According to Koka Sexton, Global Senior Social Marketing Manager at LinkedIn, Social selling is the process of using your professional brand to fill your pipeline with the right people, insights, and relationships.”
There are many different definitions on what social selling is. In general, social selling is simply about leveraging professional social media networks to meet your business sales goal by finding the right people and building relationships on social networks.
Many businesses these days don’t have enough targeted clients even after they have invested a great amount of time and effort in sales and marketing, by trying to connect with influencers and decision makers through traditional methods, such as email, phone or other mediums.
Due to lack of client numbers and inability to build a strong relationship, some businesses just don’t have any real social selling success. The main reason behind poor social selling is primarily caused by a lack of knowledge on how to generate leads using a powerful social networking site such as LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a network comprising of more than three hundred million members and it is now considered as the largest social media platform for social selling. In fact, it is the biggest pool of B2B professionals belonging to all kinds of businesses and industries.
Why LinkedIn for successful social selling?
According to IDC research, 56% of B2B buyers have already used LinkedIn to enhance their purchase process.
“LinkedIn is the goldmine of the B2B sales world,” said Jill Konrath, a B2B sales expert, thought leader and expert. The network holds the largest database of profiles of professionals coming from all kinds of businesses around the world.
Each profile comprises information of who they are with the highlight of the best works they have done. LinkedIn gives an opportunity or a platform for any professional to connect with other professionals directly in person, in groups and through the network of peers. One can be successful in social selling by following the nuts and bolts of LinkedIn networking.
Creating a professional brand, finding the right prospect, engaging with insights and building a trustworthy relationship are the secrets of successful social selling with LinkedIn. As per recent LinkedIn research, successful social selling is important for any business to get more opportunities, to achieve more quotas and make more sales than those who don’t use social media for selling.
According to Demand Gen Report, LinkedIn is the number one social media site to connect for senior executives.
The evolution of technology and advancement of social media has enabled us to make greater impact on buying. According to research, 75% of the B2B buyers learn about products or services from social media before making purchase.
Out of them, majority of people use LinkedIn, rather than other social media networks, to research about information before making purchase. Thus, LinkedIn has become number one tool for organizations to find their right prospects. Those sales people who use LinkedIn for social selling are more likely to meet their quota. 72% of such sales people were found to meet their sales quota according to a survey.
How to succeed with social selling in LinkedIn?
Success of social selling via LinkedIn is measured with the help of an indicator called Social Selling Index or SSI. Social Selling Index is the tool that measures social selling success of an individual, team or company on a scale of 0 to 100, based on their social selling skills and execution which ultimately relies on The 4 Pillars of Social Selling on LinkedIn. The four pillars are:
- Creating a professional brand
- Finding right people
- Engaging with insights
- Making strong relationship
According to LinkedIn research, people with leading scores in social selling index have 45% more opportunities per quarter and 51% more probability to hit quotas.
From above image, it is clear that improving performance of the four pillars will help to improve the performance of social selling index. Therefore, if you want to succeed business via social selling with LinkedIn, you will first need to improve performance of the four pillars of social selling. Here’s how you can do it:
- Make your professional brand complete and reliable
81% of buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand. By creating your professional brand in LinkedIn, you make professional presence in the network. To make sure that your brand is professional, focus on making your profile 100% complete (if possible) by filling up the profile with significant details. Upload a profile picture and a cover picture. Be customer-centered by using a conversational tone while describe your story. Plus, never forget to add your credibility by displaying your skills.
A professional brand profile is also about sharing only top quality information that is relevant to your brand. So, share as much rich, insightful and helpful contents as possible; it could be a slide-share, text, audio, infographics or other. Your professionalism also seems to depend on what and how many posts you have published in platforms, how many page views you get on those posts and how many people are following you.
- Save your time by connecting to only right people
50% of buyers are less likely to engage if they aren’t the right person to contact about a new product or service. Reaching out to wrong people is just a waste of time. Plus, your brand will faint away if you don’t have the targeted audience.
If you want to connect with the right prospects in LinkedIn, find them using search and research tools efficiently. Lead Builder is a good way to find your people. Dive into your LinkedIn network deeper, up to 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree level, to find more potential people. Search for more people by using lead recommendation. Engage with relevant people who view your profile. Check out real-time updates of your prospects by saving leads.
- Post and engage with relevant insights
89% of buyers are less likely to engage if the product or service is not relevant to their company. Social selling elevates when buyers have an idea or insight of how their problems can be solved or their performance enhanced before they buy a particular product or service. Therefore, it is wise to post relevant content so that you are always viewed as a trustworthy source.
