In Social Selling, Building Trust Starts before You Connect

Learn how thorough research and honest communication can build trust with buyers, with these social selling tips from Staying Alive UK’s Michael de Groot.

August 13, 2015

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The first person who said “patience is a virtue” probably wasn’t in sales. For salespeople, patience can be costly. Waiting to respond to a trigger event or failing to follow up to a prospect’s question can cost the sale. There’s an understandable desire for hustle, whether you’re a sales leader or a sales manager.

But we must be careful that a lack of patience doesn’t make us take shortcuts that lose potential buyers. One part of the sales process you should never rush is the research phase before you reach out to a prospect for the first time. Thorough research arms you with the information you need to make a connection request that builds trust.

People buy from people they know, like, and trust. Before they get to know you and come to like you, buyers will be evaluating whether they can trust you. Here are two steps you can take to build trust before you connect.

  1. Research

Do your research first on the individual and the company. Follow the company on LinkedIn and research any articles where your potential buyer could be mentioned or featured. Check industry news sites for mentions and of course LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator could do the heavy lifting for you in terms by finding relevant company news.

There are two very useful ways that you can keep track of your buyers without making it obvious to them. In Twitter, you can create a private list and add Twitter handles to your buyer list. You will be able to see what buyers are tweeting about to give you an insight to their interests and industry specific articles or opinions. In LinkedIn, you can save someone to your contacts without making a connection request. When you save them, add a tag that will let you filter your contacts for each account. This allows you to do more research on them and find commonalities in their profile, their tweets, or their shares.

  1. Be Direct

Once you have done your research and built a relevant, compelling case for making contact, then you can send a connection request.

For the best chance of a response, show your trustworthiness by being upfront about why you’re asking to connect. Let the prospect know what led you to reach out to them, and what you would like them to do next.

With a LinkedIn connection request, you will know 100% for sure whether or not your request is accepted. Your prospect will receive reminders from your invitation at least 3 times to either accept your connection request or click ignore. I would leave the request open for 3 weeks to see if they accept. If not, remove them from your connections database as a lost potential and focus your energy elsewhere.

In the fast-paced sales environment, it’s important to remind ourselves to slow down when we need to. Take the time to build trust with a prospect before you connect, and that time investment may pay off in a better sales relationship.

For more actionable social selling insights from experts in the profession, download 33 Social Selling Tips by Social Selling Thought Leaders.

Editor’s Note: In this series, we feature quick and tactical social selling tips from thought leaders in the profession. This installment features trust-building advice from Michael de Groot, Social Selling Director for Staying Alive (UK) Ltd who collaborated with other social selling trainers and originally produced the social selling tips eBook.

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