Editor's note: This is part three of a three-part series
At this point, we know that LinkedIn is a robust sales and marketing tool, possibly the most powerful such tool ever developed. We also know a bit more about how to present ourselves on LinkedIn, so that we are not just another “ho-hum” on LinkedIn, but someone with demonstrated and proven value.
As we discussed in part two, today’s buyers do considerable research online before they start buying from a salesperson or a company. So, we have to win them over, building trust, and establishing our value online.
To accomplish this, here are seven tips on being an effective strategic social seller:
Social Listening: Know what’s going on among your connections, the strategic groups you are in, as well as the companies you might be following. If one of your connections has been promoted or gotten a new job, make sure you congratulate them. People appreciate this, even people you have never met. Further, they often will remember it if, for no other reason, so few people do this.
Publish, Publish, Publish: Many distributors roll their eyes when I tell them in a presentation that they must take advantage of LinkedIn Publisher. Often they say, “But I have nothing to write about.” Believe me, if you have been in sales for several years, you have many topics to share that have helped make you the successful salesperson you are today. Just make sure what you write helps someone. If you really can’t write, then look for valuable articles you can share and add insightful comments.
Become Anonymous: Sometimes it’s a good idea not to let other LinkedIn members or your connections know you are researching them or their companies. Being anonymous allows you to keep this all confidential. Go to “Privacy & Settings and change your ‘Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile’ setting to ‘anonymous.”
Become Known: Let them know you are checking them out. There may also be times when you want a potential customer to know you that are taking the time to research them. A potential customer may appreciate the time you spend finding out a bit more about them and their company.
Get the big picture. Along with doing your research on LinkedIn about individuals and companies, visit their company website. Find out who the decision makers are in that company, and more specifically, who would be in charge of purchasing your products, and then find out as much about this person as possible.
Join groups: Now that you know who are the decision-makers in a company and the groups they belong to, read and monitor their postings. Feel free to “Like” a prospect’s posting, but only comment if you have something of value to say. Never use this as an opportunity to ask for a meeting or a phone call. If you work LinkedIn correctly, that will soon be possible.
Do not “connect and sell.” One of the worst things you can do on LinkedIn is to connect with someone and then turn right around and try to sell them on something. If nothing else, it's merely bad manners. Would you do this with someone you just met at a social gathering? These prospects are going to come to you. You do this by posting interesting articles and blogs that have proven value.
Value is a word we have used a lot in this series, but in essence, that is what LinkedIn is all about. You’ve got to prove your value, and when you do, everything else begins to fall into place.
Mike Sawchuk is a consultant working with distributors and business leaders with the development and execution of strategies, tactics and training in order to drive growth in sales and profits. He can be reached through his company website at www.sawchukconsulting.com