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Social Selling Using LinkedIn Part II

Monday, November 21, 2016

In my last blog post I showed how investing 10 minutes in Social Selling per day can improve your prospecting effectiveness and eliminate cold calling. [If you haven't read it, click here]. In this posting I'll share two effective ways to build the targeted list of buyers you want to be introduced to so you can begin filling the top of your sales funnel.

The path to eliminating cold calling begins with increasing the number of first-degree LinkedIn connections you have in your network. The more first-degree connections you have, the more second-degree connections [and opportunities for connection requests] you will likely have to the buyers you want to speak to about using your products and services.

To make the jump from cold calling to Social Selling you need to tap your first-degree connections and ask them to introduce you to the buyers you'd like to meet. To start down this path you first need to make a list of the buyers you want to be introduced to so you can then ask to be introduced to them. There are a couple of ways to build this list.

The first is for you - or your Virtual Assistant - to do a Google search and create a list of potential companies that fit your Ideal Customer Profile. You can also choose to buy such a list. Buying is faster, but more expensive. There are pros and cons to each approach to list acquisition.

Next, go to LinkedIn and enter the name of each company on your list in the search window. Click on the company name, and LinkedIn will tell you how many first, second and third-degree connections you have within it. Look for the person within that company that, by title, is the right one for you to speak to about using your products and services.

Are they a first-degree connection of yours already? If yes, go ahead and request a telephone meeting with them to talk about using your products and services. You are off to the races!

If they are not a first-degree connection, open their profile. Which second-degree connections do you share with them? Of those second-degree connections, which is the best one to ask for an introduction to your prospective buyer? Generally the "best person" is the one with the optimum combination of a strong/close relationship with you and a strong/close relationship with your prospective buyer.

The second way to create your prospective buyer list is to find someone in your first-degree network that you consider to be well connected within your industry/territory, with whom you have a close relationship, and who would be happy to make introductions for you. LinkedIn gives you access to their first-degree network. Scan it and create a list of people that fit your Ideal Customer Profile who you would like to be introduced to.

The first and most critical step when using this method is to speak to this person directly and confirm that they would be OK to refer you on a regular basis [you don't ever want to stress your network by "over asking" for referrals]. You might pose the opportunity to them using the "give to get" method.

Say something to them like, "I'm in the process of looking for new business. You are very well connected in my space. Would you mind if I looked through your network for connection opportunities? I'll then let you know who I am hoping to be introduced to. In return, I would like you to do the same within my network. I want to help you as much as I possibly can." If they agree, go ahead and begin building your list.

With your list built, it's now time to proceed with asking for those valuable introductions. Details and scripting around how to do that will be the topic of my next blog post.

Social Selling Using LinkedIn

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Social selling has become an integral part of the sales and business development landscape. It presents an opportunity for you to eliminate cold calling – the most soul sucking activity in sales – from your business development function. How are you at social selling?

To my mind, LinkedIn is the strongest social selling tool currently out there for business-to-business sales people. This is because business people join LinkedIn for the purpose of being connected to other ethical and like-minded business people like you.

The big challenge with cold calling is that a huge trust gap exists. People you cold call don't know you, and therefore don't trust that investing time with you is worthwhile. Thus, they don't take your call.

With LinkedIn, rather than cold calling a prospect you can ask to be connected to them by someone you mutually know and trust. If that person in the middle says you are worth connecting with, then the trust gap is bridged and the prospect has a higher likelihood of saying yes to your request to connect.

In order for prospecting via LinkedIn to be effective you need to have as many first-degree connections as possible. This in turn increases the number of second-degree connections you have - which increases the likelihood that someone you are connected to currently knows someone who you would like to connect with for business development purposes. [In my experience, third-degree connections are very weak and are hard to convert into introductions/first-degree connections.]

Increasing your connection base is not hard. It is astounding how many people you interact with over the years. A few years ago I followed a system to increase the amount of quality first-degree connections [people I know on a first name basis]. I have tripled the number of those connections over the span of a few months.

The positive business result of doing this is that I found I now have over 500 second-degree connections to business owners and CEOs at companies of the type that fit my ideal customer profile. This is a great pool of prospects for me.

Here is the process to follow to beef up the number of quality connections you have on LinkedIn…

Start by scheduling an appointment with yourself to spend 10 minutes each day to focus on building your LinkedIn network. During this 10 minute block of time…

  1. Look back at the previous work day. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone with whom you interacted? If not, send them a connection request. 
  2. Look at your current customer base. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone within that account that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  3. Look at your current suppliers. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with or have interacted with? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  4. Look at your current friends and family. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interact with? If not, send those people a connection request.
  5. Look back at your previous job roles and other companies you have worked for. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with regularly? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  6. Look back at your post-secondary education. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request. 
  7. Look back at your high school days. Are you connected on LinkedIn with everyone there that you interacted with on a regular basis? If not, send those people a connection request.

I suggest 10 minutes a day on this activity so you can tackle it in small chunks. If you simply want to spend one hour a week – you can do that too.

If you have not previously taken the approach outlined above, my guess is that you can increase your number of quality first-degree connections [people you know on a first name basis] by 30% easily.

Start building your LinkedIn network immediately. Track your progress week to week to see if you're getting traction.

In a follow-up blog post I'll talk about how to ask your first-degree connections to introduce you to prospects you would like to get connected with.


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