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Apps and Tools – to increase your Social Selling productivity and effectiveness

Wurlwind Social Selling - Apps and Tools Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was just ONE application that helped us to do everything across the marketing, sales and delivery cycle.

However, in the LinkedIn and Social Selling world there are many new innovations, and tools and apps coming out, claiming to help us be more productive and to achieve better results.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by technology, to feel that sometimes it’s difficult to live with technology, but also it’s more difficult to live without it too.  

As people go deeper into LinkedIn, and want more results from it, it becomes fairly clear that sales productivity could drop dramatically unless something is done about it.

And for some people this risks becoming a show-stopper, for them and for their sales team, and a reason to stick with ‘tried and tested’ sales methods.

So let me try to help you make some sense of the apps and technology side of LinkedIn and Social Selling.

Quick start tips

As we move beyond the basic use of LinkedIn for Sales there are some specific activities and tools that I’ve found to be very helpful:

  • For frequently used phrases and passages, like invite sends and accepts – a Text Expander such as Phrase Express.
  • For scheduling Updates into LinkedIn linking to blog articles and landing pages – a scheduler such as included in Hootsuite
  • For building prospect lists and contact records (and many other activities) – a Social CRM such as Nimble with its Browser Widget

The associated issue with multiple tools is where is the data, and how do you manage it – but that’s a topic for another article.

Tips for useful Apps and Tools to use with LinkedIn

1. LinkedIn Related  Apps and Tools for Personal Brand

The foundation of personal branding and attracting enquiries is creating and sharing great content that educates your prospects.

  • Schedule Updates that link to Evergreen content on your website using Hootsuite, Buffer or similar.
  • Create Engaging Images and Infographics using Powerpoint – with templates like these from Hubspot
  • Create lead generating presentations using Powerpoint and upload to your profile, or publish to Slideshare and use that URL
  • Record a Video using your smartphone, upload it to YouTube and add it as Media to your profile or include it in an Article

The tools for this are free and relatively easy to use. The real value is in the content and the message, and there are tips about educational content here.

2. LinkedIn Related Apps and Tools for Social Prospecting

Finding, reaching and connecting or messaging new contacts is the heart of social prospecting, and there are tools to help you here.

This is also where LinkedIn Sales Navigator fits in, providing more functionality to help LinkedIn power users to find prospects, build out company profiles and manage some sales activity.

  • Tools that do the leg-work to build profiles of contacts ‘auto-magically’ – like Nimble CRM
  • Tools that ‘visit’ peoples profiles on your behalf – like Autopilot and Dux Soup and eLink
  • Tools that send messages via LinkedIn on your behalf – again like Autopilot and Dux Soup and eLink.

Automation can be very beneficial when done appropriately. But be very careful it doesn’t run away from you, with dramatic consequences.

3. Sales Tools that support effective full cycle Social Selling

Now you’ve used LinkedIn to get visitors to ‘invite’ people to your sales landing pages, or built a list of contacts, what next? How can you nurture them?

  • Email messages within LinkedIn – this has been possible within LinkedIn, or there are third party programmes that do this through LinkedIn.
  • Email Marketing Automation – once you have the email address, and permission, you can continue the sales journey using email marketing, and tracking, and automation with packages such as InTouchCRM
  • A CRM to support your sales relationship building that incorporates multi-touch, multi-channel and multi-media communication, where Nimble CRM offers great capability at low cost
  • Additional Content – a website running on WordPress or equivalent is pretty essential as a repository for your valuable educational content especially when using a Sales Add-on such as OptimizePress
  • Analytics to monitor and measure activity and campaigns – such as Google Analytics

There are more sophisticated systems for larger companies, such as Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Sitecore and many more.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Social Prospecting – how to use LinkedIn to Find New Customers

Wurlwind Social Selling - Social ProspectingSo, the time has arrived when you need to build a prospect list.

You probably know that LinkedIn is a great place to start, but you may be unaware of just how powerful it is.

So let’s go through some of the ways you can use LinkedIn to start sales conversations.

And let’s start at the tactical level – to get in touch with a segment of say 20-40 people who meet your criteria as potential customers.

Once you’ve go the ball rolling quickly with a small batch like this you may then want to repeat the process, or go deeper or wider – the choice is yours.

Quick start tips

This isn’t rocket science, but for new business sales and business development, this is the fast-path to creating a prospect list. And there are several other techniques that spin off once this level of social prospecting is mastered.

