“Why isn’t it working?” That’s a question you often hear in training, especially when someone is starting to test the limits of a new skill that he or she just learned. Social selling is no exception. This new approach to dealing with buyers takes time, practice and repeated course corrections. Similar to their teams, sales leaders should lead by example and adopt the same prescriptive routine that their team is supposed to follow.
The following are some of the most common mistakes that sales leaders make on LinkedIn, along with some ideas on how to turn them around. Do the opposite and you’ll see significant gains in your results for connections, leads and long-term revenue. Make sure that you share this list with your direct reports as well because there’s a good chance that they are encountering the same roadblocks.
1. Forgetting to post timely and relevant status updates
Koka Sexton, a senior social marketing manager for LinkedIn, offers many suggestions on how to do social selling on LinkedIn. He says that the best ways to use status updates are to promote your company and to engage and inform your network. “Visibility creates opportunities,” Sexton advises. “You should build the habit of sharing.”
2. Stopping your network building
In a previous blog, we looked at how to build an effective network, beginning with the understanding that 500 LinkedIn connections should be considered your starting place. You need to build your extended network a little at a time, with an equal focus on both quality and quantity.
3. Staying off LinkedIn for a while
Only 13 percent of LinkedIn users visit the site every day, according to Pew Research. One-fourth visit the site weekly. Visiting daily for just a few minutes at a time will give you a massive social selling advantage over the competition. A quick status update or a comment on a group conversation will raise the visibility of your LinkedIn profile and establish you as an authority that buyers can turn to when they need answers. If you’re not there on a regular basis, they will turn to someone who is.
4. Refusing to ask for recommendations or endorsements
Don’t ask and you won’t receive. Although LinkedIn has made it easier to get endorsements on a regular basis, recommendations still take dedication and energy. Even your biggest fans may not feel comfortable writing recommendations, so talk to them and find out what they need. Seek endorsements and recommendations from a variety of your contacts, both inside and outside your current organization. They give you both authority in a specific area and an edge over your competition. Rom Bronfman, a senior product manager for LinkedIn, points out that they give you another chance to motivate your prospects: “The most compelling recommendations tell a story rather than provide empty statements.”
5. Sending generic connection requests
Nothing says “I don’t care” like the default “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” Take a moment to mention how you met your potential connection or why you want to connect. It really takes no more than a few seconds per connection, and it will make all the difference in how successful you are. Sexton includes a line in his LinkedIn summary that reads, “If you would like to connect, please customize your message. I rarely accept generic connection requests.” Others won’t say it, but that’s how they operate, too.
Love your mistakes because every one of them is a teacher; just don’t love them so much that you can’t let them go. Stay up to date with the best practices for 2016, and never stop learning. In the rapidly shifting world of social selling, the biggest mistake anyone can make is to get comfortable.