We have spent the past few months discussing the paradigm shift in sales process and the advent of social selling. Now with social selling guidelines implemented you’re positioned to generate better leads, nurture prospects, and form lasting relationships with clients. You can turn digital disruption into a social selling revolution for your business.
Social selling can have a profound positive impact on your business if it becomes your new norm. Communicate KPIs, standard definitions and a shared statement of purpose. Powerful tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator can provide even more help in achieving social selling success.
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Your personal brand is how the world perceives you — it combines your reputation, your history, your knowledge and expertise in your industry. It’s much more than a slogan, logo, or personal style.
Anyone without a personal brand in B2B is like a book without a jacket — it’s easy to be forgotten or ignored. You are unique with a special set of skills and expertise — but how will people know that if you fade into the background of your industry?
A personal brand is separate from a company brand. It personally identifies you as a thought leader in your industry. This is not something to be left up to chance.
“Too many leaders stop at the front door of their businesses when it comes to their personal brands” Lolly Daskal
You may be wondering, “Why should I take the trouble to develop a personal brand that is separate from my company’s brand?” Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it pays off!
A personal brand cuts both ways: It benefits both you and your company.
Before engaging a company’s services, many people will look into the reputation and expertise of its CEO. One study found that 48 percent of a company’s reputation can be attributed to the standing of its CEO. You of course don’t need to be a CEO to contribute to your company’s brand. Anyone as a representative of a company can enhance — or diminish — a company’s image.
At the same time, you need a brand that is all your own, separate from your company. Why is this important? In all likelihood you won’t be at your company forever. A personal brand gives you the boost you need to expand your career
While this may sound like the cheesy moral of a cartoon special, it is the only way to stand out and create a lasting personal brand. Don’t allow others to define you. Find out what makes you unique. What about your ideas, experience, and personality set you apart from others in your industry? These show through in everything you do and should be celebrated.
“In the end, authenticity is what will attract people to your brand and build thought leadership.”
Yes, you already have a brand — whether you work at it or not. All of us do! It’s what people think when they first meet you. What people tell others about you. What they feel when they speak with you.
When you set forth to craft your personal brand, you need to work with what you already have. Personal branding is not about ignoring the reputation you’ve already developed and starting from scratch. It’s like taking a piece of clay that already has a shape, and working with that shape to mold it into something new.
Many who are in the process of developing their personal brand feel a bit lost in the beginning. It’s natural — especially when there are so many options. A great way to keep yourself on track is to write a mission statement at the start.
This will keep your personal brand consistent and guide you through the decisions to come. Whatever actions, products, services, or even social interactions come up in the future, you will have a compass to guide you through.
Don’t leave your personal brand up to chance. An occasional social media post is not going to cut it. Be proactive. Promote yourself and your image within your industry. Manage your reputation and be seen the way you want to by your peers.
In order to have a solid strategy, you need to answer two key questions:
This will give you a direction. If you have a natural talent for public speaking, then plan speaking engagements or start a podcast that will move you toward your objectives.
Give people ample opportunities to learn about you and what you do — that you are an expert in your industry. You can do this with: Published articles, Speaking engagements, Webinars, Podcasts, Attendance at industry conferences, Networking, thought leadership material
Show off your expert skills with your online profiles and make it obvious that you are on top of your industry. Keep your profiles updated with your recent accomplishments and don’t forget to distinguish them with some personality.
A personal brand benefits both your own career advancement and the overall reputation of your company. Be yourself and build on whatever personal brand you already have. Be strategic and methodical — have personal brand-specific goals and plan how you will reach them. Demonstrate your credibility by publishing articles, scheduling speaking engagements, and networking.
Don’t leave your personal brand to chance. Be proactive in creating a personal brand in B2B that sets you apart from your peers, and creates unique opportunities for your personal career advancement.
Want to Learn More? Grab a copy of our LinkedIn Cheat Sheet
Today’s modern buyers are sophisticated and self-educating. In the digital era in order for sales to be effective, they must be active in the online communities where their customers are spending time. This means having a presence in social networks like LinkedIn, where the buyers are talking about and asking questions that sales professionals can be involved in.
