Social Selling Index Series: Build Strong Relationships

Discover how to build strong relationships with your clients by engaging where they are, sharing helpful resources, and helping them achieve their goals.

March 21, 2015

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Editor’s note: This post is part of a series designed to help sales professionals increase their Social Selling Index (SSI) score by improving upon the four pillars of social selling:

  1. Create a professional brand
  2. Find the right people
  3. Engage with insights
  4. Build strong relationships

Each of the four pillars is scored on a scale of 0 – 25, with a maximum possible SSI score of 100. In this post we focus on the fourth pillar: building strong relationships.

As any good salesperson knows, relationships are everything in sales. It’s an age-old concept at the heart of sales that can’t be traced back to LinkedIn or to any other social network. Yet, as growing numbers of salespeople have discovered, LinkedIn does provide an incredibly effective channel in which to build relationships with clients and prospects. The range of tools available via LinkedIn and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is enabling salespeople to build strong, lasting relationships more quickly and easily than ever before.

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From our infographic: The New Formula for Social Selling

Build a Solid foundation

The foundation of any solid relationship is trust, and the same goes for your relationships with clients. Make sure to get off on the right foot with potential buyers by only sending LinkedIn connection requests to people you know or have been introduced to. Sending a connection request after an initial meeting with a prospective client is a good rule of thumb.

Always customize the request using relevant information you have learned about the person. Once connected, stay up-to-date on your prospect or client by following what they post, like and share – especially if it pertains to a career change, major company update or other big move. Then, use those insights during your next communication with the person.

Keep on Building

Like any other relationship, you’ll need to maintain your ties with clients in order for them to last. Your work isn’t over after connecting with someone on LinkedIn – continue your efforts to develop the relationship just as you would have before LinkedIn existed. That means reaching out to contacts periodically at appropriate times and adding value by providing relevant information and solutions to your prospect or client’s business problems.

Help strengthen your relationships with clients over time by helping them meet their goals. Sharing and promoting their content on LinkedIn is one easy way to show you are committed to your client’s success. Another is to use your network to their advantage—if you have people in your network that can get your client closer to a goal, make an introduction.

Cultivate Multiple Relationships

As you tend to your prospects and customers, you’ll want to focus on building and growing relationships with the decision makers within your target companies.  And while there is often one person who makes the final purchasing decision, a recent study by The Corporate Executive Board Company (CEB) found that buying decisions now typically include 5.4 decision makers. For that reason, it’s important to form relationships with influencers across multiple functions within your accounts.

Once you’ve been introduced to them, make an effort to build relationships with multiple decision makers at the company. By forming solid connections with at least a handful of decision makers rather than hinging the account on a relationship with just one person, you lower the risk of losing a sale when a prospect leaves a company or fails to follow through on a deal.

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