The trend is obvious: selling is becoming more and more social. Research tells us that if a social connection exists – engagement on a LinkedIn group, an exchange of Tweets, etc – then rates of conversations to appointments jump 70%. There are dozens of other sales metrics related to social selling on LinkedIn that demonstrate just what a valuable avenue this is.
Yet, many sales reps still make common mistakes when attempting social selling via LinkedIn. It is incumbent upon managers to help guide their reps’ social selling strategies and tactics, while avoiding common pitfalls.
Here are the 3 most common mistakes when social selling on LinkedIn.
Mistake #1: Your Reps’ LinkedIn Profiles are Glorified Online Resumes
If your sales reps think of their public LinkedIn profiles as nothing more than online resumes, they are passing up potential revenue growth for your company. When your reps reach out to people at other companies, the first place those people will look for information on your company is your reps’ LinkedIn profiles – especially if they are interested. They will form first impressions of your company, product, and service based on what they see.
Instead of re-posting their resumes online, your reps can craft a sell-worthy LinkedIn profile by…
Moving away from a sales performance focus – Reps’ profiles should shy away from self-promotion and boasting while looking for clever ways to orient toward providing customer value.
Having a killer summary section – This section should NEVER be blank! Also, it should not be a generic description that looks like it was copied and pasted from your company’s “About” page.
Featuring headers, sub-headers, and graphics – Break their profiles up. People are much more likely to read it if it’s visually interesting rather than big blocks of text.
Being accessible – Your reps’ contact information must be accurately updated. Contact information should not be in the name field – this is against LinkedIn’s Terms of Agreement and your account could be shut down.
Participating in groups – Groups are a great way to engage and build authority in your industry. Belonging to and sharing ideas in relevant groups makes your sales reps appear knowledgeable and connected.
Spell-checking – Bad grammar and spelling mistakes are sure-fire ways to lose credibility in the eyes of your prospect.
Mistake #2: Prioritizing Quality of LinkedIn Connections Over Quantity
You read correctly: it is a mistake for members of your sales team to prioritize quality over quantity of LinkedIn connections. Here’s why.
There is no objective right or wrong regarding number of LinkedIn connections – it is all about one’s purpose on LinkedIn. Fundamentally, what do you want your sales team to achieve from LinkedIn? More connections mean you can:
Spot more opportunities
Search for people who might have referrals
Find people who can help you in the sales process
Achieve higher visibility on LinkedIn
The last bullet point is the most important on a day-to-day basis. LinkedIn works on the basis of 3 levels of connection: your 1st-level connections are connected to you directly; your 2nd-level connections are people connected to your 1st-level connections; and your 3rd-level connections are people connected to your 2nd-level connections. Anyone not connected to your 3rd level are deemed “Out of Network,” which affects both what you can see on their profile and what they can see on your profile. A prospect who is “Out of Network” of your sales rep will not be able to find them easily on LinkedIn, and a valuable opportunity at a connection and relationship could be lost.
In addition to higher profile visibility, being “closer” to your prospect will mean your reps will appear higher up in their search results. When your prospect searches a name or company on LinkedIn on the default setting, the results will come up in terms of “Relevance,” which is factored on how closely you are connected to the person. The “closer” your rep is to the person doing the search, the better chance they will have of ranking highly in the search results.
Mistake #3: Not tracking your social selling efforts with the right sales metrics
So, you implemented these changes. The obvious next step is to analyze the sales metrics behind your efforts. How do you calculate the ROI on your new LinkedIn strategy?
The easiest and least expensive way to track changes in how people respond to your efforts is by tracking LinkedIn page views, likes, and follows. Views, just like clicks in SEO terms, can be valuable. But tracking these simple metrics is not enough if you want to know exactly how much your LinkedIn strategy is paying off – a CRM solution is the best way to see to what extent your social campaigns impact your leads, opportunities, and revenue.
Finally: do not let your team’s LinkedIn best practices fall to the wayside. If your reps were not originally accustomed to using LinkedIn on a daily basis, get them in the habit of checking it and updating it regularly.
Relationships are the foundation of selling, and what better way for your reps to differentiate themselves from unknown prospects than by converting their LinkedIn presence from a stagnant online resume to a relationship-building tool.