Your 8-step Guide to Making Social Selling Happen

February 10, 2014

Your LinkedIn guide to making social selling happen

So, you’ve bought into the principle of social selling, you’ve seen the results it’s delivered for other organisations, you’ve even had meetings with your execs and sent company-wide emails proclaiming it as the way forward. But how can you actually make it happen? How can you turn all of those nods of agreement into a sales force making effective use of social to generate warmer leads, build a pipeline and close deals?

It pays to ask somebody with recent experience of making it happen. Jeremy Harpham, product marketing manager for Pitney Bowes, has spent the last nine months working with LinkedIn on rolling out Sales Navigator across his EMEA-wide sales organisation. In that time, he’s seen levels of advocacy and enthusiasm for social selling transformed across his business – and he’s seen LinkedIn already making a major contribution to the sales pipeline.

Born of very recent experience, here’s Jeremy’s 8-step guide to making social selling happen:

1. Locate the LinkedIn relationship outside of sales

I work in marketing, so I naturally started approaching social selling from a marketing perspective – and it’s become more and more obvious to me that this is where the relationship with a social selling platform like LinkedIn should sit. It’s not just that sales people are very busy and it’s asking a lot for them to take ownership of a new area; it’s also because so much of social selling is driven by content. Marketing is in the best position to make that happen, and it can synchronise it with other activity at brand, corporate and campaign level.

2. Leave the doubters to one side and focus on your advocates

Don’t expend valuable energy trying to convince every naysayer of the value of social selling. There will already be plenty of natural advocates for it within your organisation, and it’s far better to focus on working with them to build momentum. What’s the best way to identify your social selling advocates? Look for those who already have a Premium badge on their LinkedIn profile. These are the people already using social selling to drive results and their successes are how you can build your business case

3. Map out your different LinkedIn touch points – and make sure you are using them properly

Before you can really push social selling on LinkedIn, you need to make sure you’ve built firm foundations and that all of your touch points on the platform are aligned and supporting one another. Start with the company page. You’ve got to populate this with content to give your teams something to sell socially with. And pay close attention to employee profile pages. We’ve spent quite a lot of time explaining why people need professional profile pictures on there, and content that reflects what we’re about as an organisation. It’s been time well spent.

4. Keep the content flowing

Good, relevant content is the essential ammunition for social selling – and a lot of your sales people won’t have the time or the confidence to create this for themselves. This is where marketing needs to step up. Talk to sales teams, understand the content that they need, and then create it for them. Your sales team advocates can play a role again here, as they are likely to be the ones most comfortable creating and sharing content on LinkedIn. Use them to show what’s possible, and then make social selling easy for everyone else.

5. Be prepared to fail

If you’re going to champion social selling then you have to be prepared to stick your head over the parapet – and things won’t always go your way. A lot of this is experimentation and you’ll need to try a few different things to find the tactics that work best for you. Make sure you manage expectations about your hit rate – nobody in social selling gets it right every time.

6. Get senior management onto Navigator

TeamLink is one of the most powerful tools within Sales Navigator – but to unleash its full potential you need to get your senior executives onto the Navigator platform. These are the people in your organisation who can connect your sales team with the decision-makers that matter. Once you start sharing their contacts, you’ll see social selling really take off.

7. Use LinkedIn’s sales team to talk to yours

Sales people definitely prefer hearing things from sales people. One of the great benefits of Navigator is the support you’ll receive from your LinkedIn account manager. Ask them to take on the role of educating and enabling your sales team. They are in a really good position to bring the benefits of social selling to life.

8. Keep sharing results

Share social selling success stories and results as they come in – and share them with your whole organization. There’s no better way to keep morale and engagement levels up. It’s important to maintain momentum in this. We found that our level of social selling activity dropped when we stopped talking about the results that it was delivering. Keep your ear to the ground, and find ways to measure effectiveness that mean you have frequent stories to tell.

If you’d like to hear more about embedding social selling within your organization, join Jeremy Harpham and LinkedIn’s Amy Miller for our 11th February webcast 14.00 GMT on Social Media for Demand Creation

LinkedIn Social Selling