MASTER SOCIAL SELLING ON LINKEDIN
FOR SUSTAINABLE GROWTH AND
Building a strong community
By Andy Neary and Carolyn Smith
As we mentioned in last month’s column about LinkedIn, today’s online consumers have high expectations and demands. They want more relevant, personalized content; better service; quicker response; and a successful customer experience. And they want it right now!
Rather than fighting this trend, listen to and follow your target audience. Connect with them and learn what they are engaging with. In other words, make yourself part of the conversations they are having.
To get traction on LinkedIn and take your personal branding efforts to a new level, you must find a balance with your target audience between personal and professional posts. Strive to create likability and credibility. It’s important to share your stories and images so people feel that they know you; however, it is equally important to post relevant industry content so your prospects, clients, and underwriters view you as credible.
How? Start by creating testimonials and case studies that show you deliver value to your customers. Try to make sure your personal stories are relevant to your industry and prospects, and always develop content that builds trust with your audience, not just sympathy. Share personal stories that are relevant to you but have a valuable message for others.
Making proactive connections
LinkedIn users are tired of being spammed. Every day, our inbox is cluttered with invites and canned messages from aggressive transactional salespeople. After a while, nothing stands out or appears differentiated.
Making proactive connections breaks through the spam and sets you apart. Remember, you only have one job: connect with people you could do business with. That starts by changing how you view your time on LinkedIn.
View your connections—whether you have 50 or 500—as your community, and you are the mayor of that community. As mayor, you have two jobs:
Invite new residents to live in your community, but only if they are the right residents, aka people you can do business with.
Make these residents feel good about living in your community. How? Post valuable content weekly.
To make people feel good about doing business with you, spend time each week searching for people who could be good prospects.
Go to the search bar and define your target location (city). It may be Denver, Colorado; Baltimore, Maryland; or Dallas, Texas. Then add the filters for CFOs, HR directors, CEOs, or presidents of companies that are in a specific industry and are a certain size in your targeted demographic area.
Start by sending out connection requests and add a note. Say something simple, such as:
This is Andy. I’d love to connect with you here on LinkedIn if you’re open to it.
This is a good, passive way to send a connection request. You do not want the prospect to think you want to schedule a meeting with them because that makes them unlikely to accept your invite. Make it very clear that you are just trying to connect on LinkedIn, and the odds are that they will accept.
Ninja move: Send new connections a voice message. Here is where you take the connection to the next level. To do this, you’ll need to download the mobile version of LinkedIn. With the mobile app you’ll be able to send your first connections a voice message. It is one of the best tools you have to stand out on LinkedIn.
Your voice message should not make any request of your new connection; it should simply thank them for the connection. Here’s an example message:
Hey, Greg, it’s Andy. I just wanted to thank you for the LinkedIn connection. If you need anything from me, feel free to reach out. I hope you enjoy the content I’m putting out here on a daily basis. Have a great day.
The voice message feature is a pattern disruptor that prospects are not used to receiving. Therefore, your connection will look much different than the connections they’ve made in the past.
It is a great way to stand out with your prospects!
Understanding the process
It’s important to remember that you are building relationships as the mayor of your community. Right now, all you have is a list of new contacts. You have no idea if they will be a good fit, but you still want to bring them into your community so you can begin to form meaningful social interactions and present your brand to them.
In other words, making a connection or creating content does not equate to overnight wins. Your job is to lay the foundation of the relationship first. Create content that builds brand recognition for you, starts conversations, and delivers value so that, over time, your content will start resonating with the right prospects.
Next, consider the communication medium you want to use with your community. When it comes to the medium, video can be the most effective way to get a prospect to know and like you. If writing is what you like, you can post LinkedIn articles. If you like posting photos you can do that, as well. A best practice is to post content using all three mediums of communication.
Now, we arrive at the last question: What are you going to talk about?
The three “E’s” of content
Good content is educational, empathetic, and elementary.
- Education. The first “E” is Education. What are your prospects looking for? What questions do your prospects have about your products, services, or solutions? What objections or hesitations do your prospects often present to you? Educational content is about answering the questions your prospects often have. While it’s not “exciting” content, it is the content that will help you become a go-to resource for your prospects.
- Empathy. When you’re creating content, it helps to put yourself in your prospect’s shoes. Make sure your content does not talk down to or above your prospects. Instead, let them know that you understand where they’re coming from, and you understand the struggles they’re dealing with. Likability matters.
- Elementary. Finally, your content needs to be easy to understand. Make your communication so clear that a fifth or sixth grade student could understand it. Simplicity leads to relatability.
Creating content that lets your community get to know you
It’s difficult to build relationships with your prospects today, but online content gives your prospects an opportunity to know and like you before they ever meet you.
When you post personal stories, they should have clear objective. Two rules to follow when sharing your life with your prospects are to ensure that your posts are genuine and reflect the authentic you and to make sure your content brings value to your audience.
Pulling prospects off the platform
Now it’s time to turn connections into opportunity.
After you have made proactive connections and created valuable, relevant content, your ultimate goal for your LinkedIn prospecting is to “pull” your connections off the platform into a discovery meeting.
Here’s a great way to drive your connections to appointments. (Note: Doing what you’re about to learn will require a LinkedIn Premium or Sales Navigator subscription.)
Twice per week, review the list of LinkedIn members who are checking out your profile, then apply the following strategy:
If the member is a first connection and someone you know, jump on the mobile app and leave a voice message, such as the following:
Hey, Greg. It’s Andy. You know it’s been a while since we’ve connected. I wanted to see if you’d be interested or open to jumping on a call. I would love to see what you’re up to.
If the member is a first connection you’ve never met, try the following voice message:
Good morning, Julie. You know we’ve been connected here on the platform for quite a while. I’d love to put a voice to a face if you’re open to it. Would you be interested in jumping on a call/meeting for coffee/meeting via Zoom to discuss what you’re up to?
Here’s the secret: Whether they are open to meeting with you is not the point. When you use a pattern disruptor like the voice message feature, the chance that your message will get a reply is exponentially higher. This feature on LinkedIn is the modern cold call and a lot more effective than smiling and dialing!
Bottom line, adding social prospecting strategies on LinkedIn to your current activities should be high on your weekly priority list. Cultivate your network and relationships each week and demonstrate that you are in the relationship for the long haul. In the end, you will build a strong foundation with a thriving community that will make your job more fulfilling and fun.
Andy Neary, a former pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers, is the founder of Complete Game Consulting, (andyneary.com/complete-game-consulting) and a Beyond Insurance strategic partner who provides coaching and training for insurance professionals who want to fill their prospect pipeline.
Carolyn Smith serves as chief training officer and leads strategy and execution for new program development at Beyond Insurance.