Episode 10: Social Proximity: Pathways to Your Buyers
Social Proximity is a pathway to your buyers. It is the best way to gain access to the stakeholders, decision-makers, and the people you’d like to meet. Listen to this episode as the Social Sales Link Team discussed “Social Proximity”.
Hey, welcome to another episode of making Sales Social Live! Today we’re going to be discussing social proximity pathways to your buyers. So, Brynne, why don’t you start it off by just telling everyone? What is social proximity?
Brynne Tillman 0:15
Well, social proximity is in the way that we look at sales, the best way to gain access to your stakeholders. So it’s pathways, as you mentioned, right? Who in our network is connected to the people that we want to meet. So the best social proximity is, I am connected to a decision-maker. That’s awesome, because I can reach out directly and start a conversation. Another way to look at social proximity is, Who do I know that’s connected to that decision-maker and we’re going to talk about the kind of ways to find that out. So, decision-maker, obviously, is the best way to go. But there are other people inside of an organization that can help us in our pathway to starting conversations with particular companies, including influencers, and even general people inside of a company. So our first degree first, and then our second degree if we do not have a first degree directly.
Bill McCormick 1:23
So for everyone that’s listening, if you just picture a target, like an archery target, and being connected to a first degree decision-maker, the bullseye, that’s the best. Now the next ring out would be being connected to someone who is connected to that person, right. And so with each ring, we get further out, and we get further away from our ideal person that we want to be connected with. But what we know is, all roads lead back. So the more people we’re connected to, within a social proximity of our decision-maker helps us to get there, is that safe to say?
Brynne Tillman 2:06
Yeah, I love that, I love the way that you’re thinking through that. And there are so many different ways to use that social proximity when it comes to LinkedIn. So the first thing is taking inventory of our existing connections, right? looking at who do we already know. So we can do that through exporting our connections. Or we can do that through doing searches of our first-degree connection. So that’s a great way to get started, we can also search, so we search our first degrees, we can also search are second degree connections, and start to see who can help us get in front of what’s the pathway to particular decision-makers. And Bob’s going to talk a little bit which I’m really excited about how to really pinpoint who we’re searching.
Bob Woods 3:02
Right! So when it comes to that. LinkedIn is fantastic in so many ways, but with what Brynne just mentioned, it’s especially great. So let’s say for example, my good friend, Bill. I’m looking to see who it is he knows at a particular company. So doing things like that all has to do with the LinkedIn filters. So you could go to his profile, for example, click on his connections, his connection numbers right underneath where it says 500 plus connections. And then on the resulting page, you’ll see just a bunch of filters there that you can, filter by locations. A good one is by, current company. So if you’re wondering if Bill knows anyone at Merck, the pharmaceutical company, for example, you could go in there and type in Merck. And then you can choose connections there. If he knows anyone there, you would get a search result that shows the people who he knows there so that in a future follow up call or email, or whatever you say, “Hey, Bill, I noticed that you know, X, Y, and Z at Merck, would it be possible for you to…” and there are one or two ways you can do it from here to ask for a direct introduction, or to do what we call named drops. So you know, you could say, “Hey, X, I was speaking with Bill McCormick, and your name came up in the conversation about…” whatever it is you do, and then you go from there. Basically, that’s just one way to use LinkedIn with associated filters to really maximize that social proximity that you need to get into the companies you want to speak to and especially to the decision-makers and influencers that you want to get to as well.
Brynne Tillman 4:50
So I love that we’ll continue talking about that. But Bill McClain has asked us, can you always search second-level connections of one of your existing connections, can’t users turn them off? So yes, Bill, you can choose to not allow your connections to search your connections. But it’s hard to find, and very few people actually turn that off. So we rarely come across that as an issue. And we teach, this is a networking event. So make sure that you’re keeping your connections open all the time. Otherwise, especially if you’re going to use this for business development, it becomes this one-way street. And it’s not great for building a strong reputation of being a networker. The other thing is people will turn off their connections, because they’re so afraid that other people are going to see who their clients are. But if you have 1000s of connections, it’s really hard to identify who your client actually is. And if you can lose a client because someone can search your connections to see that you’re connected, then there are other things that we have to talk about
Bill McCormick 5:58
And listen, I would just contact that connection and say, “Hey, Bob, I noticed you have your connections turned off. That I am not able to see him, we’re connected on LinkedIn, you know, but there’s someone that I want to talk to you about yet, can you get on the phone?” and they might not even know, or they might have done it a long time ago, you know, so again, it’s an opportunity to have a conversation, right. And that’s what this is all about.
