Employer Branding Ideas
London, UK
Employer Branding Ideas
London, UK
A Guide to Social Selling on LinkedIn
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Selling. The next frontier to get the all-mighty social prefix.

I’ve had a chat with the great Brynne Tillman of PeopleLinx to see if she can sell social selling to you.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary don’t forget to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

Tell us about PeopleLinx and what you do there please?

I am a LinkedIn and sales trainer, have been for most of my career as well as being a producer. And what I realized after training thousands and thousands, tens of thousands of people, is as much as they love the training, as excited as they were about what they have now learned, ultimately, what was missing was actually implementing the new lessons. And they probably do 20%, maybe even 30% of what they learned. But at least 70% of what they learned was going unimplemented. And it was frustrating, because I knew they loved it. They were really excited about and they were blown away by what they learned. But life got in the way.

So PeopleLinx is this guided social selling or sales platform that can really guide to anything. And based on set cadence that’s customizable and templates and customizable content, sales reps are now delivered on a daily basis, the activities that they should be doing. And it does align with likes of salesforce.com. So they can actually be deal-specific recommendations.

Why is LinkedIn important to salespeople?

Whenever you’re doing any kind of prospecting, you have to first go where your prospects are hanging out. I have not yet met a professional recently that hasn’t at least heard of LinkedIn. And most of them are at least on it minimally, which means you can find them. And so I think that’s number one.

Number two, LinkedIn is the only platform that allows you to search and filter your connections’ connections. So in this particular case, if you find an executive that you’re looking to get in front of, you can quickly identify if you have shared connections that can help you gain access. And to me, I mean there are so many wonderful platforms out there, but this is the key platform that can really help you identify the right people and gain access through your current warm market.

What’s Brynne Tillman’s step-by-step guide for prospecting on LinkedIn?

So the very first thing, when I’m working with folks, is that we have to begin to identify the Boolean search, the search criteria of the types of people you’re looking to have conversations with. And this could take a little while initially. I mean if you really understand your prospects and your potential buyers, it could be a 15, 20 minute process. If, you know, you’re the kind of person right now that says, “Everyone needs what I have,” drilling down to those right people can take a little bit longer. But once you’ve got that, which are the…like for me, it’s vice president of sales, director of sales, vice president of marketing, the CMO, sales enablement. So I have my list, and I’ve created it in a way that makes searching for these people on LinkedIn very simple. And so that’s the number one step.

Number two. Now, it depends on if you’re account-based marketing or if the world is your oyster. If you’re account-based marketing and you have been assigned 100 accounts, then that’s where you would begin. You’d look up those companies, plug in your now new Boolean search, and see who in the organization is it that you need to be working with or talking with and then who can help you get there if possible.

If you’re not account-based, even geographically based, if you have Sales Navigator, it’s called Lead Builder. If you have regular linkedin.com, it’s called Advanced Search. But creating your advanced searches based on that Boolean search is the next place to go. See who comes up on that list and strategically reach out to your shared connections, whether it’s email, text, phone call, tweet, whatever your normal process would be. Just say, “Hey, Joe, I notice you’re connected to Fred at ABC Company.” Try to get in touch with him. How well do you know him? Can we have a quick call? Can we talk about this? And so that becomes really the next step is going through your warm market.

If you don’t have anyone in common, it seems like it’s going to be a cold reach on LinkedIn. There are things that you can do prior to doing that. You can follow them. You can like or comment on their recent activity and start to build a rapport before you ask for a connection. Once you’ve done that… Or maybe you comment on an article, and now you connect, “Anne, great article that you posted. I really enjoyed it,” she knows that’s true because you liked it, and you commented already, “Would love to connect with you and explore ways we might be able to work together.” And so you’re relating that back to them.

The next process after that is now they connect. And this is where almost everyone drops the ball is you need a welcome message. I have two welcome messages, one that asks for a phone call and one that just provides more value. So if I’m not necessarily looking for a phone call with that person now but they’re someone that I want to nurture over time possibly, I’ll say, “Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. Not sure if you’re using LinkedIn for sales, but here’s some templates I’ve put together that might be helpful.” And it’s one of the most valuable pieces of content I have. So if they are using it for sales, which kind of qualifies them in for me, then they download these, which I have a gatekeeper, so I know who’s actually downloading them. And I bring them incredible value from the very beginning.

