The Age of Social Network Selling

A new approach to selling has developed through the use of social networking sites. Social networks allow sales representatives to generate stronger leads, eliminate the gatekeeper from the process and set up solid appointments to introduce their products or services.

LinkedIn, for example, has been a leader in the business social network arena. The site provides individuals a means to build business relationships, upload their resumes, job search and join groups. Today social network sites such as LinkedIn provide an advantage for sales representatives when used properly. Here, are four basic ways to use LinkedIn to increase contact rates and sales:

  1. Produce Strong Leads Through Search Options – Strong lead generation is essential to a sales representative’s success. LinkedIn advanced search options allow sales representatives the opportunity to search by industry, groups, titles, names, company’s and by key words to name a few. Using direct connections is imperative. Direct connections can lead sales representatives to a second and third connection. Some of the best leads come from a third connection. It is vital to understand that a lead on LinkedIn may not be the actual prospect, but they will lead a sales representative in the right direction. LinkedIn provides different plan options that will help increase search opportunities and allow sales representatives to send more emails to potential clients.
  2. InMail Your Way to More Sales – An  email sales approach through LinkedIn can be beneficial. The content of the email is important because it is a sales representative’s only opportunity to make a favorable first impression. Remember, the contact rate is much better if emails are directed to individuals that have business dealings checked in the contact section. Make sure the email is not too wordy and that the subject line is appealing. LinkedIn’s website states that “Users are 30 times more likely to get a response to an InMail than cold calling.”
  3. Get Introduced – Try to have a personal connection introduce one of their connections. It adds credibility and opens the door for a sales representative to present a service or product. Using a soft sales approach works best. Networking increases a sales representative’s success rate.
  4. Make the Call – Leads on LinkedIn provide sales representatives an opportunity to get past the gatekeeper. Remember, a lead on LinkedIn may not be the actual prospect. This is a perfect time to make a cold call. It allows a sales representative to make a pitch directly to a LinkedIn individual who would potentially be open to transferring the call to an individual who makes the decisions for the organization. The cold call approach goes from “Who is in charge of your advertising?” to “Hello, can I speak to Kevin?”

Brian Rowland has 15 years of experience in sales and operations management for small and mid-size organizations.

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