Social selling is an increasingly important tactic for sales professionals.
But there’s a problem.
Social selling is a misnomer. Because if you’re actually selling on social, you’re doing it wrong.
Here’s the thing, social selling is about building relationships on social media and utilizing these as part of your overall sales cadence.
In this episode of B2B Rebellion, Alexander covers the 3 areas you need to focus on to get started with social selling.
Andy Culligan: Today, I've got Alexander Low from DLA Ignite on. And myself and Alex have been doing a bit of back and forth over the past couple of months around social selling, and what are the best ways to get the most out of LinkedIn and different social networks when you're going approaching prospects.
And the great thing about working with Alex is that he's got some very easy tips to give you in terms of what you can be doing immediately with your LinkedIn profile, for example. I've learned a lot from him in the past couple of months, things that I've been able to change just almost immediately, things that take maybe five or 10 minutes to change that have had a bit of an impact already in terms of what I'm seeing from my LinkedIn network. But I won't spoil it.
I'll hand it over to Alex. Alex, first of all, thanks so much for coming on. It's really, I'm really excited to speak with you again.
Alex Low: My pleasure, Andy. Good to be back in the virtual ether, as it were.
AC: Absolutely, absolutely. I've been watching your weekly Friday videos, by the way. I've been enjoying them.
AL: Which one, the parlor or the shed? Or both?
AC: I've been watching the shed. I've been watching the shed. Seeing you fall out of the shed once a week has been the highlight of my week. So just in terms of our audience here, Alex, do you wanna just tell people what DLA Ignite do, and then give a little bit of background there, and then we can go into some tips on more people can be doing today.
AL: Yeah, for sure. We were set up three years ago. We describe ourselves as change management consultants. We go into organizations large and small across multiple industries and we help sales, marketing ops, finance, whomever, really, 'cause it's appropriate for everyone, understand how to build social and digital into your overall go-to-market strategy.
It could be internally, so how you use social from an internal perspective, bit Slack, Teams and so on. And the reason we describe ourselves as change management consultants is this isn't social media training. It's shifting the mindset and behaviors of peoples, of teams to understand that this now, absolutely now-now, has to become as business as usual.
AC: Absolutely, absolutely. That makes sense. Okay, so getting down into it, what are the couple of tips that you can give people that they can go away and do immediately, now, Alex?
AL: I think the first thing is that you used the word social selling, are now seeing LinkedIn using virtual selling, there's modern selling, there's digital selling. This is... Actually, it's just sales, but that the key thing is you do not sell over social, so the selling bit is kind of a bit of a misnomer. This is building this into your overall sales cadence and your sales process.
And it doesn't matter whether you're doing net new business or you got a defined, let's say 10 accounts or defined territory that you are looking after. This is about how can you build the entire process of social selling that's caught about the framework of that, into whatever your existing pipeline prospecting process is, all the way through to actually closing the deal.
I'm not saying you can close business on social, but it can certainly help move the conversations along, so that you remain in front of mind and being part of the overall kind of business narrative and conversation, of course, especially in the world we are a moment, when we can't have as many kind of physical face-to-face meetings and so, when it's even more critical.
The three kind of main areas that you wanna focus on, though, are your personal brand, so this is your digital presence, this is when someone meets you for the first time online, who are they meeting? Then it is your network, so are you connecting, are you curating your network around the target audience that you wanna market to? Because ultimately we wanna market to and through the network.
So what we mean by that is, if you sell to CMOs, like yourself, Andy, then are you connecting with all the CMOs in your network who are existing clients. Your CMOs are typically connected to other CMOs, then you share some content, which is the final piece, into the network, and then you're ambassadors, if you will, in the CMO network. They're more likely to comment on your content, we'll come to that in a minute, which then moves into their network, and the network of the network.
But if you're not connecting to your intended audience, then when it comes to the final piece, which is content, and the content is gonna have context, which of course gotta be relevant to your intended audience, otherwise it is just more noise. Then when you start to do that, then you activate your network. Then when it comes back to your digital presence, everything ties up and then everyone kind of understands what you're doing. So those are the three kind of main areas of social in the sales and marking process.
AC: That makes sense. From a personal broad perspective, this is something that I think a lot of people probably find the hardest because they're... Okay, for me, I don't find it too difficult because I'm a marketer myself.
AC: But for marketers, it's a different story, right? But for anybody, let's say general sales people, maybe sales people that haven't had a huge amount of experience on social, that have maybe been from older generations, even. People that are a little bit older, that haven't grown up with it. How do they get into it?
There's certain things like how many hours a day should people be spending on social, like what is... What should they be doing? These are the types of questions they should be asking. Do you have it open the entire time?
AL: So, number of things there. If we think about your profile, let's focus on sales people initially. I spent five years in recruitment in my previous life, so I would tell, I'll recruit the sales professionals into sales job, so I would everyday tell them, write your sales profile like a CUE, that you hit club, you hit quota, you're an amazing sales person, sell, sell, sell, sell, sales, all about finding your next job.
The world has moved on and changed. You are writing your LinkedIn profile to your next client, your next prospect, your next whoever. And even though there are 690 million people on LinkedIn currently, whenever someone is landing on your profile, you're actually having a one-to-one conversation with them. So have a one-to-one conversation with them. So talk to them.