You need to think of a few things to choose the most effective content for sharing on social media. First, the content should bear context or lie within the field of interest of your prospects. Usually prospects are concerned about the influencers who are direct competitors, previous employees, current employees, vendors and channel partners.
According to Shanks, Managing Partner of Sales for Life, buyers travel through three main stages: Why, How and Who. In the first stage “Why”, they are wondering if they have a problem and trying to find reasons behind why they are reading a particular content. Contents like blog, videos, infographics, etc help them to identify their issue at this stage.
In the second stage “How”, they are trying to find ways to solve their issues. Contents like webinars and ebooks help them to make right decision at this stage. In the third stage “Who”, the prospect is finally seeking for the one who is providing solution to their problem. It is important for sales people to share content according to the prospect’s stage because if you share information randomly, it is not going to reach the right people.
Besides posting relevant content to relevant group of people, it is also important to engage with the posts published by others on your network by liking, commenting or sharing as well as try to connect with your potential prospects through InMails and by sending connection request or other requests. By saving accounts, you will gain insights on the account you’re working. Besides, keep expanding your network by joining relevant groups, following potential prospects, customers and their competitors.
- Make your relationships strong and lasting
90% of decision makers never answer a cold call. Therefore, it is important that you first have a strong relationship with clients before you call them. Building strong relationship for a long term drives iterative sales. And it starts by connecting to right prospects within your LinkedIn network after the introduction.
After that, find and share valuable information in order to start or maintain relationship with them. While connecting to the prospects and customers, also connect to their senior colleagues. Also make sure that you connect internally so that your colleagues can talk in a warm manner, ensuring stronger relationship. The key to gauge strength of your relationship is also to know how many of your connecting requests are accepted and how many are retained.
How to get promoted faster with LinkedIn social selling?
Successful social selling on LinkedIn helps to create more opportunities, more quota and thus, helping sales people to become outstanding performer and get promoted faster. The three steps to get promoted faster are:
- Exceed quota by prospecting more
As per a survey conducted by LinkedIn among 5,000 sales people around the globe where they asked the respondents about performance against quota, the results found were compared with prospecting activity on LinkedIn. The result was like this: people who viewed at least 10 profiles from each of their client accounts were found to be 69% more likely to exceed quota than the ones who viewed less than four profiles at each client account.
- Make club
Once you have a high SSI, you have three times more probability of making a club than the one that doesn’t. If you exceed sales quota of the year as a salesperson, you are likely to go to club. LinkedIn research shows that people with SSI score beyond 90 were three times more likely to make club than others.
- Get promoted
According to research analysis made by LinkedIn, if sales people start using social media for selling, there is a great chance that they will be promoted in near future. In the past two years, it was found that more than 150,000 sales and client-facing professionals, who use LinkedIn for selling, were promoted.
Those professionals with higher SSI score were found to get promoted 17 months faster than those with lower SSI score. If this is the regular rate, an individual with high SSI score can be a VP 3.4 years ahead or 41 months faster than the one with low SSI.
According to LinkedIn Sales Solutions, professional profiles who exceed quota get 35% more page views than unprofessional profiles, people who exceed quota in finding right people save 45% more people than those who don’t, people who exceed quota in engaging with insights get 74% more engagement on posts than those that don’t and people who exceed quota in having strong relationships are 43% more likely to get their connection request accepted that those who don’t.
How to make your social selling efforts effective in 2016?
In order to make sure that your social selling efforts are effective in 2016, you will need to focus on your entire sales team including sales representatives, sales leader and marketer.
Sales representatives: Sales representatives or people need to realize how powerful LinkedIn is for finding prospects and building relationship. They need to focus on establishing a strong professional presence on LinkedIn that is targeted to the ideal prospects, building relationship and measuring social selling progress with powerful tool like SSI.
Sales leaders: Sales leaders are expected to motivate and guide sales representatives in using the best practices of selling in LinkedIn, also making sure that they have all the resources and skills needed to find the prospects and engage with them.
Marketers: Once marketers are able to move along with the sales team in developing content, helping sales representatives in developing relationship with prospects and testing marketing messages in LinkedIn, they can be incredibly valuable for LinkedIn social selling team.
The Four Pillars of Social Selling are the foundations to social selling success on LinkedIn. LinkedIn’s powerful tool like SSI and globally expansive networking makes it easy to target, reach communicate and sell with you ideal decision makers. So, anyone who wants to succeed or grow their business can use the LinkedIn platform to enhance their business or career.
Find out more about social selling for your business here: http://socialmedia-authority.com/linkedin-b2b-social-selling/