I’ve talked a lot about the benefits of social selling and some of you are farther down the road of creating a successful social selling program than others. Social allows you to create connections faster and contact prospects you otherwise might not have been able to. If you haven’t started your social selling journey yet, this week I want to help you begin. It can seem overwhelming, but I’ll break it down, starting by creating the infrastructure and leveraging LinkedIn profiles, connections, recommendations and groups.
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In This Episode:
- Social selling is equipping your salespeople with social media as another tool in their toolbox that can help find new leads, get referrals, create introductions, map organizations, and make deals happen faster
- Salespeople who use social as a tool end up meeting their quota as well as outselling their peers more often than notes
- Every organization is unique in their internal culture, their sales management, how they’re aligned with their marketing department, and their understanding and aptitude for social meda
- Salespeople are busy, they don’t want extra work, they want to spend as much time as possible talking to people and closing deals, not with extra burdens
- You’ll need to spend time creating the infrastructure to make social selling not only possible, but easier – it will take a couple hours of work, but you only have to do it once
- To build your social selling infrastructure, you’ll want to begin by optimizing these five aspects of your LinkedIn:
- Profile: More business decision makers use LinkedIn than any other network; everything you do on LinkedIn links back to your profile; it’s worth the time to optimize your profile with keywords
- Connecting your database: The power of LinkedIn is in the hidden connections that exist between you and second-degree and beyond connections; make sure you have those connections from high school, from college, because you might not know what those people have been up to or who they know
- Recommendations: These are social proof! If you’ve been at your profession for 10 or 20 years and you don’t have any recommendations, there’s something wrong; don’t be afraid to ask people for recommendations and to help remind them what work you did for them; a good way to start is by recommending others
- Endorsements: Similar to a “like” on a Facebook page, endorsements are attached to specific skills; you can manage these skills, edit out ones that are irrelevant; you should have a decent number of endorsements, let’s say you should have the equivalent of 5% of your connections for one skill
- Groups: if you’re a member of the same group as someone you want to talk to, you can send messages regardless of your connection; find groups, join them, and then engage and be active in those groups; what are groups that your clients are members of? what groups are you partners or colleagues members of?
- Let’s talk numbers: multiply your age x 10 for connections, and take 5% of those connections for the amount of endorsements you want to have for relevant skills
- Your homework for the next week: read about LinkedIn on Maximize Social Business website, start taking these steps to build the infrastructure for social selling
- More next week on the daily workflow, the work you should be doing on a daily basis to leverage social media as a sales professional
Resources & Links:
- Check out my book Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing.
- Connect with me on LinkedIn.
- Start with your profile – update it using this infographic.
- 8 ways to make endorsements work.
- Read more about the importance and value of LinkedIn recommendations here.
- Once you’ve grown your connections, what’s next? Find out here.
- Which LinkedIn groups should you join?
Hey, everybody. This is Neal Schaffer. And you are listening to Maximize Your Social. I had a great week last week. I hope you all did as well. And now it is February, 2015. We’re the second month into the year. And I don’t know about you, but it’s been an extremely busy first part of the year. Which is good. Last week I actually did a social selling workshop for a corporate client in Baltimore, Maryland, where – despite what they said – there really wasn’t that much snow. But I know my business partner from Social Tools Summit is still digging out of snow from Boston today, as we speak.
So today – with that comment – that I was doing a social selling workshop last week – I wanna talk a little bit about a social selling infrastructure. Because I go through – and it happens almost every time I do it now – when I talk about social selling, I’m talking specifically – and my own background as a B2B sales executive has helped shape my view of social selling. But social selling is not social media marketing – you know: selling, marketing – sort of the same. It is equipping your salespeople with using social media as another tool in their toolbox to help them do whatever salespeople do – find new leads, get referrals, introductions into organizations, map out organizations, try to close deals faster, try to get more money for deals, or whatever it might be.
So that’s what it’s about: adding social media to the salesperson’s toolkit. And – as I like to say – social media replaces nothing but compliments everything. And this is a great example – outside of PR, corporate communications, marketing – where social media can definitely help salespeople. And there’s already a few different data points out there that – if you do a search – you’ll find the data that also suggests that those salespeople that are using social media end up meeting their quota – as well as outselling their peers – more often than not.
