They publish daily.
Believe it or not, top social sellers publish content to LinkedIn Publisher, their own blog or in Medium, everyday. They don't just publish what they think, they maintain a running 'string' of backlinks to mash up into the articles providing social proof of what other thought leaders think. This builds a content foundation of authenticity and veracity. They reference other articles, they newsjack current events and they respond to technology trends, world news and Google / Twitter trends. They are unabashedly utilitarian in helping their following with Youtility content; this is highly actionable content their dream customers can use to better their business and lives - right after reading it and in real-time.
- Are you publishing daily on LinkedIn - yes you read that write - daily? Do you publish for others? In other words, is your work featured on other highly trafficked sites with author attribution?
- Have you built a list of evergreen sources and a strategy for mashing up recent topics that matter?
- Are you a trusted thought leader, subject matter expert and referenced source on the bleeding edge of your industry?
- Do you have an active YouTube channel where you curate other amazing video content but also your own videos? Are they real raw and authentic or overly slick?
- Do you participate in Twitter chats, Tweetups, Google Hangouts, Social Hangouts on YouTubes and interactive webinars? Are you a guest speaker on webinars for software companies?
If not, this is the number one habit I suggest and witness top enterprise sellers picking up in 2015 to rocket their success in #strategicsocialselling. Teach your customers with new insight in a public forum. Like Challenger says, teach with new and compelling insight that you've garnered from being active in your sector by listening to the common challenges and pain points that run rampant in the key verticals that you serve. Provide a channel: be the brand and face of that brand, channel and company. We are living in the age of the 'rise of personal brands' after all. Think edutainment! Share stories of customer success and case studies. Collaborate with other elite social sellers on content - very soon you'll be one. Even collaborate with your customers and friends, encouraging them to guest post on your blog.
They comment daily.
What's unusual about the most active sellers in your company on social media? They're frequently the top sales people too. Back in the day when social media was controversial, they studied top performing university students and found paradoxically that those most active in social media had the highest marks! Your top sellers frequently have a Social Selling Index Score of over 70 out of 100, which is quite rare. (It's humbling to see that mine has shot up to 82 after applying these methods.) Yes, they have a high Klout score too, a dizzying array of followers on Twitter and their stream is so jam packed with useful, wow content - you'd probably wonder, 'when are they actually working and how are they putting all this out to good use for our bottom line?'
But that's just how effective they are in social media, nurturing the funnel, edutaining and providing unexpected value daily. What's better for the bottom line than deeply satisfied customers and your customer's customers? What's better than a new customer that converted 90% of the way because they've been following your top reps blog for 9 months! As the face of your brand, they are proactive meets interactive. And commenting is a science and art form unto itself. Top sellers are actively participating in groups with provocative comments that foster deeper conversation and peel back the onion on commonly shared pain. They participate in the groups where your top customers go like CMOs or LinkedIn CXOs. They ask the questions that matter, effectively and frequently. When they read an article anywhere on the internet, they take the time to comment at the bottom with a track back to their blog or your companies site unlocking a landing page for a free white paper with game-changing insight. I've noticed an incredible delta between the interactivity levels of top social sellers versus those that are passively curating and monitoring.
- How many comments do you post per day?
- Are you solely hitting the like button or are you slowing down to fully read what's compelling in your stream?
- Have you set up Lists and Filters for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. so that you have a 'string' to cross reference when you write and comment?
- Are you open sourcing everything to reduce friction and make it easy to buy from you (3.0) or gating everything to get backlash, increase bounce rates and negatively impact conversion rate optimization (2.0)?
- Do you go share these social updates and push them out in non-duplicative ways to each social network or is it the same link inelegantly spammed everywhere hurting your SEO? Don't post the same link in every group you participate in, not even two? Never do this! Participate in groups by asking open questions and actively threading. It's a paradigm shift... trust me. I get many invites each week from this meta-tactic alone.
They courageously connect daily.
If you're not leveraging a Premium LinkedIn account, I would argue you're missing the full value of the system. It's incredibly affordable if you sell anything over $100. If you sell products and services over $250,000 into the enterprise, it's worth its weight in Inca Gold. Let me explain... Like any tool, it's how you use it - you'll get what you put in. Top social sellers exhaust their InMails... every single one. I use every InMail that I can and I'm courageous about it. I recently wrote a very senior executive at LinkedIn and was thrilled to get a warm response and some good strategic advice on improvising / improving content strategy. It's gratifying to see the team at LinkedIn 'dogfooding' their own product and practicing what they preach. People often ask if I 'work for LinkedIn?' No, I promote it like crazy because it works and the network effects are singular. I pay a premium for it because I would pay 10X more for the tangible revenue it drives into my consulting business and the power of the network alone that it's allowing me to build as a speaker, bestselling author and consultant who is well known in Australia but still breaking into international spheres:
- Honestly, are you exhausting every InMail?
- Are you courageously writing to the actual CEO, President or very important top officer (VITO) that can sign your contract?
- Are you being courageous when you reach out maintaining relevance and respect or are you playing too small in social?
They listen, curate and share daily.
Top sellers don't just hit the 'like' button. They go further than that. When they read something in Publish that inspires them, they send a friend request with a tailored message. They take the time to study targets before connecting. They often have the luxury of an enterprise LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscription that allows them to passively monitor key contacts in major strategic accounts so they can stay alert for trigger events before reaching out. Top sellers are listening to the Crunchbase feed to see who gets funding and connect in with them - daily. Funding is a phenomenal trigger event as is M & A, as are job changes and transitions, promotions or a big initiative on the docket announced in the media. The biggest, baddest, boldest trigger events are often hiding in plain sight. It's all about how we look at our streams as highly effective social sales people of the new age. Train your team on all the mechanics of Trigger Event Selling and build in measurable KPIs, metrics and critical success factors into your CRM dashboards to track leading measure activity levels. Something like an SSI score can even be SPIFFed or bonused around. At a few leading enterprise technology companies I'm even aware of a special status for the highest ranking social sellers in the company. Hint, one of them is top top social seller on my strategic social selling unicorns list!
