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March 8, 2023
Picture this. You see influencers in your space dominating it on LinkedIn.
Big names who do what you do, whether selling asset-management services, real estate or software, except they’re all over the internet.
And then what? Yep, they publish a post about how they found a boatload of new clients who all said yes almost right away to their outreach messages. Wouldn’t that be nice, eh?
How? Well, with their reputation on social media. They appear friendly and knowledgeable because of their articles, profiles, shares & comments, social posts, videos and more, showing off both their expertise and their personality.
In short, they practice social selling, an incredibly efficient way for nurturing leads.
You’ve probably heard of social selling, a powerful way to use your social-media presence to engage with potential customers, generate better leads, build relationships and close deals.
And LinkedIn—one of the most useful social platforms for businesses—is where you want to be if you want to do social selling effectively.
Introducing LinkedIn social selling, the art of using LinkedIn to connect with potential clients and convert them into actual clients.
In this guide, we’ll explore what LinkedIn social selling is all about, its importance and how to measure it. We’ll also cover how to sell with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, review tips from our LinkedIn lead-generation guide and include some social-selling examples on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn social selling isn’t overly complex. It’s simply the modern version of relationship building. It involves building relationships with leads on LinkedIn to create and nurture a sales opportunity.
We’re not just talking about selling products or services, but also about developing trust and credibility with your target audience.
Let’s say you’re new to LinkedIn as a channel for generating leads or your sales team only recently started giving it a go.
Will all this time on LinkedIn be worth it? Can I realistically replicate the success of LinkedIn influencers? What if it ends up a fruitless exercise or I come off as spammy once I begin outreaching?
We know the feeling. In fact, a lot of people do….
According to a recent report from HubSpot, generating leads is the top challenge for businesses that marketers face—jumping from the second-biggest challenge the previous year.
So it’s no secret that any trick you as a sales rep or marketer can find to create demand for your products or services could burst open your connection & close rates.
Social selling on LinkedIn is about using LinkedIn to cement your online brand, demonstrate your expertise, share valuable ideas and engage with LinkedIn content to establish yourself as a trusted thought leader in your industry, build community and increase sales.
LinkedIn social-selling best practices include content marketing like producing articles on LinkedIn, writing posts, interacting in LinkedIn Groups, sharing podcasts, promoting newsletters and more.
Cultivating a community for your brand is also essential to your content-marketing efforts.
For example, PeerSignal, the media brand for the company Keyplay, distributes free, in-depth content via LinkedIn to drive awareness for the revenue-generating Keyplay brand. With social selling, they hardly have to do any selling at all when prospecting via social media.
Developing a community also helps create more sales opportunities. The beauty is that it enhances your reputation as a seller during the outreach stage of LinkedIn campaigns.
According to a previous State of Sales report from LinkedIn, more than 70% of sales professionals use social media for work purposes. Clearly LinkedIn social selling is a popular tactic.
But sheer volume of LinkedIn content and one-way communication just won’t cut it because of how our minds work psychologically when assessing brands and online reputations.
Social selling on LinkedIn takes its cues from business psychologist Robert Cialdini’s seminal 1984 book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. Cialdini outlined criteria for influencing that still inspires marketers and sales reps to this day, such as showcasing social proof and developing scarcity.
We see, for example, how Cialdini’s principles of persuasion boost lead-gen rates through social selling, like using LinkedIn to make yourself likable to your audience and establishing your authority with expertise & insights.
Building off these principles, a LinkedIn sales strategy that leverages social selling can yield high returns, because this art of influence complements the human behavior of buyers.
Social-media users follow profiles because they genuinely want to keep in touch, form social connections and maintain personal interactions—which speak to our highest human impulses. Positive social interactions raise our oxytocin levels—rewarding us with feel-good chemicals, trust and empathy.
Before jumping into posting LinkedIn content, clarify your motivations for social selling.
Having a desire to build meaningful connections with people will go a long way. Using LinkedIn for sales becomes a natural result of that process.
Now that we’ve established what LinkedIn social selling is and the psychology behind it, let’s explore its benefits. Why should you pay attention to social selling and prospecting via social media—LinkedIn in particular?
