Have you ever used social media to network, find a job or sell a product or service?
In today’s digital world, we’re more focused on authentic engagement and “selling” as it used to be – that is, cold pitching and things like door-to-door sales – are (mostly) old news.
Every day, millions of people use social media for many purposes, and digital marketers know that our social strategy is key to prospecting and lead generation.
And even if we’re not explicitly selling anything, we’re still using social media to make connections on a personal and professional level, every day. So, we’re pretty much always selling ourselves.
But what exactly is social selling, and how can using social media platforms like LinkedIn help us boost engagement in almost any circumstance? Keep reading for an overview, plus some tips and tools on how to help yourself with LinkedIn.
What is social selling?
Way back in the day, people used to literally cold-call prospects in order to find leads. This may have consisted of looking up businesses or customers in the phone book and phoning them, or even knocking on their doors (think of the retro 1950s image of the door-to-door salesman).
Of course, there were several other ways to reach prospects, but not that many, especially for smaller businesses with little in the way of advertising budgets.
Today, we’re much more fortunate in that we can connect with people all around the world at the touch of a button.
Why is social selling effective?
Social media is just one method that we’re effectively using for lead-generation today. In fact, according to a 2016 LinkedIn report, over 70% of salespeople use social media for selling and relationship-building.
Why does it work so well? It’s a great way to find relevant leads and sales prospects. It’s also the perfect way to connect with others in your field, whether you’re trying to sell yourself as an employee, build a personal brand storyline, or find clients and customers.
LinkedIn is the perfect platform to base your social selling on because it was built for professional interactions but has plenty of features to share information, educate, demonstrate your authority, and engage in meaningful conversation. It’s longevity also indicates that it’s not going anywhere so that any connections you make today will likely stick around for the long-term.
Some Basic LinkedIn Features to Help You Connect
There are many reasons why LinkedIn works well for social selling, and while we’ll outline some tools below, first we’ll share some specific features of the LinkedIn platform that can help you connect with your ideal clients and customers.
The main thing to bear in mind for LinkedIn (as well as other contacts) is that you can see your customer’s contacts and interests as well. For instance, if you use the “people also viewed” sidebar to the right of their profile to get a sense of what and who they’re interested in.
Saved searches are things you can set up where you can get email alerts with the new search results. You can do this with job alerts as well to get a sense of who’s doing what in your network.
LinkedIn Pulse allows you to publish posts directly on the platform as does Slideshare. Both are great ways to increase your visibility and establish yourself as an expert in your area as well as engage with interested parties.
LinkedIn Social Selling Tools
Here are our top 10 picks for the best LinkedIn tools for social selling.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is specifically set up to let you easily find leads, keep track of who’s doing what, and understand what your audience actually wants. For instance, it offers contact recommendations and updates you in real-time, as well as letting you see who’s visited your profile.
You can also use it with Lead Builder to help you save your prospects to follow up later as prompted by updates on your homepage. This way you can start engaging with them in a natural way.
Sales navigator basically gathers specific bits and pieces of data from other people’s LinkedIn profiles and shares them with you via Gmail. It’s also a Chrome extension, so anyone who’s a fan Gmail and Chrome should definitely check it out. It allows you to “into” your Gmail to understand contacts, so you don’t have to go onto LinkedIn. Try the Lite or Premium version.
3. eLink Pro
eLink Pro allows you to easily connect with contacts using simple keywords – all you do is put them into the finder on the site, and it will connect you with matches based on key search terms. This is a super easy way to make links based on your brand, product or service. eLink also has an automated Twitter feature which can be super convenient if that’s one of your primary platforms.
Leadfeeder is a website traffic tracking tool that gathers information about your website visitors. You can link it to your CRM, email marketing, and Analytics tools for enhanced data-gathering and reporting. This tool is super useful when it comes to understanding why you’re missing the mark with some customers – for instance, those who “stopped by” but didn’t follow through with any engagement or purchases. What made them “bounce”? Find this out to help you target your marketing further.
Every profile has so much data in it that it would take forever for one salesperson to go through it themselves and find the appropriate bits and pieces. Nimble can save you this time and trouble by doing the research for you. It will aggregate the right data and give you insights to move into a more targeted lead generation strategy.
By tracking history, allowing you to connect multiple platforms, and giving you reminders, just to name a few features, it takes out the data entry research end of things so that you can focus on outreach.
Have you ever been curious to try an AI-based app? If you’re focused on lead generation and conversion using social apps like LinkedIn, Detective (by Charlie) is an AI-based app that does automated browser searches for you, allowing salespeople to focus on developing targeted relationships based on specific datasets.
Detective will also set up business meetings by informing everyone first about the nature of the meeting, and it helps to make your pitches valuable and relevant by collecting the right data ahead of time.
IFTTT stands for “if this, then that.” The free productivity tool lets you connect your preferred apps and devices. Then you use specific “recipes” (in the form of applets) which trigger specified actions across channels. The recipes are preset and built into the tool, but you can also create your own if you want to do something specific. For instance, you may automatically share a tweet every time you publish a post, share your location when a Facebook business page is liked, or import contacts into a database.
Social selling is about personality, personalization and meaningful interaction. Crystal leverages this by giving you access to personality profiles which you can then use to target your marketing more effectively. For instance, you may find out that a prospect prefers phone conversations over email. When using it on LinkedIn, it will use personality insights to offer you communication tips which you can then use while networking.
When you use crystal well, it can help you be a better communicator not just with regard to your immediate prospects, but all around the board.
SalesLoft is a unique tool in that it integrates with a ton of other sales tools and is great for both beginners and professionals. It has the capacity to integrate different types of data across multiple channels, allowing you to streamline your workflow and understand your audience for better targeting. It also provides insights about leads in real-time, information that you can use to engage authentically with them on the platform. Integrating data across multiple channels.
Guru can help you find quality leads and prospects in a fraction of the time frame it would take for you to do specific types of research if you were to try sifting through multiple profiles. It will grab specific data based on competitive analysis and will offer you guidance on sales based on the information that it gleans about a given prospect or industry. It also comes with collaboration tools so that you can work with others to build your contact lists.
Is social selling for you?
Social selling is really something that everyone is doing these days, whether they know it or not. Even if you’re not trying to sell something directly, you can use these tools to boost your social standing in any context – whether you’re looking to connect with your dream employers, trying to gather clients, or just trying to learn a new skill.