Prospecting used to be time-wasting and time-consuming – but it’s much easier and faster now because of our social, connected world. I’d imagine most of you reading this are on LinkedIn, with your role, your background, your colleagues and any groups you belong to listed. You’ve probably experienced people contacting you to build connections with mixed results.
The importance is not to use social platforms as a new cold-calling medium to push your products or services, but also to make sure that social selling does result in sales and isn’t a distraction. Social media can provide deep insight into potential clients and the company, not just skimming over the surface, and so provides sales opportunities if used correctly.
1. Create a professional brand
We all know how important it is to have a professional brand when you meet someone face-to-face. The way you dress, your body language, the way you walk, your voice and what you say – the list goes on and on. But these days, much of the time people encounter and experience you over the internet, before they meet you in real life. That’s why having a professional online brand is at least as important. Make sure you have a quality photograph that shows you in a positive light – on LinkedIn, Twitter and similar platforms. Craft a compelling ‘story of you’ that brings your personality to life – and summarises what you might be able to do for existing and potential customers.
2. Find the right people
The internet makes it easier to identify prospects and find out more about them. You’re almost certainly using LinkedIn, Twitter and other resources to some degree already. But to make the most of your research you need to dig even deeper, and carry out ‘account mapping’, to establish who you need to target within the company, and which ‘social selling’ activities will payback best.
3. Engage with insights
Social Selling isn’t just a matter of sending a ‘Request to Connect’ or ‘Inmail’ on LinkedIn. It’s the equivalent of cold calling – and won’t work. You need to ‘engage with insights’ that raise your profile and improve your visibility, and that means LinkedIn Groups.
One of the easiest ways of getting noticed online is to join LinkedIn groups focusing on your industry. You might want to start by contributing to ‘conversations’ other members have posted – add a perspective or develop a theme. You may want to put something up yourself – ‘provide content’ as it’s called, either via one of the Groups or via LinkedIn Publishing – a free blogging platform that integrates with LinkedIn.
You’ll soon find that if you have insights that interest others in the industry, you will have ‘followers’ who want to comment and contribute to your conversations. They will then gravitate to your online presence – LinkedIn, Twitter etc – and provide a platform for you to connect and move to have a cold/warm call if appropriate.
4. Build strong relationships
Social Selling is all about relationships – strong relationships. That isn’t something you should rush into – like proposing marriage after just one date. But over time, as you connect more and more online, you may find the prospect checking out your LinkedIn page, which enables you to connect to them online – and open the door to a ‘warm call’ and an opportunity to pitch your product, service, company and yourself.