  • It starts with a Search on LinkedIn – which might be for job titles by location, companies by size etc or people within groups
  • Having found relevant people you Save and Tag people to lists within LinkedIn – which is a good approach if you don’t have your own CRM
  • Then you work through the list to research them, contact them, qualify them, get them interested and excited and prepared to commit time to you.

What this gets you is a list of people who meet your profile, through a process of outreach and elimination. Done well you end up with a list of people who know they have a problem to solve or an opportunity to reach for, that you can help them with.

It doesn’t indicate that they have an interest in buying what you offer at this point in time. That’s the next stage.

LinkedIn Tips to start sales conversations through social prospecting

1. Start with a Search in LinkedIn

The likelihood is that you’ve a pretty good idea of the parameters that define your ideal customer. If not reflect on the most recent wins you and your colleagues have had, or start with a blank sheet of paper and write down the criteria.

  • If Job Title and Location is primary, search the People section of LinkedIn – refining the criteria of location, choose 2nd connection, and sector, as a starting point
  • If Company size is most important – neither too small or too large – search the Company section and look at the Employee section of relevant companies
  • If Interests are the primary determinant – for example users of a particular software package, then find relevant LinkedIn Groups, Join and then search within members of that group.

By focusing on small batches, of 20-40 people, you can make good progress in an hour or two, be laser focused, and feel a sense of achievement once you’ve made initial contact with several people in the Tag group.

2. Save and Tag relevant people

Tags are a useful way to manage contacts within LinkedIn for prospecting purposes, especially if the objective is to connect with them.

  • Save relevant people from the Search results – 2nd connections especially, using the drop-down box to the left of Number of Connections (unless LinkedIn has moved it)
  • Having Saved 30-50 people on a specific criteria, go into Connections area
  • Change the Filters to New and Saved and you should see the names of the people you just saved
  • Select one record, Create a New Tag for the search, and then Checkbox all those you just saved.

And now you have a list of prospects (or suspects depending on your terminology) of people who meet certain criteria as your ‘ideal customers’.

3. Make initial contact

Decide what form of contact is best – and this will be influenced by your market, skills, proposition, and the amount of time you can put into each contact.

  • You might want to send them a Connection request, in which case personalise it, and give a valid reason to increase chances of take-up
  • You might want to message them, perhaps highlighting an article you or a colleague wrote, as a conversation starter
  • Or maybe you will try by phone as the next step, and use LinkedIn and other routes as a back-up if you’re unable to make phone contact quickly.

Having made contact in one of these ways with a reasonable number of people on your Tag list it’s time to move to developing sales relationships with them, while maybe trying to contact a few stragglers on the list, and maybe also initiating another search for another 20-40 people.

NOTE: If you’re doing this regularly you’ll quickly find that managing this through/within LinkedIn and/or on a spreadsheet becomes unsustainable. The way we manage this is using a CRM system from Nimble, which has many excellent productivity features for prospecting as well as for subsequent sales activity.

 

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Value Propositions – packaging knowledge to support Social Selling

Wurlwind Social Selling - Value Propositions
Knowledge is a wonderful thing, and valuable when it solves problems.

And in business the value increases as we solve bigger and bigger problems, helping people to save time and money, to make money, to reduce risk and so on.

But time is precious, so the challenge is to maximise our value to prospects and customers and minimise the time spent on relatively low value activities.

The good news is that, with a bit of thought and preparation, we can make buying and selling easier by having packaged value propositions.

For the provider or vendor, packaged knowledge becomes easier to sell and to deliver multiple times, and is something to offer and promote through LinkedIn.

And for the buyer it is more tangible to buy, and lower risk if there are recommendations from other happy buyers, and it makes referrals and introductions easier.

And these packages don’t all have to be exchanged for money. They may be offered in exchange for information from the prospect, for example their email address, or filling in a form, or exchanged for their time, for example an exploratory meeting.

Quick start tips

There is a booming market for information products, especially for diagnostics and for training, so this is a good place to start looking for ideas.

  • Could you create a simple information product that you can give away in exchange for an email address or business card?
  • Could you provide a diagnostic or advisory product that enough people would pay £97 or similar for?
  • Could you package your high value products as a framework or methodology around which there are tailoring and customising options?

The additional benefit of this is to raise your credibility as an expert in your area, having invested to create product and gain social proof, endorsements, testimonials and recommendations.

