some commonality. Are you in the same industry? Do you have common connections?” she added.
According to McCormick, the big mistake is to connect with people and immediately try to sell them. His colleague at Social Sales Link, Sally Jo LaMont, VP of Training and Development, stressed the importance of having a step by step LinkedIn playbook.
All the experts are sure are about one thing: If you are not engaging, you are doing it wrong.
Serdula offered a passive way to engage. “Just view someone’s profile,” she said. “People do love to see who viewed their profile, but you better have a great looking profile yourself when you do that.”
“I challenge my clients to post something on LinkedIn once a week. By posting, you are letting people see that you are there. Creating weekly content can be overwhelming for some, so a good first step is to curate content – like, comment and share. By doing that, you are active and visible. Use the mobile app, do it in your off hours,” added Serdula. According to LinkedIn Trainer Mark Williams – aka “Mr. LinkedIn,” original content will get more notice than shared content on LinkedIn. “My theory is that people prefer original content and are driven to engage by seeing an active comment thread. We can’t be sure of the reasons, but we can judge the results,” said Williams.
For LaMont, the key to engagement is to offer insights that bring the prospect to your product or service instead of you pushing your product or service to the prospect. She said the vehicle is blogging, interviews, webinars, tweeting and the big one today – video.
“You want to be the first one out there to add value. You want to become a thought leader, because most buyers out there today will buy from the person who is the first to add value – someone they feel gave them insights and value,” said LaMont.
To support LaMont, McCormick sites a study from Corporate Visions:
“74% of the buyers selected the sales rep that was the first to add value and insight, not the one who was the cheapest. So, the real question for sales people becomes, how am I providing value and insight? LinkedIn is a great platform for providing value and insight, without selling,” he said.
According to LaMont, being a thought leader is about inserting yourself into the buyer’s journey – bringing different levels of content and value depending upon where they are at in that journey. You aren’t pushing product. You are offering thought leadership that helps them in their journey, moving them to the next step.
“It is so much more powerful to engage on LinkedIn than it is to make cold calls or emails,” said LaMont. “If someone wants to engage with me, they can make that decision right from the get-go by connecting with me. If they connect with me, it is important that I offer value and insights right from the beginning in the form of a webinar or blogs. So, when it’s time for that sales call, they are going to recognize me and want to take that call, because I have been offering value all that time.”
The ultimate score: A warm introduction
Every LinkedIn expert agrees that warm introductions can impact your business in a big way.
Every sales rep has experienced this: You are in a client’s office and they are really happy with you and your company. Knowing this, you ask, “If you know anyone who could use our services, please keep us in mind.” What happens with that? Nothing.
“A more powerful approach is to actually look through your client’s connections and pick ten you would like to meet,” said LaMont. “Ask the client “Do you mind if we have a conversation about possible introductions to some of your connections?”
According to LaMont, your clients will do it for two reasons:
1. It’s very focused
2. People always want to help
“We might end up cutting the list down to three introductions, but that is far more powerful than any cold calling you can do,” she said. “The next step – ask them to make the introduction however they are comfortable – in a call, email or through LinkedIn. I always ask, please copy me in - I will take it from there.”
LinkedIn is free, unless you buy some of the premium tools, like Sales Navigator. Among other features, Sales Navigator expands your search reach and can limit your feed to people you are really interested in.
Serdula tells her clients not to even consider taking on a LinkedIn Premium account until they have made a real time commitment to LinkedIn.
“At a certain point, you will know that you need to upgrade,” she said.
Patience has a payoff
Clearly, LinkedIn success comes from a consistent and methodical approach – just like many other business development strategies. Serdula summed it up well.
“There are lots of ways to view social selling. You can look at it as just another form of cold calling and treat it that way. You will get a lot of rejection, but it does work. Or you can look at it as a platform and a network. My clients don’t want to make cold calls, they want incoming calls. That takes some time, but with a long-term view, it starts to happen.”
Next – Part Three - Best Choice: LinkedIn Ads or Google Pay Per Click?
Since selling his business in January of 2017, Bob Tullio has been an active industry consultant at www.tullioB2B.com focusing on content creation, strategic planning, sales training and business development. He has written over 40 columns and features, providing operators and other entrepreneurs with an inside look at how he helped build a successful business from the ground up. Currently, Tullio is developing a series of videos that are centered around his speaking presentation…
“Ten Ways to Energize your Sales.”
Phone: 818 261-1758