As Social Networks are increasingly used by customers and prospects there are valuable opportunities for vendors, sales people and business owners to also tap into Social Networks, using techniques that are becoming known as Social Selling.
Elsewhere in this website I’ve introduced and expanded on the first two steps of Social Selling – 1. Personal Branding and 2. Sales Activity in LinkedIn.
The third step is to progressively build the support for Social Selling, to increase productivity and effectiveness. In the B2B market of relationship based selling, (the background I come from), it tends to be the relationship manager who has the lead role, and marketing plays more of a sales support role. It is this approach that underpins what follows.
If you’re a Sales Professional in a medium or large business you will probably need to turn to your regular source of sales support, such as the marketing team for some of the following elements. However, I hope that this section provides a useful guide in terms of what to request.
If you’re a Business Owner your choices are either to create these yourself, use an agency to help you, or delegate to someone within your organisation. The elements below should give you ideas to consider and to prioritise.
LinkedIn Company Page – the foundation for your LinkedIn Community
Creating a company page that highlights your name and perhaps your value proposition in the title and which outlines your value proposition including keywords and contact details is relatively straight forward. Encouraging colleagues to select this in their ‘Company’ role will add the logo to their personal profile. This creates a professional image for your business.
Adding status updates and gaining followers is the next level. The extent to which you do this depends on your resources and marketing plan. It has the potential to be a valuable customer community, if you involve customer services staff, customer advocates, and share valuable content. This then contributes to sales lead generation as new prospects can see quite clearly how engaged you are with customers, and committed to their success.
NB. Unfortunately LinkedIn withdrew the Products and Services aspect of Company Pages, which in my view has taken away a huge marketing opportunity through LinkedIn. However there are alternative strategies available.
Apps and Tools that provide Support for Social Selling
LinkedIn has declared that it is a Publishing Platform and therefore the tools that make sense are those that support publishing and listening.
Here are some of the tools that I use and that you might like to consider:
- Hootsuite – to easily add and schedule status updates to my LinkedIn Personal and Wurlwind Company Page.
- Google Alerts – to highlight articles from the Internet to share
- YouTube – to share Video and to find video to curate onto my LinkedIn Profile
- Slideshare – for sharing presentations and to find presentations to add to my LinkedIn Profile
- Google Images – to find and share images – search there for your keywords and see what you find!
- Twitter – another social network that’s really useful for sound-bites and conversations
In addition there are various Apps and Tools I use to support my Social Selling activity including:
- Nimble CRM – to manage Social Sales Relationships
- InTouch CRM – for email marketing
- WordPress – and WooThemes and OptimizePress and various plug-ins – for Integrated Website and Blog
- AnyMeeting – for online meetings and webinars
- ContactMonkey – for deliverability and click tracking of emails sent through Gmail
For medium and larger companies there are a bewildering range of choices in the Social Selling category.
Content to provide Support for Social Selling
You may be aware that Content Marketing has become a huge category and marketing discipline. For larger companies it may be applicable to ‘industrialise’ the creation of content. If you are a sales person working of a large company you may be aware of the resources available to you to support your social selling efforts.
You also have the opportunity to go very tactical with content. Having chosen your specialisation – see personal branding section – you can add content from various authority sources (including your company produced material) to your LinkedIn Personal Profile. You can also write your own articles and publish them within LinkedIn.
There are also opportunities for micro-campaigns within LinkedIn. The content element of this might include a corner-stone element such as an article on LinkedIn, (or maybe a Slideshare presentation or a YouTube video). Then, through a combination of Status Updates and Discussions in Groups you can attract attention. In addition, through LinkedIn Search you can build a list and then Message people to invite them to read your article. There’s more about this, and other Social Prospecting techniques, elsewhere on the Wurlwind website.
Email Marketing – nurture campaigns to support Social Selling
Chances are that many prospects will need to hear from you multiple times before they make a purchase. Doing this through multiple channels on a regular basis keeps you front of mind and progresses the campaign. Email is a cost and time effective way to keep in touch over a period of time as it delivers value to your prospect on a regular basis, it can be done in a way that doesn’t take much time, and you can track how the reader interacts with the content.
From an initial contact through LinkedIn, an online exchange, a phone call or a meeting might identify a topic that the client is interested in that you are able to help them with in a low-key way. Perhaps they are researching a topic that you have a solution for, but they are not yet in a position to commit time towards a purchase. A well-constructed email sequence will add value by helping them understand the topic in more detail and guide them through the tasks over time. This is covered more elsewhere on this website, and there are also some email sequences that we’ve built to guide you through the Social Selling journey.
Product Ladder – creating incremental steps for your buyers
This is a pretty fundamental question for which there is not a overnight answer. However, consider the value of increasing the number of product offerings you have, so that you can engage buyers at different price points and levels of commitment. It also creates opportunities to up-sell and to down-sell and to cross-sell. If you’re already selling physical products you’re part of the way there. If you’re selling services then consider the way you package those services, if you don’t already.
As an illustration, at Wurlwind we offer a range of Social Selling Services as Packages, for example:
- LinkedIn Personal Profile rewrite
- LinkedIn Masterclass Training
- LinkedIn Foundation course for companies
- LinkedIn Social Selling course for companies
- LinkedIn Company Page set-up or rewrite
- Social Selling Review and Action Plan
- Social Selling Roadmap Consultancy
And we have plans to extend further to include service packages for:
- LinkedIn for Exhibitions
- LinkedIn for Exporters
- LinkedIn for Salesforce.com users
- LinkedIn Article based Lead Generation Campaign
- eLearning courses about LinkedIn for Sales
- Membership programme to support LinkedIn for Sales
If this has prompted ideas that you’d like to discuss please send an email to me, Mark Stonham, and let’s start a conversation.