With over 660 million members, LinkedIn is undoubtedly one of the most relevant social platforms for sales professionals. We’re able to connect with buyers in just a few clicks, but the question is, are we taking full advantage of this platform to engage our audience and build relationships?
Traditional social selling is too focused on selling. Our inboxes are filled with unsolicited LinkedIn messages from sellers trying to push their products and services. We become numb to it.
This approach to social selling is not only ineffective, it diminishes our relationship with our buyers.
In 2020, we need to stop selling on autopilot and elevate our social strategy by building an intentional digital presence.
By now, most sales professionals know that social media is an increasingly important component of an effective sales strategy. According to Hubspot, 78% of salespeople who use social media outperform their peers.
What we’re not quite grasping is how to effectively use social media, specifically LinkedIn, to nurture relationships, create valuable content, and establish thought leadership to drive sales.
Social selling was intended to bridge this gap.
Hootsuite defines social selling as the art of using social media to find, connect with, understand, and nurture sales prospects. It’s supposed to be a modern approach to developing relationships with buyers.
In practice, though, salespeople are still missing the mark.
Why? Because social selling overlooks a crucial component (hint: it’s engagement).
Our LinkedIn inbox and newsfeed have become flooded with low-value content that no one cares about, and we’re completely missing out on the opportunity to genuinely engage with our buyers.
The answer is to have an intentional digital presence.
What Is an Intentional Digital Presence?
At Skaled, we define intentional digital presence as the act of generating impact through meaningful dialogue with buyers to connect to a network of potential business.
By deploying an intentional and connected content strategy, you can grow your audience and position yourself as a thought leader in the eyes of your buyer.
In other words, it’s about putting out content that people want to engage with, to develop relationships in a much more authentic way than random InMail.
By elevating your social-selling strategy to a digital-presence strategy, you’re putting social engagement first. You allow direct selling to take a backseat to relationship building and interacting with your audience.
“Social selling is an old school way to think… you should not be focused on selling on social anything but yourself and your views.” – Jake Dunlap, CEO Skaled Consulting
Transitioning to a Digital Presence Strategy
I can’t stress this enough. Salespeople need to retire traditional social-selling techniques and focus on creating content that speaks to the needs of your buyers.
LinkedIn has the potential to become one of the main sales funnels for your business, but you can only do this with authentic social engagement,.
After achieving nearly 10 million views on my LinkedIn posts in 2019, I realized that engagement involves two key ingredients: delivering quality content, and delivering that content to the right audience.
As a CEO in the B2B space, I love talking about sales and I love talking to other people who love sales. My audience consists of sales professionals, so as you would expect, I post content about sales and sales leadership.
A lot of people fall short when building their digital presence by either creating the wrong content or targeting the wrong audience.
Always ask yourself two questions when planning content for linkedIn:
- Do you know who’s interacting with your content on LinkedIn?
- Are you delivering the right content to your audience?
Let’s unpack this a bit.
Question 1: Do You Know Who’s Interacting With Your Content On Linkedin?
Most salespeople have no clue who is liking and engaging with their content.
Because the vast majority of our audience consists of current and former coworkers, most sales professionals are putting out content that only current and former coworkers will interact with.
Don’t believe me?
Go through your last 10 LinkedIn posts. Who liked and commented on your content? Were they colleagues or your target buyers?
No matter how insightful your content is, your current audience just isn’t going to care if they’re not the right audience for your content.
To build your digital presence, you have to invest in audience development. You need to get your content in front of the right audience, then nurture those relationships with the goal of turning your followers into an interactive, digital community.
Here are a few tips to start developing and growing your audience in 2020:
Connect with at least 150 new buyers a week. You have to go out to where your buyers are and bring them into your network. 98% of sales reps with more than 5,000 LinkedIn connections meet or surpass their quota.
Be consistent. Posting once or twice a week isn’t going to cut it. People follow leaders who are putting out content every single day. Buyers expect consistent, original content.
Leave out promotional CTAs (calls to action) when posting. I know this goes against the fiber of your being as a salesperson, but the reason I don’t promote my company 24/7 is because my goal is to add value. Leave out the hidden agendas and focus on developing your audience. You can leverage these relationships on social media to sell later.
This approach is more about nurturing and less about direct selling.
Question 2: Are You Delivering The Right Content To Your Audience?
Now that you have the audience, step two is creating and sharing valuable content.
Remember that your audience is being inundated with tons of content daily. Establishing a digital presence requires a buyer-centric content strategy with the right content type and mix to appeal to your audience.
People want to be “in the know,” so sharing original, insightful content is one of the easiest ways to establish your thought leadership and gain more followers. Plus, it’s completely free.
When done correctly, a solid content strategy is mutually beneficial. Your audience receives great, informative content, and you get a quality LinkedIn network that will later serve as an organic lead generator.
As a salesperson, you already hold the insights your buyers want to know. It’s just a matter of sharing that knowledge in a more impactful and engaging way.
If you’re reading this and asking yourself, “what should I post?” here are a few of my go-to LinkedIn post topics:
- Words of advice to aspiring sales leaders
- Talking about common misconceptions in my industry
- Sharing industry do’s and don’ts
- Reacting to industry news and current trends
- Posing a thought-provoking question and providing an answer
Those are just a few ideas, but whatever you write about, be sure to add your personality.
A common mistake I see is people treating their company brand as their own or trying to mimic the voice of their competitors.
Savvy sales leaders, CEOs, and founders use LinkedIn to establish their own voice to push their companies forward. Take an original stance, have a unique personality. Otherwise, you’re just another sales guy lost in the crowd.
If you want to connect with your buyers in an authentic way, building an intentional digital presence is absolutely essential.
You achieve this by:
- Understanding and developing your target audience.
- Delivering high-quality content to the right audience.
- Establishing yourself as a thought leader and expert in your space.
The way we interact with buyers on social media is evolving. The question you need to ask yourself is whether your current strategy is designed to keep up.
Outdated social selling techniques like InMail are dead. In 2020, sales is all about consistently sharing the right content with the right audience to elevate your digital presence.