Tips to identify what value propositions are worth packaging

On a simple basis there are three steps to making a sales: Get the buyer’s ATTENTION. Get their TIME. Get their MONEY. And these steps are reflected below.

1. What could you package and offer on a website registration page or in exchange for a business card?

Contact us forms and newsletter subscriptions are passe, as most prospects are looking for something with a much more tangible payback before they part with their email address these days

  • If you’re a Business Leader or Business Owner you could share your insights and expertise by having a book or presentation or even a video made where you impart some of your wisdom.
  • If you’re a Sales Leader or Sales Professional you could develop a compilation of client case studies as a PDF document to email to people on request
  • This is not the time to pitch product, but to assist the buyer to recognise ‘do we have a problem/opportunity?’ and how do I quickly investigate whether there’s a business case for more detailed investigation

Sales Pages and Landing Pages are the foundation of lead generation campaigns, and the payback of the packaged resource behind them is something that can be offered through LinkedIn.

2. Can you turn lead nurture on its head and turn it into Commercial Teaching?

Considered purchases entail research, not just into vendor solutions but also into internal costs and implementation. Vendors who help buyers, including business sponsors and line managers, to do their jobs better can become trusted advisors and heavily influence the purchase.

  • If there’s a time delay between initial interest and the purchase decision (for luke-warm prospects) it works well to deliver Commercial Teaching over a period of time, in which case an email sequence of suitable content could be very effective, and is trackable too.
  • If there is one principle buyer then a 1:1 meeting with an educational agenda, perhaps with some preparatory work for them plus some follow-on steps may be applicable
  • If there are several people involved in the purchase then buyer facilitation to shape the agenda and equip them to gain consensus and actually move forward could be best achieved in a group workshop.

Consider the buying timetable and the decision-making group (research via LinkedIn) and the issues they need to address in order to make a purchase as part of planning your packaged value proposition for this stage in the sales process.

3. Can you create an entry level chargeable educational product to offer?

There may be many people who have limited budgets but who also have a desire to gain an understanding, knowledge and skills in the topic you are an expert in.

  • Can you compile a list of questions that they are asking, plus those you know they should be asking, and structure them into a logical sequence?
  • Is the local market large enough, and the value high enough, for people to come to a training workshop at a suitable venue on a particular day?
  • Can the teaching be delivered at a distance, through webinars and online training (and do you have / can you get the resources to promote and administer this?)
  • Or maybe you can package and deliver this to larger clients on a company by company basis on their premises.

There are many variations available, to support the purchase / sale while also qualifying intent and earning income (or at least contributing to marketing and sales costs) along the way.

Notifying people of the course availability via LinkedIn is an option, and to advise 1st connections to see if the know anyone who would benefit from it.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Educational Content – the fuel that makes Social Selling effective

Wurlwind Social Selling - Educational Content

The Internet has allowed everyone to become a publisher. But not everyone understands how to link content with sales.

Many claim that Content is King. We add that Distribution is Emperor, and Context is Queen.

While Self-Service via search and Content Marketing is important in low value high volume situations, when it comes to low volume high value touches in Social Selling it’s the role of the sales person to convey the right message to the right person at the right time through the right channel and using the right medium, ideally.

The value of a sales consultant is to provide guidance towards a decision, as an experienced and trusted advisor.

Well crafted content is a way to increase the impact and productivity of sales consultants, so prospects are prepared prior to contact with a consultant and can be sign-posted to relevant content as a follow-through, with a follow-up.

Quick Tips for effective educational content for LinkedIn and Social Selling

It’s all too easy to hand craft every message, or to suffer from writer’s block, so start with these three tasks to give yourself a fast start or a boost in LinkedIn.

  • Identify routine communications on LinkedIn ( eg. making and accepting connection requests) – and create standard phrases, paragraphs and email text to start from
  • Create a series of articles that address the most frequent topics that come up in meetings with prospects – and publish these as articles in LinkedIn
  • Create a set of engaging messages highlighting aspects of the article(s) – and use these in your mix of status updates and in emails.

And don’t overlook your Personal Profile (and those of your colleagues) and Company Page as they also count as Content, with potentially a higher number of views than individual articles.

