Sales on LinkedIn: Social selling strategies to supercharge in 2023By Pan Mehta
Social selling as a means of getting sales on LinkedIn 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.
Table of Contents
- Linkedin social selling: What is it?
- How to use LinkedIn for sales
- 7 social selling tips for sales on Linkedin
- Sell on LinkedIn: Create a buyer-centric profile
- Social selling on LinkedIn: Establish your brand
- Sales on LinkedIn: Engage with prospects and customers
- Social selling strategies: Hit the right cadence
- Selling on LinkedIn: Incorporate no-click content
- Sales on LinkedIn: Become a prospecting master
- Social selling tip: Using the search feature
- Social selling strategies: Looking for clues in the profile
- Sell on LinkedIn: Turning on relevant notifications
- Selling on LinkedIn: Tapping into the network
- Linkedin social selling: Using the premium Sales Navigator
- Social selling on LinkedIn: Using the search feature
- Social selling strategies: Get familiar with engagement-boosting post types
- Master sales on LinkedIn
Linkedin social selling: What is it?
Leave it up to entrepreneurs and salespeople to constantly innovate when it comes to finding new ways to get the deal. Given how much time people are spending on social media these days—just over two and a half hours per day—it’s a perfect venue to network, make business connections, and sell.
As social media platforms evolve, LinkedIn has emerged as the go-to platform for business interactions. While it may be better known as a platform for job-seekers, its professional, comparatively buttoned-up culture makes it perfect for B2B communications and social selling.
Founded over 20 years ago, LinkedIn enables users to connect with colleagues, industry peers, prospective employers and employees, and just about anybody else in users’ professional networks. The platform has established itself as the go-to destination for professionals looking to build and maintain their personal brand, make valuable connections, and discover new business opportunities. This makes it the ideal venue for social selling, a form of selling that leverages social networks to find opportunities and land new business.
Social selling explained
Social selling focuses on building relationships with the target audience by providing valuable content, engaging in meaningful conversations, and showcasing your expertise in your industry. The primary goal of social selling isn’t necessarily to make immediate sales upon the first impression, but rather to develop and maintain relationships that can be nurtured to become long-term business opportunities.
Why LinkedIn is ideal for social selling
Social networks are rife with people selling things these days, and it’s safe to assume that you’re being influenced one way or another when seeing a post. So what’s so unique about LinkedIn when it comes to using social selling strategies as a B2B business?
- LinkedIn has a highly professional audience: LinkedIn has a professional user base by design, and people log on with the intention of engaging in professional activities. While platforms like TikTok or Instagram might be better for things like DTC product brands, users are less likely to be seeking out, say, digital marketing solutions when they’re scrolling through their For You Page. Conversely, LinkedIn users are more likely to welcome a sales message from a B2B marketer.
- LinkedIn has targeted outreach tools: The advanced search capabilities on the platform make it easy to find and connect with the right people within your target audience. With filters like job titles, industries, company size, and more, you can easily identify prospects. It’s much easier to find your target buyers and decision-makers on LinkedIn, where they appear in their professional capacity, compared to Instagram, where they may not list their job titles.
- Flexibility in content sharing: When it comes to conveying a professional message, it helps to be on a platform that supports long-form text in addition to photos and video. In this sense, image and video-based platforms are more restrictive. LinkedIn is the perfect venue for sharing and promoting your industry expertise, company updates, and other valuable content that can establish your leadership.
- It fosters trust and credibility: While other social networks seem to be constantly emulating each other's features, LinkedIn’s role as the social network for professionals means that the platform has some unique functionalities you won’t find elsewhere. For example, features like recommendations, endorsements, and skills enable users to vouch for you, helping you build a profile that signals credibility in your niche. This in turn makes it easier to engage successfully in sales on LinkedIn.
- It offers robust analytics and insights: LinkedIn provides a wealth of data to help you track the performance of your social selling strategies. By analyzing key metrics like profile views, content engagement, and connection growth, you can refine your strategy to maximize your impact and maximize your sales on LinkedIn.
How to use LinkedIn for sales
Just because most people associate LinkedIn with the job hunt doesn’t mean you can’t be highly successful using it to prospect, nurture connections, and close deals. What other website offers access to 900 million professionals and the tools to filter through them to find your ideal prospects?
We’ll cover some in-depth tips for social selling on LinkedIn in just a moment, but before we get to those, let's cover the broad strokes of how to use LinkedIn for sales.