By social selling on LinkedIn, you build trust with your audience by providing valuable information and insights from your industry. This way, you establish credibility with your audience and prove yourself as a thought leader.
LinkedIn social selling also enables you to personalize how you connect with your audience. Communicating on LinkedIn often involves lots of one-to-one interactions, especially when you take the time to engage with your audience in LinkedIn comments and conversations.
Building personal connections and interacting with other people’s content helps solidify your trustworthiness as audiences see your expertise as dependable.
Let’s not forget about building brand awareness, something many business managers and sales leaders overlook.
Imagine building your brand to a household name, like Apple or Nintendo!
That’s what brand awareness can do—keep your company name, or even your personal name if you’ve got that influencer personality in you, top of mind for your potential clients.
Amanda Natividad, SparkToro’s VP of Marketing, is one of many raving about LinkedIn’s potential for increasing brand awareness and expanding your reach.
It’s no wonder. With a reach of over 800 million people and about 185 million users, LinkedIn social selling provides access to a massive audience. It lets you expand your brand’s reach in ways few other platforms can.
According to social-selling statistics, companies and leaders who engage in social selling are approximately 40% more likely to hit revenue goals than peers who don’t use social selling.
Hence why it’s so vital to have a strong Social-Selling Index (SSI) score, which measures your ability to sell your brand or service via LinkedIn (more on this below); LinkedIn touts that those with stronger scores create roughly 45% more sales opportunities and are about 51% more likely to reach quota.
In other words, prospecting on social media and using social selling on LinkedIn works!
Perhaps most critically—not social selling on LinkedIn means your competitors can get ahead of the game.
Although prospecting on social media with a strong online presence may not increase revenue overnight, it’s a key tactic for keeping up by landing more quality leads and scaling operations.
As you spend more time social selling on LinkedIn and building genuine connections with potential clients, you’ll start seeing behavior patterns in your target audience.
This is an excellent opportunity to conduct market research at the same time—and organically!
Building relationships and trust with your audience will help you learn why some people become paying clients. Then you can use those insights to target and contact more specific prospects and improve your sales strategy.
Since about 78% of social sellers outsell peers not using social media, as per the same above-referenced LinkedIn data, LinkedIn social selling is a major selling tool in your arsenal to stay competitive in your market.
Understanding the benefits and importance of LinkedIn social selling is great and all. But how do you measure how effective your social-selling efforts are?
Enter the LinkedIn SSI, which measures the four social-selling activities on Sales Navigator and LinkedIn. Let’s go over the four areas your SSI score depends on.
Your professional brand is how you present yourself on LinkedIn.
This includes completing & optimizing your LinkedIn profile, sharing compelling & relevant content, how regularly you post content, how active you are on the platform and how engaged your LinkedIn network is with you.
This factor looks at how you expand your network for reaching prospects, specifically in how you identify and connect with best-fit individuals across your industry.
These people include decision-makers, industry influencers and those who can introduce you to potential leads.
Also, how do you use advanced account & lead searches? How many leads do you save? How many inbound profile views do you have? The criteria here is plentiful!
The quality of your connections and how well you’re targeting your outreach efforts to the right individuals are key here.
This component looks at the engagements you give and receive, like post comments, post shares, inbound & outbound messages and more.
When you share insights, provide solutions to prospects’ problems, answer questions and initiate LinkedIn-group discussions, for instance, these all contribute to your SSI score.
Examples of valuable insights include industry news & trends to help those in your wider target market solve existing problems or achieve goals.
As always, authenticity in your LinkedIn interactions is essential. Avoid being pushy or sounding too salesy.
You want to engage your audience with credibility so they’re more likely to trust you. You’re not there to make a quick sale.
Building solid relationships with potential clients and your network at large on LinkedIn strongly impacts the success of social selling.
This element to the LinkedIn Social-Selling Index score measures how well you develop those relationships.
In order to excel, engage regularly with your network by providing value and establishing trust. Other considerations include the quality & quantity of your connections & followers and the acceptance rate of your connection requests.