 

The Power of Trigger Events and Commercial Teaching

Our approach to selling – and especially to social selling and content to support social selling – has been influenced by many things, especially these ideas:

  • identify the trigger events that cause buyers to move from status quo to researching – and write content around those topics
  • find a way to reframe the buyers thinking about what’s important – which is about emotional connection rather than logic
  • where possible relate your message to how they can improve the commercial performance of their business

Think about what content you’ve read, seen, heard or watched recently – what was memorable?

Popular song writers are especially good in all four areas – for example love songs that become associated with life events.

What content do you need for effective Social Selling?

In practice there are some key pieces of content that most sales people will need, and benefit from, including:

  • LinkedIn Personal Profile – the Headline and Summary especially
  • Template to Invite people to connect on LinkedIn
  • Template response when people invite you to connect
  • Status Update Plan / Guidelines, such as the Mix of Six
  • Reliable 3rd party sources of on-topic content
  • Articles on the half-dozen main topics of interest of prospects
  • An Article per social prospecting or lead generation campaign

Further suggestions will be added periodically, based on what’s working for us and our clients.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Your Ideal Customer – start with the end in mind

Wurlwind Social Selling - Ideal Customer At the end of the month, quarter or year we’d all prefer to have several new customers or clients who match the profile for our ideal customer. This is much better for business than a rag-back of misfits, wouldn’t you agree?

  • Who are your best customers now?
  • What characteristics do they share?
  • What does your Ideal Customer look like?

When you’ve worked out who you want to target you can be really focused in the way you use LinkedIn to find, contact and create sales relationships.  

Before you spend time searching LinkedIn, building lists, joining groups, creating content, updating your company page or personal profile – STOP!

Read and follow the tips below, to save yourself a stack of time later on, and the frustration that comes from poor results.

Quick start tips

With access to 467m people on LinkedIn the world is your oyster, literally. So what characteristics do your best or ideal customers share?

  • What is the job title of the decision-maker, and if someone else does the initial research or is involved in the decision what is/are their job title(s)?
  • Identify what industry sectors, locations and sizes of companies you are targeting
  • Are there specific interests they share, such as use of a specific product, (eg. Microsoft, Google, SAP or equivalent in your field)

Rather than lump multiple types into a group try to separate them into discrete audiences, then research further, evaluate and prioritise.

Developing a one page profile (persona) for each target audience would be a valuable exercise, if you can invest a few hours for this.

Tips for using LinkedIn to identify your Ideal Customer

Building on the Quick Tips above to develop personas and assess market potential follow these tips

1. Researching Industry Sectors and Companies within LinkedIn

With 9m + company pages on LinkedIn there’s a good representation of large, medium and small businesses for research and list building purposes:

  • In the Company Search area slice and dice the parameters available for location, sector and size (if you have access as this may be a premium feature)
  • Look at which Industry Sectors your customers categorise themselves under, to expand your horizons
  • Be critical about some criteria (eg. size or location or sector) to identify market segments. For your business, a campaign or a prospecting session what will you focus on?
  • Select the 1st connection filter to see how many of those companies you have contacts in, and the opportunity to make contact with those where you don’t

An objective to build a list of 50-100 companies is more aligned with Social Selling and targeted social prospecting and close sales relationships. If your goal is 500+ then this is more aligned with mass marketing lead generation.

2. Researching People by Job Titles

Business purchases are rarely made by just one person. There’s value in considering who else is involved in the decision, for example:

  • The Sponsor – the business leader or C-level executive or department head who has initiated investigation and allocated time to formulate requirements
  • The Researcher – someone who is visualising what might be, collating requirements, identifying options, approaching potential suppliers and writing internal reports
  • The Technician – someone who needs to support the project from an implementation perspective, looking at impact and fit with existing processes, systems, apps etc.
  • The Financier – who is looking at the numbers, the payback potential, the costs (external and internal), accountability for delivery

Having identified the buying team and likely job titles (which you can search for in LinkedIn) you could consider personality types. Consider people in these roles from a DISC profile perspective or similar, to build up personas and profiles.

3. Other criteria you could consider

For research about buyers, to inform your content, and to prepare a ‘go-to-market’ plan, there are other ways you could drill into LinkedIn

  • Do your ideal customers share an interest in a topic, a technology, their profession, their peer group etc. in which case explore LinkedIn Groups for signs
  • Are there educational or professional qualifications, professional / trade associations, conferences, technologies that unite them, that you can identify through Linkedin
  • Are there conferences, seminars, thought-leaders etc who gather a following, in which case can you identify them through search and within LinkedIn Pulse and Posts.

