We’ve been writing LinkedIn related blogs now for over 3 years, we have over 70 blogs on our company page and we’ll continue to write them for many years to come. But there’s one question that we’ve received many times, but funnily enough we have never written about it or broken down our methodology around what it means. It’s the question – what is Social Selling on LinkedIn?
After educating over 20,000 people in 35 countries and 60 different industries we’ve found that many salespeople, entrepreneurs to executives have heard about Social Selling, however, when asked to explain it, they get a little tongue tied. You hear explanations such as ‘well, it’s selling through social media’.
This unfortunately is not the case – that’s just reversing the phrase and thinking that’s what it must mean. The term itself tends to send you down the wrong direction and thus the confusion around what it actually is. Therefore we’ve decided in this article to break down exactly what social selling on LinkedIn is, so you can walk away with the ability to articulate, understand and grasp what the new age of selling is.
What the FEC is this all about? We know right, sounds like you’ve just stubbed your toe in public. This is our acronym for explaining what social selling specifically on LinkedIn is. It stands for Find, Engage & Convert.
Social Selling on LinkedIn is about finding your clients on the platform, engaging with them and converting them to enter the start of your sales process. It isn’t actually selling them anything, you are just bringing them into your sales funnel.
LinkedIn is a channel for prospects, not a channel to transact a sale. That’s why the explanation of selling through social media is wrong – you’re not selling anything other than bridging the gap from potential connection, to a meeting or phone call. So in saying that let’s break down exactly what each stage of the FEC principle is so you have a clearer understanding of Social Selling on LinkedIn.
The find stage is all about firstly understanding your client avatar – who are they exactly? For LinkedIn we look at 5 key metrics which are:
2) Company Size
3) Seniority Level
If you find that these metrics don’t align with your target market, for example, your target market is 22-year-old girls who are into Yoga, then LinkedIn is probably not the best platform to be marketing to these people on. Yes, it’s great if your goals are to strike up partnerships with companies that share your target demographic of 22-year-olds who like Yoga but to find that particular target on LinkedIn you’re going to be wasting your time.
The attention of that target demographic would not be on LinkedIn so you wouldn’t use this as a tool to find, engage and convert them. You’d be better off spending your energy on Instagram or Facebook, as these are interest based social networks and much easier to find and engage with people in that target demographic.
Take your time to understand your target demographic before implementing any online sales strategy whether that’s through LinkedIn or other platforms. Once you have got clear on your target demographic, you can use the advanced search feature through Sales Navigator on LinkedIn to find those prospects. And this is what the find section is about, getting clear on who you are targeting, discovering the social media platform they are on and then going out and searching for them on that medium.
Now that you have found the target demographic you now need to do your research, this is where you start by observing their communications. This will help you get an understanding of how they communicate as well as some of the problems and challenges they face.
Then we suggest to have a bit of a think about your experience in working with this target market and list down the objections you face when selling your product or service. Once you have listed these, then write down what makes you unique in the market place.
The reason we do this is because we now want to use this data and weave it into your online footprint. Your online footprint includes anything that appears when someone Googles your name.
For the purposes of this article, we are going to focus on your LinkedIn profile. So on your LinkedIn profile within your summary, skills and experiences you need to start to add in the challenges the target market has, the way you solve them, hit off the objections you face and finally what makes you unique.
This means once you start to reach out and connect with your target market – you resonate with them when they read your profile and they are much more likely to turn into an opportunity. But more on that later.
Once you have built your LinkedIn profile in a way that connects with your client avatar, it’s now time to start engaging with their content and adding value. You do this through liking, commenting and or sharing on their content, which in turn adds value to them.
Not everyone that you search will be posting regularly on the platform, but for those that do, it will be much more powerful to get cut through from the next step. This should be done for at least a week before even considering moving on to the next stage, which is convert.
The third and final stage of Social Selling on LinkedIn is the conversion stage. Now this doesn’t mean convert to a sale, this means convert into your sales funnel. Therefore if the conversion metric is getting them into your sales process, this means you need to get clear on that particular sales process.
What are the steps that a prospect takes in order to become a client? Is it a phone call to set up a meeting, where you then set up a secondary meeting to present your offer? Get very clear on this and step it out.
Now that you know what this looks like it’s time to understand what is your goal for those LinkedIn prospects if it’s the above example it looks like it’s a phone call. So your goal is to get people from LinkedIn into a phone call, which then starts the sales process.
Once you know this, it’s time to begin reaching out to the target market you have been engaging within the engage section. This is as simple as sending a connection request.
Now the biggest mistake people make on LinkedIn is trying to pitch prospects in their first reach out. They either send a ‘pitch’ type connection request or worse yet – send a generic connection request, then send a big sales letter message to the prospect the moment they have accepted their connection. This is a huge ‘no no’ on LinkedIn and will ultimately yield you little results and those people you connected with will remove you from their network.
Once you reach out to connect there is a gap between having someone as a LinkedIn connection and getting them to commit to a phone call with you. Therefore you need to bridge that gap.
To do this, you need to send targeted content to the prospect that builds rapport, authority and credibility BEFORE trying to get them on the phone. This will successfully bridge that gap before you go onto gathering interest.
Gathering interest is the last part of convert. This is the stage where you ask for the phone call, this really is the catalyst to show if the prospect has any interest in what you do. Not everyone is going to want or need your product or service, but if you have done all the other stages correctly this will increase your chances significantly that the prospect will convert to entering your sales process.
This is what social selling on LinkedIn is all about. It’s to find your target demographic on the platform and understand them.
Then begin to engage and connect with them to lead them towards your final outcome of converting the prospect to the start of your sales process. So no, it is not about selling through Social Media – it’s nurturing the start of the sales cycle through a social media platform like LinkedIn.
Hope you have enjoyed the article and it has helped demystify what Social Selling on LinkedIn is all about. And LinkedIn is a great solution for achieving your social selling goals, but there’s a lot to it and if you miss doing one thing out of the formula you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for.
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