Episode 2: 5 Pillars of Social Selling
In this episode, the Social Sales Link Team talked about the five pillars of social selling which are value-centric profiles, social listening, engaging with insights or content, nurturing your existing connections, and prospecting.
Bill McCormick 0:01
Hello! Welcome to Making Sales Social Live! And today we are going to be talking about the five pillars of social selling – Five! I am joined by Brynne Tillman. And on the other side of her Bob Woods. Brynne is going to kick it off and just talk a little kind of high level of the philosophy of social selling, take it away Brynne.
Brynne Tillman 0:26
I love this topic, because this really is the overarching social selling concept, right? Like, what do we really need to be doing in order to get social selling to work. So the first thing that we’re going to talk about before we get into those five pillars, is the overarching philosophy. The way to go to market the mindset, right? And I want to kind of discuss this, but I’m going to start with three things.
Number one, we need to lead to our solution, not with our solution. Meaning we have to make sure that we are providing value and insights that get people attracted to us, coming to us, wanting more and more versus leading with our solution, which ultimately is kind of a connect and pitch, or we’re out there talking about how we can help people versus when you’re leading to, you’re actually helping them and getting them interested.
The second thing that I want to talk about around philosophy is the concept of detaching from what the customer or the client or the prospect is worth to us, and attaching to what we’re worth to them. That really ties into the first one. But that concept, I think, is really important.
And the third point in the philosophy, and we could go on with many, many, but I want to start like these three is to treat the person on the other side of the message the same way we would if they were on the other side of the table. They are a human being that we’re looking to engage with and build relationships with. And we have to show up authentically. So you know, I’d kind of like you guys, just to talk a little bit about your thoughts around those three points.
Bill McCormick 2:15
I think that social selling, the term is kind of a misnomer, because I think all selling is social. Or what we’re talking about here is actually utilizing social media. And for us, that means utilizing LinkedIn, leveraging LinkedIn, in our selling efforts. And so we have to realize and I love the last point you made Brynne, is that the people that we’re looking at, the profiles, these are real, actual people, we have to treat them. I say it all the time, LinkedIn is like a huge networking room. And that’s how we have to approach it. We wouldn’t go right up to some people in a networking room and start pitching your property. Or maybe you would, and how’s that working for you? We wouldn’t do that. So why are we doing it on social? I think because people don’t know any better. Bob, what are your thoughts?
Bob Woods 3:09
I think the overall thing that people need to think about when it comes to social selling, is that we’re all human. Every single person is human. And if you’re like me, you don’t like the standard sales pitches, you don’t like the you know, “Hey, what do you need today?” And, you know, with the intent of trying to, you know, one call close, one visit close. I mean, you just it’s, humans don’t treat other humans like that. And I think that with social selling, if you go in with the philosophy of not saying, you know, “hey, I want to help you”, and just actually help you, it’s all about the human connection. And I think, especially as we start coming out of our times now, I do think that we need to learn some lessons from that. And one of those things is, is that you know, human beings have all kinds of things going on, and especially lately, just treat people like people and not like prospects.
Brynne Tillman 4:10
Yeah, I love that. And so I guess we’re going to jump into the pillars, right, Bill?
Bill McCormick 4:14
Five pillars. So you think, what are pillars? They hold up this philosophy we talked about. Now there are parts of social selling that act as pillars that we build everything upon. And the first one, and I’m going to mix my metaphors here a little bit, I say all the time that, that the really, the foundation of everything we do on LinkedIn comes from your profile. So we’re going to throw it over to our profile expert, our chief makeover guy, Bob Woods, he’s going to talk about a value-centric profile.
Bob Woods 4:45
What we call a value-centric profile is not only one of the five pillars of social selling, it’s also the foundation besides the whole human thing, obviously. It’s also the foundation for all of your social selling efforts. So the metaphor that I always use, but I think it really describes it well. Think of your LinkedIn profile like it’s the foundation of a house. You wouldn’t build a house on top of a shaky foundation, right? It’s the same idea with your LinkedIn profile. All of the other pillars you’re going to hear about will be so much stronger being supported by a value-centric LinkedIn profile.
Overall, a value-centric profile needs to have a couple of things. It needs to be resource-focused to get your profile visitors not only thinking about their solution, about their situation rather. But to think about it in a different way.
