The term “social selling” isn’t really new at this point. It’s been around for a couple years, and at this point it’s a business buzzword that gets tossed around at sales conferences and in seminars. For B2B sales, there’s really only one social network to use for social selling - LinkedIn. Plenty of B2B salespeople and business owners use LinkedIn to scope out prospects and spam messages, but many don’t know how to properly use LinkedIn to generate leads and close sales. Effectively using LinkedIn to grow leads and sales involves a mix of content curation, engagement, and advertising.
Over the past year, LinkedIn has made great strides toward becoming a content platform. With its acquisition of news aggregator Pulse last year, LinkedIn established itself as a place for professionals to go for news about their peers as well as news from top content publications and influencers. LinkedIn users and brand pages can also post content that gets shown in followers timelines.
Curating content - gathering content from outside sources and sharing selected content with followers - is a great place to start when putting together your social selling strategy. When you curate content consistently and effectively, you grow an audience of users who finds what you’re sharing useful, informative, or otherwise valuable. Building your audience gives you more reach when you want to share your own content in order to prove your own worth.
Arguably LinkedIn’s most prolific feature is its collection of over one million groups. There’s a LinkedIn group for just about every industry, profession, or discipline. As a business owner or salesperson, these groups are a great opportunity to engage with people who can potentially become leads and customers and show them how knowledgeable you are when it comes to your niche. Before you go joining every group on LinkedIn and spreading your wealth of knowledge, let’s go over a couple ground rules.
First, stay on topic. Don’t be the person that joins a group about engineering and starts talking about interior design. Keep your posts or discussions related to whatever topic the group is about. Second, make sure you’re aware what type of behavior is permitted in the group. Some groups are a free for all, and end up acting as boards for people to dump links to content. Other groups have stricter guidelines, and only allow for discussions, or maybe links only when they’re appropriate. Some groups will go so far as to kick users out for breaking the rules. If a group has specifically outlined policies, they can be found in the group’s information section, so take a look before you start posting.
When you engage in discussion and content sharing with prospects, they’ll begin to trust you as a source of valuable information and knowledge in your industry. When your prospects trust you, they’re more likely to buy from you.
LinkedIn’s powerful advertising service is easily the most effective way to grow your audience and generate leads, but it’ll cost you. Advertising isn’t free, after all. But if you look at it as an investment and you measure your cost against leads or customers generated, it’s quite an effective tool to add to your lead generating repertoire. LinkedIn ads come in two varieties: standard display ads that appear on the side of the screen and across the top, and sponsored posts, which are your posts that appear in the feeds of users who don’t follow you. Ads can be CPM (cost per thousand, where you pay for every 1000 people impressions of your ad) or CPC (cost per click, where ad placement goes to the highest bidder, and you pay your bid amount every time someone clicks your ad).
LinkedIn’s targeting is what makes its advertising so powerful. You can target your ad to specific people based geographic location, title, position, company, industry, school, skills, group membership, gender, and age. So if you want to target HR managers who are over 50 and work for manufacturing companies in the state of New York, you can.
With that level of targeting, you can make sure the right people see your content, and the leads you generate will the kinds of people who are more likely to buy your product or service.
Learning how to use LinkedIn for social selling isn’t hard, but it does take time and effort to maintain a high level of content curation and continuously provide value in group discussions.
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