Brynne Tillman 6:23
Well, specifically to Bob’s tip, right, where we can go in and search a connection’s connections, right? If I have a client that I know would be really happy to make introductions for me or referrals for me, but if I ask them who they know, they’re going to go, I can’t think of anyone. If we say to them, I love it, if you’d be open for me to look through your connections and make a list of a few people that you might know and run these names by you. But you happen to have your connections turned off. Would you be open to quickly jump in on a zoom call, and then they can share their screen and bring up their connections, they don’t even have to turn that filter off. Right? So it’s really simple to do. It may sound complicated, but it’s not. It’s just as easy, as Bob said, you just go into their connections, you filter down and you make your list of 20,30 names that they might know. You run the names by them, they remember eight that they think would be a good match. And then at that point, I’ll use Bill as an example. Right. So “Bill, you know, thanks so much for running these names with me and giving me some insights. When I reach out to these eight people would it be okay if I mention your name?” And then we go into what Bob talked about, which is “Bob, Bill McCormick and I were chatting, your name came up in our conversation, and he thought I should reach out and introduce myself.” And all of a sudden we have a full pipeline. And we’re coming in at this really high level of credibility. You know, another way and Bill’s gonna talk a little bit about if you have targeted accounts, a lot of people have their top 20,50 100 accounts that they want to go after. But they don’t always know where to begin, and they start with cold calling. But Bill has a better way.
Bill McCormick 8:10
Yeah, no cold calling, no, not good. So what we can do is we can actually go visit their LinkedIn company page of the company you’re trying to get into, and you can do a search very similar to what Bob said in terms of looking for your ideal client. So who is it? So are you selling to marketing, you’re selling to maybe the VP of Marketing, you can actually search for the people that are in marketing, and you can find them. But what I love about this, and as it goes with social proximity, one of the things we know is that 20%, and it’s probably higher now because of the great resignation, but there’s usually 20% turnover in a company in a given year. So, you know, think of how many clients you have, if you have 100 clients, 20 of them are going to change companies. And so what I always tell my clients is you always want to make sure you not only go horizontal, but vertical in a company when you’re connecting to people on LinkedIn, remember, social proximity. So yes, do you want to be connected to your buyer? Absolutely. You want to connect with them, you want to stay connected to them, but then who surrounds them? You know, who are their bosses, who are their subordinates, who helps them? Because 6.8 decision-makers in making a decision? So if you’re only connected to one person, there’s a whole nother 5.8. And I wonder what the .8 looks like. But there’s another 5.8 people that you’re not connected to that you need to be connected to. And so what you need to do is start looking at some other areas, and this is a great opportunity also for you if you sell to other departments within a company. So you know you’re dealing with The marketing department but maybe the human resources department is a purchaser. And if you’re already connected to someone in that company, they’re going to be able to make those introductions for you. But again, we’re talking about social proximity. So what you want to do is begin to look at other people that you can connect with. And I always tell everyone, connect with the people in HR, because they know what’s going on. They know somebody already put their two weeks notice in before it gets announced, and they know who’s not only going to replace them, but more importantly, who’s going to take over their purchasing responsibilities, right? Because that’s who you want to make sure you’re connected to that person and stay in contact. So you know, it happened to me in my previous position, where I reached out to somebody left. I sent the email to the one contact I had, they weren’t a client yet, but I proposed some services. And I got that dreaded response back that said, “George is no longer employed by XYZ company”. And I went, Oh, no. So what I did is I went on LinkedIn. And I went to the company page, and I searched for “VP of Human Resources.” I got that person’s name, I connected with that person. And my welcome message to them was, hey, “Kathy, thanks so much for accepting my connection requests. I used to work with George, because we sell marketing services, but I see he’s left. Can you tell me who’s taken over his responsibilities?” “I have!”, she came back. “Great. I’m gonna be in your area,” and we set an appointment.. So it’s that easy. So really, leveraging their company page, and searching out the people you can find a platter of people to connect with, so that you socially surround that account, and you’re prepared for when that person hits in that 20% and they’re gone. And now you just can follow up with? “Hey, Bob, I see Brynne left. Can you tell me who’s handling the purchasing, Is that you?” Or you get, “Hey, Bob was just promoted to CEO Social Sales Link, Bob congratulations!” It was just an example.
That’s great. That’s great stuff, Bill.
Brynne Tillman 12:11
Yeah. So let’s kind of wrap this up in a bow, social proximity is your pathway to your decision-makers and influencers. Start with Who am I first degree connected with, then move to second degree if there isn’t anyone who can help me gain access to these decision-makers. And if you can leverage social proximity in a way that’s powerful and will ultimately convert to opportunities, you will start to leverage LinkedIn and optimize LinkedIn for social selling.
Bill McCormick 12:49
Fantastic. Well, listen, thanks everyone for being with us on another episode of making Sales Social Live! and we will see you next time.