Let’s face it, the way we connect with prospects and customers has completely shifted. Without the opportunity to network at live events and in-person meetings, Channel Partners and salespeople are now tasked with finding unique ways to nurture strategic accounts online.
Social selling is the process of leveraging your social network to find the right prospects, build trusted relationships, and generate leads. And LinkedIn is an ideal place to do just that. Once your LinkedIn profile is optimized and ready for prime time, you can increase connections with personal messages, engage with clients and prospects through likes, shares, mentions, retweets, etc. and begin to share relevant thought leadership to demonstrate your value to your audience.
Effective social selling uses content to address buyers’ pain points and offers solutions to help solve them. Your unique perspective on industry topics can offer relevance and value, not to mention help drive folks to your profile and your company’s pages, which are key in today’s “Helping Economy.” Also, prioritizing multimedia, especially video, is an excellent way to reach digitally fatigued decision-makers.
In the spirit of sharing best practices, here’s a step-by-step guide to effectively target and nurture prospects on LinkedIn:
First, Expand Your Network
A very quick and simple way to increase your connections (think low hanging fruit) is to upload your CRM or email list(s) into LinkedIn under “My Network”. Of course LinkedIn makes it super easy for you to connect with new people by offering ‘People you may know’ (also under “My Network” in the top navigation). Each time you send a connection invitation, be sure to include a personal message to demonstrate that you’ve taken a moment to learn about the person and are genuinely interested in networking with them. For example:
- Hi [First Name], I enjoy hearing from others in the tech industry, and thought since we have similar backgrounds and mutual connections, we should connect.
- Hi [First Name], I see we’re both in the XYZ industry. I’d like to connect with you here and share valuable insights about XYZ..
Next, Nurture Connections
Just as you work to build relationships offline, it’s important to nurture your online connections as well. People do business with people. Especially in today’s virtual sales and marketing landscape, developing human connections is critical to success. What’s more, nurturing on social has literally never been easier. You can engage with contacts by asking them questions, commenting on their posts, congratulating them on new roles, and wishing them well on anniversaries and birthdays. This is also the perfect time to promote your value, and demonstrate thought leadership to grow your personal brand and drive demand for your solutions. Here are some tips for nurturing connections:
- Share status updates at least 2x/week, engage your network with relevant content, follow a 70/30 split of thought leadership and company-specific information.
- Join group(s) to find and connect with potential customers and participate as a thought leader and industry expert.
- Write Long Form Posts to engage your network, showcase knowledge and create a personal and professional brand all at once!
Then, Try Target Mapping
After you have connected with people you know and have started posting relevant content yourself, you can take things a step further with target mapping. Begin by researching people/companies who are good prospective customers for your business. Once you’ve identified who you want to connect with (this is the Target), pull up their LinkedIn profile and see what connections you have in common. Then follow these steps:
- Send those common connections a message via LinkedIn, such as “Hi [Name], I hope you are doing well. I was going to reach out to [Target], which made me think of you. It’d be great to find some time to catch up.”
- Follow both the company and the target contact on LinkedIn/Twitter.
- When appropriate, share or comment on the posts they make. Do this for a couple of weeks to showcase your engagement and interest.
- Then, ask to connect with the target with a personal message.
- Finally, continue to nurture the target following the steps above
LinkedIn Outreach Timing
If you’re not sure on the best times to reach out… here’s a great rule of thumb:
- Day 1: Initial connection request
- Day 15: If you haven’t heard back, connect with others and mention them
- Day 5-10: When they connect send a follow up message
- Day 10+: Like and repost their content
- Daily/Ongoing: Continue to connect with people to grow your network
Need a little help getting started with social selling on LinkedIn? Let’s talk!