LinkedIn & Social Selling: 5 Things You Must Do in 2015

January 1, 2015

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Sales is no longer about cocktail hours and cold calling – today the name of the game is social selling, and it’s all about relationship building, conversation, and creating buzz.

LinkedIn is your social selling hub. Recent enhancements to the powerful Sales Navigator have made LinkedIn the perfect place to find and connect with prospects. Not only can you now reach more contacts, you can also measure and track your degree of engagement.

Here are five essentials to help you make the most of your LinkedIn social selling experience.

1. Profile with Punch

Have you done everything you can to have a strong brand on LinkedIn? Sure, you’ve likely tackled the basics like having a great photo and filling out all of your information. But do you also have recommendations (I recommend 10-15)?
Approach your profile as carefully as you would your company’s website. Your LinkedIn profile is far more than just your brand page. It has the capacity to be a “sticky” microsite for lead generation – for example, you can build a landing page with a white paper giveaway in LaunchRocket and add the link to your summary as content.

If you aren’t sure you’re making the most of your profile, check your Social Selling Index (SSI), a brand new metric that tracks how effectively you are using LinkedIn for lead generation.

2. Mention People

Each LinkedIn status update features four powerful networking tools that you may be overlooking: Like, Comment, Share, and Mention (the ability to mention first degree connections in groups and blog post discussions). The @ symbol is a great way to include customers, prospects and other first degree connections in your status update about for example, a noteworthy industry event that you find in Google News or Sales Navigator. More on Sales Navigator later.

When you discover and follow prospects (Follow prospects in Groups), you can use these social features to develop and deepen relationships, and more relationships = better prospects. I cannot underscore enough the power of these features. A simple like or share can be what you need to become top of mind with a prospect and plant the seed for your future outreach.

3. Speak Up

You’ve heard it before, but joining groups is essential to LinkedIn success. There are millions of groups with thousands and even millions of members. Think of keywords or topics relevant to the groups you want to join. For example, to find groups about agile software development, use the drop down under Search, choose Groups and use search terms like “agile software” or “scrum methodology”. You’ll be presented with lots of choices. Tip: Don’t forget to use the Group Statistics feature in Information and Settings to research groups before you join. Look for the isymbol to the right of the Join button. You’ll find useful demographic information as well as group activity metrics.

When you start discussions or comment, you have the four tools listed above, with an added bonus – the ability to easily communicate with other group members, which is incredibly powerful for networking and prospecting. There are myriad groups on LinkedIn about all kinds of topics, so it’s smart to have a group strategy. Search for groups using terms relevant to your interests and objectives.

4. You’re an Expert, Now Show it

Using and understanding the value of content to educate your prospects is critical for 2015. Content can make you an asset to prospects when you share insights, and valuable information. People are busy, and if you use content to make people’s lives simpler, they will turn to you when they need information. You can do this by sending a message, starting a group discussion, or asking if people will be impacted by the latest news.

Good sources for finding valuable content include The Pulse, Google News, Paper.li, Scoop.it and TalkWalker Alerts. Once you find good content assets, don’t forget to use Feedly to save them all in one place. Feedly is a powerful tool for quickly accessing content once you’ve saved your content sources as RSS feeds. I highly recommend using Buffer plugin in Chrome to easily schedule your LinkedIn status updates and group discussions.

One of the most powerful features for showcasing your expertise is the new ‘Create a post’ blog feature that every member now has access to. By writing short, concise posts that contain answers and recommendations to the business challenges your prospects face, you can position yourself as a good resource. Get creative. Use the feature for weekly industry news updates. Or collate a bunch of tweets from industry experts. Embed YouTube videos or Slideshare presentations that you’ve created. Be interesting or provocative but don’t be invisible.

5. You Need Sales Navigator

Last summer LinkedIn expanded its toolkit for salespeople by evolving Sales Navigator into a data-driven stand-alone product that works seamlessly with SalesForce to develop leads and prospects – and it works! Salespeople were 51% more likely to meet their quotas when using Sales Navigator.

Sales Navigator allows you to follow people who aren’t your first-degree connections, and to like, comment upon, and share their updates, which is often the first step in nurturing a lead. The tool also notifies you when prospects have a profile change such as leaving a company or changing titles. This provides you another opportunity to connect.

In 2015, it’s important that sales professionals spend more time on LinkedIn and less on the phone. Phone calls can be key to closing a sale, but they are no longer the first step in connecting with a prospect – in fact, the phone call should be far down the list, maybe the fourth or fifth method of contact. Even emails should happen later in the prospecting process.

Unlike a phone call, LinkedIn allows for subtlety in the prospecting process, and provides more insight into potential leads. You can do deep research on a prospect with LinkedIn while also building a relationship, eliminating the “cold call” aspect of sales completely.

By making the most of LinkedIn as a social selling tool, you will broaden your reach, generate buzz, and deepen relationships with potential prospects.  And perhaps most importantly, you’ll know when you’re making the best use of your time because LinkedIn’s sales tools can help you measure your degree and quality of your engagement. So make LinkedIn your first step on the road to social selling success.

In summary, investing time and money (Sales Navigator license) has been extremely effective for XO Communications’ social selling program. Our return on investment is 2,200%. Not only have social selling techniques and Sales Navigator combined proved to be financially sound, it’s also really energized our sales teams. They’re now excited to have the means to engage with future customers in very meaningful ways that have literally opened hundreds of new doors.

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