The way that we kind of work through sales teams on this is, when you're having a discovery call with someone, what are the Q&A, what's the back and forth that you have in that? And maybe use that as a starting point to put in your About section.
Then the Experience section, that's the what you do. So I don't care about how you manage territory, I don't care how good you are writing sales processes, what I want to know is, "What is it that you do to solve me, the business problem?" So you need to think about that. The headline, which is obviously the first thing you see, that's not your job title, that's the what you do.
So if you look at my profile, you've got "Think differently". Andy, I know you changed yours; forgive me, I can't remember what you changed it to. But again, think about how you describe to your clients or your parents what it is that you do, 'cause you don't wanna project yourself as a sales person. That is the hardest part, that's the bit that people find the hardest to deal with.
And then with regards to the next piece around how much time should you spend on social, that's an impossible question to answer, because you will find what works for you in terms of your overall process. So yes, me, absolutely; I have LinkedIn and I have Sales Navigator open in the background the entire time. 'Cause I'm dipping in and out of the conversation.
But it could be that, yes, work with your marketing team to think about if you wanna do a podcast, or if you wanna do a video, or you wanna write a blog post, 'cause that takes a bit of thought process and time and etcetera. But a quick like, a quick comment, a quick share, you can do that within three seconds. And it's just building what works for you in terms of your overall kind of day-to-day.
AC: I agree. So from my side, I also have LinkedIn open all the time. I'm just looking at one of my tabs now, I have it and it's open. I've got seven unread notifications here that I'm like, "Okay, after this call, I'll need to jump in and see what's been going on there." I think if you make it part of your day, it just it sort of flows. It's very simple.
I think from my side, I made a conscious decision probably a year ago to get more active on LinkedIn. And it's paid off, it really has. I've started... I try to share content probably twice or three times a week, myself, from my own personal profile. It doesn't take me very long.
AC: And it's stuff that I want my prospect customers to resonate with, so it's things that are super relevant. As you said, it's a good idea to maybe align with your marketing team.
AC: One thing that I would say is that, from my side, it should come from you, not from like... Don't push the company line the entire time, because people don't want that. That's too salesy.
I think it's more like personal experience; if it comes personally from your personal brand, as you called it, Alex, that works a lot better. From my experience, it works a lot better for the stuff that I've been sharing, for sure. I think it's like that across the board.
AL: You're absolutely right. You certainly want to engage in actually more third party content rather than the corporate content. My sort of comment to the marketing side of things is, some people technically may not know how to do a podcast or a video, so go to them for technical advice and expertise is what you don't wanna start doing.
And I've seen people, you know, fair play for them trying but they try to do their own video and it just looks really bad, or they haven't thought about the camera angle, you're looking up someone's nose, or they haven't put subtitles in. Normal things that you don't necessarily know because you don't know, and then that could actually be more damaging than not doing anything at all. But you're absolutely right, if you're just pushing the corporate line, you may as well be just spamming somebody with irrelevant email messages or connection requests, etcetera, etcetera.
So a blend of both, hundred percent.
AC: For sure. For sure. Just to sum it up, I think. There's a couple of things that I'll take from this conversation and also from some of the things I've learnt from you in the past, Alex. Just from my own personal profile, what's helped me is updating my cover photo. So the photo that I have, the banner at the top of my profile, updating that to something relevant to yourself or to your company.
Then make sure... This is another thing, by the way, that a load of people do is they put up a personal photo of themselves on LinkedIn where they're out on a night out having a few beers or something. Don't do that.
AL: Don't do it. Yeah.
AC: Don't do that. Then update the headline section. Do not say your job title, which I had before and you called me up on it.
AL: I did.
AC: So I changed that, and I put it around what I focus on, and I focus on alignment.
AL: Right, yeah.
AC: So my header says, or my headline says, "Focusing on re-inventing the word alignment between sales and marketing." So that's basically that's what I changed it to. And I've actually gotten a lot more... It's actually gotten me more traction.
AL: Well yeah, 'cause that's what you do, right? Otherwise, a CMO can be a million different things to a million different people. The same with accounts execs, sales reps, sale development. It's interesting, I'm working with a client at the moment and their account execs are actually very senior people, but in my view an account exec is a very junior person. So if I see account exec, I'm already making a snap judgment on somebody before I've even met them.
AC: Fully agree. And a couple of other little bits I took away from what you told me before is, when people visit your profile, that they don't have this section on the right-hand side which says, "People also visited X, Y, Z profile," to get people away from your profile. So went into my privacy settings, updated that.
And I also, I had already done it, but a number of people reached out to me after the last time we spoke, Alex, around updating your link on your LinkedIn profile. So the URL ends up... Typically LinkedIn will give you a link that has a load of different numbers and different things. Rather than your name, or your name-surname then whatever number of numbers then, just change it so it's just your name.
AC: Remove those numbers.
AL: No emojis either. I saw a... So we're working with a client yesterday, he had an emoji in his URL. And you don't want emojis in your headline either. I know you think it'll look cool but it doesn't actually... LinkedIn doesn't actually like it from a search perspective.
AC: Your boss pulled me up on that. When you told me that I need to update my headline, I put an emoji at the very start of it, and Tim reached out to me, just being like, "Forgive me for butting in here, Andy, but cut it out." Thank you so much for coming on today. It's been really interesting to talk again. And I look forward to speaking with you again in the future, mate.
AL: Indeed. Keep well.
AC: Cool, man.
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