Free mini training course on Social Selling – Identify your top B2B prospects with Social Selling

This mini training course explains how you can take your first steps in Social Selling.

Introduction: What is Social Selling?

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Social Selling is a technique that is still significantly underused in the enterprise world.

LinkedIn, Viadeo, and Facebook are the world’s largest databases of contacts – yet 99% of enterprises are failing to make use of this information.

Social Selling means evolving towards version 2.0 of the sales model, by making use of the power of social networking.

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Why does Social Selling work so well?

 

This is due to several key facts:

  • First and foremost, the theory of six degrees of separation, which shows that we are all linked to every other person on the planet with just six degrees of separation.

As such, you can virtually get in touch with anyone at all via the relationships that are already embedded into your existing networks.

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Six degrees of separation from Adam Woozeer on Vimeo.

 

A humorous illustration of this theory can be found on the Oracle of Bacon website, where you can verify that Kevin Bacon can be connected to any actor, anywhere in the world, by fewer than six degrees of separation:

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And, with tools like Facebook, we all now have fewer than six degrees of separation from the people within any network:

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  • That’s followed by the fact that Mark Granovetter’s theory of weak links indicates that the contacts formed by my own contacts will be my best prospects.

In effect, your own direct contacts – your friends, colleagues, and family – are unlikely to become your direct customers.  Instead, it is more likely to be the people they know, as they will talk about you to them, or share your message with them on your behalf.

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  • Finally, Social Media allows you to remain in contact with your network without putting in too much effort – whereas in the past you had to keep your address book updated, make calls, and host events – even before you talk about how much easier it is to extend your influence with the tools that are now available.

This requires you to provide regular news updates to your contacts, because any network requires maintenance – otherwise you will quickly be forgotten.

In B2B selling, it’s even more important, because Social Selling allows you to put your network to work for you, to identify key contacts, and to benefit from the recommendations of others.

On the other hand, Social Media is not an advertising hoarding. Promotion ad nauseum and spam simply do not work.

It is therefore essential to build relationships and provide a clear value add… and give emotions.

Here are the pilars to have your content shared  :

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Step 0 – Optimise your profile before you start

 

Your Social Media profile, and particularly your profile on Professional Social Media, will define the way in which your contacts see you.

Effectively, your contacts and potential customers will sometimes have no more than that to go on when trying to work out what you are capable of.

It is therefore essential that you optimise your profile and make sure that it is internally consistent, for instance by featuring the same photo throughout.

Here are a few simple advices:

  • Use a professional photo in your online presence.  If you don’t have one, ask an enthusiastic, talented photographer from your family, or a photographer in attendance at a professional event that you attend.
  • Add the name of your company or your services to the title of your profile.
  • Optimise the description to highlight the services that you offer to your potential customers
  • Think about what makes you stand out – what do you really specialise in – and think about how that benefits your customers!
  • Present the services that you offer in detail: on LinkedIn there are no space limits, unlike a business card or a CV.
  • Ask for recommendations from customers and colleagues in order to build trust in what you have to offer.

 

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And, if you have a little time, take the opportunity to copy and paste a few articles from your corporate blog to your profile via LinkedIn Pulse:

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Then, add documents that you publish on Slideshare.net (LinkedIn’s content distribution platform):

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Step 1: Activate your personal network!

A network needs maintenance, but above all, it needs to be nurtured!

To do this, add contacts from all the sources you have access to, including e-mail accounts and Facebook.

Your first port of call should be to synchronise your personal and professional mailboxes in MS Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo with LinkedIn & Viadeo.

Don’t hesitate to undertake this exercise twice a year, because your network grows over time, and consider adding your new contacts to your e-mail software each time you send an e-mail.

Similarly, make it a habit to add your new contacts and potential customers as soon as you contact them (for example, following an e-mail containing a request for information).

To import your files, you can click

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If necessary, you can export your Outlook contacts in order to add them to your CRM software or LinkedIn profile.

Here’s how to do it: go to “Open and Export”, then select “Import/Export”, and finally, export your contacts.

 

 

You can also synchronise your smartphone contacts with LinkedIn and Viadeo’s mobile apps:

To do this, first download the mobile apps:

– LinkedIn

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– Viadeo 

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– Xing (German social network)

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Note that you can also synchronise your smartphone’s Facebook app (on this link) to obtain even more contacts – but be careful to avoid sending all the requests on the same day!

 

Step 2: Make people aware of your expertise by publishing content regularly!