These criteria could help you identify some of the issues, triggers, aspirations as well as the influences and influencers that your Ideal Customer may be paying attention to.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Your LinkedIn Company Page – an important part of your digital strategy

Wurlwind Social Selling - LinkedIn Company Page
Businesses of all sizes, including solo-preneurs and SMEs, can benefit from having a well presented LinkedIn Company Page.

A good Company Page boosts your business credibility and can be part of your lead generation strategy.

As always, there’s a balance to be struck between effort and returns. But at a basic level, if you don’t put any effort into your LinkedIn Company Page you certainly won’t get any returns, which would be a missed opportunity.

And if there are several people in your team, a group of engaged customers, and some supporters or advocates, there are several ideas and strategies highlighted below to help you make the most of the potential here.

Quick start tips

With 7.5m company pages in LinkedIn it’s a very useful directory to find businesses, so make the most of this free listing capability.

  • Start by searching in the Company Page section for your specialisation and location, to see who your competition is.
  • Then make sure your Page has the maximum chance of being found and engaging with those visitors when they search the Linkedin Directory
  • Add status updates periodically that will inform and education people who Follow or who Find the page
  • Then, if you have the resources, actively grow the number of Followers, and their engagement, to spread your message more widely.

Start by scheduling a couple of hours to research and plan, then set-up or review and improve your Company Page.

Tips to progressively develop and gain more from your LinkedIn Company Page

1. As a passive Directory Entry in the LinkedIn Database

The first level is to position your company effectively on LinkedIn so it can be found and it makes a good impression on people who visit the page, and invites them to make an enquiry.

  • Include a wide range of keywords in your company page, for the sectors, services, specialisations and locations you cover, so you get found through Search
  • Add your phone number and email in the body copy as they are not in the standard fields, so people can contact you easily
  • Create and add a header graphic (700 x 400 pix) with a suitable image and overlay text to make a quick visual connection with people

A good approach is to highlight who you help, what situations they are in (trigger events) and what you help them to achieve, rather than listing all the products and services you offer. If people are interested they can visit your website to find out more, or they can call you.

2. As a communications channel to Followers

The second level is to post status updates periodically to stay front of mind with people who are following your page, and to make it worthwhile for others to follow.

  • Decide what content your Page Followers would be interested in – and put the substance of it on your website.
  • Use Page Updates to Attract, Engage and Signpost people through to your website, to blog posts, information pages and landing pages.
  • Include some Updates that are designed to create a discussion, by seeking feedback, opinions, being a bit controversial and creative

We recommend the Page content should be about what your business is doing, with minimal third party content. You can pre-schedule it using Hootsuite or similar, but monitor engagement and respond appropriately.

3. As a Customer Community

The third level, where resources and customer support allows, is to shift the focus to post purchase communication, to add value to customers and to project to prospects and others what it’s like to be a customer of your business.

  • Actively encourage customers to follow and to contribute and add their comments to Updates you post, and show appreciation when they do
  • Share tips about how to get value from your product or service, links to case studies, links to ‘how to’ videos, answers to questions that come into Customer Services etc.
  • Comment on Status Updates and Articles posted by decision-makers on LinkedIn

This will take more time, to share content and to interact, but the power of amplification can be incredible. At this level it may be worth using Showcase Pages to move very interactive discussions into their own area/channel and off the main Page Update stream.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Personal Branding – making the most of the LinkedIn Personal Profile

Social Selling Matrix Personal Brand
The Internet and Social Media has changed our ability to find information, and also to publish information.

One significant area of this is our ability to publish information about ourselves, so that others can find, read and make decisions based on it.

This opens up the opportunity for personal branding for everyone – business leaders, sales leaders, business professionals.  

No longer is it just celebrities; politicians, sports personalities, film stars, pop stars and others who have access to vast audiences through media.

Whether your prime role is sales leader or business owner, there are several ways you can use LinkedIn to support your customer service and set up subsequent sales.

By investing a little time and thought we can all create and communicate a personal brand. For people in business this can be a huge benefit, in many many ways.

Quick start tips

LinkedIn is the principle place to publish the substance of our personal brands and establish our professional positioning.