Now, there’s a lot that goes into the social selling workshop that I talk about. And I can’t go through everything because this is obviously a short podcast. And obviously the content that I deliver for my clients is always customized for their particular situation. Because every customer really is unique in their internal culture, in the people on their sales team, the sales management, how they aligned or are aligned with marketing, and, in general, their understanding and aptitude of social media. I have some clients where – outside of one or two or three salespeople – none of them are on LinkedIn, or they just built a profile and did nothing. On the other hand, I go to some clients where a majority of their salespeople already signed up to Sales Navigator or a premium LinkedIn account.
So really, just as whenever I start a speech in social media and say, “Hey, one of my two speaking rules is that there is no embarrassing social media question, because if you’ve been working 9 to 5 and you haven’t had time for social media – this has just come and gone over your head – and you might have no clue what’s going on, and I totally get that.” Now, the listener of this podcast – I think you’re all a little bit more experienced social media professionals, but, nevertheless, I know some of are still beginners and are looking for insight. So this is gonna be that insight geared towards a general situation of: “I have a sales team. What are the things we should be doing vis-à-vis social selling?”
So, I look at it as a twofold problem. Now, I understand the mentality of salespeople. They’re busy. They don’t wanna do extra work. They wanna spend as much time as possible with clients or talking to people or closing deals. So they don’t want extra stuff being burdened on them, right?
So there are two things you need to do. One of them is – in light of: “I don’t wanna be burdened by things” – there’s a little time you’re gonna need to spend just once.” And I call it the “infrastructure phase.” Preparing yourself for social selling. It requires you to do some things. It doesn’t require a whole day of work. But it’s gonna require an hour or two. But once you do it, the beauty is: you just sit back and you don’t have to worry about it. And you don’t do it again. Maybe you check up on it every quarter, every six months, every year. But it’s something you don’t need to waste your time on. So what I’m speaking about – specifically, in this case – are five things.
Your social selling infrastructure begins with your LinkedIn profile. We all know that more business decision-makers use LinkedIn for professional purposes than any other social network. So, with that in mind, everything you do within that LinkedIn environment all is gonna link back to your profile.
That’s why your profile – and I always say: “It’s like your website for your professional career.” It really is. And you think about the amount of money – from small businesses to enterprises – that invest in their website – you need to really put an hour of investment into your profile. Because if you’re a six figure salaried executive – or even making 35, 50 grand in an entry level position – that’s a lot of money. And if your LinkedIn profile’s your homepage, you deserve a few hundred dollars to hire someone part-time or to spend an hour or two of your time – which is probably worth that much money – to think of the keywords and all the other things you need to do to optimize your LinkedIn profile.
So that’s step No. 1. Step No. 2 is in connecting your database. The power of LinkedIn is of the hidden connections that exist between you and second degree connections. It was Thomas Power who first said – the first one I ever heard say, “The value of networking is in networking outside of people in your network.” Because you already know the people in your network. But you connect with them on LinkedIn – that’s great. But it’s who they know. And I give some specific examples when I do my workshops, but: I may be best friends with the CEO of a company that you’ve been trying to sell to, and you may be best friends with the CEO of a company that I’ve been trying to sell to. And that’s just the way it works.
We all move around in our life and we never know where the people we partied with in college – our roommates, the people we went to high school with, people that we started out working with 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 25, 30 years ago – you never know where they end up in life. But once you connect with your database in LinkedIn, you’ve now created a way of always being able to contact them regardless of if their email changes and discovering those hidden connections when we do the advanced people search. Make sense? Awesome. I don’t expect you to answer that, or be able to hear your answer. Let’s move on.
No. 3. Recommendations – social proof. LinkedIn’s full of fake profiles. It’s almost like saying you’re a successful company without showing logos of customers or not having any proof that you’re successful. So if you’re been at it 10, 20 years into your career and you don’t have any recommendations, I’m sorry – there’s something wrong. You should be able to contact your ex-report-to, contact your colleagues, reach out to any professional associations you’re a member of, and be able to say, “Hey, having a few recommendations on my LinkedIn profile’s really important to me. I hope that you can spend a minute of your time to recommend me. And if you need any of my help, this is a reminder as to how I helped your organization or what I did for you way back when.”
