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Social selling skills for salespeople

Picture of Corinne Thomas

Corinne Thomas

Founder & Managing Director

Did you know that it takes on average 14 touchpoints to book a meeting and 28 to secure a sale these days?

Our sales community wanted to learn more about using social selling platforms such as LinkedIn, so we invited two experts to share how we can harness them to build more relationships and close more deals.

Dean Seddon is the CEO of Maverrik which teaches you how to master social selling. Maureen Kane is the founder of BrandIn Agency, a LinkedIn personal branding agency.

With fewer face-to-face meetings these days, LinkedIn and social selling platforms have taken their place. But our LinkedIn approach can so easily become scattergun – we scroll, we connect, we forget about it, meaning it becomes time wasted if we don’t follow through.

It’s therefore crucial we learn how to harness what LinkedIn can offer our businesses and how it fits into our wider selling strategy. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to help us connect and engage with a variety of prospective clients, and its possibilities are vast. And with some time, thought and strategy, we can make the platform work for us, not the other way around.

As part of our Ethical Sales Academy, we held a Social Selling masterclass, where Maureen and Dean shared expert insights and tips for using LinkedIn in a much more strategic way, from engaging in smarter prospecting to how much time is needed to commit to it. We’ve collated their wisdom into the nine things you need to consider when devising your social selling strategy as a salesperson.

Let’s get into it.

Don’t be afraid to get personal 

The key to LinkedIn success is building your brand: that is, the one thing that you want people to remember about you.

While you are using LinkedIn for business, at its heart it is a social media platform and therefore your personality needs to shine through.

“Business can have your personal touch. You’re a salesperson because you have a personality, so use it,” advises Maureen.

If you’re only sharing business posts, you’re not building a personal brand. Make sure posts have an element of your personality in them, so your passion and expertise can be seen. This isn’t the case of going over the top with sharing every element of your private life, but something simple such as talking about an occurrence in your business day and sharing a personal slant on it.

Post something personal, something useful and something promotional as a cadence of posts to help achieve the right balance.

Want more tips on this element of social selling? Read our post Five ways to build your personal brand on LinkedIn

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Be clear in your messaging

It’s vital to create a strategy for LinkedIn use, so you know what your message is, what you’re posting for and what’s your call to action.

Dean cites the example of Boris Johnson’s 2019 election message.

“Everyone remembers Boris’ message of ‘get Brexit done’ because it was one short thing he said all the time. No-one remembers Labour’s. The more you focus on saying one thing, the more you penetrate the market.”

Another simple way to ensure your message is clear is to put it in your LinkedIn header. So as well as your job title and company name, include a short and sweet headline so people can instantly see what it is you offer.

Do you have a business with multiple products or services? Pick just one or two flagship products to talk about. If you try and talk about everything your business does, it’ll quickly get confusing.

You can even have a specific LinkedIn landing page on your website to help direct potential customers to the right place.

Keep showing up

This may sound very obvious, but it’s worth repeating: to get success on LinkedIn, showing up is crucial. And not just in an ad hoc way, but in a consistent manner. To see results, post 2-3 times per week, take time to regularly comment and engage with other people’s posts, and connect with up to 20 people per day if appropriate. After three months, you should start to see results.

Once a connection is made with a prospect, and they’re on the cusp of buying but haven’t yet quite committed, continuing to engage in a non-pushy way is a powerful way to help them remember you. Showing up and commenting on their posts lets them see you’re still around and interested – which will hopefully nudge them into buying from you when they are ready.

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Be genuine

To have success on social selling platforms, you have to be genuine. And in line with the rest of sales, this will inevitably lead to rejection – not everyone will respond positively to your offering.

But honesty and genuine interest in the people you’re connecting with will result in prospects who are the right fit for your product or service.

Think about who you’re connecting with

When connecting with people, consider their role in the business and whether they’re decision-makers who can sign things off. As the average buying committee in the UK includes 13 people, it’s vital to connect with everyone involved in the buying process.

Remember, though, that 97.5% of LinkedIn users don’t post, so it’s not always possible to connect. And avoid connecting with LinkedIn ‘zombies’ – those people who’ve not engaged with posts or commented in the last 30 days. It’ll be a waste of your time!

Be careful with automation

The use of automation and AI on LinkedIn puts your account at risk of being blocked or deleted, but there are ways to minimise that risk. Dean shares his advice:

“There are two questions here: can you use AI and should you use AI?

..Yes, you can use it to comment on posts. But you can spot AI commenting a mile off and it does nothing for your credibility. AI comments seem like an excited teenager.”

While there probably is a tool to automate connecting with people, this goes against the social nature of the platform. As Dean wisely puts it,

“You can’t automate a relationship.”

AI can be useful for coming up with topics for posts, but not for writing the post itself verbatim. As Maureen explains:

“AI is only as good as the person using it. There are so many tools coming out, some of which are good, but limit their use. If you do use one, make sure you know how to use it or it can damage your reputation.”

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Remember it can be addictive

LinkedIn is a social media platform like others such as Facebook or Instagram. This means it can be addictive and lead to unproductive behaviour. It can also impact mental health, making you feel bad when comparing yourself with others on the platform, and have a detrimental effect on your performance. 

With this in mind, our experts advise to always have a reason for logging into LinkedIn and a clear strategy for time spent there. Dean asserts: 

“Don’t go onto LinkedIn unless you know why you’re there and what you’re doing, it’s a big time suck.” 

Aim to balance time between content and outreach, and to block out specific periods in your diary for going on the platform. That way you will reap the benefits of being consistent but without losing precious time from other elements of your business.

The power of social selling

Like any other sales tool, LinkedIn takes some time and effort to learn and will require a specific strategy to get the most from it. But by following these simple tips, social selling can become a powerful part of your sales process.

Want to join our like-minded membership community of salespeople to access more masterclasses and insights from sales experts? Join us today! 

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