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The Sales Review

Learn about emerging best practices, strategies and insights on B2B sales today dedicated for the modern sales organization.

Are Your Messages Being Read? 5 Social Selling Best Practices

Posted by Dave Howe on Nov 27, 2014 5:27:18 PM

Being a Social Selling Trainer, one of the things that I‘m asked most about is messaging best practices; the whens, wheres and hows of messaging a prospect for the first time. There is definitely no doubt about it, this can be one of the most painstaking parts about sales in general. You spend time researching your prospect, crafting a message and deciding on the best approach for delivery only to NEVER RECEIVE A REPLY!! Frustration doesn’t even begin to describe how defeating this outcome can feel at times.

Well my friends, I have been in the game a long time. I have dealt with defeat only to come out stronger, I have learned from my mistakes and I have had the benefit of crafting sales messages alongside some of the best salesmen in the biz. Today I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned…

What is the most important thing to keep in mind about sales messaging?

Unequivocally, more important than anything else, is to always be providing VALUE.

Social Selling is brilliant because it allows us as salesmen to meet our buyers where they’re doing their research; ONLINE. With the amount of vendor variety today, being an old school pushy salesmen is no longer an option. If buyers get the wrong vibes from us, they will simply move onto the next Google search result.

On the other hand, if we go out of our way to help the buyer throughout their journey from research to vendor selection, we have presented ourselves and our companies as an obvious partner to do business with. Therefore, we must make sure that we are always providing value to our buyers. Otherwise they’ll find someone else that is.

What does it mean to “provide value”?

On a macro level, providing value simply means being helpful.

On a micro level, providing value can be broken down into a series of helpful actions that ultimately derive from us having a deep understanding of who our buyer is. Sharing useful information on an area of interest, industry trend or competitor strategy. Introducing someone to a person that they can form a mutually beneficial business relationship with. Notifying someone of an event that would be beneficial for them to attend. These are all examples of how we as sales professionals can provide value on a regular basis.

The people who are the best at providing value all have two things in common; research and creativity. Real estate agents and professionals in the hospitality industry are often pros at this. They understand their buyers and they come up with creative ways to provide value that sets them apart from the competition.

Think out-of-the-box. If you see “karate” in the Interests section of your prospect’s LinkedIn profile, try sending them an awesome martial arts video to break the ice. At the very least you will have made a lasting first impression.

What should I write in a LinkedIn connection request to a prospect?

Before we dive into what you should write in a LinkedIn connection request, it makes sense to first identify what you SHOULDN’T DO.

  • DO NOT send a generic connection request to a prospect
  • DO NOT try to sell a prospect or make mention of your product/service in the messaging of a connection request

Neither of these strategies will start your business relationship off properly by providing value.

Instead, try a soft sells approach. Use a casual tone and let the prospect know that you are available to them should they desire guidance in your particular area of expertise. Your one and only goal here is to maximize your chances of converting the prospect into your 1st degree connections. Doing so will make it easier for you to nurture them through their buying journey and stay top-of-mind.

I like to use a two sentence approach:

Provide Context: Why are you sending the prospect a connection request? Did they look at your profile or interact with a piece of your content? Do they share a mutual connection?

Provide Value: Position yourself as a valuable resource of information on a specific topic.

That will sound something like this:

“Hi [NAME],

Thanks for checking out my profile. Please feel free to use me as a resource for anything related to [AREA OF EXPERTISE] in the future.

Regards,

[YOUR NAME]”

And as a general rule, if you do not have context, do not send a connection request. Nurture the prospect further through other means first to increase your chances of converting them into your 1st degree connections.

What should I write in a LinkedIn referral request for an introduction?

Referrals are easy to come by if you first put yourself into the middle man’s mindset. If you were asked to refer someone, what you want to know about the proposed interaction? More importantly, what would you want to avoid?

When writing a referral request we want to make sure that we make the middleman look good. If someone introduces us to one of their contacts and we lead with a hard pitch that irritates the prospect, we have made our middleman look bad. If, however, we lead with value and build the prospects intrigue about our area of expertise, we have made the middleman look like a rockstar. That’s what we are going for.

To aid the middleman in their decision on whether or not to proceed with our referral request we must provide them with logical context. Be specific about why you want to be introduced, what value you can provide the prospect and what context you have for believing your introduction would be of interest to the prospect.

What should I write in an email to a prospect?

"A Social Selling article preaching about email strategies!? WTF?!... Isn’t that contradictory?"

The answer is NO. Social Selling and email go hand-in-hand. Not only does Social Selling provide us with new ways to communicate with our buyers, it also provides us insights into their professional lives. These insights can be used as triggers that lend context to our emails and increase our chances of receiving a response.

It is also important to interact with your prospect where they are active online. If you notice that your prospect is not active on social media and is therefore unlikely to see your social message, don’t try to approach them here. Try using more traditional methods of communications to bridge the gap instead.

For in-depth information on email messaging best practices, check out this previous post of mine: The Art of Brevity for Sales and Marketing Professionals

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Dave Howe

About the Author

Dave is a gifted salesman with a passion for training. Having started from humble roots as a doorknocker in Australia, Dave quickly excelled over his decade long sales and marketing career to hold several VP and Director level positions. Prior to joining the Sales for Life team, Dave was involved with start-ups; building and training their sales teams from the ground up.