6 Tips to maximize your use of social selling to generate new leads

I’m a big fan of Saturday Night Live, and one of my most favorite skits is from the 1994/1995 season called Bathroom Monkey with Janeane Garafalo. It’s a fake television ad of a woman sitting on her couch, talking about how difficult it is to keep her bathroom clean. She describes this new product she discovered called “Bathroom Monkey” and how the Bathroom Monkey system can keep her entire bathroom clean for up to eight whole months—and she is loving it. At one point she says, “I don’t know where monkeys come from…or how they reproduce. I don’t know what they eat! But I do know one thing…they were born to clean bathrooms!”

I appreciate this is an obscure reference, but I tend to think of it often when I’m faced with something I don’t quite understand or a situation that confuses me.

And in terms of lead generation and leveraging social media marketing to direct fresh leads into your sales funnel, it can be comparable to that allusive bathroom cleaning monkey—“I’m not sure what it does, or how it works, but it works and I’m loving it!”

The importance of being social

Most marketers believe social media marketing is the most effective tactic to use to improve lead generation quality and drive net new leads. It’s easy to see why:

Faced with these statistics, you might be wondering, “So, what is the best social media platform for generating leads?” Short answer? It’s the platform that your customers use. And in the case of B2B sales, that’s LinkedIn. LinkedIn has over 660 million professional users, and they state it generates 2X more leads than the next highest social media channel.

Maximizing your use of LinkedIn to generate new leads

If you’re new to social selling, and LinkedIn specifically, here are some top tips to get started:

1. Focus on building an outstanding profile

There is nothing more off-putting than checking out a business’ LinkedIn profile and seeing a profile photo or detailed career information missing. According to Sam Rathling, author of Linked Inbound: 8 Social Selling Strategies to Generate Leads on LinkedIN, your profile is “your digital ambassador, representing you and your business 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In many cases, your LinkedIn profile will be the first thing a prospect sees when they go looking for you.” A complete and well-written LinkedIn profile can be the difference between you winning a client, or them moving on and looking elsewhere. Look at your LinkedIn profile and ask yourself, “Would you become a customer of you, based on your LinkedIn profile?” If the answer is no, then you need to fix this.   

2. Build up your network—leveraging who you already know

If you’re just starting out, or have less than 500 connections, start building your connection base with people you already know—current and former customers, suppliers, vendors, community contacts, networking group contacts, sports/hobbies contacts, family, friends, ex-colleagues, etc. Spend some time each day sending out connection requests to build your base and engage in conversations with others’ posts. Some new sales opportunities could develop as your connections discover what you do and how you help businesses.

3. Understand your target customer and bypass the gatekeeper

Develop your ideal client profile so you have a clear understanding of the industries and companies that you want to do business with. Another great tip from Rathling is to make a dream list of the companies you want to do business with, and then use this list to determine who at the company you need to connect with and speak to. If you cold call into those organizations, you’ll  likely be blocked by some sort of gatekeeper, but by leveraging LinkedIn, you can bypass the gatekeeper and get direct access to the key decision makers. A senior manager may get up to 140 emails a day in their inbox on average, but likely only 10 messages via LinkedIn. So choose the path of least resistance and do some LinkedIn sleuthing to connect with the key decision makers you want to do business with.

4. Nurture your connections

After accepting a connection request, it’s really annoying when the person’s first message to you is a sales pitch. Please don’t fall into this trap. Instead, once you make a connection with a new prospect, work to cultivate a relationship first. Develop a good follow-up message that you can send out that seeks to understand more about their business and the potential business challenges they might be facing. If it’s crafted well and your prospect is receptive, then ask if they would be willing to speak offline to discuss things in more detail.

5. Solicit recommendations to add to your profile

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you likely have customers who love you and love how you support their business. Solicit their help and see if they will recommend you on LinkedIn so others who view your LinkedIn profile can view these recommendations. Recommendations are about demonstrating credibility and creating what’s called social proof—aimed at reducing the risk of dealing with an unknown organization. The more recommendations you can add to your profile, the higher the likelihood other businesses will decide to engage with you as well.

6. Post content that is relevant and authoritative, and be consistent

This is really two tips in one, but they go together. Content marketing aims to create interest and build awareness of your business, and helps to position you as an authority figure in your marketplace. Ensure that content—blogs, eBooks, FAQs, whitepapers, etc.—are part of your social selling strategy. Most businesses already have an MSP they’re using, and it takes a great leap of faith for a business to switch MSP providers. So posting regular and consistent content that’s directed at your target audience will work to keep you top-of-mind in the event that one day, one of your connections decides to start searching for a new provider. If you need some good content ideas, check out our MarketBuilder platform that’s available to all N-able partners as part of their subscription.

Embracing social selling and leveraging LinkedIn is not as scary or confusing as it may seem. Commit to making this a regular part of your day and, over time, you’ll see your connection base grow as businesses begin to view you as a thought leader in the area.


Stefanie Hammond is the head sales and marketing nerd at N-able. You can follow her on her LinkedIn and on Twitter at @sales_mktg_nerd.

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