Automation tools have made it easier than ever to communicate regularly with your audience through social channels. You can schedule the posts a month ahead and forget about it, right?
Well, that’s where the art meets the science. You still want your social channels to feel personal and timely. We are also finding that the future of referrals and growth of business relationships is happening online. If you want to attract future leaders — and clients — to support firm value, business development is happening online.
A recent article on LinkedIn stated that 78 percent of all millennial sales professionals are using social selling tools and 63 percent say those tools are “critical or extremely critical to their sales performance.” Why? Because most buyers are looking up information about your firm online before they consider calling a real person. People who are engaging with others regularly online have a much better chance of connecting with those buyers at the right stage of their decision-making process.
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”
– Pablo Picasso
Relationships need to be built prior to a sales conversation. Although scheduled social posts are good for SEO techniques and PR/visibility, most firms are not leveraging their online connections to nurture referrals and business conversations.
You can gain an edge for your firm by beginning now.
Whether you are focused on expanding relationships or helping younger professionals develop their business development skills, your marketing strategy should include social selling.
The foundation of social selling is to get organized. Up to this point, many professionals have simply connected to people they work with now, used to work with or met through a related event. They may also have connected with similar professionals to themselves, fellow alums and vendors.
Step #1 Declutter
Create groups of your connections so that you can tailor and target your messages to what they care about..
Step #2 Schedule 20 minutes each week to organize your social selling strategy.
What you focus on gets done. Once you’ve decluttered, get some time on your calendar to make that investment in your network with these next steps. The ROI will be plentiful.
Step #3 Update your profile
Don’t cut and paste your résumé. Share who you want to meet, what people can expect from you and how you help..Be personable and share what motivates you.
Step #4 Define your social niche
Develop a narrow list of topics you want to deliver better than anyone. For example, if your firm serves the non-profit industry, share content you’ve written, and the non-profit content of other credible non-profit sources, based on that expertise. Keep topics narrow such as mission-focused budgeting or fiduciary responsibilities of boards..
Step #5 Tailor messages
Reach out to your top leads with thoughts, articles, resources, and news to pique their interest. These leads will look to you as a subject matter expert and thought leader – thus moving them further along the sales funnel.
Step #6 Measure your progress
After consistently working on nurturing your network for 20 minutes a week, are you hearing from more people, getting more likes and comments, noticing new connections you want to attract or hearing from people that you haven’t in a long while? Set your measurable goal in months 1 through 3, 4 through 6 and 7 through 9, etc. We promise you that you will begin to see the value of nurturing relationships online.
For a fun tool, check out LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index (SSI) to see how you rank among other professionals for influencing leads on LinkedIn.
What should I share?
Common questions we get about social networking and selling are related to what types of content to share with your network online. The best content can include:
- Your own niche-focused articles providing solutions to client challenges
- Articles related to your target prospects’ industry
- Items unique to your market or geography where you are pursuing clients
There is obviously a place for sharing information about your firm or team accomplishments, awards and the like. Let’s place those posts in the PR/visibility box to build your firm’s reputation online — so that people have a baseline level of trust. Schedule those as a separate calendar. The content that you as a professional should share personally is narrowly focused to your goal of proving you are the best professional for the job.
Put it into action
For an idea of how your profile should look, we put ourselves out there and have shared one of our team’s LinkedIn profiles — newly updated — as an example of a carefully curated social selling profile. The profile has a mix of professional and personal information, focused on the desired client.
If you need assistance with your strategy, contact us with your questions. We help individuals responsible for business development in service-based organizations as well as those in charge of marketing professional services.