Article written by Ollie Whitfield.
Inbound leads are a thing of beauty for sales professionals. Marketing work hard and work smart to drive people down the inbound funnel and nurture them, so they are ready to be helped by sales and by the solution.
But now we are all talking about personal brands and being socially active ourselves, can’t we bring leads into an inbound funnel of our own?
With the power that social media gives salespeople, of course, we can.
Let’s start super basic. Inbound means leads coming to you, into your funnel. So how can that look for a salesperson to prospect level?
The question is then, how do you make these 3 triggers happen? Let's take a look...
You have to start with the basics. There are thousands of pieces of content out there about how to set up your LinkedIn profile so that buyers can find you. There are so many ways to do this, but here’s my take:
Of course, there are some other little things you need to do but I aimed to cover the main parts there. You need to be found in search results when people are looking for services and skills that you have.
Think about being found, and then convincing people of your value quickly and easily. I won't spend an hour looking at a LinkedIn profile. if it is my first glance and I am looking for a specific thing, it will either be there and I can look more, or it won't be there I can keep searching. So think about making it super easy for anyone looking to work out who you are, what you do and who you do it for.
The stage after being found is being seen. Content is the tool to use for this. All you need to do is share content regularly on the social profiles you are using to educate, help and entertain the prospect.
There are 2 ways to do this and ideally, you should do both. Let's take a look at the two types.
You should consider sharing insights from around your industry that will educate and help the buyer. But how are you supposed to share and create the volume of content to do this every day, multiple times per day?
98% of people would struggle to do that, which is why curated content is so handy.
Now think about the buyer. If I share my own content all day, every day, you’d get sick of hearing about what I have to say, unless I'm providing lots of value. At some stage, you should make a change of tune.
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What you need to do is find a schedule to stick to which you’ll fill out with curated content to share. Three LinkedIn posts per day for example from industry sources. Find fresh content that you like and know buyers will too.
There are so many tools to help you do this many of which are free. I like Zest.is, Anders Pink, Feedly, HootSuite and Buffer to name a few. All of those are free and can help you find and share content. Keep your name and face top of the social newsfeeds of the buyer!
This is where people spend a lot of their energy and thinking power when they look into their content plan. You should follow the 80/20 rule of sharing 80% curated content and 20% of your own.
It takes time to write and create content, we all know that. So you need to plan out what you are writing when and book that time on your calendar to ensure it happens and you are not taken away from the task during that time.
I write in my spare time as I enjoy it, so I know after work and after I have eaten I can get back to the laptop and write. But if you are less accustomed to writing regular content, book yourself an hour per week when you know you can fit it in.
I find an hour is not always enough, especially if you’re not a prolific writer. It’s hard to get into the swing of things sometimes. I often wake up at crazy-o-clock in the morning and write a text message to myself with an idea I had for a blog post, or a concept/method I need to share.
If I am in the office and this happens, I quickly email myself or even record a quick sound clip of me explaining the idea so I can go back to it and pick up the idea when I have time to write. This helps me stay in the flow, and not waste good ideas. There is no sitting at the laptop, wondering what to write about.
You can ask marketing what to do with your content plan so you don’t overlap their content, but simply document and talk about what you have done and see. I spent a lot of time using Instagram for social selling, so I wrote about what I found out and did.
You can tell what I am doing work-wise, I write about it shortly after. This is an easy way to make sure you have content that you personally have experience in practical terms.
Establish a regular schedule for publishing content, for example, I post a new LinkedIn pulse article every 2 weeks. Not too often I bombard any prospects, but enough that I am adding to my profiles and giving new information regularly.
This is where the fun happens. So you are search-optimised and sharing content of your own and from other sites. Now all you need is engagement from prospects and connections so you can begin a conversation.
The key here is not sharing to get engagement. It’s posting content that will really help the buyer do something, learn something or save them some trouble.
If I can get 10 likes on a post and I message those 10 likers, I could maybe get 1 phone call booked. Of course, they also need to be the right type of profile.
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Think about that as a decent return. But the better return would be 0 likes on a post, but 1 message sent to you explaining how awesome the content was and how it helped X problem become less of an issue for the prospect.
That is a great conversation to have, you have demonstrated credibility and you can then take the conversation further offline after you have fully understood the problem and how it can be solved.
Context is everything in sales, which is why the content is so important in generating inbound leads. Without the content, you would only ever get leads interested in a product or service, without the real relationship and credibility part of sales. The result would be a price based battle for the business, not a value based journey.
I hope you have been able to take learnings away from this article, especially what inbound social selling is. If you have any questions please share them below in the comments.
About the author: Ollie Whitfield
Ollie uses social selling every day to learn and develop new ways to create conversations and reach prospects. Outside of the office he's an avid Liverpool FC fan and regularly watches his local football team play or plays pool every week. You can connect with Ollie on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.
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