Social selling doesn’t have to be hard. You can map your LinkedIn strategy to your sales funnel, integrating it with your other marketing channels.
In order to do social selling properly, you need a firm understanding of your preferred customer. At a minimum, you need to know their preferred title, company size, and industry. This will help you identify these prospects in LinkedIn.
To start this process, take some time and clearly define your customer. You need to answer questions like:
• What are common keywords in their Linked professional headline?
• What industry do they work in?
• Are they located in a particular area or do you deal with companies anywhere in the world?
When logged into LinkedIn, click the advanced option to the right of the search bar.
In the example below:
• I’m searching for people with the keyword “cloud” in their LinkedIn profile.
• I have selected first, second, and group member relationships.
o Tip: Using second level relationships, you will be able to see people who are not connected to you, but to whom you can quickly connect.
• I have selected the industries, “information services” and “information technology and services”.
If you have determined that location is important for your business, you can enter a city to select businesses within a certain area.
In order to access the more advanced features in the right-hand column, you will need a paid professional LinkedIn account.
Another nice feature of the search filter is that you can instantly see how revisions to the filters using the left-hand bar filters change the initial search. This additional search bar is available in your result set.
Tip: The bigger your personal network, the easier it will be to find warm prospects (i.e. second level connections). While it is possible to search the entire LinkedIn network, your best leads will be people that are connected at your first, second, and third levels.
Once you have created a powerful advanced search, you will probably want to save it so you can continue your prospecting in the future. You can use the save search option on the upper right-hand corner of the screen as seen below.
Getting new leads is not a one-time activity; you will want to do it consistently in order to get a steady pipeline of prospects.
Making the connection
Once you have your initial list, it is time to start sending connection requests. When you find a person, do not click the blue “Connect” button on the results list. This will automatically send the generic LinkedIn connection message and will not allow you to create a personalized connection request. It is vital for making a request that you explain how you know the person and why it would be beneficial for them to connect with you.
Warning: If you try to connect with people using the standard connection button, it’s possible that they will use the “I don’t know this person” option after receiving the request. If you receive five people who say they don’t know you, you could be required to enter an email address for every person with whom you choose to connect.
Once the person accepts your connection, always remember to tell the person thank you. This is not the time to promote your products and services, but you can leave your website address in your signature.
After seeing the person’s profile, join any relevant groups of which they are a member. However, keep in mind that there is a maximum of 50 groups any person is allowed to join. Contributing to groups is a great way to improve your credibility with potential leads.
Nurturing the relationship
Once you have the initial connection, it’s important to continue nurturing the prospect so you can stay top of mind. This is imperative considering 63% of people that request information will not make a purchase for at least three months. During this process, you always want to give them something of value like a link to an article or video in which they might be interested. You can also include free reports and e-books, informational and how-to videos, newsletters, webinar invites, white papers and more.
Always make sure that these gifts are relevant to their business and show that you understand the struggles they face on a daily basis. The goal is to continuously provide value before they’re ready to buy so that when they are ready to make a purchase, you are top of mind.
“By initiating and keeping up the conversation with inbound leads, sharing relevant content, and being there to answer questions and solve problems, you’re building a level of trust and professionalism for your brand – and more importantly, maintaining ‘top of mind’ awareness,” says Valerie Levin at Octopost.
Take a few hours or even a day to plan your lead nurturing and content strategy. Brainstorm new ideas for content you can write that will be useful to your customers. Plan to send the new content on a monthly basis, as more than once a month is usually too much.
Another option is to use a LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This tool is designed specifically for social selling and lead nurturing and offers the following new features:
• Lead recommendations
• Notifications of new content from leads
• Expanded visibility of the LinkedIn network (up to a third degree)
• Additional information using advanced search and “who’s viewed your profile”
Tip: Always keep in mind that you can’t automate building trust. Creating and finding the right content that provides value to your reader is a personalized action that you need to plan in advance. Schedule a time every day or at least once a week to go through your LinkedIn connections and do regular nurturing.
Moving the relationship off-line
Connecting with lots of people online using LinkedIn and other social media tools is great, but it’s not where the selling really happens. Once you have established rapport with the person, it is time to take the conversation off-line so selling can happen. Following each of these steps on a regular basis can help you succeed at LinkedIn lead generation.