Here’s how to leverage LinkedIn to establish connections, build relationships, and acquire new clients.
Prospecting and selling online is very similar to performing a job search, and it helps to think of it as one.
- Know your (sales or job) objective,
- perfect your resume or your sales pitch
- go after specific targets.
Select Who To Target
First, be selective about whom to target. Then target them the same way you would do for an employer you’re trying to win over to score the job interview, or to get your foot in the door.
Quite often it begins with a lot of Googling, then a dive into social networks to find out more detailed information about the people you’re about to meet or would like to meet in person.
Deep Dive to “Listen” To Your Buyers or Clients
There’s a reason why social media is called ‘social’ where broadcast TV or radio is not.
As in ordinary conversation, listening may be the most crucial skill of them all. In many ways, the entire marketing strategy will depend on how much time your or your company can effectively spend and dedicate to learning and listening on each specific account and its key decision-makers.
Effective social listening takes up the bulk of the time spent on sales and is crucial for success.
The time factor is big, and it may try your patience, but it’ll be worth it.
50% of the customers are more likely to purchase from the vendor or person who addresses customer specific business problems that they themselves can be facing. In other words, 50% are likelier to purchase if it’s a personalized message.
Copying and pasting generic messages are just not going to make it anymore.
The approach called social selling is far more targeted and customized than a typical email newsletter campaign, or social media promotion. In this case you’re trying to reach a bulk of people at once. With social selling you’re actually doing the opposite.
Reach Out Directly With Customized Messages
Think cover letter.
How likelier is it that a hiring manager or recruiter will respond to a resume without a cover letter over one who has one?
LinkedIn users get to use a feature called InMail where you can directly contact people, which sometimes includes recruiters. It is equivalent to the direct messaging feature built into Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
The key point is that it’s sending a direct, one to one message to someone, much similar to sending a text message or email. It’s not a unedited, or a generic templated message. Direct messaging is a powerful way to cut straight to the chase.
Don’t overdo social engagement, or else you may come across as “creepy” or “clingy” or desperate, and end up turning off the buyer or prospect. Ever heard of the term friend-tagging fatigue (FTF)? Even friends won’t like it, so how much less will someone who doesn’t even know who you are?
You get the idea right?
This Is How You Engage With Your Prospects
Your target is the decision-maker for the company or the person authorized to make buying decisions.
Here’s an example:
Once, I wanted to identify a thought leader in the space of digital filmmaking, so I can invite them to do a joint workshop with us. After doing a few Google Twitter and Linkedin searches I have found the perfect individual. However, there was a slight problem. He had absolutely no idea who I was or what my company was, or what we did.
I decided that I needed to engage with them in a strategic way to get his attention online even before or way in advance before asking him to do a joint webinar with us.
Hence one of the most important principles in social selling: Understand your buyer, get the pulse, provide value, and then and only then are you ready to reach out with a proposal or a sale offer.
Now you may be wondering why it is that this done in such a seemingly roundabout way.
The answer is: If I had simply out of the blue asking to do workshop with us he would have shot me down immediately.
So after much thinking, I decided to follow him on Twitter, and engage with him by retweeting and liking a few of those tweets a few times per week for exactly two weeks.
Add Value First To Give Your Buyer A Reason To Care
First add value before making your offer or pitch. You must give them a reason to care about what you have to say.
Afterwards I went to LinkedIn and decided to connect with them on LinkedIn with a customized invite.
FIRST: View Recent Activity.
This is a fact-finding stage only. Notice what they post, what they are interested in, what they talk about.
It’s called the 3 X 3 SOCIAL. Here’s how it works:
Find out 3 things about your buyer in 3 minutes or less:
- Personal life
SECOND: Connect with the 3×3 social via a customized invite.
Get their attention first, before asking for theirs.
THIRD: The rules of engagement
Choose an opening.
One of the best ways to do this is to comment on a post.
These are the three things you really need in order to accomplish this.
- Be authentic
- Write from an industry perspective
- Start a conversation
Scenario #1: Your buyer has a blog or has written and published their own articles.
Find one you feel you can like and or can ask a good question about.
Once you’ve identified one of their articles you want to first like it. Then you want to obviously read it and leave a comment in the section below the article.
The best comments I recommend are the ones are actually a question to the author who in this case is your buyer when you ask a question about specific part of the article. You’re essentially asking your buyer to not only notice your comment but to reply to you which should enable you stand out.
What most people comment are things like:
- Love your article, or
- Thanks for sharing!
- Thanks for writing,
Which is good, but not great.
However, you want to stand out by saying something like:
- Great article! I especially loved the part where __________,
- I love the point you made about ________.
COMMENT #2: I have a question: ___________
- This can be something like: “What is your marketing prediction for 2018 in the energy sector?”
Scenario #2: You buyer has content you can share
You need to find a relevant topic and article based on that topic for your buyer. Next, make sure to:
- @Mention the buyer
Scenario #3: Your buyer only posts regular content, not their own blog or article.
Publish Regularly and Consistently
There’s no way around this.
Studies have shown that 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers, according to a HubSpot survey. Now LinkedIn gives you an option to publish articles on their own platform.
The importance of regular and quality content is a whole topic in itself, so I wrote a separate article on the benefits (the pros and cons) of blogging.
Originally published on https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/social-selling-kevin-kazuhito-naruse/