It’s almost 2016 and interruptive techniques like cold calling are as dead as disco. Sales leaders need to be looking for effective ways of enabling their team to drive pipeline and attain quota. But how do you do this when your buyers are on social?
Here’s my step by step process of how I got started in Social Selling and how I’ve used the LinkedIn SSI Score to gauge the success of my social efforts thus far (also how I managed to book a sales meeting with a Fortune 50 company without picking up the phone but I'll save that story for another day).
I am a sales professional that is dedicated to continuous improvement and mastering my trade, so learning Social Selling is a no-brainer. After 3 weeks of working at Sales for Life, I had a Social Selling Index (SSI) of 60. By week 5 it was up to 77. Regardless of what LinkedIn’s SSI accurately represents, this spike was due to a rapid adoption and implementation of Social Selling best practices. Here are a few simple techniques I used to increase my SSI and begin my journey towards becoming a master of Social Selling.
How your sales team can increase their SSI Scores:
Try the ways I talk about below. They worked for me (even though I thought I was a social media rockstar) so I’m confident they’ll work for your sales team.
1. Curate Content That Buyers Love
In order to keep your network engaged, you need to be sharing relevant content that resonates with your buyer. The goal is to position yourself as a trusted advisor or expert in your industry. The content you share must speak to this. Utilizing a content aggregator like Feedly makes finding great content simple. Add all of your favourite publications, blogs, and industry influencers directly to Feedly and check for new engaging content to share each day. Yes, that means you must book time for this.
2. Share Content That Drives Sales Conversations
It’s one thing to post engaging content to your LinkedIn network, but without frequency your audience will lose interest quickly. If you want to show up in your buyer's’ feeds, you need to be sharing content 3+ times per day, but who seriously has time to manually share content this often? Social media management platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer give you the ability to auto-schedule all of your content to make sharing a breeze.
3. Customized Posts
Many of us who share content simply copy/paste the link and leave the title unchanged. There is ZERO point to sharing content if you aren’t going to customize each headline. Your marketing team may be the ones creating the message or you’re pushing an RSS feed, however, you have to add your own 2 cents. People on your LinkedIn network want to know what YOU think about topics. Give them the benefit of getting to know you. Otherwise, what’s the point right?
4. Live Engagement With Prospects
Social media is about give-and-take. Don’t be a zombie profile that automatically pushes content but has no live engagement. If you engage somebody, they’ll most likely engage you back. Check your home feed and like other people’s posts & pictures, comment on their articles, and share insight. Make sure you mean it though; don’t be disingenuous.
5. Messaging Etiquette
Do NOT treat LinkedIn messaging like email or regular conversation. Social is it’s own medium, with it’s own copywriting/communication best practices. Blasting your network a long & generic sales message isn’t Social Selling. It’s spammy and makes us salespeople look unresearched and, worst, sound scripted.
Try the following ways; I promise they won’t harm you.
1. Keep everything short and sweet when sharing content.
2. Establish common ground or demonstrate you’ve acquired some insight on them.
3. Never lead with a sales pitch.
4. Ask good questions, the kind that will gauge responses.
5. Keep things informal; address them by their first name, don’t use salutations, don’t start with ‘dear’, or end with ‘kind regards, etc’.
6. Always share content.
Regardless of what the LinkedIn SSI does or does not represent, using LinkedIn to share insights & start meaningful conversations will get you further with your buyer than a cold call alone ever will. We all need to start somewhere, but continuous learning and practising with intent will transform your sales team from LinkedIn laggards to Social Selling top performers by putting them on the path towards better quota attainment.