  • Complete the background sections of your LinkedIn profile – your work history, education, qualifications, additional interests etc. as fully as possible
  • Create a Summary and Headline that is crafted for your audience and objectives and your specialisation and role
  • Add credentials through the company that you keep – your key connections, professional associations, groups and more
  • Share content that builds and enhances your positioning, to stay front-of-mind, start conversations and develop business relationships.

The mechanics of the LinkedIn Profile is about execution. The challenge for many is (re)defining our purpose, positioning and proposition for the brave new world of Social Selling.

LinkedIn Tips for a compelling Personal Profile

1. Getting the Profile basics right

A minimalist profile on LinkedIn is a missed opportunity, and could have negative consequences for your marketing, sales and customer relationships.

  • Follow the LinkedIn Prompts and complete the various section for education and previous work experience etc.
  • Check your profile settings so the ‘right’ things are visible and the sensitive things are hidden
  • Use the Skills section to find keywords relevant to your role and position, and add them to your profile and to the text sections of your profile so you show up higher in the search rankings.

Now is a good time to check out who is also in your space. Search within LinkedIn for your keywords and location, eg. LinkedIn Trainer Bristol for me.

2. Write a Summary and Headline appropriate to your role

LinkedIn is not just for CVs and Job-seekers, so set yourself apart by writing with the goal of being more successful in your current role rather than your next one.

  • If you’re a Business Leader outline the purpose of your business in a way that multiple audiences can identify with
  • If you’re a Sales Leader demonstrate your expertise in client areas by highlighting business issues/aspirations your current clients were facing/desiring that you’ve resolved/enabled
  • If you’re a fee earner or part of the delivery or support team outline your contribution to clients and support for your customer facing colleagues along with your subject matter expertise.

Find some of the thought leaders in your sector, particularly those in America, and see how they are describing what they do.

3. Now build in all the social proof you can

Spend a couple of hours adding layers of proof to your profile, to extend your reach and visibility and impact when people look at your profile

  • Invite customers, business partners and colleagues to provide testimonials about you, your expertise and your contribution
  • Join relevant groups, follow relevant influencers, connect with thought leaders in your market
  • Add media to various sections of your profile, from your company website, your hard drive, and from authority sources in your market

The power of LinkedIn lets us go beyond What we know, through Who we know, to Who knows us.  Kick-start that process as soon as you can, and build on it periodically.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Customer Appreciation – for referrals, introductions and additional business

Wurlwind Social Selling - Customer AppreciationIt’s all too easy to overlook one of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn, which is also the foundation for successful Social Selling.

Satisfied and delighted customers have already gone through the Know, Like and Trust journey, and made a commitment to you and your business.

A little bit of effort in the post-sale period using LinkedIn to create a public win:win situation will pay huge dividends. 

Whether your prime role is sales leader or business owner, there are several ways you can use LinkedIn to support your customer service and set up subsequent sales.

LinkedIn and Social Selling is not just about prospecting and lead generation. For key account sales it’s a valuable place to develop a positive customer community.

Quick start tips

Pick one of your recently completed sales and follow the steps above to show your appreciation within LinkedIn.

  • Connect with your main customer contacts, if you haven’t already done so.
  • Endorse them, comment on one of their Recent Articles, and send them a ‘Thank-you’ message through LinkedIn.
  • Ask them if they’d give you a Recommendation or Testimonial, and offer to draft something as a starter.

Now repeat for a second customer, then a third, and fourth. And read on for more suggestions on how to build customer loyalty.

LinkedIn Tips for Customer Appreciation to gain referrals, introductions and additional business

1. Create a post-sales routine

Include LinkedIn as one of your post-sales activities, probably once delivery and order fulfilment has been undertaken.

  • Connect with ALL the people who you had contact with during the sales process
  • Invite them to connect with key colleagues as part of the hand-over to implementation or support
  • Invite them to Follow your LinkedIn Company Page, and Follow theirs in return

This at least makes the connections, so you can see updates on a reciprocal basis.

2. Show appreciation

This is where a bit of “Give to Gain” comes in. If you are generous to start with your customers are more likely to reciprocate.

  • Give endorsements to a few key customer contacts (say 3 skills for 3 people), and even give them a recommendation.
  • Find one or more content pieces of theirs to share on LinkedIn – whether it’s an Update by an individual, Article, Company Page update etc.
  • Look through your network of contacts on LinkedIn and pick 3 people who you could introduce your new customer to.

