Social Selling Basics: Connect, Serve and then Propose

By Sander Biehn | May 30, 2018

Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.

Connecting with others on LinkedIn is extremely easy and can lead to new leads. We all hear this claim, but recently I got a chance to live it. I needed to reach out to a large group of users and offer them a new service. I knew who my targets were I just needed to find a way to propose something new using LinkedIn only.

I was amazed that by writing a short note to each of them that they were more than happy to connect with me. The psychology of this phenomenon baffles me. If I were to write you a cold email, you’d almost certainly ignore it, but if I write you a note asking to connect with you on a social platform you will almost certainly say yes. It has to do with the fact you are asking a recipient to do something that is entirely in their power to do and does not lead to a further conversation (at least initially). Pressing the ‘accept’ button is extremely easy, and the nature of social media allows you to do it on your own terms—when there is time for social media and not in the normal flow of your business day. This contrasts with a cold email. The easiest thing to do with email is to delete it or let it pile up ignored at the bottom of your inbox. Like I said, I was extremely successful with over 50% of the people I reached out to connect with me.

Great. So now I had 100 new connections. This is where many social sellers either stop or do the wrong thing. Many experts will say that you should immediately send your request message as soon as the person connects with you. I followed this advice. The upside is that often I’d get a response immediately saying they were either interested in my proposal or not. But I think you cannot stop there. This is where being active on LinkedIn and having content to share comes in handy.

Next, I waited two weeks. During that period, I stayed active and engaged with others on LinkedIn. I also posted my own content that further talked about offers and advantages. I knew that my new contacts would be passively exposed to my activity via the social media platform feeds and suggestions. I was unobtrusively remaining in my prospects world and psyche without being annoying or over-bearing. After a couple of weeks, I sent my second message to my new connections following up on my offer. To my amazement, I had about twice as many responses to the second message compared to the first.

My takeaway is twofold. First, social selling works. It is an efficient system for buyers and sellers to interact in. Secondly, the platform can only be effective if it is used consistently. It isn’t a place you go for new opportunities and then return a few months later to find new ones. Social sellers need to remain active even when they are not connecting to new prospects or making offers to them. The negative space holds the campaign together and reassures buyers you are serious. Dependability on social platforms builds the trust which is crucial to any sales discussion.

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