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3 Best Practices for B2B Social Selling on LinkedIn

By: Isaac Anderson, Founder & CEO, Zeeko

June 10, 2019

Picture this: You’re sitting in a room with 1,000 perfect potential clients. You can talk to any one of them right now; share whatever you want. Every action you take has meaning.

Cut to a networking event with 1,000 random people all trying to figure out who to talk to. (You might as well have stayed home.)

That’s the difference between building the right LinkedIn tribe and not.

How do you build the right tribe on LinkedIn for B2B social selling?  First, it’s crucial to know how and why people end up accidentally building the wrong tribe on the platform. Often, sales teams are not 100 percent clear on a number of details about the decision makers who work at target companies. You might know company revenue and industry, but that’s it. The natural result? You connect with anyone and everyone in hopes that your glob of connections will turn into an opportunity. The chances of that happening are slim to none.

Building the right tribe is easy—if you identify the individuals who make decisions at the companies you sell to, proactively connect and start authentic relationships with them. If you receive a connection request from someone who does not fit that description, consider hitting “ignore” without feeling guilty. The net result: You’ll end up being surrounded by potential clients (i.e., the tribe you’re really looking for).

Invest in relationship equity

Let’s start by discussing automation, because we can then talk about why it is ineffective for high-ticket B2B sales on Linkedin.

Automation violates LinkedIn’s user agreement, can get you banned from the platform, tends to go hand in hand with spam and tarnishes your reputation. Not to mention that Harvard graduates running Fortune 500 companies likely won’t bother to talk to a bot. (That’s entry level stuff.)

Most importantly, automation will rob you of relationship equity. People buy from people they know, like and trust. The higher the sale value, the more trust is required to close the deal.

If you want to cash out on trust, you need to invest in relationship equity. How do you do that on LinkedIn? By taking the time to learn about your connections (read their profiles), having two way conversations with them (via messaging), bringing them value (even when there’s no money involved) and becoming a part of their professional lives.

Use the QuAD messaging method

If you want to use LinkedIn for B2B social selling and outreach, remember that the money is in the messaging. Sure, sharing content in the feed has its place. But it’s like shouting in a loud room. On LinkedIn, you “follow” every account you connect with. That’s insanely high competition for a little bit of real estate on a screen.

It’s much more quiet and personal to have a one-on-one conversation via messaging. (And yes, it just happens to be one of the hardest things to do well on LinkedIn.)

I’m sure you highly dislike it when someone blindly pitches you through InMail or via a connection request. The underlying issue that drives all that subpar messaging? Assumptions. People are assuming that:

  1. You are a good lead.
  2. You are at the end of the sales cycle.

Here’s an easy acronym that will remove assumptions and take your LinkedIn messaging to the next level: The QuAD Method. It stands for Question > Answer > Discussion.

Using LinkedIn messaging, you initiate a conversation with someone who appears to be a potential lead. You do that by asking meaningful Questions related to what you both do, focusing on their interests first and foremost. If you’re lucky, they’ll Answer you, which means no more guessing if they’re a good prospect or where they’re in the sales cycle. That information enables you to have a meaningful Discussion with your lead: You can offer them highly contextual answers, advice, and solutions.

Employing this method, you start as an interviewer and become a trusted advisor (and their go-to when they’re ready to make a purchase). A small percentage of these leads will be interested in what you do now and may convert to your sales funnel. But if you don’t use the QuAD Method you’ll likely burn bridges with everyone who’s not at the end of the sales cycle and waste the majority of your network.

Play the long game

It’s important to remember that the majority of your LinkedIn connections will not be at the end of the sales cycle the first day they accept your connection request—even if they are a member of the right tribe. That’s why playing the long game pays off.

When a B2B sales team focuses exclusively on the small part of their network that happens to be at the end of the sales cycle, they neglect the majority and forfeit significant delayed returns. This practice creates a never-ending reliance on a high volume of connection requests and quick sales pitches.

Instead of churning and burning through new connections, play the long game for exponential returns.

How do you do that on LinkedIn? By staying top of mind with each person in your network as they move from the top to the bottom of the funnel. Use messaging to regularly send them resources they find valuable. Let them know when they’re mentioned in the news. Wish them happy holidays (but please, be authentic about it). If they deserve it, give them a recommendation or endorse their skills. Send them referrals and introduce them to the right people. It may take time to see a financial ROI for some people in your network, but in the long run it truly pays off.

Just do it

My hope is that you’ll take these LinkedIn best practices and apply them one day at a time to your LinkedIn B2B social selling efforts. Be intentional about building the right tribe to create more opportunity.  Invest in relationship equity. Use the QuAD messaging method to remove assumptions and start a meaningful dialogue. And avoid forfeiting delayed returns by playing the long game with your connections as they travel through the sales cycle.

Isaac is the founder and CEO of Zeeko and a LinkedIn instructor at Data Driven.

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