Social Selling Strategies

by Jill Konrath

jill konrath social selling strategies for beginners

In the opening keynote, Jill Konrath will share strategies to help you quickly get up to speed with social selling — or take yourself to the next level. The faster you can learn, the sooner you’ll start seeing results. Discover how to put together a plan to make that happen.

Webinar Transcript

Announcer: Welcome to the second annual Social Selling Summit. You are in for a real treat today. This event is being put on by HireVue, a video software platform to build and coach the world's best teams, and Sales for Life, a premiere social selling consultancy. Today you're going to be hearing from some of the brightest and best people in social selling. As you're listening in, we encourage you to tweet about this event using the hashtag #socialsellingevent and encouraging everybody you know to check it out as well. 

Jill Konrath: Hi, I'm Jill Konrath and I am honored to be kicking off this incredible event. Many of you already subscribe to my newsletter so know who I am. But for those of you who don't, let me give you a quick overview. I am the author of three best selling books, I speak a lot at sales conferences, and I love sales. I am a lifetime sales person. So that's all I want to say about me, but I really want to welcome all of you to this event because honestly, it is really, really going to be a good one. So get yourself a cup of coffee, take out a notepad, get some pens and pencils ready. Get ready to take some notes because honestly, that is the best way you're going to remember all this is if you write down what you're learning. Let's get going.

We are talking about a Journey to Mastery, this is what this event is all about, how to help you get up to speed quickly to master social selling. You know for some of you, I am well aware that this is the start of your social selling journey, and for others of you, you have been dabbling in it for a while, and you're wanting to take your business to the next level and so you want to figure out how you can leverage some of these social selling strategies to make that happen, and others of you are real pros already and you know a whole lot, and you are looking for the competitive edge. And what you're going to find is all of that and more in this event. Now regarding social selling, what I'm talking about is leveraging social media. Today, in terms of things like Linked In, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, I mean there's all sorts of things you could be doing. And why would you want to do that? Because honestly, it's a way to build relationships today with people, it's a way to create opportunities, in many cases out of thin air, and it's certainly a way to advance and to close deals. But let me just start out by saying very clearly that mastery is a destination. All of us are on that journey. Things keep changing and we have to adjust with it as our platforms change and our customers change as well. Speaking of the journey to mastery, I'm just going to give you a quick snapshot of my journey.

I started out with my first newsletter in 2001. I had exactly 35 subscribers in my first newsletter. Today I checked with my web people; I'm up to 153,000. Newsletters are one form of social media that are user created media. The next thing I did is I joined LinkedIn in 2003. I am member number 66,032. I believer there are 380 million members worldwide today. I started blogging in 2004 and have written thousands of articles since that time. And I started tweeting in 2008 and that is my Twitter feed that you do see at the top of this screen. So knowing that, I am sure that you probably are all thinking, "Well, Jill, you know, you are really into this kind of stuff." But, you know, I'm not. And the truth of the matter is I honestly have a confession to make that I want to share with most of you who don't know this publicly right now. And while it may appear to you that I am like a real geek who loves all this stuff and would, you know, prefer to spend all my time learning social selling strategies, the truth of the matter is I don't really like it. I do it because I think it really is what has to be done. But it's really, really hard for me and it's not easy for me to pick up things. I have to be walked through how to learn these things because it is always a challenge. But here's what I do know, I know a good tool when I see one, and I am willing to put myself through the torture of learning new things and figuring out things that are really challenging for me simply because I am a sales person at my core. I am always looking for more ways to be effective in today's business environment. I am trying to maximize my time as much as I can and I really, like all of you, would like to drive incremental revenue. So from the onset, I have realized the value that the social selling tools can bring to sales people and I have thrown myself in to learn them and to continue to get better and better. And the reality of it is the value of these tools has grown as I have mastered these capabilities and certainly, as some of the vendors in this space have come out with more and more capabilities that each of them can offer.

