Consider These Factors When Developing Your Social Selling Campaigns
Fact: This website’s audience was built almost entirely from LinkedIn. We generated our very first “Weekly Hacks” subscriber on the first post we ever made and the results have just snowballed from that point forward. The potential is real, but so are the misconceptions. In my opinion, LinkedIn is not the “gold rush” that it may appear to be. Prospecting is a hard grind and trying to execute a “direct response” campaign on this platform is sometimes like fitting a square peg in a round hole.
The platform is far more suitable for a brand-focused strategy. This means doing outreach toward a targeted audience to make a connection and then serving them consistent content to build their trust over time. In this case, the success is measured on connections made and the amount of awareness generated thereafter, leading prospects carefully through your funnel.
Having experimented with just about every LinkedIn tactic available, here is what I have learned to be the most important things to know before you ramp up your social selling efforts.
The Risks of Automation Are Increasing Over Time
LinkedIn prospecting is a very labor-intensive sales endeavor. When done manually, it requires a significant amount of time for very little yield. This is why automation tools have become so popular and are likely at the hand of most of the spam connections requests you have received.
LinkedIn has always frowned upon the use of these tools but for awhile it was simply a “grey” area. It wasn’t until the very end of 2018 that it officially updated their policy to prohibit them and they have been cracking down on users every since, even threatening to ban accounts that are caught using automation tools.
For now it appears that these tools have stayed one step ahead of LinkedIn, however this could change with a single update. If you outsource your IT prospecting to a third-party, you should know whether or not they are using automation. If so, be sure to talk to your provider about what their responsibility is if your account gets banned.
Your Competitors May Not Be Profiting From Connections
With social selling becoming a big business, there is a lot of financial interest that is fueling the opportunistic perception of it. As you scroll your feed you will undoubtedly see posts of similar individuals (or companies) with substantial activity, leading you to continue chasing similar results yourself. This is no accident and the sooner you realize it the better.
While it may appear that your MSP competitor’s are “crushing it” on LinkedIn, I for one am not convinced. I do believe it is possible to generate revenue from social selling. However, my trained marketing eye and what it sees on daily basis just leads me to believe to that this isn’t the case for the “average joe.”
In addition to the eye-test, we also recently put out a poll to our subscribers to find out more about the results they were achieving on LinkedIn. 100% of respondents of this poll claim to have added less than $10,000 in MRR from their LinkedIn sales efforts. This is not a high benchmark considering the costs involved with hiring just one Business Development Manager to take over social selling or outsourcing this task to a third party vendor.
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Posts Are More Important Than Connection Notes
The one function of LinkedIn that can generate the most substantial benefit is often overlooked. I receive a lot of connection requests and I have a simple way of deciding whether or not to accept them. I view the person’s profile, navigate to their “activity” and decide from that point if the content I see them post is worth having in my feed. Most often it is not, or I find they do not post at all, which means there is essentially no value in accepting the request.
Posting quality content often is the best way to build inbound interest from LinkedIn. The organic reach of posts (especially those that use hashtags) is far greater than other platforms. I was reminded of this recently when I had a post trending for the hashtag #managedservices that resulted in thousands of additional impressions compared to my normal post results. This generated sales of my book and very targeted followers of my profile that now see my articles in their feed.
People too often use LinkedIn as if it were an email marketing platform, sending out templated messages and hoping to get a response. Instead, look to make connections as if you are hand-picking subscribers of your content. Then post something that interests them every few days (if not more often) and let the engagement build over time.
“Value” Means Giving Away Something That Has A Cost
The social media gurus have spoken and they all say to “create value” when prospecting on LinkedIn. While this is a great buzzword to use in sales meetings and pump up your team, I don’t get the impression that everyone in the industry practices what they preach.
Giving away something of value should have a cost. For example, by the time I am done writing this article, I would have spent roughly four hours or more researching, writing and editing it, in addition to the numerous hours of work experience that has influenced the concepts herein. This time has a cost, which is why the material itself has value.
Typing a one sentence post that contains someone else’s point of view (that your audience can get just about anywhere) is not the way to create value for your audience. It is a way to stay relevant in that moment and get brand impressions (which is important), but these are vanity impressions that have little depth and few long term benefits.
Be Weary of Investing In Someone Else’s Personal Brand
Given the nature of the content I create and our blog’s presence on LinkedIn, I connect with a lot of Business Development and Sales Executives in the IT Industry. These connections are mutually beneficial because they get to see the articles I post and I get to see how they use LinkedIn to sell their services (influencing my content).
As a result of these connections, there is not a week that goes by that LinkedIn does not notify me that one of these reps is starting a new position, most often at companies well outside the IT industry. I do not know the conditions upon each of these departures but I can imagine that the Managed Services company is never on the winning end.
Leveraging an employer to grow a personal brand is a newer trend that MSP business owners should certainly be aware of. This is why it may be better to invest in individuals that want to establish themselves within the IT industry and are not just trying to beef up their social presence with local Business Owners, only to leverage that asset for a position with the next highest bidder. This is not everyone’s intention, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye on.