Now, if I want a phone call, I can still share that. But I’ll also say, “I’d love to set up a brief conversation to explore ways we might be able to work together. Here’s a link to my calendar.” So you got to take it all the way through the process. Even when you get there to that welcome note, you’re only going get 3 out of 10, 2 out of 10 conversations. So now, you’re connected to a lot of the right people, but you haven’t had conversations, you need to consistently nurture them over time and provide value. And so when the timing is right, they know that you’re the vendor to call.

What pitfalls are there with social selling?

Oh my gosh, that list could go on forever.

I would say the number one pitfall is sending a non-personalized connection request. Number two pitfall is when someone connects with you that you don’t send a welcome note. You connect and forget. Number three pitfall actually is ignoring your first degree connections, the people you’re already connected to.

If you say you have 700 connections, you may have 80 people in your network that you would want to talk to if you were prospecting. But instead, we go meet more people, more people, more people and ignore them. So go back to your first degree connections, and you can do this in Lead Builder on Sales Navigator or in linkedin.com in advanced searches.

When you do that search with that Boolean, you know, with those exact titles, click under relationship first degree, and that will show you all the people that meet your criteria that are your first degree connections, and send them all notes saying, you know, “Nancy, we’ve been connected for some time now. But we haven’t really had a chance to have a conversation. I’d love to set up a brief call and explore ways we might be able to help each other out now or in the future.” And your numbers will go up a little bit higher. So out of 10 that you asked for, you’re probably going to get 3, maybe even 4 phone calls out of that if you haven’t burned them yet with pitching.

How should social sellers use content?

Content is really very important nowadays, and we know all the statistics. 57% of the sales cycle is completed by the buyers before the seller even knows they’re in the market. And that’s all about them researching and reading content. So you want to make sure that your content is part of the molding of that decision, right? And so content is huge.

So there’s two pieces. There’s your own original content, and there’s content that you curated from other places. I think having a good mix is really important. But a lot of salespeople go, “Oh my gosh, I can’t write. I’m not a writer. I’m a salesperson, not a writer.”

So that’s an opportunity to start to leverage maybe either a third party helping or a marketing department. But the ideas and the thoughts, they’ll need to come from the salesperson. So it can be, when a client asks a question and they answer it, that could be a blog. They could interview their buyers. They could interview prospects. And it’s a completely different feeling for sales reps. And if they do an interview, if they set up an interview, they can’t sell at all. That is solely about that interview. But you can build relationships and get really good content. I recommend they audio record the whole thing, hand it off to either a copywriter. There’s a ton of people that will help ghostwrite, really not even expensively. Or if you’re in a bigger company, I’d go to your marketing team and see, would you help me form this into a powerful piece of content?

You’ve got to get it out there, though. That’s the only way that they’re going to know you know what you’re talking about is through content.

What type of technology should social sellers be using?

So the sales stack, that is such an interesting question. It’s really hard for me to say blanketly what everybody needs. I will tell you what I use to answer that question. It’s not nearly as comprehensive as if I were in, you know, a Fortune 1000 company with some of the huge tool opportunities. So I’m going to tell you the ones that I use and that I love.

So let’s start CRM. So as a company, we use Salesforce. I love Nimble, it’s a social CRM that lives inside of my email and feeds in real time social interactions based on the emails that I’m getting. So I get an email from someone. It matches it up to their Twitter and their Facebook and their LinkedIn or Instagram. And I can see real time what that person is talking about, and I can engage. It’s very powerful.

Next piece that I absolutely can’t live without is Calendly. And it’s a simple $10-a-month calendar sync. So I can give a link to anyone, and they can get on my calendar. I use that everywhere, and that transformed my business.

I use a couple of Chrome extensions. I use Text Expander, which is a free Chrome extension, where all of my templates live, so I don’t have to retype or even copy and paste from somewhere. It’s just short codes. You can do that on your phone too in short codes. Any smartphone has it. I feel I can’t work without it, absolutely vital.

And I could go on. I have a ton of other little extensions that are really powerful. There’s SalesLoft, which is the email cadence tool. There’s Octave, which is sort of a presentation tool that can help you identify who’s opening your stuff and forwarding your stuff, and it’s a trackable. ClearSlide also, some great stuff. So there’s so many. I can go on and on and on about the tools that are out there. But it really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.

