Social Sales Buying Cycle Stages: The Stranger

Buyers are more likely to engage with social sales professionals if the outreach comes through a mutual connection. Here’s how to take the stranger out of social selling.

October 22, 2014

social-sales-buying-stages

The B2B buyer’s journey has evolved in the social selling era, and so have buyer perceptions of sales professionals. Salespersons who utilize social tools to develop a professional brand, lead with insights, and establish relationships fare better than those who rely on cold introductions.

This blog post series aims to show how salespersons can use social selling at each stage of the buyer’s purchasing journey. Many sales relationship starts from scratch, and we will show you how to turn your unknown prospects into fulfilled customers.

Stage 1: The Stranger

Humans hold an inherent distrust of strangers. We are taught to be weary of people we don’t know, and this becomes an issue when sales people try to make new connections.

Trust and familiarity greatly influence the sales process, and buyers respond more favorably when connections are made through trusted relationships. In fact, buyers are five times more likely to engage with sales professionals if the outreach comes through a mutual connection.

Dial down your “stranger danger” level with prospects by utilizing these three social sales best practices:

Make Your Profile Welcoming

Update your LinkedIn profile so buyers can get to know you. Start the welcoming process by making these profile adjustments:

  • Upload a professional photo: Having a blurry image (or worse, no image at all) doesn’t signal much confidence to your prospects. Professional headshots increase your credibility, and profiles with photos increase InMail response rates.
  • Tell prospects your story in the summary: Condense your value proposition into 200-300 words, and make sure it aligns with what you know about your target audience’s goals and concerns.
  • Personalize and publicize your profile: Grab a page URL that closely matches your name to build credibility and establish name recognition. Go a step further and expand the reach of your profile by adding rich media and links to relevant whitepapers or presentations.
  • Expand your profile and headline with relevant topics: What people say about your product/service should help you define your profile summary and information. Research your own company’s website analytics for the most popular topics, and leverage news aggregators like Pulse to track trending conversations.
  • Include highly-trafficked keywords: Which keywords best represent your position, product, and service? Make sure your headline contains at least one of these keywords, and space out the others in your summary and experience sections. This helps raise your profile’s visibility in LinkedIn search.
  • Add recommendations: Utilize your network for recommendations and endorsements. Do this by asking them to focus on a specific skill or trait that best defines you.

Lead With Insights

Showing that you understand the industry help prospects get past their initial hesitancies. Guide them into the buyer journey with these insight-generating tips:

  • Share and create content that addresses prospect pain points. If you can find time to write 300-400 words, publish a blog post on the LinkedIn publisher platform. Doing so positions you as a thought leader and can help the prospect understand how you can help them.
  • Comment on status updates and articles. What questions are driving your prospect activity? If you have a unique perspective, share it. Prospects need to know your are well-versed in their industry or vertical.

Exercise Your Warm Path Options

Leveraging mutual connections is one of the best ways to immediately remove your classification as a stranger. You are no longer ‘sales rep’; you are part of ‘Jean’s network’.

If you can’t arrange an introduction, here are additional ways you can draw in that warm lead:

  • Deliver Value: Don’t skip the discovery phase. Slow down and understand the prospect you are trying to reach. Doing so will likely set you apart from others that skip straight to the hard close and give you an opportunity to cater to their exact needs.
  • Over-Deliver:  This is your chance to set expectations and then exceed them. Take this opportunity to wow them with personalization, a deep understanding of their need, or thinking outside the box to create a memorable connection.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can help you move beyond being viewed as a stranger, working to harness those first moments for the best impression on prospects. With tools to automate lead management, deliver lead updates and recommendations, and integrate with existing CRM databases, Sales Navigator can prep the social seller to excel in the first moments.

By establishing a robust online presence, you can move toward the next stage of the buyer’s journey: The Lead. Stay tuned for more on this stage, which covers how you can use content to deliver value for your prospects.

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