The Top 10 Mistakes Social Sellers MakeIntersocial
Modern B2B Sales, Marketing and Account Management teams are finding it increasingly difficult to identify, engage, nurture and convert prospects and accounts using traditional phone and email-based approaches.
The declining effectiveness of these approaches has resulted in greater participation in B2B Social Selling, to complement or in some cases replace these approaches. However, it is reasonably common in our experience for organisations to launch into Social Selling without a full appreciation of the best practice techniques and tools in order to extract full benefit from the powerful B2B Social Selling tool which is LinkedIn.
Over our 15 years consulting to B2B organisations we have seen many common mistakes which may be severely limiting seller engagement rates and the overall effectiveness of their Social Selling programs. In this brief article, we outline the most common of these and propose some best practice Social Selling tools and techniques for selling professionals to consider.
1. Not Using Follow Up InMail
B2B Sales professionals rarely send a follow up InMail to prospects after having sent an initial InMail. In our experience, follow up InMails produce as many – if not more – responses and leads than the initial InMail. A follow up InMail “authenticates” the seller as a professional who is genuinely seeking to contact the buyer with an offer of value.
2. Not Using Introduction Requests
Sales professionals rarely leverage mutual LinkedIn connections to request introductions to targeted contacts, despite having access to an incredibly rich and accurate database in LinkedIn.Introductions are, quite simply, the single-most effective lead generation method that exists, offline or online.
3. Not Personalising Connection Requests
In our experience, B2B Sales professionals rarely personalise their first-degree connection requests. Personalisation is not simply using a contacts first name. Instead, a ‘personalised’ request should identify factors such as how the Seller and the Buyer are related and who both parties know in common. If the seller is already working with the contacts’ organisation, it should identify who they are working with and what products or services they are delivering. Providing full context will maximise the chance the invitee will see it as a genuine professional interaction and therefore respond.
In any offline selling context, sales professionals would not fail to position why they might be seeking to connect, so why should Social Selling be any different?
4. Not Personalising Connection Requests On Mobile
In addition to Mistake #3, Sales professionals rarely include a personalised note when sending first-degree connection requests from their mobile phones. One potential reason is that the personalisation option is less conspicuous on the mobile app, and as a result many social sellers may not be aware this functionality exists. To add a note, sellers need to press the ellipsis button (three dots) to the right of the ‘Invite’ button, then select ‘Personalise Invite’.
Certainly, it may be more convenient to send a connection request without personalisation on mobile, however the results are well worth the small additional effort required to personalise them. This is a powerful Social Selling technique when done right.
5. Not Featuring Thoughtful Short-Form Insights In Status Updates
This social selling technique is important. Sales professionals rarely add customised editorials (short form insights) to their status updates. Often they simply re-share a post with a generic message (if one at all). The result is content which fails to engage their network, offers little value to the reader, and fails to enhance their personal brand and positioning.
There is no shortcut to engagement. The only way to cut through is to read the original content, produce unique insights, call out the target audience, and make it clear why they should be reading the update.
Employee advocacy platforms may be an underlying factor in this regard. Often there is not enough time or resource invested in producing original short-form content and content insights for these platforms. This often results in generic social posts which are duplicated across the selling team. From a customer perspective, this can appear robotic and inauthentic, reducing the likelihood of engagement and diluting personal brands.
6. Not Using Boolean In Prospect Search
B2B Sales professionals rarely use Boolean search when using Lead Filters to create prospect lists. Instead they use the platform’s drop down filters, which, given the sheer number of variations in any one variable (e.g. job title) makes this process incredibly time consuming and error-prone. Using this technique can make LinkedIn a critical lead generation and prospect identification tool.
By investing 20 mins in learning Boolean search (IF, OR, AND, NOT), within one minute users can create a detailed text-based search string which searches against hundreds of variations and saves busy sales professionals a significant amount of time. It also ensures prospect lists are not missing potential target leads.
7. Not Building Inner Circle Connections
B2B Sales professionals rarely invite their customers, partners, and colleagues to connect on LinkedIn. Often there may be psychological barriers to sales professionals adding these connections to their network. They may not wish to bother clients, feel that commercial partners are not directly relevant to selling efforts or that they may not wish for their social media activities to be visible to these groups.
However, by building up the sellers’ networks to include ‘inner circle’ connections of the types listed above (and even including family and friends), there is a greater likelihood of uncovering mutual contacts to leverage via content or introduction requests.
8. Focussing On Content Quantity, Not Quality
Sales professionals are often advised by social media experts about the need to share content frequently, sometimes at defined daily, weekly or monthly frequencies. This creates a lot of stress, mostly due to lack of available content from time-poor marketing and sales teams and invariably leads to a reduction in the quality of shared content.
Professional sellers should create their own compelling short-form insights unique to them. They should share it with colleagues and business partners, explain their objectives in sharing the content and directly request their connections support via likes, comments and re-shares.
The strength of the insight and the inertia provided by engaging close contacts first will ensure the content is distributed more widely, has greater ‘shelf-life’ (which drives the sellers’ visibility over time), and delivers far greater engagement overall.
9. Not Leveraging The Organisational Brand Within LinkedIn Profiles
B2B Sales professionals rarely develop LinkedIn profiles that portray them in a heavyweight manner that is relevant to their prospects and customers. They often contain rich personal information but comparatively little company information. This is often because there is a concern about appearing to be a corporate ‘instrument’ or potentially less desirable to recruiters.
However, there is a symbiotic relationship between the individual and the organisation. The company ‘credentialises’ the individual and vice versa. In this way, sellers can transform their profiles into effective, ‘always on’ selling assets.
10. The Desperate Meeting Request
Sales professionals rarely wait before sending a direct message to a new first-degree connection. Requests often arrive within 15 mins or a few hours of a successful connection. This would not normally occur in any other sales context.
Instead, sellers should defer their meeting request ideally for 3-4 days or longer. This signals that they are a sales professional in control, not needing to move more quickly than a potential prospect may wish to. If the seller does need to contact the contact urgently, then the seller should provide a valid reason for the urgency.
In summary, in this brief article we have covered some of the most common mistakes we see selling professionals make and in doing so have provided some of the critical techniques, tools and best practice ways for how to avoid these. Fortunately, many of these recommendations are easy to implement yet can drive exponential improvements across your team and their combined Social Selling activity.
At the same time, your organisations’ prospects and clients will enjoy a far better experience from end to end which will ultimately result in better marketing and sales outcomes.
Do you agree? Please feel free to leave a comment. If your organisation is seeking more from their Social Selling program please contact us or review our comprehensive list of specialised training and services.