How to Build Your LinkedIn Center. Social Selling 3.0

Tony Hughes


2015 will see the dawn of the rise of "LinkedIn Centers" to steadily replace traditional B2B marketing activities for demand generation and phone based telemarketing for lead generation (in-house or outsourced). Large enterprises are notoriously slow to move so sales people will need to drive this in partnership with sales management and marketing. I recommend building a 'skunk-works' team and begin to experiment if you want to lead and avoid being left behind in a Social 3.0 world.

Here is how it can work. Create an initial team of 5 of your best sales people. They must all possess these attributes: already a top performer, committed to building an online profile, tech-savvy, have gravitas and be able to write. Then create a highly targeted list of named accounts within your best verticals; be thorough in your profiling and know what an ideal prospective customer looks like based on customer win review analysis. The team moves into the same physical work area and each is provided with a license, TeamLinked together (LinkedIn's new interconnected referral molecule) and trained on LinkedIn Sales Navigator. This Social 3.0 hit-team campaigns on two fronts:

  1. Engaging LinkedIn communities where the target executives participate or monitor. They become part of the conversation building credibility and precious trust. No creepy stalking, disempowering selling or inappropriate spamming. Most importantly, no sales messages to links being posted to selling websites or marketing videos. They must never mention your company in these forums. The marketing team supports with resources to create research based insights that help earn conversations - in line with Challenger from CEB and ensure everyone involved has read the book and workshopped ideas and actions for creating the necessary insights and resources.
  2. Using LinkedIn as the engine room for trigger event selling by passively looking for Trigger Events. The book Shift, by Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto, is excellent so also ensure the team has read it and identified trigger events for the target customers and markets. The trigger events could be funding, promotion, started at a new company, expansion, etc. The Social 3.0 hit-team engages target prospects at exactly the right moment with personalized powerful relevance (think Selling to VITO by Tony Parinello) to grab attention and secure engagement. It could be via InMail or preferably an old-school letter in a hand-written plain envelope... how's that for cut-through. The point here is that LinkedIn is perfect for monitoring and capturing trigger events and then engaging with context and credibility.

It is vitally important that the LinkedIn Center team has an embedded marketing resource with them and that they are all physically located together. This is so they can be coached by their manager who sits with them and they can all easily collaborate in each step of the funnel in the research and due diligence process itself. Instead of people on the phone doing outbound calls, the LinkedIn Center works together on LinkedIn engagement strategies, insight strategies and Challenger style provocations (CEB) using evidence-based research content to hook and engage.

All this could be tracked in CRM (Navigator syncs nicely with Salesforce and other CRMs) with custom dashboards for action management and KPI reporting. Automation tools such as Marketo could be fine-tuned by the team along with other front funnel products such as FRONTLINE Selling or Carburetor ( to tap into external lead generation sources be they phone or e-mail based engagement.

Social Selling 3.0 is about powerful mash-ups. In this case:

  • The right individuals with all of the [hard to find] key attributes including Social Selling Index (SSI) scores over 70, collaborating in a skunk-works team. - SSI can be tracked and bonused as a KPI.
  • Sales and marketing collaboration for profiling targets and creating research based insights
  • Insight and Challenger Selling concepts to create conversations in social platforms and communities
  • Trigger Event Selling for monitoring within LinkedIn to create pipeline
  • TeamLink based selling based on referrals driven through the 5-seat molecule which the new TeamLink analytics view shows. In essence, how are you connected via your team by 2nd and 3rd degree to any client prospect.
  • Selling To VITO concepts to grab their attention with old-school panache
  • Manage the complex sale with a meta-framework such as RSVPselling
  • Bring best of breed marketing, CRM and social
  • Sales people, marketing person and manager all sitting together in one open area

Right now, you may be thinking: This is a great theory but has anyone actually done this in the real world... does this actually work? The answer is yes and yes! I'm mentoring someone right now in executing this exact strategy (plus elements they don't want me to discuss right now for competitive advantage reasons) and they are achieving mind-blowing amazing things with less people but using Social Selling 3.0 as outlined here.

Could you dare to implement this within your organization? LinkedIn is the most powerful research, connection and engagement platform on the face of the planet for B2B selling. 2015 could be the year for a quantum shift in strategy, execution and results in your world.


Tony Hughes is ranked as the #1 influencer on professional selling in Asia-Pacific and is a keynote speaker and best selling author. This article was originally published in LinkedIn where you can also follow Tony's award winning blog. Also visit Tony's keynote speaker website at or his sales methodology website at

Main image photo by Flickr: 2ose


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