Second, you really need to have standalone takeaways in it for the person who’s reading it. We call those vendor vendor agnostic takeaways. This means you need to give them points that help them out and can be implemented both without them having to contact you. So are, both help them out and can be implemented without them having to contact you.
Now, the latter part is huge. If you provide takeaways that require them to contact you, then it’s a pitch and he will definitely be turned off by that.
Lastly, your profile needs to lead your buyer to actually care about your solution. I mean, because if they don’t care, it just doesn’t matter. Don’t construct your page, like a pitch deck or sales document. I mean, you wouldn’t do that in a networking type of situation where, “Hey, how are you doing? Here’s my one-pager, what do you think?” It just doesn’t work like that. When you’re training people like other people. Your profile needs to be so impactful, that they’re interested in having a conversation, or you know, in the networking scenario, further conversation. If it doesn’t have that, then you’re back to the shaky house foundation metaphor at the beginning, so really need to go value-based.
Brynne Tillman 6:52
Yeah, and often we say we’ve got to move it from a resume to a resource. But for those folks that are on here, it may be moving from a pitch deck to a resource as well.
Yeah, that could be too.
Bill McCormick 7:03
You have to realize that all roads lead back to your profile. So you know, when you’re doing things on LinkedIn, you’re reaching out and you’re looking at people’s profiles, and you’re researching. They’re getting a notification that you looked at their profile. So if they’re looking back at you, what are they seeing? One of the things Mark Hunter says is that these days, our reputation arrives before we do, and no one’s looking at your profile, because you looked at them, or you’re looking into them, what are they seeing? Are you showing up with value and as a resource? Or is it all pitch all the time, if I look at someone’s profile, and they’re all pitch all the time, I’m not going to connect with them, and I’m not going to contact them because I don’t want to be pitched that, right? People love to buy but they hate to be sold to.
Brynne Tillman 7:52
I love that, you know, next week, let’s go deeper into Profile. I think we have a lot more to talk about when it comes to that.
It’s so important. It really is that important.
Let’s talk about pillar number two, I think Bill, you’re gonna hop into this one around social listening.
Bill McCormick 8:10
Yeah, social listening. So what is it? Well, so you know, as social sellers, this is part of our job. But the problem is, see, we want to engage our prospects, we want to create and curate content, so that we’re adding value and establishing ourselves as thought leaders. One of our problems is though is, we tell our prospects, our target audience, what we think they want to hear, or what we want to say, rather than really identifying what it is that they want to consume. Social listening really is all about looking at what matters most to our prospects, what content are they are creating, and what also, what content are they engaging on. That will tell us what topics that they care about? When we have that kind of knowledge, it then helps us to curate content, that’s a value to them, right? And we that’s the thing is we want to show up as a resource. And we want to provide value. But also it provides us with some key information that we need for interacting with them, whether it’s in person on a Zoom call, on the phone, social media. And so some of the areas that you can social listen and sometimes you have to listen with your eyes because you have to look at things. So you can google the company they work for, Google them, you can look at their website, look at some areas like the About Us section, or their Events, look at their Blog section, what are they writing about? What kind of content are they putting out about the problems that they take care of. Another place, you can look at their LinkedIn profiles, of course, duh, also their LinkedIn campaign. So those are just a few areas that you can look at to socially listen. And listen, social listening is really important. People always say all the time, like, I found a prospect and I want to connect with them, but I don’t know how. Socially listen and engage on some content that will give you an idea in a way in some context to connect with them. So social listening is very, very important. You know, before we create content, we need to be socially listening.
Brynne Tillman 10:16
That is the perfect bridge into number three which is engaging with insights, right? So, what does that actually mean? Well, I think there are actually three pillars under this. Three baby pillars, we have the pillar is, you know, this engaged with insights or content. But I think there’s curating content, finding other content to share. There’s creating content, right, our original stuff, and there’s engaging content. So I think like there are three mini pillars under the big pillar.
