March 11, 2021

LinkedIn Social Selling: A Proven Method to 3x Your B2B Sales

If you're looking for a new lead generation method that focuses on building relationships with potential buyers, LinkedIn social selling is for you. On LinkedIn, B2B sales reps have access to thousands of decision-makers who are open to making business connections. Through engagement with these industry peers, you will not only generate more high-quality leads, but you will also grow your reputation as an expert in your field. And, remember, people want to work with an expert.

What is social selling?

Social selling is the process of using social media platforms to engage with potential buyers. This strategy aims to convert platform users into leads, and ultimately buyers. You can do this through LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. However, B2B salespeople will be the most successful social selling on LinkedIn. On the platform, B2B sales reps will optimize their personal profiles, post valuable content like articles or daily updates to their network, interact with potential leads, and direct message the most promising ones.

Usually, the final goal is to book a sales call or demo with one of the leads. The more interactions you have with a connection, the more their familiarity with you will grow, as will the chances they say yes to a meeting when you finally ask for one.

Why is it better than traditional methods?

Selling on LinkedIn is often more effective than traditional methods such as cold emailing and cold calling. This is because it's a softer approach, and the B2B buyers of today appreciate that. Unlike in cold calls and emails, in LinkedIn B2B sales you aren't immediately initiating a business or sales conversation. Instead, you are interacting with them in subtle ways to grow the relationship before you make the ask. These interactions include comments, replies to their questions in a group, likes, shares, mentions, and more.

For instance, if you sell sales technology and a VP of Sales posted their thoughts on a new pipeline management strategy, you could comment and share some insights of your own. From then on, your name will be on their radar. They'll start to think of you as an expert in the industry.

When you make enough of these interactions, leads start to grow comfortable with you and your brand. Even when you direct message them through InMail, you can begin by telling them you enjoy the industry insights in their daily posts and that you want to connect to see more.

Examples of LinkedIn social selling:

  • Posting articles you wrote: Sharing articles you wrote will help paint you as an expert in the field. The best content is the type that solves your customer's common problems or questions.
  • Posting daily updates: Posting daily updates on LinkedIn is a great way to share industry tips, insights, and trends with your target audience. Or you could share product updates. The more people who like and interact with a post, the further the post's reach — meaning more leads will see you.

Example of a LinkedIn Update

  • Sharing your brand's content: Posting your brand's articles, videos, or webinar recordings is a great way to provide free value to your leads.
  • Participate in relevant industry groups: You can join and post in industry groups that house people with interests and professions related to your niche. For instance, if you sell property management software, join the property management group and contribute to some conversations.

Example of LinkedIn Groups

  • Sending valuable resources in InMail messages: Through InMail you can send your top leads valuable content that they will enjoy. This helps you build a relationship with them.
  • Commenting on your leads' posts: Small interactions like comments and likes can get you on your lead's radar. It's easier to book a meeting with someone who is familiar with you.

Now let's go over some best practices for LinkedIn social selling.

1. Build trust — don’t sell or pitch right away

When using LinkedIn for sales, you want to avoid pitching right off the bat. Instead, focus on building trust with your leads by giving them useful resources and interacting with them on the network. For instance, if you want to connect with and message a specific individual, follow this messaging strategy where you don't ask for a meeting until the fourth message.

  1. Ask to connect: First, send a message with your connection request. Explain why connecting is valuable to both of you. The more specific and personalized the better. If you like an article they wrote, mention it.
  2. Thank them for connecting: If they connect, send a thank you message.
  3. Share value with them: Send over a piece of content that they might find interesting. Be sure to explain why you thought they specifically might enjoy it.
  4. Ask for a meeting: When you feel enough rapport has been formed, ask for a meeting. You can do this in two ways. You can be direct and say: “It seems like my service would be a great fit to help you {value proposition}.” Or, you could be more subtle, and say "I noticed you spend a lot of time {job responsibility} — what tools are you using for it?"

For prospecting, check out LinkedIn Sales Navigator. With it, there is no word limit in your messages to people you aren't currently connected with.

2. Ask the right questions and understand your prospect’s pain points

If you do enter into a sales conversation, whether over the phone or on the platform, it's important to first figure out their pain points and needs. You want to come across as a problem-solver before you make any pitches about your product or service. To do this, play the role of the physician. Ask open-ended questions to get them talking about what's bothering them, what they'd like to improve, and what they are struggling with.

Or, if you have a solid understanding of the main pains felt by your typical buyer, ask about those. Say, "A lot of our customers are struggling with {pain point A} and it's causing them to {negative effect}. Is this something you are struggling with as well?"

3. Your goal is to build valuable relationships that will bear fruit in the future

Throughout your LinkedIn activity with your leads, keep in mind that you are trying to build valuable relationships first. You want to get these industry decision-makers to see you as a helpful expert in the field, not as someone preying on them to buy your service. If you continue starting interesting conversations, providing insights, and withhold from pitching, in time people will start to reach out to you for help..

4. Offer value upfront without asking for anything

At the start of any LinkedIn relationship, you should be giving the lead value without asking for anything in return. Send them an article you came across that you think they'd enjoy. For instance, if you are nurturing a lead who is a content marketer, send them a new post about Google's SEO update along with some key takeaways you had. They will surely appreciate it and think of you as a person they want in their corner. And after you have given them enough for free, they will give you something in return: acceptance of a meeting or demo request.

5. Construct a great LinkedIn profile

Your LinkedIn profile will be the first place leads go when they want to check you out. If they like your LinkedIn post, they might click on your name and learn a bit about you. The same goes for if you sent them a cold email and have your LinkedIn profile link in your email signature. In sales, first impressions matter. Optimize your profile so it clearly articulates who you help, and how you do it.

  • Use a professional headshot: Think about the decision-makers in your industry and align your attire with theirs.
  • Craft an informative headline: Use this formula to write a headline that hooks the visitor and helps them understand that you help clients like them. Tagline = I help [X] accomplish [Y] through [Z]. "I help B2B marketers increase traffic through PPC advertising".
  • Write a customer-focused summary: Your summary should be about the customers you help. Write about the problems they face, how they solve them with your solution, and the results they've seen. Also, include your contact information in case they want to reach out.

Play the long-game

Lead generation isn't going to happen in a day. Growing relationships with people over LinkedIn takes time. Usually, you should wait until a month of interaction with an individual before you ask for a meeting or call. That way, enough rapport has been built, and the request doesn't seem pushy or forceful. To succeed in LinkedIn selling you have to practice delayed gratification. You need to play the long game — it's worth it.