So, in order to get recommendations, I’m always – and those of you that have followed me from my Windmill Networking days – it’s really about paying it forward. And I do believe it’s human nature that if you give recommendations, you will get them. And I’m not by any means saying you should do quid pro quo things, or with a quid pro quo objective, but it’s gonna be human nature. So if you want recommendations, start by recommending others.
Which moves to No. 4 in the setting up of the infrastructure, which is endorsements. Now, hopefully some of you read a blog post I wrote a while back on Maximize Social Business on getting the most value out of LinkedIn endorsements. Nothing has gotten so much uproar – or attracted so much attention – both positive and negative – mainly negative – than when LinkedIn introduced endorsements some time ago. I think we’re quite used to them now, and I think it doesn’t take a PhD to understand that they obviously do not carry the weight that a LinkedIn recommendation has. It’s a person – in essence, it’s like a Facebook ‘Like’ for your LinkedIn profile, right?
Now, the thing with endorsements, though, is: they’re attached to skills. And if you say you have experience in something and it’s not showing up on “Skills” and on the other hand, underwater basket-weaving is showing up as a skill that you have 99 endorsements for, there might be a branding problem there. So you want to go in and manage the skills. And you can go in and edit – delete out ones that are irrelevant. You know, LinkedIn is automatically – with their algorithms – trying to figure out the best ones for you. They may not be appropriate for you. Go in there, delete out the bad ones, find the good ones, and just make sure you’re better represented when people endorse you.
But the other thing about endorsing others – and I do think that you should have a decent number of endorsements. Like: you have a decent number of connections, you have a decent number of recommendations – I don’t know what the number would be. I have the number of – you should multiply your age by 10 and that should be how big your LinkedIn network is, right? Those of you who have seen me speak or saw my YouTube video know that I believe in that. So let’s make a rule for endorsements, then. So if I have 500 connections, let’s do 5 percent: I would hope to have 25 endorsements for a skill. I would hope that out of 100 of my friends, 5 of them would endorse me.
Now, just like quid pro quo in recommendations, you’re not gonna ask people for endorsements. It is not that value-ad – if you’re gonna ask someone for their support, you wanna ask them for a recommendation. Because the endorsement really is a Facebook “Like.” But you know what? Whenever you go to a LinkedIn profile of a connection, LinkedIn’s always beckoning you to endorse them. Endorse them. It sends a social signal. It’s not gonna do you any harm, because hopefully you know them well and you are endorsing them out of honesty and out of how you feel about them. And – like I said – you’re always gonna get people that are gonna endorse as a result of receiving an endorsement, even though you’re not asking for it.
But this is the second part of what you need to do for successful social selling on a daily basis – we’re now on the infrastructure part of the equation – but it’s easy to say that endorsing someone is one of the quickest and easiest and least risky types of social signals that you can send on LinkedIn. So in terms of its engagement value, it does have a decent amount of value – more than you might think.
Okay. Let’s move on now. No. 5 in setting up your infrastructure: groups. Boy, you should all know this by now. You’re a member of the same group, you’re able to send each other a message regardless of your connectivity, assuming that they – and I guess you as well – have that default setting on. But what’s important to realize is: it’s not just in the joining of groups that gives you leverage in social selling on LinkedIn – and obviously the ability to send a message. But it’s really in the engagement inside of those groups where you have value. But in order to do that, you first need to find the groups and join them.
Now, you could do an analysis. If you’re connected with a lot of your clients – even if you’re not – and you can view their profiles, go in there. Do a tally. Have your assistant go through 100 profiles, and of those 100 profiles – if people are putting the groups on their profile – what are the top groups that your clients are members of? What are the top groups that your partners are members of? Do a keyword search. What are some large groups out there in your territory, in your industry? Alumni groups? There’s no lack of groups you can join. Do a search on maximizesocialbusiness.com for: “What LinkedIn groups should I join?” Because I wrote on this several years ago, and it’s still valid to today. So: join relevant groups. And you do it once and you forget about it.
