Last month we started our discussion of social selling on LinkedIn. If you missed it, you can catch it here. As a reminder, social selling on LinkedIn or on any other platform is only about two things …
- Connecting with the right people and …
- Building individual relationships with these same folks
The right people are those who buy from you directly or refer you to those who will. Relationships are critical in terms of securing their business, gaining repeat business, and earning the right, the trust, to be referred. Funny thing is … this is absolutely no different than selling in real-life. Imagine that.
To continue from where we left off …
Learning about your connections
One of the best things about LinkedIn is that it will typically be the professional piece of the relationship puzzle that will allow us to learn more about our customers, their backgrounds, their interests, and their wants and needs. Note that other platforms such as Facebook will generally more fully address the personal piece of this equation.
Salespeople have always done this kind of discovery with their eyes and ears. Now we can add our fingertips. However, this will only be valuable if you are willing to take the time needed to conduct this research. We are always looking for commonalities in order to build rapport and relationships. We also look for context in order to understand the “why”.
Evaluating your connection’s connections
If one of the main ways of maximizing LinkedIn is to expand your network (with the right people only), there is no better way to do that than with introductions. Remember that your ability to ask for these must be earned first. Review your connection’s connections for these potential opportunities.
Mapping people in a company
I firmly believe that the best way to secure the most business from any account is to create multiple points of contact. You will also insulate yourself from position changes like when your go-to person gets promoted up or … out. LinkedIn makes it super easy to map company players via a simple company search and by evaluating employees listed on their company page.
“Who’s viewed my profile?”
It’s pretty simple. If I am trying to break into Target Account A and someone from that company is looking at my profile or … if someone from an industry that is a prime user of my services is doing the same … that would be a nibble.
Now, if you are a fisherman, it might be time to set the hook but, some fish have softer mouths than others do so … don’t yank too hard. Still, you will want to follow-up. If nothing else, this can be a great use of a connection request. You might say …
“Hi Fred! I see where you were at my profile page. Thank you for visiting! Are there some questions that I might answer for you? Regardless, I would love to connect and to get to know you better. Thanks again!”
Note that, depending on whether you have a free LinkedIn account or you have opted for a premium version … your free account will only show you the most recent 5 profile views. All this means is that you should be checking for profile views daily or multiple times each day.
Notifications & updates
LinkedIn will notify you whenever you are mentioned on the platform or when anyone engages with your updates (like, comment, share forward, private messages). As these people are reaching out to you in some manner … be responsive!
LinkedIn will also notify you of important milestones that your connections reach such as their birthdays, work anniversaries, and updates to their profiles. LinkedIn even makes it easy to congratulate people via a template message. Since nothing quite says “I don’t really care” as well as a template message, take the time to personalize it!
Endorsements & recommendations
I’m no fan of endorsements (one-click “likes” of your skills) but, If you are going to endorse someone at least know them, and their talents, well enough to do so. The only thing that is worse than no compliment is an insincere one. However, LinkedIn is now showcasing endorsements from people who are highly skilled in that area (based on their endorsements). It’s a start.
Recommendations are quite different and you can request these. They can also be given to others without being asked to do so. I am a fan of the latter. If you write a thoughtful appropriate endorsement for someone and they weren’t expecting it, I can just about guarantee that you will be their new best friend for … at least the next 30 minutes.
We’re back to fishin’ and given the choice of doing so in a place that you have never heard of, nobody has ever heard of, or a well-stocked pond of trophy trout … whatcha’ gonna’ do? I say … pond. For salespeople, the right LinkedIn groups are the equivalent of these trout ponds.
You are going to need a permit and some might be harder to land (be admitted to) than others. LinkedIn has listed (public) and unlisted (private) groups and, either way, somebody (an administrator) will be looking at your request to join and will decide whether or not to issue you the golden ticket to get in.
The beauty of groups is that you can engage directly with others, regardless of degree connection (even completely out of your network), and within a smaller, more intimate, atmosphere. Watch conversations and enter these only when appropriate as in … you have something meaningful to contribute. In this closed setting, your actions will be more visible so, be helpful and engage progressively.
Ideally, you want to belong to groups that either share a common interest (for example, selling) or are inhabited by those who are most likely to either do business with you or refer you to those who will. A good sales group might very well be an excellent resource to build relationships with power (referral) partners.
I got started in blogging simultaneously with my entrance into social media. If I had it to do all over again, I would blog exclusively on LinkedIn, using their Publisher app, vs. on my own website. I honestly don’t even know if I would have a website. I do think that a case can be made that LinkedIn is a website and a populated CRM.
LinkedIn does allow you to write posts (articles) that will be published directly to your target market (connections). Writing articles is one of the absolutely best ways to establish your expertise and to increase your visibility on LinkedIn. Visibility = Opportunity.
What if you just don’t write or don’t write that well? I don’t write particularly well so that should not be a barrier. The answer is … find someone in your company who does or who can at least help you! If nothing else, your company has likely published articles as either marketing pieces or for their website which you can … re-purpose.
A few years back, LinkedIn decided to become very protective with the API (Facebook soon took note and followed their lead). What this meant was that they no longer allowed, with few exceptions, third-party applications including most CRMs and social dashboards to access member profiles and updates.
The upshot is that few applications will connect with LinkedIn and I suspect that most that do are flying under the radar, at least for now. Vendors are creative, however. Some might scan copy on a profile, without connecting to LinkedIn, to gather info. Others such as Hunter (email discovery) and Dux-Soup (adds notes and tags as those have been removed in the new basic LinkedIn interface) … I’m not sure how they do it.
There are a few automated search and respond tools but, be warned. Depending on your account (premium level or free), these can often trip LinkedIn search limits which can lead to a temporary account suspension and even, if you get enough IDKs (I don’t know this person), an account revocation.
This concludes our two-part series. Do you have anything to add? Now, go out and sell something!