How to Use LinkedIn for B2B Social Selling
LinkedIn has firmly established itself as THE go-to social networking site for professionals of all ages and industries.
It's clearly a great resource, but sellers are only scratching the surface when it comes to utilizing LinkedIn's full potential.
Using LinkedIn to your advantage as a seller involves more than simply connecting with colleagues, acquaintances, and potential prospects.
It’s more intricate than just shooting out messages in the same way you’d use email. It's about cultivating a carefully curated digital presence to further your expertise and your company's mission.
B2B social selling is the art of leveraging personal and professional branding to surround yourself with a network of the kind of people and businesses you want to work with.
How should you be using LinkedIn as a selling resource?
We've identified 5 simple steps to streamline your B2B social selling presence on LinkedIn so you can more efficiently prospect and start turning your friends and followers into lifelong customers.
Think of it as cracking the code for an elevated (and more popular) LinkedIn presence.
1. Check Out LinkedIn's SSI
Wouldn't it be nice if social media platforms analyzed your digital presence, ranked it in comparison to your friends or competitors, and highlighted areas you could improve upon?
LinkedIn has introduced an incredibly valuable tool that all salespeople should be using.
SSI stands for Social Selling Index, and it is essentially a tool that ranks your social selling capabilities. By analyzing your profile and comparing you to those in your network as well as your industry, the SSI tool is able to measure your performance. Check your status here.
It breaks down your work in LinkedIn's four most important categories:
- Professional Branding
- Engaging with the Right People
- Utilizing Insights
- Building Your Network
These four elements are at the core of social selling. They are the fundamental principles to help guide your actions and activity.
No one will glance twice at your content or messages if your profile looks unprofessional or unclear. Conversly, no one will care about your perfectly professional business profile if you're trying to engage with the wrong people! You cannot hope to excel in only one of these categories in order to improve your B2B social selling, all must be perfected in tandem.
The SSI tool gives your profile a score out of 100, and the closer your rank is to 100 the better. It even displays your ranking in comparison to peers, subtly encouraging some healthy competition while pointing out areas with room for improvement. If you check out LinkedIn's SSI and receive a score less than 50...keep reading.
2. Polish Your Profile
Before we delve into social selling's nitty gritty details of sales funnels and analytics, we need to discuss the importance of square one, or your starting point. Your social selling presence will never soar to success, let alone get off the ground, without an impeccibly polished profile.
"Polished" doesn't have to mean stuffy or overly straightlaced. Your profile should showcase your strengths, experience, and mission in as simple and aesthetically pleasing of a way as possible. If your business's mission statement can't be summed up in a few words, you may want to think about reworking it.
For example, our own LinkedIn bio opens up with a brief sentence that tells a viewer exactly what we are about, "We don’t merely provide training, we provide the tools to manage success."
Don't be afraid to add a fun picture or highlight your more unique hobbies (like hiking or pingpong). This shows viewers that you're more than just a salesperson in a suit, and can even provide a talking point to springboard your next sales conversation.
3. Share Content
Now that you've perfected and personalized your profile, it's time to start getting your name out there. The easiest (and completely free) way of developing your sales persona through LinkedIn involves sharing content.
This is the name of the game when it comes to social selling. When you put out valuable content to your network, you are creating relationships, establishing trust, and being viewed as a credible resource.
Providing value to your current clients and potential ones is how you can accelerate your sales, while maintaining your reputation for not being an overbearing presence.
The benefits of sharing useful, timely, and informative content on LinkedIn allows you to be seen more often on your connections’ news feeds. It’s a great way to stay top of mind without having to worry about pestering them with constant phone calls or emails.
This can include sharing articles you've written, articles from credible sources, or LinkedIn's video sharing feature.
Sharing articles from credible sources such as Forbes or Harvard Business Review shows that you're keeping up with industry thought leaders and helps increase your search and SSI ranking.
LinkedIn's new video sharing feature allows you to put out personable and entertaining content that allows your network to feel as if they know you better. Additionally, LinkedIn's algorithm gives videos more weight which ensures more visibility than an article or status update.
By sharing the right content, you subtly demonstrate your value and the value of your company. This means sharing information that is relevant and helpful to those in your industry while also helping to differentiate your offering from the competition and puts you in a better position.
4. Engage & Test
If the connections in your network engage with the items you share, then your chances of authentically sparking a conversation that could lead to a sale are greater.
On the flip side, make sure you reciprocate. If your connections are sharing content, consider interacting with it by commenting, sharing or “liking” it. This shows you are interested in them and provides a natural start for further discussion.
This is also a great way to express your opinion, perspective, or point-of-view on a particluar subject or industry trend.
Try to test when the best time to share content is - it can vary widely based on your network. Perhaps they are much more active on LinkedIn during the weekend so that’s when you should aim to post something new or maybe the peak time for interactions is on a Tuesday afternoon. By varying when you share items, you’ll be able to develop a feel for what works best.
Limit the amount of items you share to ensure the content is truly quality and you’re not smothering everyone’s news feed with constant updates. This can range anywhere from once daily to about 3 times a week.
Sharing, engaging, and testing content on LinkedIn is an incredible way to organically connect with and provide value to your prospects and clients.
LinkedIn is a great tool to do research on your prospects and clients.
Do you have a meeting coming up? Check out your contact’s personal and company LinkedIn pages.
They will see you’ve viewed their profile which will only serve to keep you top-of-mind, as well as, indicate your interest in what they’re up to.
There is an abundance of information available about all of us on the internet, which means there is absolutely no excuse to come to a meeting unprepared. Staying on top of what’s new with your contact, in addition to any changes happening within their company should be one of your main goals when perusing LinkedIn.
In addition to keeping updated on what’s going on with your current connections, look at the “people also viewed” and “in common” sections on the right hand side of your contact’s profile. You may find other people you know or have worked with that you aren’t connected with yet.
Sellers should aim to use the limitless potential of sharing content and doing research on LinkedIn to their advantage. Becoming an effective social seller requires you to devote focused time and energy into making the most of what this social network has to offer.
How are you using LinkedIn to build relationships? If you need more tips, download our infographic to help you make the most of your social activity.
*Originally published October 2015, updated February 2018
About Jennifer Clark
Jennifer Clark is a senior International Studies student at Fordham University and a Content Marketing & Social Media Intern with DMTraining. Prior to joining the DMTraining team, Jennifer helped various start-ups market themselves on and off campus. This summer, she hopes to add value to DMTraining by assisting clients with digital media education, using her status as an industry newcomer to her advantage. Outside of work, Jennifer enjoys creative writing, making art, and petting every dog she comes across.