Updated: Dec 14, 2020
LinkedIn is a social networking site which is crucial to all businesses. It helps businesses to both promote themselves and establish new business relationships. So, why should you try social selling on LinkedIn, you ask? The answer is that this process not only connects you to hundreds of targeted prospective clients, allowing you to build rapport with them and later convert them into actual clients, but also increases your online presence and outreach, giving you the ability to drive those all-important sales. It's a no-brainer! 🧠
Step 1: Prepare! 🎓
Before you can learn to run, you must learn to walk, and before you can walk, you need to learn how to crawl. The same applies to beginning the process of social selling on LinkedIn! Before attempting to send hundreds of generic and loosely-related connection requests, first, start at the very beginning and ensure your LinkedIn profile is professional and complete. Social selling expert Melonie Dodaro states that 50% of buyers actually avoid professionals who do not have complete LinkedIn profiles.
Making sure your LinkedIn profile is as complete and professional as can be is something that requires practice, and it can take a few tries to get right. You can find fantastic advice to building your LinkedIn profile here. The ideal profile also needs the perfect, professional headshot to go alongside it, for which you can find advice here. It is best to keep in mind, however, that you are selling your products and services so keep your profile client-orientated. Your profile should show off the solutions you can provide to your ideal clients, not be a one-note monologue that only boasts about yourself!
It may feel like a long process, but remember, Rome wasn't built in a day! Once your LinkedIn profile is as complete as can be, then you're well on your way to covering all of the groundwork needed to make social selling easier for yourself!
Step 2: Add a personal touch! ✍️
Sending a request to connect with someone on LinkedIn is easy. A simple click of a button and your request is away, open to approval or dismissal. So why not go one step further and personalise that message to connect?
After locating prospects, start by sending them a personalised request. Sarah Santacroce’s Golden Rules for LinkedIn etiquette suggests you learn, at least a little bit, about the person you are wanting to connect with and then write a compelling note explaining who you are and why you want to connect. This simple yet effective extra step shows that you value your prospective client enough to take the time to create a personal message. If you send a personalised message to a client, while your competitor sends a simple request without a message, you are the obvious choice for the accept button! You now have a real edge in the first step to building a relationship with this prospective, which you can later convert into a new client. It has never been easier to strike up a conversation with prospective clients, so take your time constructing this first interaction, as it is the first step to a successful social selling plan.
Always remember that when you engage in conversation with your prospective clients, your messages should not sound, smell, or look like a sales pitch! This is one of the most surefire ways to kill a relationship before it can even begin to flourish. It is more important to communicate your interest in learning about your prospective, as Melanie advises. By engaging in conversation you will soon be able to determine whether this individual or business is a true prospective client that you could one day work with, whilst also making them feel valued.
To keep the momentum going, ensure you don’t limit yourself to just one message with them – maintain the conversation by asking open-ended questions and when you end the conversation, always thank them for their time. This adds more value to your interactions and allows for an offline relationship to flourish. This is very important, because it is when your offline relationship grows that you can convert your LinkedIn connections into real life clients, (which we will come back to later on!) Although you may be keen to converse with all of your prospective clients, there is always the risk of bombarding them. Try and consolidate your thoughts into a single message (under 50 words) and wait at least 24 hours before sending a follow up email if you have had no response.
Step 3: Create appropriate content. 📻
In regards to the content you share or repost, it is best to keep in mind that quality is better than quantity. LinkedIn Consultant Sarah Santacroce advises that every update you share must be done with the intention of connecting, informing and engaging with your audience. Flooding your network with any and every article you see that vaguely relates to your business actually has the adverse effect of turning away prospects.
Instead, if you follow the do's and don'ts of LinkedIn, you should ensure that you use LinkedIn as if it were a networking event – share only the most relevant and interesting information. One tip shared on the Ultimate Guide for LinkedIn Social Selling, is the use of LinkedIn Pulse. Posting advice or insights into the common problems faced by your target customers onto this platform will increase your reach to hundreds of potential prospects.
To fully utilise and capitalise on the positive effects this will have, make sure you tag co-workers, business acquaintances and even previous/potential clients in the comment section. This encourages debate and increases views on your post, making you, your post and your services more visible. From here, potential prospects you may not have reached before will be able to find you, meaning you have succeeded in widening your pool of potential clients from just one post.
Under the Rain Groups 15 ideas for selling with LinkedIn, one tip they share is joining groups. Join up to 50 groups in your nearby area and follow members that post any news that is worth your while. This exposes you to groups of people relevant to your target audience and allows you to share comments and have conversations with people that can become potential clients or collaborators. Joining groups will also give you a deeper feel for the problems facing your prospects, which, in turn, gives you more topics of conversation to post about.
Step 4: Follow and engage with relevant influencers. 🔗
Collaborations are one of the biggest ways to raise your business’s profile whilst simultaneously increasing your reach to even more people within your target audience. Therefore, one of the easiest things you can do to increase social sales is to find collaboration opportunities with other professionals or influencers who provide services complementary to you.
This may seem intimidating at first, but influencers do not need to have a Beyoncé-level of followers and reach, they just need to have a substantial hold over a group of people who will benefit from what you are offering. Top Dog Social Media suggests using these people, in an interview perhaps, so that you can introduce them to your community. This interview can then be shared on the influencer’s page, which will increase your traffic. Alternatively, you could offer to do a joint-enterprise with an influencer, or offer them something in return for their help, allowing you to be featured on their page and connect with their audience, which will help you to build connections.
The Rain Group also advises keeping an eye on who is viewing your profile, as this can lead to further opportunities for building relationships. If you aren’t connected with the people viewing your profile, then what are you waiting for?! Connect with them! If you are connected, send a friendly, personalised message and start a conversation – they could be your next client…
Step 5: Take the relationship offline. 📴
Finally, after establishing a relationship with prospective people and building trust, Dodaro recommends moving the relationship offline. In these offline sessions you will be able to get more information from your prospects, talk on a deeper business level, and then begin to talk about the solutions you provide and how they can help your prospective client. A big LinkedIn “no-no” on the do's and don'ts of social selling is trying to use LinkedIn to close deals. This places pressure on your prospective clients and could even damage the relationship you have so carefully been building! Remember: LinkedIn is all about establishing connections and building relationships, not hard selling.
Once you begin to talk to the people you have built these online relationships with, offline, your chance arises now to turn a prospective into a client.
Slow and steady wins this race; this process will take some time and that is OK! Give yourself a deadline to implement the right changes to your LinkedIn profile before you begin your journey to increasing social sales and watch as you slowly begin to build more meaningful relationships, that will help your business to flourish!
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About the Author:
Camara is a third year Law student at the University of Exeter, with a passion for writing. She’s currently an intern PR Assistant and Blogger at GuidedPR. When she isn't writing or hitting the law books, you can find Camara either working on her own blog that she has created, or on social media keeping up with current affairs!
Find Camara on LinkedIn.