I recently had an encounter with two people who were working with a LinkedIn trainer to learn how to use the platform, complete their profiles, and make connections. I asked, “How many leads have you gotten so far?” To my surprise (I assumed everyone learning LinkedIn was doing so for business development purposes), their answer was, “We are not sure how to do that.”
Strategy is the biggest difference between a B2B sales and marketing team that enjoy consistent sales leads and revenue opportunities on LinkedIn and one that just has a presence with lots of connections. Learning the tactics of the platform is one thing. Learning how to generate leads is another. That’s where social selling comes in.
This type of strategy can help turn your LinkedIn presence into more than just a list of connections. The digital age has transformed the way people buy and sell, especially in the world of business. Far from being a problem, this has made life easier for the world’s salespeople. Social media has put an end to the dreaded cold call forever. Customers and prospects gather on social channels, so naturally this is where sales teams need to be as well. But to be successful, salespeople have to adapt their approach to suit the platform.
Social selling (using social networks to develop useful and productive relationships with customers) is so easy almost anyone can do it. Social selling aims to cultivate one-on-one relationships, rather than broadcast one-to-many messages done by social marketing. The success of social selling is dependent on the development of a team attitude, in which social selling is merely a byproduct of sales and marketing integration. The future of social selling requires a partnership between these two departments. The digital marketing team creates, organizes, distributes and evaluates the insights that the sales team then leverages to fuel social conversations. Marketing measures the content consumption story of each new customer, and gathers trends for prescriptive improvements to help a sales professional approach a customer with highly-targeted insights. Marketing can empirically prove a direct contribution to lead generation, and can highlight an indirect influence on all remaining sales. However, after several years of offering social selling training, I observed the same problem occurring as with historical sales training: no reinforcement and no behavioral change. LinkedIn is a powerful platform that can be used to generate valuable leads and revenue opportunities, but — like most things in life — it only works if you use it correctly.
Don’t just set up a profile and make a few connections. Use it as a tool to further your social selling and generate sales opportunities for your business.
Guest post by Rick Curry, resident LinkedIn advisor and Social Selling Coach