This should cement the relationship and lay the foundations for a successful repeat business and referrals

3. Sow the seeds for future business

And now be suitably pro-active in looking for and requesting support from people in your customer to help you achieve your next sale.

  • Find a suitable way to ask for referrals eg. “If you know anyone who….”
  • Identify and ask for introductions, by looking through their connections, or ask by company name or division
  • Monitor the implementation project for learning points and results to feed into your content marketing plan, so everyone is seen as a winner via LinkedIn

Depending on the nature of your business these might be a one-off activity per client, or something that you diarise or build into the account plan.

If you can make your clients more successful, as individuals, as departments, and as businesses, your future business is far more secure.

This will take thought and effort initially but I’m sure you’ll get quicker as you do this more frequently and regularly, and build it into a positive Social Selling habit.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Sales Relationships – how to use LinkedIn to help you close deals

Wurlwind Social Selling - Sales Relationships

Congratulations if you’re reading this because you have a real live sales opportunity.

You may be wondering how you can use LinkedIn to improve your sales conversions and win rate.

If you’re responsible for winning sales – as a quota carrying sales leader, a business owner or in another sales role, there are several ways you can use LinkedIn to support your sales efforts and increase your success.

LinkedIn and Social Selling is not just about prospecting and lead generation. For larger more complex sales it’s a valuable resource to use during sales campaigns.

Quick start tips

Pick your best prospect, one that you’re currently bidding or proposing to, and apply the tips and steps below to increase your probability of winning and to develop effective Social Selling habits.

  • Connect with your main contacts in your prospect, if you haven’t already done so.
  • See who you are both connected with – your shared contacts – and identify someone who could give you insight into what’s going on.
  • Write down 5 actions you’ll take that will build those relationships – Like, Share, Comment, Connect, Talk to… etc.

Now repeat for your second best prospect, then the third, and fourth. I’m sure you’ll be getting quicker at this by now, and building a positive habit.

LinkedIn Tips for developing sales relationships and winning sales

1. Qualify the opportunity

Use LinkedIn as one of your research sources to find out more about the company and the prime contact. If it’s an enquiry that’s come in via your website, a phone call or even from a lead nurture sequence, LinkedIn can be a good source of information.

  • From their LinkedIn Company Page, does the company meet your criteria, based on size, sector, location, and any other criteria you may use?
  • From the LinkedIn Profile of the person contacting you, are they in a role that you typically deal with, as decision-maker or as recommender?
  • How closely connected are you to the person contacting you, and again LinkedIn can identify who you have as shared connections.

With this information you’re much better prepared for that initial phone call, and you can show that you have done your homework, or ask for missing information on the call.

2. Who else is likely to be involved in the decision?

If there are typically several people involved in deciding to purchase what you offer then some additional research will put you in a stronger position.

  • From the employees listed on the Company Page, can you identify the people with the job titles you’d expect to be involved in the decision.
  • Can you identify shared connections with any of them, and identify someone (a trusted third party) who could provide insight about the business.
  • Have those key people shared Articles and Status Updates on LinkedIn that would give you a chance to reach out and maybe connect with them?

Quickly identifying and making contact with the right people will provide a firm foundation for your sales campaign

3. Keeping in touch during the campaign and after the proposal

Some purchases can take a long time to close, and keeping in touch with key people can be tricky, without seeming to chase the deal.

  • Share relevant articles, either from your company like case studies or from reliable third parties, via LinkedIn Message to individuals
  • Share news and articles to groups of buyers as a LinkedIn Email/Message Broadcast to a small TAG group of people.
  • Comment on Status Updates and Articles posted by decision-makers on LinkedIn

Building relationships, becoming a trusted advisor and guiding prospects through the buying process is a route to sales success. This will happen through many channels including face to face meetings, phone calls, emails and other activities. LinkedIn can be a great source of insight and also an additional communications channel to use.

And if you’ve established your personal brand at a senior level you may well be able to gain access to the project sponsor early on, and steal a march on your competitors if they only have access at a junior level.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Social Selling Goals and Objectives

Wurlwind - Social Selling Goals and ObjectivesAs time and resources are precious it’s understandable that decision-makers are looking at social selling goals for reassurance that sales effectiveness will improve.

Measuring the ROI of LinkedIn use and Social Selling activity can be tricky. However, outlined below are ways to be clear about Goals and Objectives and ways to monitor activity and results.