Build your professional network
To start generating sales on LinkedIn, you have to start by establishing yourself as an authentic, trustworthy presence on the platform. That begins with your network. When you create your profile, you’ll be able to start adding people from the vast pool of professionals across just about every industry and job role you can think of. Start by adding people you know, and before you know it your network will expand to include prospects and other potential business partners.
Make yourself known to your prospects
If you’ve ever watched a business movie set in the pre-internet days, you know that it used to be all about the dreaded cold call. Today’s cold email may be a little less daunting, but it can also feel like talking to a brick wall. Social selling on LinkedIn means you can skip the cold calls in favor of more authentic, personal ways of connecting with prospects. Start your LinkedIn social selling journey by doing things like commenting on prospects’ posts, sharing content they might be interested in, or even asking mutual connections for a warm introduction.
Send personalized messages
Premium users can send messages through LinkedIn’s in-app messenger, InMail, even to users they’re not connected to. Or, if you don’t want to spring for a premium account, you can always try connecting with your prospect first and then sending a message. Either way, to start selling on LinkedIn, plan to use InMail liberally.
Use LinkedIn to gather intel
Businesses and individuals on LinkedIn frequently use it for knowledge sharing, so spending some time on the platform regularly to eavesdrop (and participate) in conversations your prospects are participating in can help you identify trends, industry news, and even unaddressed pain points that you can address with your product or service.
Make use of the Sales Navigator
When you’re ready to get serious about generating sales on LinkedIn, the platforms Sales Navigator is an excellent tool for the job. This premium feature can be used to access more sophisticated prospecting tools, personalized lead recommendations, and a CRM integration.
To find success with social selling on LinkedIn, you can expect to get out what you put in. A bit of legwork is required, but it can be a very time- and cost-effective way to land more clients and grow your business. You’ll need to establish a strong and compelling profile, focus on growing your network, and participate in the community to get the best results. If you’re ready to start getting sales on LinkedIn, let’s jump into 7 social selling tips you can start using on the platform today. You’ll be sending new sales proposals in no time.
7 social selling tips for sales on Linkedin
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. Sell on LinkedIn: 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 social media accounts and content calendars.
2. Social selling on LinkedIn: 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.
Here’s an example of a LinkedIn profile with a strong personal brand that makes use of every section of the profile:
3. Sales on LinkedIn: 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.
4. Social selling strategies: Hit the right cadence
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.
5. Selling on LinkedIn: Incorporate no-click content
When you’re learning how to use LinkedIn for sales, one of your primary goals should be maximizing the reach and engagement of your content. Why? Because the more widely your content can be seen, the likelier it is to be discovered by people in your target audience, bringing more prospects your way. A great deal of engagement can cement your position as a thought leader, which can also come in handy when it comes to selling on LinkedIn.
An effective way to create far-reaching and high-engagement content on LinkedIn is by leveraging no-click content. No-click content refers to posts that don't contain links for users to click that would take them out of LinkedIn to another website. The reason for incorporating some no-click content throughout your broader LinkedIn content strategy is that, like many social networks, LinkedIn prioritizes content that keeps users on their platform longer. Posting no-click content regularly is an easy social selling tip that increases the chances that your content will be seen by more people, including your target audience.
Keep these tips and best practices in mind to ensure your no-click content supports your goal of social selling on LinkedIn:
- Post the link in the comments: If you do want to give your readers access to a link that takes them outside of LinkedIn, post it in the comments underneath your no-click post, and let readers know that’s where they can find it. This seems to be a workaround that helps you retain the reach and engagement benefits of no-click content.
- Encourage engagement: Again, LinkedIn’s algorithm doesn’t reinvent the wheel in terms of what causes posts to perform well: just like other platforms, likes, comments, and any other interactions can help boost reach. You can achieve this by asking questions to try to get a conversation going under your content.
- Use visual elements: Attaching content to your post, as long as it doesn’t link out to another website, can further boost the reach of your content and help you land more sales on LinkedIn. For example, including PDFs, images, graphs, and embedded videos can all improve reach and engagement, while providing more value to your audience.
- Engage with comments: An easy social selling tip is to respond whenever someone comments on your no-click content (or any content, for that matter). Liking or responding signals that you value the input and encouraging more of it.
- Use emojis, but not too many: Constrained use of emojis can make a post stand out in the feed and make it easier to read, but remember that the professional culture on LinkedIn makes using a ton of emojis look a little out of place.
- Nail the length: As a general rule, a word count of about 50-250 is perfect for LinkedIn. This is longer than most social media platforms, but still short enough that it works for today’s short attention spans.
Bonus tip: Structuring your no-click content
Want to ace your next post and be well on your way to successful LinkedIn social selling? Try this formula:
- Hook: Use a compelling, snappy opening to grab attention.
