Better Approaches for Social Selling

By Mario Martinez Jr.

Editor’s note: This column original appeared on vengreso.com.

Social selling is just one of the elements within the omnichannel approach to sales prospecting and/or relationship building, but it’s one you must not skip. More specifically, social selling on LinkedIn challenges most sales leaders 40 years of age and older (my bracket), because generally we never used the platform to engage with buyers during our rise. Sales coaching for social selling on LinkedIn doesn’t have to be something we should fear at all. It is something we must learn how to do right.

I recently joined VanillaSoft CMO Darryl Praill for a webinar, "Social Selling on LinkedIn: What Every Rep Needs to Know." This webinar, hands down, is one of the most pointed, focused, and direct trainings I’ve ever done. I hold nothing back for the sales leader and rep when addressing the “stupid” sales behaviors we see happening daily. Below I’ve outlined just a few pieces of sales coaching advice I shared during the webinar to help you improve your social selling on LinkedIn skills. But this was a one-hour episode; trust me it’s not everything!

Sales Coaching Advice to Help You Master Social Selling on LinkedIn

Optimize your LinkedIn Profile for your buyers. In LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales Report, 62 percent of respondents said they look back at the profiles of sellers that reach out to them. Knowing this fact, are you making the best first impression? Instead of positioning your LinkedIn profile as a resume, make it a resource. Explain who you help, how you help, and the business problem that you solve. Learn more about what you should include in your profile in our Ultimate Guide to LinkedIn Profiles for Sales Professionals.

Identify your buyer’s preference for communication. You can start by creating a cadence. Here’s a simple way to find out if they’re engaged on social media. Follow them on LinkedIn. Following a buyer does two things, it shows your buyer you’ve viewed their profile and sends them a notification that they’ve been followed. If they haven’t looked back at your profile after 48 hours you might surmise that they’re not too active on LinkedIn. Your next step can be to look for a digital referral, then send an email or a video message via LinkedIn messaging, and then call them after another day passes. LinkedIn recently launched a voicemail feature in conjunction with messaging. I don’t recommend sending those to a new contact unless you are welcoming that individual to your network. Voicemails are better for people with whom you already have a relationship.

Follow the personalize, value, and call to action (PVC} Method. It takes time to build a relationship with anyone in-person and the same thing applies while social selling on LinkedIn. First, you need to personalize your communications, then provide the other person with value in the way of content, and only then should you consider making an ask. However, you should also note that a call to action doesn’t mean you are asking for a meeting. Rather, it might be you are simply asking a question, gaining confirmation, or soliciting a response by asking for the person’s opinion. The PVC Method can be applied to any form of digital engagement including connection requests, email, video messages, and cold messages.

Don’t use non-personalized message templates. If you can’t authentically personalize to the individual, then personalize at a minimum to the buyer persona. How? Figure out what business problems you are solving for and start changing your conversation to speak to those problems. I recommend that sales professionals take a message like the one below and customize it to their buyers and their buyers’ problems. “Generally, there are two problems that other {your buyers, e.g., IT Managers} face. {Problem one} and {problem two.}”

Shift from measuring productivity to measuring outcomes. This final tip is for my fellow sales leaders. Sales reps need time to build relationships with their buyers. Measuring how many calls they make, how many emails they send, or how many new LinkedIn connections they have is irrelevant if they’re not producing conversations with their new connections. Social selling training takes time to create impact but when done correctly, the results should be a lot more C2C (connections to conversations).

About the Author

Mario Martinez Jr. is the CEO and Founder of Vengreso. As a renowned digital sales evangelist, Martinez teaches marketing and sales professionals how to develop an engaging personal brand to attract today’s modern buyer using the digital sales ecosystem. He is the host of the popular Selling With Social Podcast and has been featured in Forbes, INC., the Examiner.com and the Huffington Post. Follow him on YouTubeLinkedIn, or on Twitter.