As a senior sales manager at TSL Marketing, I used to think “social selling” was a fancy buzzword invented by marketers that didn’t actually have tangible results. It was an overhyped promise.
Then I realized I was wrong.
Because after experimenting with social selling for a few months back in 2008, I sold a $70,000 deal … all because I joined a LinkedIn Group.
Yes, a lot has changed since 2008 with social selling. But the fundamentals still apply, which I’ve used over and over, resulting in a lot of repeatable success since then.
How did I do it? Let me explain.
Step 1: Join LinkedIn Groups in your industry.
First, you’ll want to join a plethora of LinkedIn Groups in your industry.
One of our industries served at TSL Marketing is IT. So my first step was joining as many groups that focused on Sales and Marketing within the IT Industry as I could find.
As you’ll join them, you’ll realize some are active, but others are not. You simply need to find where your buyer personas congregate. Also, it also doesn’t hurt to ask your current customers what groups they find most valuable. Eventually, you’ll stumble upon an active group that sticks out.
In my specific example, this LinkedIn group was Sales Playbook!.
Step 2: Add valuable answers to people’s questions.
After I joined Sales Playbook!, someone posed a question similar to this:
“Generically speaking, how can I increase marketing results with [insert such and such a tactic]?”
Now plenty of pushy salespeople who browse LinkedIn Groups would answer this question by commenting on the thread “My number is 555-555-5555. Give me a call and I’ll help you out!”
Newsflash: That is NOT helpful.
Instead, here’s how I answered the question:
Check out this benchmark marketing data [insert link] so you can size up your results against industry benchmarks. Then use that to see if your current results match up against those who are executing [marketing tactic] at a high level.
As a result, I got a valuable response:
Wow, thanks for the information! We benchmarked our data sets against industry standards and found some interesting results. Thanks again for all of your help!
We went back and forth a few times on that thread, as I continuously added more value by suggesting tips and tricks they could implement. If I wanted to eventually connect with this person, I had to prove my worth as a valuable contributor to the conversation.
This is the #1 secret of social selling: You have to earn the right to continue the conversation.
Unless you’re going above and beyond to help someone, you’ll appear as a lazy, pushy salesperson pitching your product/service in a channel that is meant to be helpful. The key is building trust. It takes ages to get, but only a second to lose.
Step 3: Send a LinkedIn request to continue the conversation.
After I provided value through the LinkedIn Group thread, I sent a customized LinkedIn request:
Hi (name)! Just wondering how you’re coming along with your analysis of your marketing techniques versus industry benchmarks? Happy to be a sounding board for any future questions.
This works for two reasons:
- You can connect with anyone in a similar LinkedIn Group.
- Data shows a customized LinkedIn request is more likely to be accepted.
Did it work? You bet it did. He accepted my LinkedIn request and we continued the conversation.
Four months later, we signed a contract worth over $70,000.
... All because I joined a LinkedIn Group.
So next time someone tells you social selling doesn’t work, show them this. It’s not hype. It’s reality. The proof is in the pudding. Since 2008 that same tactic has served me well, time and time again.
Originally published Jan 11, 2016 7:30:00 AM, updated February 01 2017