Last updated January 28, 2021
LinkedIn is a gold mine for building business relationships and prospecting new clients. But there are do’s and don’ts. We created a special guide for housing professionals covering social selling on LinkedIn with tips and best practices from Meghan Lundy, Avid Ratings’ director of digital marketing.
What is social selling?
Social selling is a type of business to business (B2B) marketing where a sales team uses social media to interact with prospects directly through one on one contact. The goal of social selling is to nurture a prospective client by building trust and demonstrating expertise through thought leadership content.
Thought leadership content is content your marketing team creates or content found across the housing industry that offers significant value to your audience. This kind of content can include:
- Blog articles
- Social posts
- Statistics from reputable sources
Why is thought leadership content so important for B2B selling?
According to the Harvard Business Review, 90% of B2B decision-makers will never respond to cold outreach. This means they need to be warmed up to your offer by connecting with your brand’s content and viewing you as an industry leader. Let’s check out some additional statistics about B2B selling:
- 92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as industry thought leaders. This credibility is often attained by posting regularly to social media.
92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who have positioned themselves as industry thought leaders.
- According to LinkedIn, 62% of B2B customers respond to salespeople who connect by sharing content and insights that are relevant to them
- 81% of buyers are more likely to engage with brands that have a strong, cohesive, professional social media presence
- Sales reps who were introduced by a mutual connection left a favorable impression with 87% of buyers.
- IDC found 75% of B2B buyers and 84% of C-level executives consult social media before making purchasing decisions.
- When making B2B purchasing decisions, 50% of buyers turn to LinkedIn as a resource
- According to Bantu, 33% of buyers prefer to contact brands on social media than over the phone
- When asked about quality content, 65% of B2B buyers said informational, easy to consume con
- 76% of buyers are ready to have sales conversations on social media
Social selling is a great way to network and build industry partnerships. Just remember to avoid these common mistakes.
The most common social selling mistakes and how to avoid
If you’re ready to get started social selling on any platform, first learn what not to do. Here are the top four mistakes marketers make when social selling.
Not being social
The most important part of social selling is being social. Prospects on social are at the very beginning phases of their search for the product or service they’re looking for. They may also not even realize they need your offer. This means they don’t know you, don’t trust you, and certainly don’t want to be sold to. Only offering promotional material will just drive them away and you could whine up on the blocked list.
Create conversation and give your audience content that helps them to relate to you and your industry, without pitching or sounding salesy.
Not establishing trust
People buy from people they know and trust. When you think of some of the top name brands what immediately comes to mind is it the brand or the person that represents it? When you think of Apple, you think of Steve Jobs. Microsoft? Bill Gates. Progressive Insurance? Flo. Geico? The gecko.
Who is the person on your team others associate with your brand? You might initially think of the CEO, which is true for big brands, but it’s actually everyone on your team. Every person in your organization represents your company on social media when they speak to someone about your brand, post about your brand, or share your company’s posts.
This is a great thing because it gives you a number of channels to reach and connect with prospects through your entire team’s social connections to build trust in your brand.
Random fact sharing with no strategy
Without setting goals social selling is a waste of time. For every person in your organization who wants to be an employee advocate or participate in social selling, they will need goals to measure. Goals aren’t just for marketing.
Social selling goals should align with your business goals and should be monitored and measured regularly to make sure you and your team are hitting targets.
For example, you want to grow your MQLs (marketing qualified leads) from 100 to 250 by the end of quarter two. To hit this target you might take the following steps:
- Increase lead list size and define your target audience by weeding out the uninterested parties with scoring and unsubscribes.
- Create demand generation campaigns that focus on nurturing leads first and selling second.
- Run paid advertising and retargeting campaigns
- Spend a minimum of 20-30 minutes per day prospecting on LinkedIn
Decide on the ultimate goal you’d like to achieve with social selling and break it down into actionable steps you can start taking.
Without truly knowing your prospects you can’t expect to build great relationships with them. One of the ways to do this is to become a storyteller. Spend those 20-30 minutes on LinkedIn researching your target audience and market to learn what they’re interested in and the kind of content they’re reading and interacting with most. You can then share these topic ideas with your copywriting or digital marketing team to write compelling blogs and marketing content.
Here’s an example of how researching a prospect can turn into a great business opportunity from Meghan:
“I found a story shared by Tom Hackett, in a group we’re both a part of, Luxury Home Builders. He posted this link about people helping to set up homes in Honduras through his company Dwellings. The picture was interesting and reading about volunteers in Honduras sparked my interest enough to click and read the landing page.
Now here comes the best part. I commented on his post… didn’t try to sell him anything.
Within 15 minutes of me saying “Thanks for sharing…” he posted back. Then I sent him a connection invite that simply read:
Tom – I’ve been reading about Dwellings and would love to stay in touch. Your stories are inspiring and should be heard throughout the building industry.”
Tom replied to Meghan with five additional stories to read and five direct business names in the building and remodeling industry. With just a couple of minutes of research, a single comment, and a connection invite, Meghan opened the door to multiple potential business relationships.
Tips, tricks, and best practices for social selling on Linkedin
Follow these tips and best practices for social selling on LinkedIn:
Focus on branding first, not leads
Social selling is primarily about building your brand and attracting leads to you through story-telling and content that’s relevant to your brand and industry while engaging your audience. Focus on developing your brand’s messaging, personality, visuals, and other creative aspects.
It’s also helpful to participate in relevant groups on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. Find groups your target audience is a part of, but don’t just join! Start small by liking and commenting on posts, then share your own content offering unique insights on it.
Encourage employee advocacy
We mentioned employee advocacy briefly but let’s dive in further. People are 16 times more likely to read a post from a friend than from a brand. Let’s say a company has 100 employees and 2,000 followers on LinkedIn – the potential total reach is only 2,000 people, and only a small portion of those people might actually read and engage with the company’s content organically.
Now, let’s say 80 of those employees participate in regular employee advocacy, and they have an average following of 220 people. The total potential reach is 17,600 people. That’s a 780% increase in reach, and each employee’s audience is 16 times more likely to engage with the content.
Once you’ve built a sufficient relationship with a prospect you can find the right time to connect your sales team with them.
Social selling is all about creating relationships first, so keep tabs on your profile notifications. When you receive comments on things you share or write yourself, respond! Don’t be a ghost. If you send someone a request to connect, follow-up with a simple thank you when they accept. Responding shows you’re friendly and open to communication, which makes you more approachable to prospects.
Revamp your profile
Tailor your profile to your current position, don’t use it as your resume. Focus on your headline since this is the most important part of your profile as it tells people who you are and what you do. Use keywords to help your profile come up in search results and determine what your style is: client-centric, egocentric, mission-centric, or keyword centric. In your about section describe your ideal client’s problem or challenge, then explain how you can help solve it.