Social selling and using it to help your marketing agency grow has never been more important. According to Forbes, “87 percent of business event professionals have cancelled events because of the pandemic, and 66 percent have postponed events.” Connecting through online platforms is among the few remaining ways to build and foster selling relationships.
Social selling is often confused with social media marketing, but the two couldn’t be more different.
Social selling zeroes in on your prospects to build and nurture trusted relationships with them. When done right, you can outsell your competitors and significantly reduce or eliminate the need for cold calling.
Social selling happens on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, but, when it comes to promoting B2B products and services, none work as well as LinkedIn. Take a look at these statistics:
- LinkedIn's lead conversion rates are 3X higher than other major ad platforms
- 40 percent of LinkedIn users are in decision-making positions
- 96 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for organic content distribution
- Salespeople with stronger Social Selling Index on LinkedIn have 45 percent more sales opportunities
Despite such encouraging observations, most salespeople don’t know how to use LinkedIn to drive their sales efforts and instead often see it as a job-hunting portal to showcase their skillsets. When leveraged correctly, LinkedIn is a goldmine for marketing agency prospecting.
Tips to transform into a LinkedIn modern seller
Research shows 75 percent of B2B buyers use social media to make purchase decisions. However, it’s not enough to simply send a LinkedIn connection request and hope to instantly build a relationship. You need to make an impression and convince a potential LinkedIn contact that you and your company have something of value for them.
Let’s take a look at four tips that will help you do exactly that:
1. Create a buyer-centric profile
Your professional profile may be one of the reasons why LinkedIn might not be working for you. B2B buyers care little about your resume and much more about the value you offer to help them solve their business problems.
“The modern buyer is much more savvy than the modern seller right now … the modern buyer typically has been on Google, searched for who and what’s out there, considered what’s the best thing we do, and what’s the best thing to buy,” says Viveka von Rosen, co-founder and chief visibility officer of Vengreso. Research shows 53 percent of buyers always research before buying to ensure they make the best choice possible.
LinkedIn profiles show up on Google, which means it’s important to optimize them for search. According to von Rosen, if the modern buyer doesn’t find your LinkedIn profile optimized with keywords, hashtags, and focused on them, they will move on to the person who they think can solve their problems.
She suggests a few things you can do to make your LinkedIn profile buyer-centric. First, ask yourself, “does my profile show that I can solve or at least address buyers’ issues?” Start with the headline description, where you have 220 characters to showcase what value you bring to the table. Rather than using titles like “Sales Specialist,” be more specific. Perhaps you might say, “Helping buyers select the right solution for their SaaS needs.”
In her LinkedIn profile, Von Rosen has included a buyer-centric headline that says: Helping #SalesProfessionals Create More QUALIFIED & QUALITY Conversations. There’s also a short audio clip next to her display picture intended to educate her audience about how she can help them achieve their goals.
If 220 words aren’t enough to express your value, then include your title and the agency name, but make sure to add .com at the end to make it findable.
In the profile summary section, weave a compelling story. Describe how your passion is to help your clients succeed. Inspire trust in you. In the experience section, make sure to mention success stories that include measurable business outcomes and statistics. For example, if you sold a SaaS system to a client and it resolved their content management problems, describe how the system now allows them to manage content calendars and social-media posts.
2. Establish your brand
Once the prospect shortlists your agency, they will verify your credibility and brand and then determine if you are aligned with their strategic goals.
Here are things that you can do to build a good brand:
- Profile photo: You may have helped thousands of businesses, but it still may not be enough to inspire trust if prospects can’t attach a face to the people who they’ll be doing business with. Your profile is likely to be viewed 11 times more often if you have a profile picture. Try to use a professional headshot.
- Cover image: The cover image should tell your brand story. If your agency has a graphic designer, have them create a LinkedIn banner that illustrates what your business is about. Any agency aiming for a robust brand will need multiple images to choose from. It’s a great opportunity to create a powerful, strong brand.
- Privacy: Always set your profile for public viewing. After all, you are on LinkedIn to build relationships, and having a profile that’s public gives you the biggest social reach.
- Optimize profile: LinkedIn works like Google search. SEO matters, so choose keywords and hashtags carefully to attract the prospects you are looking for.
- Customize URL: Another way to set yourself apart from the competition is by adding your name to a URL. You can use dashes as Google reads these as spaces. However, as you can only customize the URL every 30 days, so make sure you are fully committed to it.
- Video cover story: This latest LinkedIn tool, which is a small orange plus (+) sign on your profile picture, allows you to upload a short video with your profile photo. So tell your story there, but keep it professional sounding as this isn’t Facebook or Instagram.
3. Engage with prospects and customers
With an optimum profile and all the right ingredients in place that have created a strong and powerful brand, the next step is to attract and engage with prospects. “You always want to engage first with your prospect, whether it’s a buyer, a donor, a candidate, an author, or an influencer,” says von Rosen, the author of LinkedIn: 101 Ways To Rock Your Personal Brand: Grow your network and build your business during a Conquer Local podcast. “You want to create that type of visibility, and then go for the invitation to connect.”
Here are ways to boost engagement and visibility on LinkedIn:
- Connect with people you already know: Are you wondering what happened to those small business owners you met at a conference a couple of years back? Well, search for them on LinkedIn, and it’s likely they’ll be there. Send a connection request with a message about how you would like to catch up. LinkedIn connects you to new prospects as well as with people you already know. It’s also a great idea to connect with people on LinkedIn following an in-person meeting.
- Leverage mutual connections: Prospects are five times more likely to connect if a mutual connection introduces you. Never underestimate the importance of a referral. Go to a prospect’s profile and see if you have a mutual connection. Chances are, you will have multiple - it’s a small world in business sometimes. Shortlist five names and ask if they would be willing to introduce you to the prospect.
- Follow customer activity: LinkedIn is about prospecting and building relationships. Find your customers and connect with them. See what they share and note their interests. You might find opportunities to upsell or cross-sell.
- Be a thought leader: Research shows 92 percent of B2B customers will engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as an industry thought leader. Stay on top of industry trends by curating real-time content on LinkedIn. Read what experts and analysts are talking about in the industry, then share your insights or add a perspective. Post valuable content at least once a day to continually engage your audience, and be sure to focus on keywords, hashtags, and mix in videos every now and again. You can also join groups and interact with others to create value and build relationships with influencers.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, which means nothing meaningful and valuable can be quickly built. Modern selling takes time, and sellers need to persevere and be consistent in their social selling strategies. Be socially active on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. It will keep you visible and help maintain your position as a thought leader.
Build a sales cadence to scale your business. Connect with existing customers and prospects outside of LinkedIn, too. Call them, email them, connect on Facebook and Instagram. If you have a tough time getting in touch real-time with a prospect, leave a voicemail, text or email message about how you can help with their challenges and follow up with them in a week.
If you are already connected with a prospect on LinkedIn, send a video message offering personalized value and a call to action. Follow that up with another call, perhaps a text message, or maybe another email. von Rosen believes that once a salesperson has connected with a prospect enough times through various channels, it improves the familiarity and trust between the parties.
Mastering social selling on LinkedIn requires four things:
- A buyer-centric profile that conveys value you can offer to your clients
- A brand around you and your agency that inspires trust
- Engagement with your prospects and existing clients to build and nurture relationships
- Establishing cadence to drive more conversions and expand relationships