And don’t forget to message often. Personalize your messages to each individual, focusing on building authentic, long-term relationships instead of trying to make a sale right away.
By evaluating the four social-selling activities that provide you with a LinkedIn SSI score, you can leverage your score metrics to learn your strengths and growth opportunities for LinkedIn social selling.
You’ll see below how an SSI score takes the guesswork out of social-selling insights on LinkedIn, as we go through instructions to find your LinkedIn SSI score with an example of what a final scorecard looks like.
To find your SSI on LinkedIn, log into LinkedIn, and use this LinkedIn resource to see your SSI score.
SSI scores range from 0–100. Higher scores mean more effective social selling—which helps you get better results from LinkedIn outreach campaigns to find new clients. Your SSI score tells you how and where to improve your social-selling efforts and track your progress.
What is a good LinkedIn SSI score? It varies by industry, but you can use your peers’ SSI scores as a good benchmark, as seen in the below example of a LinkedIn SSI scorecard.
In this sample SSI score, we see the overall result is 74/100.
This sales rep has established their professional brand and built relationships well. But there’s room for improvement at finding the right people and engaging with insights.
Though they’re still in the top 1% in their industry and the top 3% in their network—fantastic signals that their efforts are paying off.
By comparing your score to the “People in your industry” and “People in your network” scores, benchmarks and percentiles compared to peers provide you with a frame of reference for understanding your score.
Ultimately how well you leverage social selling comes down to how strong you use LinkedIn to prospect leads, message them and convert them into clients.
If social selling is the art of developing a LinkedIn presence to improve your professional reputation to help you sell more, you still need actual selling to use that reputation to your advantage and increase revenue.
Of course, LinkedIn uses SSI scores to encourage sales professionals and business managers wanting to use LinkedIn to find new clients to adopt Sales Navigator.
Sounds sneaky, but the value of Sales Navigator speaks for itself.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a premium LinkedIn tool that helps you target the right buyers, understand key insights and engage with personalized outreach.
With features like advanced search and filtering, you can find the right people to connect with based on search criteria like job title, location, industry and company size.
Below we’ll look at what LinkedIn Sales Navigator is and some examples of social selling so you can get the most out of Sales Navigator and scale your client volume.
If you’re a financial advisor, a business coach/consultant, an agency principal or a sales rep at a B2B company, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an invaluable tool in social selling.
Let’s analyze best practices and examples of social selling to help you seize every ounce of potential out of LinkedIn Sales Navigator to improve lead generation, close sales and increase revenue.
Think of your LinkedIn profile as the foundation of any successful LinkedIn social-selling strategy. It’s the first place a lead will assess you when they come across you on their LinkedIn feed or receive an outreach message from you.
Are you the real deal? Do you have the expertise you claim you do? Are you authentic? Is your agency or business worthy of doing the job? Do you seem authoritative in your industry and, just as importantly, likable?
How can you improve your LinkedIn profile to establish your expertise and start social selling like a pro?
Make sure you upgrade your LinkedIn profile and complete all the relevant sections:
Let’s review a couple of examples of LinkedIn profiles optimized for social selling.
Julia Falci Sousa, a Vancouver-based business coach, also does a great job of optimizing her profile.
With unique illustrations in her header image and a thoughtful approach to choosing the topics she talks about, Julia’s profile speaks volumes about her thought leadership and credibility.
For instance, with the hashtagged items below her headline, she shows to her audience—and LinkedIn’s algorithms—her areas of speciality that she communicates about in her articles and posts.
And with this next example, talk about an attention-grabbing header image, a snappy headline and an on-brand photo!
Erin Balsa, a leading marketing consultant shows us what it means to improve your LinkedIn profile for social selling.
She says what she does in her headline in a way that demonstrates value, lists the services she provides at the bottom and lays out a header image & profile photo that perfectly complement each other.
She also included items in her Featured section as a portfolio to help her stand out. Featured items could include articles, posts, outbound links and more.
If you’re wondering how to add a portfolio to LinkedIn, click on the “Add Profile Section” option when editing your profile and then choose “Featured.”
