“Social selling” – combining professional social media presence and observed insights to more effectively engage customers and prospects – offers sales professionals a powerful means of hitting customer acquisition and growth targets. This new way of doing business requires sales professionals to identify the relevant signals from billions of online interactions, likes, shares, and comments, in order to target the strongest leads, make their approaches as personalised as possible, and use their network to turn cold calls into warm introductions.
Here are LinkedIn’s five tips for sales professionals hoping to make the most of social media:
1. Look after your professional brand
Invest a little time making sure your LinkedIn profile is up to date and reflects your skills, experience, and area of focus. It’s often the first thing new contacts will see, and first impressions count. Make sure you have a professional-looking headshot, a completed Summary section, and your network is up to date with your trusted contacts. Make sure your profile reflects what you do and what you stand for, rather than what you've done in the past.
2. Share relevant content
Dedicate a few minutes every day to sharing relevant and useful content through your social channels. Relevant news stories, industry developments, and your own professional insights can all keep you front of mind with your prospects and position you as a subject matter expert. LinkedIn research found that 92 per cent of prospects would engage with a sales professional they regarded as a thought leader in their area.
Social media has made it easier to identify the specific people within an organisation that you need to reach and build relationships with. Make sure you’re taking advantage of these insights to make each contact relevant and valuable to your prospects. Our research also found that the impression made by sales professionals on prospects was 64 times better when they demonstrated good knowledge of the prospect’s role within their organisation
4. Keep up-to-date on accounts
Effective social sellers do a lot of research on a prospect before making any kind of contact. You should take the time to read through their LinkedIn profile, see if you have anything in common with them (work history, university, etc.), and see if you have a mutual connection that can introduce you.
5. Build trust over time
Part of building trust is firstly ensuring your profile represents you as a professional, but it takes more than a great profile to build trust. What really helps is leveraging your network for warm introductions. Research conducted by Edelman Trust Barometer found that 84 per cent of B2B decisions begin with a referral. Look out for opportunities to make useful introductions among your network of contacts.
It should be no surprise that prospects are dramatically more receptive to warm, informed, and personalised introductions than they are to cold calls. As a result, social sellers are more than 50 per cent more likely to hit their quotas. The opportunity is there for sales professionals to take advantage of the latest platforms and insights to identify previously unseen connections and relationships and use them stand out from the crowd. Social selling paves the way to a future for the sales industry in which every approach is personalised based on genuine insight, sounding the death knell for the cold call.
By Kevin Scott, Head of Sales Solutions, EMEA, LinkedIn