 

You will raise your profile by regularly publishing relevant content on Social Media.

Ideally you should differentiate between what you share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn (even though there may be an overlap between parts of the content).

In fact, the people’s “tolerance levels” for updates varies depending on the platform and the type of update.

For example:

– On Facebook, one to three updates per day is normal, with visual, interactive content that is less serious in nature.  Similarly, on Facebook, more personal or “behind the scenes” content, such as photos and videos, is recommended.

 – On Twitter, there’s no real limit on how frequently you can post (though ten per day seems like a reasonable upper limit), with more scope for linking to other people’s content. On Twitter, it is possible to “live tweet” during an event to publish photos and quotations.

 – on LinkedIn, the content has a more professional flavour, with two or three updates per day, and one “pulse” publication per week being acceptable.

That said, you can complement your manual updates with tools that automatically share RSS feeds (such as a blog, a curation account on Scoop It, or an RSS Twitter feed).

Options include:

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This allows you to republish news from the corporate blog (or selected sections) on LinkedIn in its “news” section:

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Step 3: Once or twice a year, send out news updates via a dedicated message

 

Publishing regular updates is all well and good, but to really make your mark, you need to send a direct e-mail to your contacts by exporting their latest contact details from your social networks:

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Important: manually delete contacts who are outside your target group, such as former colleagues, competitors, and your friends and family, from your Excel workbook.

 

Several options are available:

– Use a bulk e-mail solution such as Mailchimp, Aweber, or Flexmail;

– Use your e-mail application (limiting yourself to 100 messages with a maximum of 500 contacts to avoid being considered a spammer).

The purpose of the e-mail is to provide value-added information to your prospective customers, and to mark an “event” that justifies sending the e-mail.

This could be:

  • A webinar;

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  • A white paper;

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You must be the sender of the e-mail, and explain why you have taken the trouble to write: (we are getting in touch about…), and apologise in advance for any disruption caused by the e-mail, offering to delete anyone who is inconvenienced by the e-mail from your list of contacts.

 

Step 4: Identify key contacts via a contact search – option 1

 

LinkedIn, Viadeo, Xing, and the like can help you to identify the right people to contact.

You can do this by using the search engine by searching on industry job title, industry or sector, and city (for example, marketing directors, insurance, Paris), then selecting “accounts.”

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You can save your search if you need to be noticed of the new profiles that will be part of your query :

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You can also carry out an advanced search:

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When making contact via an InMail or a connection request:

  • Personalise your introductory message, avoiding “naked” promotion of your products and services;
  • Show how you can add value via a :
    • White paper;
    • Customer testimonial;
    • Self-audit;

Or a similar approach.

You should note that:

– InMails limit the length of the message that you can send, and only allow you to include one URL, so make sure that you craft your message carefully.

– It can sometimes be more effective to contact people via a different method, such as Twitter, a company contact page, or a Facebook page, in order to bypass the limitations that LinkedIn places on messages.

– If LinkedIn suggests contacts to you, don’t click on the “Connect” button right away. Instead, click on the person’s photo so that you can send a message (the “Connect” button sends a direct connection request.)  If possible, use a personalised welcome message, based on a template that you can cut and paste by changing the recipient’s given and family names.

– You can also save your searches in order to be alerted about new contacts who meet the search criteria (e.g., new marketing directors in Paris).

 

– Search for contacts in your extended network to get recommendations or introductions, in order to stand out from the crowd and avoid making an approach as just another stranger.

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Step 4: Identify key contacts by company and then by contact – option 2

 

This second method allows you to identify people to call or contact, starting with the sector that the company operates in, then by selecting the most relevant contact within the company.

In this context, your search will be based on a key word, then filtered on corporate pages, then narrowed down further by identifying specific contacts.

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It is worth noting that you can also use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which allows you to have fifteen InMails per day, additional search criteria, and to trigger an alert when a contact publishes content.

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Step 5: Bring your network to life!

 

A network needs to be maintained: it’s not enough to add contacts – you need to engage in a dialogue, whether online or offline.

Never hesitate to take part in a LinkedIn or Viadeo group – or even to create one – even if it takes time, and even if your fellow participants tend to be consultants or even competitors, rather than potential customers.

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During downtime between appointments, or when travelling – add suggested contacts from LinkedIn and Viadeo on your tablet or smartphone in order to expand your sphere of influence.

Finally, don’t forget to keep your contacts in a central location within your CRM system so that you can work with a single, unified contacts database!

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