So the last tool that I use every single day, of course, I have to say is PeopleLinx. And that’s where PeopleLinx really helps, because PeopleLinx will remind the sales rep every day what they should be doing either on linkedin.com or Sales Navigator, so you don’t necessarily miss opportunities, and you’re making the most. It’s like someone literally driving to your house, picking you up, and dropping you off in front of the gym. So we can’t make you do it, but we can get you there every single day.

Do we need Sales Navigator for social selling on LinkedIn?

So here’s the way I look at this. Did you ever own a BlackBerry? So, when you saw that BlackBerry for the very first time in like 2005, right? 2004, 2005, when you saw that BlackBerry for the very, very first time, did you freak out and think it was the most incredible thing you ever saw in your entire life? Like nothing could have been better than that. It was absolutely blew your mind. That’s linkedin.com. Sales Navigator is the iPhone. So if you’ve never seen iPhone, the BlackBerry is phenomenal. But once you see the iPhone, you can never go back.

There is so much power when Sales Navigator is used right. I mean it really amplifies your access. The productivity is amazing, how quickly you can engage with prospects, really powerful. You can send links in a connection request. They’re adding tags back in, which is so exciting. So you can actually kind of create your own little pipeline inside of Sales Navigator. So many things, I can go on and on and on.

But here’s the but. Sales Navigator is exactly like a gym. You can sign up for the gym, and you can pay your $100 a month for the gym. But if you don’t go, you don’t get in shape. And you still pay $100 every single month. So if you are going to invest in Sales Navigator, you’ve got to have a plan around it. You’ve got to like show up at least three times a week and know what you’re going to do when you get there.

How should you measure ROI on social selling?

That’s really important, right, especially if you’re in a large organization that we’re looking at the key performance indicators or the KPIs. And we’ll talk about ROI. Well, let’s start with KPIs.

One of the things we like to look at are net new connections that meet that Boolean criteria. So we do a first degree search on Monday, and we find out there are 82 people in your network that meet that criteria. Now, next Monday, there are 87 people that meet that criteria. That means you’re now connecting with five new of the right people. This is sort of this baseline that if you’re not connecting with the right people, none of it is going to come into place. None of it is going to work. So knowing that at least you’re starting to connect with the right people, getting on their radar, I think, is the baseline.

The next thing we want to look at is how many of those new connections converted to phone calls? So the five new people that you connected to this week, how many of those became a first phone call. Or you could even go to scheduled phone call or had phone call, because if none of them are converting to a phone call, I mean, yeah, over time you can nurture them, but we’re in sales. We’re looking at this month, this quarter, like what’s happening now. So we need as many of these prequalified folks turning into phone calls. So that’s the next KPI.

And then we can look at how many of those become proposals and closes. And that’s all based on whatever the normal criteria is internally.

The next piece that you want to look at is how many of your deals are touched by social. I mean PeopleLinx can report on this if you’re connected to your CRM. But if you have the right tracking in place, you can identify how much social is influencing the deals that are closing, and is it reducing your sale cycle? So knowing your sale cycle from first call to close, is it 60 days, is it 120 days prior to putting social in place? And once you put a good social program in place, is that sales cycle reducing? It should be. So those are things to look at.

ROI, really, if you’re really looking at ROI and you’re looking at dollars for investment, then you have really got to track source of business as closely as possible and influence of social as closely as possible. And a lot of that is going to come down to are you using the right tools to track that? Because a lot of people will say, “Well, that might have closed anyway.” Well, where do they come from? Did you get a warm introduction from someone? Did you engage on Sales Navigator? And, was the first connection through a LinkedIn invitation? Was it outbound? Did they engage on something that you posted and you reached out to thank them for their nice comment, right? We’ve got to start tracking that and having the right tool in place is what’s going to show you ROI, which can be enormous.

We have some clients that had, in a short period of time, over $900,000 of business, let’s say, in the first year, $900,000 worth of business tracked to social being a major influencer.

Who inspires you in the social selling space?

I have a very strong list of people. But I’m never going to cover them all. So I’m going to start with an apology if I’m leaving some out:

Follow Brynne on Twitter @BrynneTillman and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.