- Structure: Use frequent line breaks, bullet points, and other techniques to visually break up the text into smaller, easily digestible sections.
- Substance: Make sure your post delivers valuable insights and leaves audiences feeling like they can come to your page for useful, relevant content.
Here’s what great, effective no-click content can look like:
Some emojis, but not too many? Check. Informative, delivering value to readers? Check. Lots of line breaks to make it easily readable? Check. Link in the comments? Check!
6. Sales on LinkedIn: Become a prospecting master
If you want to generate more sales on Linkedin, it all starts with prospecting and generating leads. This is where LinkedIn social selling really shines: all the tools you need to find motivated buyers are there, you just have to learn how to use them.
There are 6 main ways to prospect on LinkedIn:
- Using the search feature
- Looking for clues in the profile
- Turning on relevant notifications
- Tapping into the network
- Using the premium sales navigator
- Saving your searches
Let’s take a closer look at each of these.
Social selling tip: Using the search feature
The most obvious place to start your prospecting is also pretty effective: the good old search bar. LinkedIn enables you to narrow your search by location, current company, past company, degree of connection to you (first, second, or third-degree), mutual connection to a specific person, and more. Using these parameters to refine your search can help you find lots of valid leads.
Social selling strategies: Looking for clues in the profile
Seeing how someone presents themselves in their LinkedIn profile, and how others describe them in their referrals, can be a good way to gauge what kind of buyer they are. Sure, we all present a more polished version of ourselves on social media profiles, and you can’t expect people to be completely transparent and honest in a LinkedIn referral.
However, you can still look for clues about whether someone fits the mold of an economic buyer who is focused on discounts and deals, a performance buyer who wants the latest, greatest features, a relationship buyer who puts connections first, or maybe a socially conscious buyer who prioritizes social causes. This knowledge can help you position yourself and decide which social selling strategies to use with that buyer.
Sell on LinkedIn: Turning on relevant notifications
LinkedIn can send you notifications when your connections update their profiles, so you can know right away if a shakeup happens that might represent a new opportunity (or risk) for you. For example, if you’re close to closing a deal somewhere and your contact moves to a different company, you can act quickly to introduce yourself to their replacement and hopefully keep the prospect moving along.
Selling on LinkedIn: Tapping into the network
Don’t hesitate to explore your network in all the ways made possible on LinkedIn. For example, you can see who else viewed a profile you’ve viewed to find other potential prospects (or competitors).
Linkedin social selling: Using the premium Sales Navigator
If you’re serious about getting sales on LinkedIn, this premium feature is probably worthwhile for you. It gives access to advanced search filters and the ability to send InMail even to people you aren’t connected with on the platform.
Social selling on LinkedIn: Using the search feature
LinkedIn makes it easy to save a search and run it periodically at the interval of your choice to see if new results come up. This is another premium feature that can be accessed through Premium or Recruiter plans.
7. Social selling strategies: Get familiar with engagement-boosting post types
Having a variety of different engagement-boosting post types in your repertoire can help you craft regular content to keep your audience interested and help you meet your goals for LinkedIn social selling. Try any of these the next time you’re short on ideas:
- Repurpose successful blog posts: If you have a successful blog post on your website, repurpose it for LinkedIn. Rather than linking out to your blog, just write a short, engaging summary on LinkedIn, and leave a link in the first comment for those who want to read the full post.
- Case studies: Share short, memorable stories of how your product or service has helped clients overcome challenges or achieve their goals. This provides social proof and demonstrates the value of your offering. Plus, you can tag your client if they’re on LinkedIn, and if you’re lucky, they’ll respond and boost the post.
- Thought leadership posts: These are designed to showcase your unique perspective and expertise on industry topics, challenges, or trends.
- Infographics: An attractive infographic can be scroll-stopping, so it’s a good idea to share visually engaging infographics that break down complex information or data into easily digestible content from time to time. These can be highly shareable and can even have viral potential.
- Personal stories and experiences: LinkedIn is a professional network, but personal stories can still be impactful when appropriate. Share personal stories or experiences that relate to your industry or business journey. This helps humanize the business you represent.
- Tips and best practices: Share practical tips, advice, and best practices related to your industry or area of expertise. This type of content can establish you as a go-to resource for your audience. Plus, it lends itself well a snappy listicle-type formatting.
- An engaging question: Need a great shortcut to engagement? Post a thought-provoking question.
Master sales on LinkedIn
Mastering social selling on LinkedIn requires seven 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
- Incorporating no-click content
- Mastering prospecting on LinkedIn
- Learning how to create different types of posts