78% of sales professionals using social media/social networks are outperforming their peers.
While sales professionals at large enterprise software companies have been trained on social selling, many small and niche vertical software vendors are adapting the very same tools. In fact, social selling is quickly becoming the norm and, as the above statistic shows, sales professionals are finding a great deal of success on social media.
With many consumers, who are most likely also prospects, flocking to social media, sales professionals need to know how to engage with and interact via social channels. In turn, management teams need to ensure that their sales reps are actively using social channels to prospect and close deals, so competitors don’t get the upper hand.
With over 300 million members, LinkedIn is the networking site for professionals around the world, and is the go-to site for professional connections online.
First Things First...
In any social media network, especially LinkedIn, first impressions are crucial to successful networking. Building a great looking profile doesn’t have to be an intricate thirty-step process, although it may seem like it at first.
Start with the very first thing a prospect is going to see, the Profile Picture, which should be a professional looking headshot. The next thing a prospect sees is the Headline. Currently, LinkedIn populates a generic headline with a job title like ‘Account Manager at Company’.
However, consider customizing the headline, by using important keywords or a creative description, to help stand apart from the competition. Some examples are: “Enterprise Software | Account Management | Sales Operations | Social Sales Expert”. In other words, use descriptions prospects are more likely to remember. After all, they would have encountered several ‘Account Managers’ by now.
After making a great first impression, it’s time to really grab a prospect’s attention. Enter the Summary. LinkedIn is pretty generous and gives users 2000 characters to let people know who you are. Instead of boasting about personal accomplishments or specific achievements, use the summary to describe how you solve prospects’ problems.
Lastly, experience matters, so sales professionals have to use their combined Experience (work, volunteer, educational and extra curricular) to complement their credibility. All this means is that the experience listed on the profile should tell a cohesive story and allow sales professionals to come across as respectable professionals, knowledgeable about their product and industry.
Now on to Prospecting...
Having a great looking profile is only half the battle when it comes to social selling. The other half is getting prospects interested in working with you and your organization. Start by identifying prospects or target companies on LinkedIn and get to know them by monitoring their activities, or “socially surrounding” them.
When ready to connect with prospects, the first option should be to reach out to a mutual connection, and ask for an introduction or a referral. Statistics show that 84% of B2B decision makers begin the buying process with a referral. Other options include connecting with the person directly or sending them an InMail.
Once a prospect has accepted the request to connect, start interacting with them by commenting on their updates, congratulating their promotions, etc. Building trust with prospects can be as simple as sharing relevant pieces of content pertaining to their job function or industry. The goal should be to provide prospects something they can benefit from.
Today’s buyers are looking for guidance and a consultative process. Creating and sharing content gives prospects the perception that sales professionals are trusted advisors rather than a pushy representative. In fact, 65% of buyers said a vendor’s content significantly impacted the decision to purchase.
Another great way to aid prospecting efforts is to become a thought leader, by writing long form posts through LinkedIn Pulse. Thought leadership in sales is what inbound marketing is to marketing. Becoming a thought leader means that prospects start approaching you, rather than the other way around, due to the substantial, organic reach of thought leadership pieces.
In conclusion, as social selling starts to become the norm in sales, companies can no longer feign ignorance and continue with overused and largely ineffective sales tactics. Remember, 78% of sales professionals using social selling strategies are outperforming their peers.
What are some of your social selling success stories?
Webinar: Social Selling Strategies.” eCornell. 24 April 2014.
Rowley, Jill. “Why Cold Calling is Nearly Dead.” LinkedIn. 24 October 2014.
Demand Gen Report 2014 Buyer Behavior Survey
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