It turns out that we weren't "playing" after all!
Everybody seems to be talking about social media today - like it's the next greatest thing since sliced bread. It's funny though, because 7 or so years ago, I remember being torn to shreds by just about every one of my sales supervisors for spending so much time "goofing around" on LinkedIn during "prime-time" calling hours.
Many are probably still stressing about the clickity clacks replacing the voices behind non-stop cold-calling. Many of you may still be wondering what the fuss is all about.
Need a quick start reference guide to get you going? No problem! Here are FIVE ways YOU can get effectively social today by taking advantage of your company's inbound marketing program.
Don't reinvent the social selling wheel if you don't have to.
If your company has invested in inbound marketing, you have a TON of great resources at your fingertips that you should take advantage of before doing too much heavy lifting.
If they have not, here's an article that might give you the ammunition you need to get inbound support.
That said, here are 5 simple ways to get going. Also, you should check out this free forum created for salespeople looking to share ideas and ask questions about social selling.
Step 1: Getting started
Social selling on LinkedIn works a lot better if you have an account - If you're not already signed up, visit LinkedIn.com, and click "sign-up." Make no more excuses, because I have yet to hear one from a b2b salesperson that doesn't make me cringe.
- Use a professionally-taken picture, not a couples pic with somebody cropped out. If you can't get to that right away, have somebody snap it off for you, so it doesn't seem unprofessional. Selfies are unprofessional.
- Make sure your image embodies your work culture
- Stay away from sharing too much skin or making it too sexually charged
- Think of your profile as a living resume
- Post a background image that you feel represents your personal brand - not your company - but keep it clean and professional
- Update your vanity URL to include your name ASAP (click HERE for step-by-step instructions)
Step 2: Follow your company
You should be able to find them with a simple search (box is at the top of the screen). When you do, simply follow them, and you will start to see their updates in your stream, which will make it easier later to like and share.
Step 3: Engage your company's content stream
While you are following your company, now is a good time to scroll down and see what content they've published that seems interesting to you.
This is where most salespeople blow it, because they decide to cut corners - but you shouldn't. Instead of just regurgitating content onto your stream, I suggest you actually read it and see if you can find useful talking points. Worst case scenario, the article isn't very good, but you learn something that you didn't know before.
When it comes time to share, make sure your company's materials are included, but don't forget - social media is about being SOCIAL - so share other stuff too. We don't want to be perceived as walking advertisements.
It might help to understand a little about inbound marketing, so I'll summarize it for you (click HERE for details about the methodology):
- We start by attracting visitors to the website using blog posts, social media, and SEO. For you, we want the focus to be on sharing blog posts through social media (of course, don't let that stop you from sharing via email as well). These blog posts shouldn't be advetorial in nature, but rather, educational. There should also be some downloadable content offers being shared on the stream, or at the very least, embedded in the blogs. Share THOSE too. It's one of the most engaging things you can do.
- Next, we convert visitors to our website into leads by offering valuable content-driven tools in exchange for their contact information. These tools can range from educational white-papers to useful excel formulas embedded in a formatted calculator (see example). Even if they've already become a lead through other means, this conversion is VERY useful to us. The moment it happens, we can reconcile their IP address with their past interractions, as well as everything going forward, which gives us INCREDIBLE insight into their thoughts about your products and services.
- Finally, we nurture leads that aren't ready to buy with emails, more social interraction, more content, and even help sales identify when it's a good time to call with lead scoring - So, it's VERY important for you to know what kind of content your company is sharing, because it's going to help engage your prospects, AND you're going to spot things that your marketers are not... which is good for all of us.
- Then, of course, we continue connecting with prospects after they've become paying customers, because we want to retain them as well as enable them to easily promote us.
Step 4: Get connected, endorsed, & recommended
It's not social media without connections, so find people you've done business with, colleagues, mentors, and friends.
ENDORSEMENTS: This is where people can attest to your expertise with a single click of the mouse.
For the ones you've worked with directly, the best way to request endorsements is by giving them! A notification is sent to that individual when they receive it, and they'll often reciprocate, and vice verse.
To endorse somebody, you can either click on their profile, and scroll to their endorsements section, and simply click the "+" button. Or, sometimes you'll get notifications at the top of your screen with suggestions for endorsements.
RECOMMENDATIONS: This is where people can write about their experiences working with you. They are more challenging to get, because they require more time from the person helping you, but they're definitely worth their weight in gold. Nothing is more reassuring to prospects than real live people leaving real feedback.
One of the best ways to get a recommendation is to actually request one. To do so, simply click on your profile, then scroll to the bottom of the recommendations section, where you will see a button titled, "Ask to be recommended." Click there, and the rest is history.
Step 5: Groups
Groups are fantastic forums for meeting like-minded individuals, and to learn from your prospects. I recommend finding a few that fit your actual industry as well as your prospects'.
Like everywhere else, the key is to not get salesy. Stay social.
To find good groups to join, either creep on your contacts and see which ones they're apart of, or go out on your own. In the search bar at the top of the page, you can filter it so ONLY groups show in the results:
Step 6: Pulse News
If your company posts a blog you want to share more heavily than others, because, I don't know... perhaps you authored it, then let's post a truncated version on your profile page, then send them to the website to finish it up.
Not only will it post to your profile, but if it gets a decent amount of attention, it will show up in the Pulse News feeds, and even get emailed out to prospects without you knowing it.
I already said it, but it's REALLY important that you do more than just post the article, but actually use it to funnel momentum to your company's website where they can download content and read other content - all of which helps you in your quest to educate.
To get started, make sure you're signed into LinkedIn. Then, use this link (add it to your menu bar favorites while you're at it).My recommendation is that you ping your inbound marketing team, and request a little direction on imagery, tagged links, and when and where to truncate. They should be THRILLED to have your assistance!
LinkedIn is an incredible platform for developing business relationships. When I sat in a business development role for a corporate advisory services firm, LinkedIn is how I was able to establish credibility with people 3 time zones away - and land some of the biggest deals in my company's history.
If you're lucky enough to have inbound marketing backing your efforts, this is a no-brainer.
Interested in learning more? Click HERE to see what an inbound lead actually looks like: