Be where your market is remains one of the most basic rules of sales. In today’s world, your B2B buyers are on social media.
At Leadfeeder, we frequently have customers ask us about what steps they should take to implement social selling. Salespeople believe in B2B social selling and know they should be doing it, they just don’t know how.
“There is nothing more powerful than connecting with your prospects at their exact pain point and time of need—but yes, oftentimes the question is, yes, how, explains Dipak Vadera, Sales Manager at Leadfeeder.
“Using Leadfeeder we can connect with the right people at the right time, helping increase our outbound effectiveness as well as decreasing the time needed to convert a lead to a customer,” Dipak notes. “By knowing your buyer profile and watching their activity on your site, blog, or resources, it allows you to find the right person in the organization to connect with and lead them down the right path for their needs.”
It’s a question we get so often, we decided to devote an entire guide to walking you through almost-everything you need to know about mastering B2B social selling.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- The definition of social selling
- How to get started with social selling on LinkedIn
- How to find prospects on LinkedIn
- Tips on how to ask for an introduction
- How to build meaningful relationships on social media
Don’t have time to read the guide now?
No problem! You can download the pdf version as an ebook and read it when you have more time.
What is social selling?
So, just what is the definition of social selling? Well, as you may have guessed, it involves using social media platforms to interact with prospects. What makes it different from just picking up the phone and cold calling?
Although it’s called social selling, it’s less about making a sale in the immediate future and more about building a meaningful relationship with your prospect. You leverage your social network, engage your contact with meaningful content and build a relationship that puts you and your product front and center when your prospect is ready to buy.
How to get started with social selling on LinkedIn
Some people may think LinkedIn is simply a place to go and create a profile, and then just let it sit there, like a static digital resume. While there may be people who do that on LinkedIn, and that concept may have applied to the platform in its early days—it isn’t the case today.
Start with the right foundation: Optimize your LinkedIn profile.
First things first: Being successful at engaging with B2B sales prospects starts with optimizing your LinkedIn profile.
Everything you do on Linkedin starts with building your personal brand and showcasing your expertise in your profile. Your LinkedIn profile should also illustrate how you can help people with your skillset. When a sales prospect views your personal profile, they’ll be making a judgement about whether they have confidence in you or not.
You have to build credibility and perfect your ability to stand out from the crowd.
LinkedIn suggests starting with a strong profile headline which they describe as, “A concise summary of who you help, and how can be much more powerful in this field than a simple job title.”
Don’t forget about the “Recommendations” section! Alex Sisaka, former Head of Global Content Marketing with LinkedIn Sales Solutions, discusses the power of this section as it relates to B2B sales prospects viewing your profile:
“Third-party recommendations carry a lot of weight with B2B buyers,” Sisaka says. “A recommendation should come from someone who can directly speak to your characteristics and strengths. Ideally, they should also be able to mention specific benefits from their association with you, either in terms of a statistic, dollar figure, or achievement. Recommendations increase your credibility and are quick trust-builders.”
Social-Selling Content Tip: Once you’ve optimized your buyer-centric LinkedIn profile, start curating and posting articles that you think will be valuable to your target audience. While sharing content from your own company is a great idea, make sure you also share relevant third-party content as well, so your LinkedIn feed doesn’t appear purely self-promotional.
Step 1: Finding social selling prospects…
You likely already have some “dream” prospects that you’re familiar with from working within your industry.
Purchasing lists can be expensive, and utilizing the free tools can be labor intensive, so we’re focusing on the sales prospecting tactics we’ve seen our customers have the most success with.
Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find B2B sales prospects.
For those not already familiar with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, it is the sales-oriented, Premium membership version of LinkedIn. It’s also one of the best ways to identify potential B2B buyers in your niché.
A Sales Navigator account allows subscribers to search for and export dynamic lists of B2B sales prospects using powerful targeting parameters such as function and seniority.
You can also receive lead suggestions via email, track every single network user who views your profile, and send direct messages to anyone (even if you’re not connected on LinkedIn).
Sales Navigator makes it easy to quickly build a lead list with the “Lead Builder” feature using keywords, job title, location and other filters. When you have saved those people as leads, you’ll see all of their updates and behavior on your Sales Navigator homepage. The list is your window into what your prospects are doing.
