Social Selling on LinkedIn: All You Need to Know
Stop us if you’ve heard this before:
“In the digital age, Social Selling is exactly what your company needs to succeed!”
Pitching social selling as the next “hot new marketing trend” is itself a popular marketing trend. However, many marketers seem more concerned with making sure your company adopts it as soon as possible instead of explaining the specifics of how it works.
Today, we’re going to do our part to rectify that. This article will delve into the nitty-gritty of social selling and why businesses are so eager to adopt it. So without further ado, let’s dive into everything you need to know about social selling on LinkedIn.
The Basics: What is Social Selling?
Social selling is a primarily B2B practice, wherein you sell a product or service through a curated process of building and developing a relationship with prospective clients. While the practice dates back a bit further, today it is most closely associated with LinkedIn and their four pillars of social selling.
These four pillars are:
- Create a professional brand.
- Focus on the right prospects
- Engage with insights.
- Build trusted relationships.
Create a Professional Brand
The first component of social selling is creating a professional brand. We’ve all been spammed by “legitimate’ businesses trying to push one product or another. But by now, people are rightfully wary of cold callers. As a result, if you want to properly use social selling you must cater your image toward alleviating such concerns.
If you want to build a relationship with a potential client, then they must understand that you are a respectable business. As it specifically concerns LinkedIn, there are several basic steps you can take to proactively project the image of professionalism:
- A highly curated description that corresponds to your product is essential. Clients will be suspicious if your profile’s narrative does not mesh with the message of your product. LinkedIn has published a list of great bios if you’re looking for something to build off of.
- It may sound basic, but internal LinkedIn studies have shown that merely having a picture associated with your page makes it 14x as likely to be viewed. The more professional looking the picture (lighting, framing, dress, etc.) the better your odds.
- Tailor your information to your field. For instance, the qualities highlighted by an investment broker are going to be different than that of a realtor.
There are many little things you can do to build the image of professionalism, but ultimately the most important thing you can do is demonstrate an understanding of your industry. The best way to look professional is to be professional.
Focus on the Right Prospects
A shotgun approach to approaching prospective customers is antithetical to the tenets of social selling. If you intend to build and develop a relationship with your clients it is inefficient to not scout out potential matches first.
Notable advanced search features include keyword searching, Boolean operator functionality, and alternative result sorting. Proper utilization of these tools allows you to spend time on prospects who your analytics show are most likely to engage with your product.
In that regard, it is critical that you research everything about your industry before embarking on this process. The more features that are known about the ideal candidate profile, the more you can refine your search and isolate your best matches.
Engage with Insights
Continuous activity on your page is a must for anyone using social selling techniques on LinkedIn. This is commonly done by sharing posts in your relevant news and industry related-content on your page.
There are two key reasons why you must “engage with insights” frequently:
First, it demonstrates a level of contemporary engagement with the industry. Commenting on ongoing trends not only shows that you’re aware of them but allows you to articulate your stance and further refine your brand image.
Second, it helps position yourself as a thought leader in the industry. Not only are you engaging with new trends, but you are providing additional analysis on them. Practically, you are demonstrating that you are an authority in the industry.
Both of these principles build off of the aforementioned idea of creating a professional brand. In this regard, positioning yourself as an expert is one way you can maintain said brand.
Build Trusted Relationships
Building appropriate relationships with your client base is essential in selling them your product or service. This is to be done in a straightforward, honest, and organic manner. Practically speaking, this comes down to the abilities of your agents to build a rapport and answer any questions they may have.
An important aspect of this that is rarely stressed is the occasional need for brutal honesty. If the client is looking for something your product does not provide, it can be beneficial to direct them toward another service rather than push them to buy your product.
While it may hurt to do this after the lengthy recruiting process the goal of social selling is to build real relationships, not just sell your product. A sale doesn’t matter if the client leaves with a bad experience and says as much to those in their circles.
If you help them find a more appropriate venue they’re much more likely to recommend you to others and come back to you if they do need your services. This not only positions your company as knowledgeable about the industry but can also help build and maintain connections with the companies you refer clients to.
As a final note, Social Selling Coach AI is an emerging tool that has shown recent promise in helping agents in their relationship-building skills. These tools can analyze conversations between agents and customers and provide feedback to improve future discussions.
While there have been discussions as to their ability to separate hard data analytics from soft interpersonal skills, they are nonetheless an option worth exploring if you find yourself struggling to close.
Social Selling Index
LinkedIn also provides free access to your SSI, aka Social Selling Index. The index provides an analysis of how strong you are in each of the four pillars of social selling. Per LinkedIn, this score has a high correlation with various sales figures:
- 45% more sales opportunities
- 51% more likely to hit quota
- 78% of social sellers outsell peers who don’t use social media
While this tool is free, they do also provide additional paid services that provide more direction toward improving your SSI score.
Social selling is a broad and evolving field. This article does not talk about aspects unrelated to LinkedIn, but other forms of social media can be useful in creating a multi-platform holistic brand image.
Is social selling right for your company? That’s up to you to decide. But if your success hinges on continual client satisfaction and standing out from other companies, it’s at the very least worth inquiring into.
Laurent Gibb has spent the best part of 20 years working with European, US, and Israeli startups across a range of sectors, helping them scale and reach stable repeatable growth. He has been fortunate to see two startups IPO, one acquisition, a couple of pivots, a few get to hypergrowth… and also one or two who didn’t make it… You connect with him on LinkedIn here or tweet/follow him @LGLondon
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