So curating content really comes out of that listening. What is it that they care about? Let’s go find more of that, right? Are they sharing podcasts from Selling From The Heart? And right, are they sharing, “Oh, you like Larry Levine? Did you see this blog post he wrote? Did you see this other podcast?” Right? We can. That’s what we get out of social listening. And then we get to curate and share more content, either with them in their LinkedIn messaging inbox, or in the newsfeed and then we send it from there, say, “Hey, I saw, you know, this is content that you’re interested in. I, you know, I met, I noticed that you engage on some of Larry’s other stuff, I thought you might be interested in this.” Right? So that’s curating.
The second one is creating. Now there are so many ways, and we’ll go deep in another video on great ways to create content. But it doesn’t have to be a full-on blog post, everyone thinks when you talk about original content, you have to be a writer. In today’s world, you really don’t. So quick tip, do a talk on Zoom on a topic to have it transcribed. Or if you have a paid Zoom, you can get the transcription. From that, you can take quotes out and put images in and text and you can create polls on that topic. There’s so much you can do to create content.
The third aspect of this is engage. So go find the magnets, the influencers, the people that are attracting your ideal buyers. Go find who is sharing content, that’s getting the comments from people that you want to engage with. And again, that’s a great opportunity, you engage with the author, but you can engage with all these commenters, and and you know, share additional insights around what they care about. Don’t start the conversation about you and your business, start the conversation around what they care about. It will move and progress into a natural conversation, but just slow down your outreach to speed up that outcome. The next one, I believe, is nurturing. And Bob, talk a little bit about nurturing and taking inventory of your existing connections.
Bob Woods 13:13
This is one of those times where I wish I could see a show of hands in our audience about this. But I’m just going to ask the question instead. How many of you or do you talk to just one person actively reach out to your current first degree connections on LinkedIn?
Tweet us, @socialsaleslink. Tweet us and let us know the answer.
Yeah, yeah. And I would add regularly to that, as well. So your current connections are a goldmine for your business. You just need to reach out to them with a plan. So that’s the important part. Most of the time, we’re doing what we call random acts of social. So that likely involves just showing up every once in a while with a post or a comment and then just kind of,
Brynne Tillman 14:04
We’re just simply, we connected and forgot about them.
Bob Woods 14:08
Yep, yet connect and forget, that’s something that we discuss quite a bit, too. So if you have 1000’s of connections, we found that 10% of them are people you probably want to have a conversation with. And you know, that number is probably higher than that. So you should take inventory of your connections by either exporting your list of connections or doing a simple search of them using LinkedIn search filters. You can do this in Sales Navigator, you can do this in the free LinkedIn.com as well. Then you get to do a little CPR on them and you don’t need Red Cross certification to do this kind of CPR either. So by this we mean identifying your connections – the C, your prospects – the P, and your referral partners – the R. And CPRP didn’t work so we just called it CPR instead. So from that narrowed down list, just send them a message, you might want to say, you know, something like, as a, and then whatever profession they’re in, and “I thought you might get some value from an article I just found”, obviously, you would need to have the article there. “Do you mind if I send you a link?” And that’s very important too, because you don’t want to just proactively send them a link, because that kind of feels like spam. If they do say yes, send them the link! Follow-up in a couple of days. And if it makes sense, at that point, depending on your conversation, so you know, this isn’t a, you know, step one, do this absolutely. Step 2, do this absolutely thing. But if it makes sense, ask for a 10 to 15 minute call at that point, if they say “Yeah, great!” Get on the call. And let nature go from there. I guess you could say, it’s really that easy to do.
Brynne Tillman 15:51
Yeah, it’s really important to listen to what Bob said, which is, this is not like with everyone. It’s not formulaic. It’s not like an absolute process, right? But I love what you said, which is reaching out to them with a particular and you can do that through the search, you can find all your CPAs. If that’s who you want to talk to, right? You can find all of your CEOs. So I love that. And we can now reach out with a little note that says, “Hey, Mr. CEO, recently came across this article in your industry. Here were some of the takeaways that I got from it. Yeah. If you’re interested, I’d be happy to send over that link.” So just what Bob said, right. And it’s amazing how many people will respond to that. But here’s the bottom line to this pillar. This is about nurturing your existing connections, right? And so again, I’m going to stress we need to slow down our outreach, to speed up the outcome. We’ll do another video in the future on really other ways to nurture these folks. But I love the idea of export your connections or search your connections, and start taking inventory. Especially you know, if you have a large network that you’ve been ignoring. What’s our fifth pillar? I think it’s warm market prospecting, Bill?
