Updated Sales Playbook for Social Selling

LinkedIn, with over 660 million users worldwide, is without a doubt the most effective platform for sales professionals to connect with prospects.

In recent years, LinkedIn has taken great efforts to evolve beyond its original ‘online CV’ format. Now, like other social networks, it relies on user generated content and engagement to grow, to encourage people to spend more time on the platform.

Content on LinkedIn: What NOT to do?

As everyone knows who’s active on LinkedIn, this means more people than ever are putting effort into generating content to help them engage with more potential customers and contacts.

It doesn’t always have the desired effect. People can take it too far. Not unlike those on Instagram who use so many filters and photoshop to turn a perfectly nice image into something unrealistic.

Content can end up parodied and mocked for being fake, with several Twitter accounts floating around making fun of the most ridiculous content seen on LinkedIn. You’ve probably seen examples, and most have heard of the high-profile offenders (Oleg, for example; probably the first “LinkedIn influencer”).

The point is, there is a way to create engaging content. And there is a clear model to avoid. Be authentic, human and real. But don’t be tempted to publish stories and posts of fake conversations with children that happen to answer your prospects pain points, helping hopeless job candidates, or little old ladies who’ve forgotten purses in coffee shops.

Unless you’ve genuinely done something nice, such as a charity sleepout to help the homeless, or a marathon to fight cancer, don’t make up a fake story for the likes! People see through it. Now, onto what you should be doing on LinkedIn.

Social Selling on LinkedIn: 4 ways to up your game today

#1: Use Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a popular LinkedIn sales solution. It is a subscription product that starts with a 30-day free trial, and then starts at $64.99 per month (billed annually), giving you the ability to send 20 InMail messages per month.

Team and Enterprise options are also available. With the monthly plans, you can cancel at any time.

According to LinkedIn, those who use Sales Navigator benefit from:

  • 5% Higher Win Rates
  • 35% Larger Deal Sizes
  • 34% of Opportunities Sourced
  • 61% of Revenue Influenced

Sales professionals in the top 25% of Navigator users perform even better, achieving a 55% increase in deal size, a 15% higher win rate, 45% more sourced opportunities and a 75% higher influence on revenue. Pretty decent results for $64.99 per month, providing your sales team uses this tool to their advantage.

We have published more articles on this, to help you make the most of it.

#2: Optimize LinkedIn profiles

Does your LinkedIn profile speak to potential clients?

Does it seek to engage their pain points and indicate how you can solve their challenges?

If so, then great, you don’t need to do anything.

LinkedIn profiles almost always speak to two potential audiences: buyers or recruiters. Review or get a colleague to review who your profile engages with the most, then use this to see where changes can be made. We have published an article on this in more detail * [ Link to Article #2 from Oct2019 ], so here is what you need to be aware of when optimising a profile:

  1. Explain how you add value in your headline (e.g. I help [company name] customers generate $5 million in savings through outsourced solutions and operational efficiencies)
  2. Professional bio photos
  3. Make it easy for people to contact you
  4. Make good use of keywords
  5. Provide more details of your experiences (in particular, how you’ve helped similar clients, why you have a good track record)
  6. And finally: Share articles and interesting content (more about that below)

#3: Create engaging and interesting content

Not everyone you encounter on LinkedIn is going to be ready to buy straight away. So how do you keep them engaged?

In this multi-touch marketing world, there are a number of ways, of course. With their permission (remember GDPR in Europe, and similar legislation in the U.S.), you could add them to a newsletter or drip feed email marketing funnel.

But one of the most direct ways, for them to see you more often than not when dropping into LinkedIn is through content marketing. If you don’t have time to manage article writing yourself, make sure your marketing team is producing regular LinkedIn friendly content. Articles, posts, updates, even videos and graphics.

Use hashtags, be authentic, aim to put yourself in your target customers shoes. Show how you solve problems and add value. Show potential customers examples of similar work (case studies and testimonials). Whatever it takes to keep an audience engaged — providing it’s in line with your brand and not the fake nonsense we mentioned earlier — always aim to add value while remembering that every post and piece of content is part of the sales funnel.

#4: Engage with the content others publish

As you publish more content, people will engage with it. Like it, comment on it, and share with others.

Don’t neglect the other side of this. Now you need to engage with the content of others, especially potential clients you want to work with. You can do this while prospecting for leads, and if you’ve already engaged with the content of a prospect then a message isn’t as cold. A prior online interaction can go a long way towards breaking the ice and using it as a natural way to introduce yourself.

Social selling on LinkedIn isn’t and shouldn’t be hard work. It should be a natural part of your work in sales. It’s quite a simple formula: Engage and give something others can engage with, such as authentic and interesting content. Use this format as your LinkedIn outreach process; generate leads and increase your pipeline as a result.