The good news is that if you haven’t tested any of LinkedIn’s Premium features before, there is usually a 14-day free trial available.
Use your free LinkedIn account to identify B2B sales prospects.
Even if you don’t have a Premium LinkedIn account, LinkedIn is still arguably the best place to do research when looking for decision-makers.
For instance, if you want to offer your solutions to a company but you don’t know whom to contact, all you have to do is search for the company name on LinkedIn. Let’s imagine you had identified Leadfeeder as a potential prospect and your ideal buyers are Chief Technology Officers (CTOs):
Your ideal buyer profile may not be as specific a position as CTO (used in the example above). If that’s the case, you can still use the LinkedIn search function to search for the company and department, such as “Leadfeeder marketing.”
Then, you can quickly scroll through the results to determine the best contact person.
Want to do a more advanced search?
Even free LinkedIn accounts can utilize the following search filters:
Another easy way to identify additional prospects:
Once you’ve identified a sales prospect, on their LinkedIn profile go to the “People also viewed” section. Often the profiles featured in that section are in the same industry and role as the prospect whose profile you’re viewing.
Shameless plug: Make your prospecting more effective by identifying the right contact person at companies that have already shown an interest in your product or service by visiting your website. How? Leadfeeder identifies specific companies who have visited your website, even if they didn’t leave their contact information. Additionally, the Leadfeeder LinkedIn integration makes viewing those companies’ contacts in LinkedIn a one-click process.
Step 2: Follow prospects.
Once you’ve established your “prospect pool” of the most interesting companies and identified the contacts which most closely fit your target audience, “Follow” those leads:
Caption: This profile makes it easy, the Follow button is shown versus Connect.
Caption: Here you can see under the More dropdown menu, you can Select Follow.
The “Follow” capability allows you to see their activity on LinkedIn without actually having to be connected with them.
“Following” is less pushy than sending a contact request and cold LinkedIn InMail. They’ll get an initial notification of the “Follow,” which can be a small step in beginning to establish a relationship. Remember! They’ll likely look at your LinkedIn profile once they receive the “Follow” notification, so be sure you’ve optimized your profile to build credibility!
Relationship-Building Tip: It’s important to engage with the Followed person to build rapport based on their activity. Comment on their post(s) or participate in a discussion they are partaking in. Then afterwards, they’ll perhaps be more willing to accept a connection request and go from lead, to prospect. Winning!
Step 3: Research the content your prospects are interested in.
Specifically, you want to discover the types of content each sales prospect shares and the content they comment on.
Following prospects on LinkedIn allows you to learn what are they interested in, what they talk about, and who they talk to.
There are multiple benefits to uncovering the types of content they find interesting:
-Understanding their interests is important to building a relationship with them
- Learn what their challenges are
- It may turn out you have mutual interests (via topics or authors), which can also help create a bridge for engagement and building the relationship
- Understanding the content they find most valuable helps you provide additional value in future communications_
If you’re already connected to your prospect on LinkedIn via a first- or second-level connection, you can easily see each prospect’s activities by going to their profile and clicking “See all activity.”
Step 4: Relationship-Building: How to engage with your sales prospects.
Engaging is the next step once there’s an opportunity for a conversation. Asking for help and giving your thoughts on certain content is a good starting point in many situations.
Don’t be afraid to publish your own content and then reach out to your network to ask for their opinions. According to LinkedIn, “over 62 percent of B2B buyers respond to salespersons that connect with relevant insights and opportunities.”
Always keep the prospect in mind. What is your audience? Who are you talking to?
Content on LinkedIn Pulse presents a great engagement opportunity because you can comment directly on a prospect’s article or you can respond to a comment your prospect has made on someone else’s Pulse article.
Relationship-Building Tip: The key to successful engagement in B2B social selling is to always ensure you are adding to conversations in a valuable and relevant way. You know those spammy article comments where the person makes a loose reference to the blog they’re commenting on and something they wrote themselves, followed by a link to their blog or product? Don’t be that person.
Requesting an introduction to a social selling prospect with dignity.
Engaging through the content your sales prospect is interested in is a great start, but you can also warm up your prospect by asking for an introduction from a shared LinkedIn connection.
The web is full of examples of the wrong ways to ask for a LinkedIn connection for an introduction. You’ve likely experienced seen some of those horrible emails come through your own LinkedIn inbox.