So let's look briefly at some research that was done by LinkedIn. This is recent research and I think it really speaks highly about what the value of that platform is. As you can see, if you can create 45% more opportunities per quarter, you have a whole lot more chance of getting the business. But that's what their research did show. And you're 51% more likely to hit quota. I mean that is really good. It's pretty compelling. And you're 78% more likely to outsell your peers who don't use social media. Now you may look at this and say, "Well, that's just LinkedIn talking about LinkedIn." And certainly I can understand why you would be skeptical about this. But the reality of it is it's really true. I've seen study after study that's verified this kind of information. Two years ago I actually did my own study of over 3,000 sales people. I was looking to find out what differentiated top sellers, which were those people who I defined as leveraging LinkedIn significantly and outperforming their quota. So what differentiated them from everybody else who was out there? The results were striking. Not only did they spend more time on LinkedIn but what they were doing on LinkedIn was different. If you'd like to see those results, and I'm not here to go into depth on that today, but if you'd like to see them, you can go to my website and check out the sales resources page. There are two eBooks, Cracking The LinkedIn Sales Code and LinkedIn Sales Secrets Revealed, that do explain some more of the research and what I learned. But the truth of the matter is social media is making a difference. Now my specialty and preference is certainly LinkedIn because that's where my customers are but it's not the only space.

Let's take a look then at what you need to do to achieve this kind of success that some people are actually achieving out there. And because I've been dealing with people around the country and the world who are not totally familiar and the world's greatest people, like me, in terms of being able to jump on LinkedIn and master it, the reality is there are certain things that all of those who are doing well are doing. And the first thing that I've found that's really crucial to help you achieve the success that you need is to have exposure to what's possible, because unless you see somebody who's doing something, you have no idea what some of these technologies are capable of delivering to you. And by the way, the people who are going to be sharing their stories have real results. And just knowing that real, normal human beings are seeing these things happen should be the first inspiration to you that it's time to throw yourself in and to learn all about this. Once you see what's possible, and hopefully it whets your taste buds, the next thing you really need to do is to educate yourself on how to do it. And that is sometimes a challenge. And again, it's not something that you can just look at some of these things and assimilate what you have to do, kind of like a mind transfer. It doesn't just happen in a nanosecond. I mean it really takes a while to figure some of these things out and to master them. But the first step is exposure to what's possible. The second step is the education and to figure out what you should do and maybe where to focus. And then the third step is practice and to actually get out there and start doing something about it. 

Now today is a total immersion and many of you are going to be feeling like this before the end of the day. You are going to be suffering from severe exploding brain syndrome. And if there's one thing I can promise you is you will be seriously overwhelmed and I mean seriously overwhelmed, because again, so many good ideas are going to be shared during today's event. As you look at all this you're going to probably throw up, because you're overwhelmed, you're going to throw up a red flag and you're going to say, There's so much to learn. I simply... I don't have the time. I mean I still have to do my real job. I have to meet my numbers." And all that is true. You still do have to do that. The other thing you're probably going to be feeling is that you don't have a clue what to do next, because when you look at what other people are doing, you're going to see the gap between "Here's where I am today and here's what's possible." Remember I said you want to see what's possible. And the gap is going to seem like literally insurmountable. It's like they're experts, and you're the dabbler who wants to figure out how to do it more. It's just going to be overwhelming to you. So I do know that you're going to be suffering from this, and we don't want that to happen, which is why I'm talking about this right up front, because it's so important for you not to have that feeling. You will not get where you want to go with the overt feeling of overwhelm behind it all. 

What a lot of people don't know is that I am also not only just somebody who loves sales and writes about sales all the time and has a huge sales background, but I am also somebody who is an expert in rapid learning. And for years I was consumed with helping sales people get up to speed launching new products when the companies would come out with new products. And so I was really a specialist in that. But nowadays, it's not just new products that we're talking about. Everything's changing so fast and if you take a look at how much is going on and the constant need to know more and to know more faster, rapid learning is really becoming a master skill. You know, you take a new sales job and your time to proficiency, you need to shrink it as much as you can because you need to make your numbers. You might be selling to a new marketplace. You might be calling on different buyers. You could be trying to figure out how to use some of this technology. I mean the truth of the matter is your need to learn fast is so important these days. And it's what I call "agile selling." And that really means the ability to rapidly assimilate this knowledge and then to quickly pick up the new skills associated with it. It is the master skill. We're hearing companies like CEB, DDI, Korn Ferry, a lot of companies are talking about the crucial need for sales people to be rapid learners. You are about to have a rapid learning immersion right now, in terms of what you can do to be better at this. Like I said, this isn't what I talk about all the time with people; it's just what I know at my core and it's one thing I want to share with you today because it's where I think I can provide the best value. There are certainly other people who are smarter than me on some of these other things. 

