Social Sales Buying Cycle Stages: The Lead

Learn about the second stage of the social sales buyer’s journey, where prospects turn into leads and sales professionals use insights to generate new opportunities.

October 29, 2014


In the first stage of the buyer’s purchasing journey, the sales professional’s online presence is essential. At the beginning of this stage, called “The Stranger,” there is no previous connection between the prospect and the sales professional. The sales relationship is a blank slate, with ample room for growth.

However, being viewed as a stranger in the social sales process is dangerous long-term. Buyers are hesitant to connect with someone they don’t know, and they are even less likely to trust him.

In this second post of our buyer’s journey series, we’ll guide you through the second stage of the journey: “The Lead.” In this stage, the prospect has shown interest in your product/service, and you must now provide specific value to move the prospect closer to a sale.

As noted in our buyer’s journey eBook, this stage is heavily driven by content. Sales professionals can differentiate themselves by the content they share and produce. There is a huge difference between sellers who spam the “share” button and those who provide genuine insights in relation to the content they share.

Once you have the attention of your prospects, you’ll be able to  turn those connections into opportunities (and eventually, sales). These content strategies can help you take a new lead even further through the buyer’s journey:

  • Write! Every post on the LinkedIn Publishing platform becomes a permanent pathway to your online identity. The more pathways you create, the more ways a prospect can find you and your services. In a recent IDC study, 92% of buyers engage if the professional is a known industry thought leader. Developing a credible reputation is crucial at this stage.
  • Find a cheerleader: If you have connections with a contact close to the prospect, have them serve as your cheerleader. Post endorsements and recommendations on each other’s profiles. These activities are shared as status updates on LinkedIn’s homepage feeds. Such updates help highlight relevant shared connections when building relationships with prospects.
  • Embed content within InMails: For a more personalized connection, use InMail to share specific content directly with a prospect. This is a great way to demonstrate you understand the industry and are a valuable resource.
  • Target specific, middle-of-the-funnel selling situations: At this stage of the buyer’s journey, your prospect will be looking for insights that address their key pain points. Context matters as much as content here: one targeted blog post means more to them than several quick, irrelevant shares.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you provide content that clearly engages targeted prospects. You can engage with insights generated from real-time lead updates, and strategically share information that takes advantage of prospect news alerts or job changes.

As you actively engage with your prospect, you drive the conversation toward the next stage of the buyer’s journey: “The Opportunity.” Stay tuned for more on this stage, which covers how you can get additional help with social selling and nurture your new relationships.

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