And these are the five points of setting up your social selling infrastructure. And it deals specifically with LinkedIn, but because LinkedIn’s the center of social selling. Suffice it to say: it really is the centerpiece of your social selling infrastructure for each and every salesperson – whether you’re a salesperson or you’re a manager of your team – is updating your profile, connecting your database, making sure that you have that robust network of connections, and regardless of your LinkedIn connection policy, make it a habit when you meet people: go back in there. People join all the time. There are always new people that are there that – when you did a search a year ago or two years ago – did not pop up. So there’s no lack of people that you can be connecting to.
And, with each one, you get the ability to uncover this power of hidden connections that we all have amongst each other. Recommending others and getting recommended, endorsing others – which also includes sort of managing those skills that are on LinkedIn – and – indirectly – being endorsed for going out and endorsing others. And then joining those right groups.
So once you do this, you’re set. Every three months – maybe at the end of each quarter – a lot of salespeople are sort of judged by their quarterly performance, so let’s make that the rule. And remember: multiple your age by 10 for connections; multiply your connections times 5 for the amount of endorsements you wanna go for.
So, in the course of recording this podcast, I realized: Wow. This is a lot of content that is gonna be way too much for me to cover in the entire – originally this was a ten minute podcast. It’s slowly becoming 15 to 20 minute podcast. Just trying to deliver more content for you here in 2015. But what I’d like to do is: let’s take a pause here. I wanna make sure – I know you’re all doing, “Well, what is going to be the daily work flow of a social selling professional?” And before I do that, let’s walk before we run. And I wanna make sure that you have your infrastructure set up. And it’s funny, because the title of the slide in which I present this information at the end of my social selling workshops is literally called “Your homework.” So this is your homework for the next week: I really want you to go in there. There are a few posts I’ve written on Maximize Social Business. You can do a search under the category of LinkedIn as well.
But a lot of advice on setting up your LinkedIn profile, who to connect with about recommendations. Look at that post about endorsements. Look at that blog post I wrote about LinkedIn groups. There’s just a tremendous amount of information that I’ve already shared with. I’ve also written a book called Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing, and although it was written a few years ago, the information is still valid. Despite the fact that the user interface might have changed, the basics that we’re talking about here do not change, much like a lot of the sales principles – like solution selling, customer-centric selling – that some of you may have learned about if you have a sales background – a lot of that really hasn’t changed over the years as well.
So that’s your homework. I’m gonna be coming back to you next week and the preview is: we’re gonna talk about what this daily workflow – what should you be doing on a daily basis in social media to leverage social selling as a sales professional? Now remember: with social media in general – or with social media marketing – you have the inbound and the outbound. A lot of salespeople like to say “push and pull.” So there are two sides of the picture. But that pull – where you have people coming to you – and the inbound – where you’re the magnet attracting others – part of that is gonna come down to the quality of that infrastructure that hopefully – through this podcast – you’re able to set up successfully.
That’s it for another episode of Maximize Your Social. Next week, I’m really excited to be going to the Social Media Strategy Summit in Las Vegas, Nevada. I’m giving the closing keynote on sort of where to focus your efforts in 2015. I have a blog post of the same title that you should have read already at the beginning of the year. If you haven’t, go to Maximize Social Business, check it out. Also: an exciting week ahead. We’ve been signing on new sponsors, new speakers to the Social Tool Summit. I wanna thank you all for your support. It’s gonna be an awesome event. If you haven’t bought your ticket yet, do make sure that you get that early bird special because it’s not gonna be around forever. And obviously if you’re looking to sponsor, if you have a social media speaking track record, you’ll wanna contact me as well, and we’ll see how we can fit you in.
But that’s it for another episode of Maximize Your Social. Wherever you are in the world, make it a great social day. Bye-bye, everybody.
Transcript provided courtesy of GMR Transcription Services, Inc.
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For more tips and advice on how to master social selling, check out this great infographic from Top Dog Social Media.