Top sellers are cross referencing Data.com with LinkedIn Premium Data, with Rapportive for reverse email lookups. They're calling into the switchboard to verify phone numbers, understand political power bases and mapping organizational charts. They're being hyperactive in how they combine all mediums of outreach: Social, Mobile, Calling, Research - Google+, Facebook, Twitter. Top sales people are tracking email w/ Yesware and watching in social - putting all of this together into a gestalt to generate intel and insight. As they listen, they share. As they curate they comment and 'prosume' which is the opposite of consume. They write blog posts in response to other blog posts. They remix and mashup. They stoke provocative comment threads and take those conversations off line or amplify them back online in their own groups. Yes, they start their own groups and frequently help to moderate the company's official Facebook Page, Twitter Account or LinkedIn group. (Which can have several admins by the way!)
- As a manager are you bringing Sales and Marketing together weekly?
- Are you encouraging your top sales people to become micro-marketers?
- Are you just phoning it in with the like button?
- If you had to meet the last 5 authors of Publisher Posts you liked in person, would you be able to honestly reflect on what they wrote? Just think, these could be your next dream customers!
- Are you filtering with TweetDeck or HootSuite? Are you leveraging social filtration technology and tools to step up your game? Are you leveraging Buffer App to Tweet while you sleep to accommodate your base on different time zones? Are you building highly targeted Twitter Lists so that you can retweet with comment?
- Here's a big one: Are you sharing your compelling sales story and you personal life story? Are you featuring customer wins and testimonials? More importantly than anything else in this article - are you making the content about them? For them! Is it immediately useful and applicable to their job today?
- Are you writing passionately about the things you know best in life and tying these insight back to business? (Sports, music, philosophy, history, politics + your brand + your software + your UVP!)
They aim straight for the top daily.
This last point is a fascinating one. I was approached and am now coaching an executive who read my book that is consistently closing six figure deals in under a 90-day sales cycle fully inside, by applying my RSVPselling framework and this last point daily. I have been consulting companies on how to build a LinkedIn War Room to ramp revenue and dramatically lower cost of field sales, which is very different from a traditional Web 2.0 Social Media Command Center.
Don't be intimidated by the senior executives in social media. Every CXO was once just starting out. Richard Branson encourages a leapfrog strategy in which you go high courageously. LinkedIn InMails give you the ability to write to just about anyone in the system. Do not waste them. Do your research and reach out with a compelling business case. My book, The Joshua Principle, tells the story of how a fairly junior sales rep landed a key meeting with the CEO of his biggest target account to bring home the biggest deal of his career and jumpstart his trajectory into sales leadership. I recommend you read it as a blueprint for generating just what that key insight will be as you improve how to develop the acumen to connect at the very top.
Senior executives focus on outcomes and risk. They'll be more impressed if you understand their balance sheet, annual report and what they're sharing in social, at conferences and in the minutes of their quarterly call, then if you parrot puffery and cliches back to them or show up with static thoughts printed out. You can't be canned - you have to understand! You would be surprised how much subject matter expertise you already have and in many industries, how little exposure business leaders often get to technology acceleration and change from the corner office. If you're in a disruptive business or unit of a big company acting disruptively, you have a severe edge. The savviest CEOs I know are always looking to constantly converse and network to keep their skill set sharpened and their knowledge ahead of the curve. They want to meet with Millennials - they're looking to be reverse mentored. So many sales people will aim lower and be too intimidated. Reaching high will make all the difference in your ability to sell top-down as you beeswarm and build consensus with social connectivity across the organization. Be careful - not everyone in an account should be wantonly added in social media. There are always frenemies and competitors in every deal, the greatest of which is 'do nothing' aka the dread status quo!
- Are you analyzing a company and aiming one level too low? Are you afraid to access the C-Suite? Are you just sending a passive friend request rather than researching for 15 minutes to a half an hour and writing an extremely targeted and customized message that is timely and relevant with your bespoke CXO LinkedIn invite or InMail?
- Are you slowing down to connect with less people more meaningfully or mass adding off a conference attendee list?
- When powerful people add you back on LinkedIn or Twitter are you sending a personalized message?
- Are you tweeting at top thought leaders, bloggers and the tech media that covers your sector? Are you inserting yourself into the conversations that matter? Are you paying it forward - giving to get? Sharing to be shared?
- Here's a really big one: Are you playing up to your audience's intelligence or dumbing yourself down? Why not write content to help leaders in your industry advance even further? That right there, is the yellow brick road to the emerald city of Trusted Advisor - digitally. Paradoxically, you'll get noticed if you cater to your audience's existing expertise and advance the knowledge base further rather than the constant drone of: basics, basics... basics.
Now it's your turn: What are the daily habits and routines of the most effective social sellers that you've noticed, that I may have forgotten to include on this list? What's your secret sauce in social? Are you willing to share it below in the comments for the Youtility of everyone reading? If so, thank you!
I'm endeavoring to live every principle in this post every day right here.
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 www.TonyHughes.com.au or his sales methodology website at http://www.rsvpselling.com/.
Main image photo by Flickr: Mike Licht
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