Are you still struggling to get results with social selling and LinkedIn? Social selling is not easy at first. It can feel unnatural and even awkward at times. This might be because many entrepreneurs and sales professionals think of it as a "tactic" rather than what it really is: a means to building and leveraging relationships.
While this is quite generalized, people that are naturally strong at social selling are often not the ones that have an affinity for technology. Quite the opposite actually. They are usually more people-oriented. Does this sound like you?
If you're struggling with social selling, you may be overthinking the technical side and undervaluing the relationship aspect. This 7-step system will help you go from finding prospects on LinkedIn to taking the relationship offline.
Step 1: Identify Prospects
Social selling requires you to have a clear grasp on your target market, so begin by thinking of common titles your market would use to describe themselves. This will be a crucial part of finding prospects to connect with online.
These titles relate to their vocation. For example: entrepreneur, nutritionist, astronaut, HR specialist, etc.
Once you have a few titles that you want to specifically target for new prospects, you can easily find them with using two separate methods:
- LinkedIn Advanced Search
- LinkedIn Groups
LinkedIn Advanced Search
Use LinkedIn Advanced Search to get hyper-targeted results. Here's an example of a simple search for profiles of nutritionists.
You can get even more targeted by clicking "Advanced" to add additional filters.
Select any additional filters that will help you close in on the perfect group of prospects. I recommend selecting the "2nd level connections" filter so that you will only see people you aren't connected to and that can be easily connected with. If you're a locally based business, it's a good idea to use the Location filter as well.
I'm a big believer in LinkedIn groups and the power they can have in the social selling process. You can become a recognized expert in front of a highly targeted (and highly engaged) group of prospects with the right content and some dedication.
There are two tutorials you can review to get the full impact of LinkedIn groups:
- How To Find LinkedIn Groups With Targeted Prospects
- How To Become a Top Contributor In Any LinkedIn Group
Step 2: Send a Connection Request
Make first contact when you find a potential prospect by sending a connection request. Start by clicking on their name to go straight to their profile page. If you hit the "Connect" button via LinkedIn search, it will not give you the option to personalize your message.
Don't make that mistake.
You MUST ensure that you send a personalized connection request message that explains how you know them or why they would want to connect with you. If you fail to do this, they may click the "I Don't Know" option and if you receive 5 of these, you will be required to enter an email address for every new person you wish to connect with.
Remember that you only have 300 characters, so your reason must be concise and convincing.
Step 3: Send a Thank You Message
When you see someone has accepted your connection request on LinkedIn, reach out with a personalized Thank You message. Don't pitch your services or self-promote in any way other than adding the URL to your website in your signature.
If possible, find some commonality in their profile that can be used to engage in a conversation. Just like a cocktail party, the only thing you should be concerned about is getting to know that person and leaving a positive impression on them.
Step 4: Send Relationship Building Messages
Set a reminder to reach out to your new connection in a week with what I like to call a "Relationship Building" message. The sole purpose of this message is to provide something of value to that person with no ulterior motive. Giving without the expectation of receiving is a critical part of building authentic relationships with people.
I like to reach out with something relevant to their business goals. When done right, it shows that you understand their struggles and can plant the seed for a future client.
Here are a few examples of content you can share:
- Case studies
Be sure to use LinkedIn's Relationship Tab to keep your prospects organized when sending your relationship building messages.
Step 5: Engage With Them on Shared LinkedIn Groups
Take a peek at the groups your prospects are connected in. If you aren't already a member of groups that your prospects are part of, start joining the most relevant ones that you prospects belong to. You can join up to 50 groups.
Not everyone is active on LinkedIn Groups but when you find a prospect that is, it provides an excellent opportunity to get on their radar in a way that's demonstrating your expertise and credibility.
Step 6: Connect & Engage On Other Social Media Platforms
It can get a bit awkward to constantly private message someone on LinkedIn if you haven't yet made enough progress to move the relationship offline. Twitter is my first choice because of the relaxed engagement style. You won't seem like a creepy stalker if you are interacting with and sharing their interesting posts on Twitter.
If you do find someone on Twitter that you are connected with on LinkedIn, be sure to add them to a special Twitter list so you can more easily keep track of them later on.
Step 7: Move Relationships Offline
This is the most critical step where most people fall short. Without this final step, there's a whole lot of social without any selling. Once you've built enough rapport, you have to make the transition to an offline conversation before anything can happen.
I get 70% of my business from LinkedIn but that doesn't mean I'm getting a credit card number via private message - I'm bringing that relationship offline before a transaction ever takes place.
If you've followed steps 1-6 properly, your prospect should be open to the idea of speaking offline since you've demonstrated:
- Your ability to provide value
Social Selling Can Be Easy
Social selling is not something you should be fearful of. When done right, it can produce tangible results that simply weren't possible before social media came along. It doesn't matter if you're looking to further develop relationships initiated offline or find new prospects online, social selling can be a powerful secret weapon.
What's your greatest challenge when it comes to social selling? Let us know in the comments below.
top image: sales funnel / shutterstock