To use a driving metaphor, knowing the destination and reaching it (sales target) is what really matters. Doing so safely, comfortably, courteously, economically etc. are also important. Being a ‘good driver’ and driving a clean and well-maintained car also count.

There are many ways to measure and track use of LinkedIn and Social Selling activities and link them to Sales. 

Developing a plan that aligns social selling goals with your other sales activities (and then working the plan) is the secret to success.

A great way to track this is to develop a Dashboard or table/chart. Track your progress and results over time so you can see how the momentum is building, and refine your activities as you go.

Quick start tips

To avoid measurement becoming onerous let’s start by tracking the indicators that are readily available:

  • Check and track the number of 1st connections you have in LinkedIn
  • Track your activity level, using the Recent Activity number within LinkedIn
  • Check and track your SSI score (Social Selling Index) on a regular basis

Check your LinkedIn SSI here

  • Track the Enquiries and Referrals you get through LinkedIn on a week by week basis

Pick a time in the week where you can do this regularly, such as Friday evening or first thing on Monday morning.

As your network grows, your activity increases, and the quality of your activity improves as your skills develop. You should also see a payback in terms of Enquiries and Referrals, which you could then track through to eventual sales.

Tips to help you define your LinkedIn, Lead Generation and Social Selling Goals

1. Outcomes – align social selling goals with your sales process and metrics

Identifying and implementing lead generation techniques that are consistent with your marketing and sales model and processes is the start.

  • Sales – is the ultimate goal, but for example, refine the definition to be clear if this is from existing or new customers
  • Enquiries and Leads – be clear how these are defined, and the quality and quantity that are relevant
  • Referrals and Introductions – this is a major potential ROI of LinkedIn, especially if this is a big part of how you generate new business already.

Consider the timescale that you want to focus on. Is it a week, a month, a year? Maybe you need a blast of lead generation to fill your sales funnel or pipeline. Maybe you want to build a steady flow of leads. Consider whe your buyers are most active in their interest? Is it seasonal, based on their financial year etc. or are buyers looking on a continuous basis?
Note: Big numbers generated by some people may sound attractive, but double check whether they are relevant to your business model. If they are not then the techniques used to achieve them may not be appropriate for you and your business.

2. Assets – create resources with measureable value from your activities

This is the side of LinkedIn that is enduring and has the potential to deliver benefits 24/7/365

  • Contacts – the number of connections you and your team have, and company page followers, are easily measurable and therefore trackable. Quality matters too, and LinkedIn provides some stats on both. How many contacts do you want to add over a specific time period?
  • Content – this is pretty important if you’re to be found and to have online sales relationships. Content also increases productivity, if there is an appropriate mix created and published and viewed. How much content do you have the resources to produce. Create the higher value pieces first.
  • Reputation – this is a tough one to measure objectively, but one that is none the less important to have as a goal or objective to inform decisions.

Like physical assets, digital assets will decay unless maintained and used. A large network of contacts and lots of content are of little value in isolation, but are both much more valuable when they are connected, especially in a way that enhances your reputation.

3. Activity – the essential ingredient in order to get a return on investment

Reading articles, attending webinars, going on training courses, etc. are only really valuable when put into practice.

Like the traditional cold calling numbers game (eg. dialling 100 numbers a day), so too there are activity metrics that can be applied in the LinkedIn and Social Selling area. But again these need to be aligned with sales process and objectives. Here are some suggestions:

  • Track your activity to build lists of prospects through LinkedIn
  • Track the increase the quantity and quality of contacts in your network
  • Monitor your activity to stay visible to your network eg. your Recent Activity number
  • Track the Likes, Comments and Shares on your Posts and Company Page Updates
  • Record your progress using the Linkedin Social Selling Index (SSI)

Tracking these numbers takes time, so choose those that are easiest and most relevant to your business model.

The bigger Social Selling picture

The real payback occurs when techniques become more effective and they contribute to the achievement of the bigger Sales measures. The relative contribution against other techniques is important to consider. Developing new strategies and operational methods and skills for the long term is a by-product of short-term effort.

Doing all the heavy lifting by ourselves is tough. When our reputation develops and word of mouth and referrals carries our message far further than we can that the real benefits show up.

Which is why there should be a balance of short, medium and long term goals and objectives for Social Selling.

Download our Pocket Guide to Lead Generation using LinkedIn and Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so, get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.