Define your ideal customer profile (ICP) by determining what job titles, locations, industries, company sizes, etc. are relevant to your business.
By understanding your ideal customer, you can use Sales Navigator to its fullest potential to find and outreach to the right people to increase leads.
You can see from the above LinkedIn Sales Navigator screenshot that the advanced filters can help you target prospects very specifically, down to their seniority level, years of experience, and whose connections they are.
There’s no way around optimal lead generation on LinkedIn without content marketing by sharing your knowledge and ideas.
The good news is that B2B buyers, entrepreneurs and high-earning professionals make up the largest chunk of LinkedIn users. One reason why LinkedIn content marketing is important is because these people crave industry news and complex business topics made simple.
When you create engaging content regularly that provides value by helping your target audience solve their problems, you can establish your expertise and build your LinkedIn reputation.
A great example of a LinkedIn post that earns trust and helps generate quality leads is this content about downloadable email sequences from Andy Mewborn.
Andy grasps his audience’s needs by knowing what type of collateral to discuss (email sequences), delivers value by listing the sequences & affirms he already experimented with them for five months.
Does this mean you have to spend a lot of time creating and posting content on LinkedIn?
We know…it’s tough. You probably already feel busy and maybe you don’t think of yourself as a writer, let alone an influencer.
The fact is, there are no set rules for content marketing success on LinkedIn.
When you prioritize storytelling, publishing content consistently becomes easier—and more impactful—as it enables you to shift your focus to form & narrative from content & topics.
Simply put, stories are simpler because they’re relatable and relatability is simpler because it’s natural; you now have a path to scale your content production.
And for your content to excel, it has to resonate with your audience, after all.
Consultant Sheena Yap Chan exhibits skillful storytelling with the above example, starting with a relatable experience about an entry-level retail job before showing how everything came full circle with that same retail outlet now selling her book!
When you publish content regularly and incorporate storytelling, your LinkedIn presence becomes unignorable and social selling on LinkedIn becomes second-nature.
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator insights about target accounts, like alerts, updates and news, you can easily stay informed and engaged with your prospects.
Follow their company pages, read their updates and comment on their posts.
This helps you build relationships with them and also keeps LinkedIn’s algorithms happy, empowering you to become a LinkedIn social-selling pro!
Mark Gerber, a financial advisor in California does a brilliant job at genuinely engaging his community and prospects—and so does YouTube influencer Josh Olfert.
In the above post, Mark went the extra mile to compliment Josh’s channel, after Josh engaged with Mark’s insights, showing they both care enough to spend some time exploring each other’s work.
A word of caution about sending InMail messages, premium messages on LinkedIn for Sales Navigator clients: before you jump in with bulk sales proposals, personalized outreach increases performance by about 15%.
Sending a generic connection request without a customized note isn’t enough to get the results you want.
Instead, take the time to look at a lead’s profile and research their background, pain points & goals to tailor your message to the recipient.
Personalizing LinkedIn messages creates more meaningful interactions and improves the chances of prospects responding to your outreach.
Scaling outreach efforts sometimes also means getting creative or diversifying your approaches or getting creative with your introductions.
You can try incorporating different methods, such as personalized video outreach, or, like entrepreneur Connor Gillivan did when sending the below message to a potential prospect, mentioning a shared interest in a mutual connection’s content.
LinkedIn social selling is an essential part of any B2B sales strategy and can improve your lead-generation rates and outreach success.
To get the most out of LinkedIn social selling, focus on the four major areas of the LinkedIn Social Selling Index:
With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can take your social selling efforts to the next level by finding new engagement opportunities and building stronger relationships with prospects.
Personalizing your outreach at scale is key to taking full advantage of what social selling has to offer. AI-powered lead generation can take your lead-generation success even further by automating personalization—like finding personal insights to reference and messaging prospects in bulk to increase response rates efficiently.
LinkedIn social selling is a must-have tactic for any sales professional—including financial advisors, coaches, consultants, agencies, B2B reps and more.
With the best practices and examples outlined in this article, you’re ready to drive more success for your business through LinkedIn social selling.