Bill McCormick 17:13
It’s prospecting. I’m just going to go back to what Bob said before because he said, let nature take over. No, let nurture take over.
Yes, that’s even a better one, I like that.
So the fifth pillar is a one that all sales people get all excited about, because it’s prospecting. Wow, I can look and I can find people who are my clients, and then I can spam them with all these sales messages about how they want to buy from me. No, no, that’s not what we’re saying. As I said earlier, LinkedIn is a real live active networking room, it’s open 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. And it’s full of, I think the last number I see I’ve seen is up to 750 million active users. So just a couple years ago, when I started teaching LinkedIn, we were below 600. Like, I mean, it’s growing crazy. So it is a huge networking room. And once you’re connected with someone, once you send a connection request to someone, and they’ve accepted or they’ve sent one to you, and you’ve expect accepted, you’re part of their network. And what that means is you now have the ability to search and filter their connections, and look for people for warm introductions. So this is the magic of LinkedIn, this is what we get really excited about. The other pillars are very important to set the stage for this pillar. And it starts with a well defined idea of who it is that you’re looking for to have conversations with. Who are your ideal clients? You need to know that. And what happens is, then you can go and see who’s connected with the people who you want to know. So who knows who you want to know. And, of course, we always advise to present yourself authentically. And always remember that the people you’re trying to have conversations with, our people. This goes back to philosophy and what Bob said before, these aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet. These aren’t just people in your CRM, these are real life people. And so what you can do is, for example, if Bob and I are going to have a coffee meeting later on this week, he’s a client of mine, or he’s a networking partner of mine. Day before that, that day before I go in, and I search his connections, if I’m looking to meet CPAs, I see how many CPAs does Bob know, and I let Bob know, “Hey, at the end of our meeting, I want to take like just 10 minutes, there are some LinkedIn connections that you have, that would be perfect for me. And I just like to review that list with you.” Imagine the magic of that. So at the end of our meeting, we’re not saying, “So Bob, if you know anyone that needs LinkedIn training, just let them know, give them my card.” And he said, “Oh, sure I will, Bill” and then we go our own ways. And poof, it’s gone. No, now when and what I’ll do is invite Bob to do the same thing with my connections. Now we both walk out of that meeting with actual names of people with introductions that are made. This is the magic of LinkedIn, it’s all about warm market prospecting. You’re going to commit at a higher level of trust, because Bob Woods said that I should meet with you, then I should meet with you. In fact, you should tell your TD Bank story, Brynne,
Brynne Tillman 20:30
Ultimately, one of my clients was connected to my prospect to TD Bank. And I made a warm introduction, got me into a meeting that I couldn’t have gotten any other way, and ultimately sold TD Bank, it was the fastest sale I ever made, because it came in from a warm introduction. And that was over I would say 10 years ago and they’re still our client. I will tell that in a deeper story in a future video when we go specifically deep down into referrals. But the bottom line on this is stop cold calling and start leveraging your existing connections to gain access to your targeted prospects, you’re coming in at a much higher level of credibility. The success rate on connections to conversations is at least 50%. There is no other prospecting opportunity that allows us to do that. And yes, it takes a little bit more time. But I’m going to reiterate again, slow down your outreach to speed up your outcome. The time that you invest in the pre-work to get that introduction or permission to name drop is way less time than the hundred calls that you need to make to get one conversation and that one conversation didn’t even come in at a high level of credibility. So it’s absolutely essential that we start prospecting in a more effective way that leads to faster conversations of people who are interested, and ultimately faster closed business.
Bill McCormick 22:12
Amen. So remember the philosophy. Remember the overall arching idea that we have here is we want to treat people on the other side of the screen or other other side of the table, just as if they’re our friends, just as they’re people that we want to help. And then remember, value-centric profile. Make sure you’re socially listening, curate, create, and engage in content, nurture your first degree connections, and then leverage those connections for warm introductions too, for warm market prospecting. So thanks for listening to the five pillars of social selling. We’ll be back here next week and we’re going to talk about your profile in greater detail. We’ll see you next time!