Again, don’t be that person.
Here’s the right way to approach a connection to ask for an introduction to your B2B prospect on LinkedIn. If you haven’t been in touch with your LinkedIn connection in a while, revive the conversation in the same ways you engage with prospects.
- Send them an article you think they’ll find helpful.
- Share or comment on content they’ve shared on LinkedIn.
- Congratulate them on a recent accomplishment or award they’ve won._
When you email your ask for an introduction, keep your request simple and be transparent about why you’re asking. Forge co-founder and CEO, Stacey Ferreira, shares this introduction request email template:
Not only should your own email be brief, but also keep things simple by providing them with a pre-written introduction email they can send to your sales prospect.
Don’t forget to say “thank you” once your connection does make an introduction! Lessard, again, offers this reminder: “It takes two to tango. Don’t forget to extend the favor to your connection. Thank them for taking the time to make the introduction for you, and let them know that if there is anything you can do for them, you’re more than willing to return the favor.”
Step 5: Relationship-Building: Continue the conversation and build momentum.
If you’ve received an introduction to your sales prospect via a first-level LinkedIn connection, you can send them an email and either ask to set up a time to talk, or proceed with a less direct approach and start by sharing content you know they’ll find valuable.
Remember: Social selling does not mean making a sales pitch over social media channels!
Leadfeeder’s Customer Success Manager, Jason Watt, shares this email template and example when helping sales teams utilize Leadfeeder to improve their social selling tactics and close rates. Notice how the email includes some recognition of the prospect’s professional success, valuable content, why they should care (it helped him increase conversions!), and a call to action:
Hi [prospect’s name],
Sales is tough and I know you didn’t get where you are without persistence and constant learning. I came across this awesome blog that helped me increase my conversion rates and I thought you might also be interested.
After writing 10,000 cold emails for 550 companies, this CEO shares her strategy for getting higher response rates. If you have any good resources, please pass them along!
Once you’ve started the conversations via those initial engagements, how do you continue to build momentum and deliberately build those relationships?
Manually keeping in touch with all your relevant sales prospects on LinkedIn can represent major scalability challenges, so here are some actionable ways to be successful at B2B social selling with minimum time and effort:
One of the toughest aspects is identifying the right moments to reach out. No problem – using the “Mentioned in the News” feature, LinkedIn will send you an email every time there’s a press mention of a prospect.
By taking advantage of the “Mentioned in the News” feature, you can easily revive conversations with B2B sales prospects, keeping the interaction focused on their success. Bonus: if the press mentions speak to significant growth milestones at their company, you might even be able to catch prospects when they’re looking to reinvest in their business by making new purchases.
Also, when you show genuine interest in your prospects’ success, you gain more trust from them. Trust is key for every relationship.
Shameless plug: If you’re also utilizing Leadfeeder, you’ll be able to see if people from your sales prospect’s company have been visiting your website, including the specific content they’ve viewed. This allows you to share content with your prospect that is particularly relevant to the content they’ve visited on your site. Don’t worry, you don’t need to say you saw their company browsing your site. You may even get a surprised “Wow, I was just thinking about this!” comment back from your prospect. To see how Leadfeeder can take your social selling to the next level, sign up for a free 14-day trial.
There’s a reason the top B2B sales performers are harnessing the power of social selling: it works.
“Being in the right place at the right time might seem like a cliché, but it’s so very key in social selling. The most important thing about social selling is in the monitoring of those conversations on social with empathy and authenticity so you know the right times to engage and help,” she aptly explains. “Making the goal be developing the relationship will ultimately get you the sale and boost customer lifetime value.”
It’s not just about meeting your B2B buyers where they’re spending time online. It’s understanding the need for building relevant relationships with your sales prospects and pivoting to create those relationships in today’s digital world.
As you can see, social selling (when done correctly) can take your B2B sales to the next level without adding time, effort, or additional employee resources to your existing sales processes. B2B social selling is the updated, smarter version of sales prospecting and relationship building.
Want to learn more? Check out these additional B2B sales resources:
Ultimate Leadfeeder Sales Guide [Free templates included]: Learn how to turn your website traffic into qualified leads, close more sales, and work better together with marketing to streamline your process for identifying and connecting with sales leads!
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