I’m not saying that sales people need to be active in these social networks for the sole purpose of pitching their products or services. Social selling in its purest form is based around the ability for sale professionals to connect and engage with these decision makers.
When you interact on social networks, don’t be “sales-y.” Your job as a social seller is to build relationships by offering advice and expertise, not information about your company’s solutions and services. Building trust will pay off in the end. For example, if you notice a discussion on LinkedIn that’s relevant to your brand and industry, share your advice without any pitch or product mentions. Your participation demonstrates your interest in being connected, staying current and making your mark where the newcomers to your industry will be.
To become a trusted advisor, salespeople should post about four times as much educational materials as product or company information. Keto Sexton
Social selling pioneers have quickly realized how important it was to build a professional identity on social media. Think about it….Your prospects will be looking for people who have answers and they’ll be doing online searches to find solutions related to your product, and they’ll want to know something about you before they get in touch. If they don’t think you’re reputable or knowledgeable, that hurts your chances of creating a relationship, and the worst thing of all is if they can’t find you at all online. In that case, you’re out of the game completely.
Many social selling experts say one of the biggest advantages of social media is that it has turned the cold call into “the warm call.” The ability to transform a cold call into a warm introduction/lead perfectly encapsulates the value of social for sales teams. Not only is cold calling an arduous and psychologically draining activity for many salespeople, it’s not nearly as effective as a socially informed approach.
According to a LinkedIn study, cold calls were ranked as the least effective way to gain the attention of B2B buyers. In fact, only 4% of B2B buyers said they would have a favorable impression of a salesperson who reached out cold. Meanwhile 87% of B2B buyers said they would have a favorable impression of a salesperson who was introduced to them through someone in their professional network.
We have to know that the key to closing more deals is not necessarily generating more leads, it’s generating the right leads. One of the best ways to build a robust sales pipeline is to generate those leads using LinkedIn. Although many people think LinkedIn is just a place to post your résumé or hunt for a job, it actually represents a way you can strategically build pipeline and nurture relationships.
I hear it from my clients all the time…”My %&(!x sales team is not qualified…that’s why our pipeline is empty and dry…!”
Ok. Ok. I get it. Some sales people are bad, but most are not.
Let’s look at this issue more carefully.
By Definition, lead generation is finding someone who might be interested in something you sell…
Today in the Modern Digital Age here has been a shift of power… and while the goal is the same, but the process has changed.
The all-knowing seller once held all the power. Consumer’s knew nothing and the sellers spoon fed information. But then came the Internet, and with it, information…
Now buyers are informed. They research, make decisions, and often work through the buying process on their own accord. And yes they do this WITHOUT sales people. Buyers examine at least a dozen sources of information on the path to purchase. Only 12% of this information comes from the end organization.
We call this New Buyer the ‘Self-Directed Buyer’.
At the same time, however, sales people and marketers have a new tool and delivery for information. Enter: Social Selling.
This has killed the ‘cold call’ (thankfully). Now you can better identify your leads and why they are a good fit for you, all before even talking to them.
This is a real paradigm shift.
What does this mean for business leaders?
Your entire organization is now able to pinpoint leads who have a greater chance of buying from you based off the amount of information you now have on them.
But that’s not all that’s changed…
The lead generation process now also takes longer. It is believed that it can now take 7-13+ touches to deliver a qualified sales lead. This is due to the overwhelming amount of information helping consumers to make their own decision.
Therefore we now have the concept of ‘Lead Nurturing’.
This is the process of building a continual relationship with your leads by listening and responding to their needs across each stage of their ‘buyer journey’. The goal is to work them down the sales funnel until they become sales qualified leads.
The answer: Utilize Social Media! Social media and LinkedIn in particular have given you access to a powerful database of prospects with all the information you need to qualify them as a lead. Oktopost says 80% of all leads generated on social media were through LinkedIn!
So don’t fire your sales people. Just understand that new lead generation strategies and tactics have changed and now require new ways of measuring & implementing their effectiveness.