So where should you start? That's always the first question, especially when you're suffering from exploding brain syndrome. And the answer is... Well, first of all, there is no right answer, which is the good news and the freedom but also the scary part because there is no right answer. It's like right now you're at a buffet with all these wonderful foods, and they all look so good, and you are tempted to take a bite of everything, and to dabble and nibble in everything. And like I said earlier, this is just about the worst thing that you could do right now. We don't want you to be nibbling and dabbling. It's destined for failure because you will never get enough momentum going on any one thing in order for you to achieve some significant results. So the questions you need to ask yourself is: Where are you right now? What might be helpful to learn right now? What are the experts say, as you're listening to people talk, what are the experts say are the best places to start? And even where does your target market reside? Those are some questions that you should be asking yourself as you're making this choice. 

And then what you really need to do is you need to narrow it down. You need to pick one focus, something that is doable that you can achieve in a short period of time. This is really crucial to rapid learning. It's part of gaining momentum and gaining a base where you know this, and then you add on, and you add on and you keep adding on. Like if you say, "I want to master LinkedIn," that's way too big, mastering Facebook, way too big. Any of those whole platforms of things that you could sell, technologies, they're all too big. So you want to pick a focus, and it could be LinkedIn, it could be any one of those platforms that you want to master, and then you want to start breaking it down into even more bite sized chunks. Again, we're trying to create a scenario where you could win. Now recently, LinkedIn came out with what's called a Social Selling Index. It's something that if you type in that URL that you see, what will happen is that immediately LinkedIn will pop up and give you your rating scale in terms of how you compare to people. I'm bringing this up because it might be some good information regarding a starting point for you if LinkedIn is the one that you choose to go after. If you look, my score was 77 out of 100. I am not perfect. I have some significant shortfalls on there. But I am in the top one percent of my colleagues, which makes me happy. And I am in the top 13 percent of my connections, which means that some of you are really, who I'm connected to, are really, really using this a lot. But that's just a starting point.

But here's whats really interesting because you can even get more focused on this same report that LinkedIn shares. It breaks down your results into four subsets. And again, in rapid learning, you don't want something big; you want to break it down into chunks of learning. And here are four specific chunks of learning. There is something about establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. Each of those is a subset. You need to pick one because you can't get good at everything at one time. Now you can probably tell the one that I have picked, which would happen to be establish your professional brand. And if that's one you need to pick, and by the way, a lot of good experts say this is really a good place to start because it's you're home base online and so having a good professional brand is really important, but if you start on just the professional brand part, you can take a look at all sorts of things. You can research headlines, summaries, recommendations, endorsements, job descriptions, updates, all sorts of things. Every one of them is a valid place to start. And as soon as you're done with one, you've accomplished something, which is good because now you're moving. You're creating that momentum you need to continue the growth pattern, and we're not trying to learn it all at once, we're trying to master some and move to the next one so over time we build total mastery. But you just pick that one, and you get started, and then you move onto the next thing that you need to learn under professional brand. And maybe then you move over to finding the right people and using LinkedIn for research and to build prospecting lists and that kind of stuff. And you can go back and forth a little bit, but don't jump all over the place. Don't try to tackle all of LinkedIn. Choose something. Something, something, something. It's much better then everything. 

And then you need to dive in. And when you dive in, what you do is you really need to go into it and learn what you have to do, but I really want to say that it's crucial that you try to make it fun for yourself. I don't believe that learning should be drudgery. And I think if you take a look sometimes at some of the things that you have to learn in order to become proficient, it can be a little bit intimidating. I think it's more like thinking about learning all this stuff more like FitBit; you're just trying to improve yourself and you're going to keep tabs on where you are and where you're trying to go and you're going to keep yourself moving so you can get in the right kind of shape for yourself. And there's a lot of ways to do that. You can just map it out and have your daily plan like somebody who is planning out and getting ready. My son is getting ready to run for a marathon and he's got it all mapped out, what he's doing. But the other thing you can do is you can actually, you know, literally make it fun and you can turn yourself into a ninja, for example. And I'm just playing with this concept just to show you where it might be fun, but I'm going be a ninja and I'm going to use the ninja to research everything I need to know on how to create the best possible headline. I'm going to be a ninja and I am going to learn everything I can about that prospective customer before I make the call or reach out to them.

When you tackle these kind of things and do this, you're trying to keep moving forward and to close more business, but you want to make it encouraging to yourself. A couple of things that I've done too to keep it fun for me. There are times when doing something is like really, really overwhelming, and I know that, but I also know that there is research that shows that getting started is the hurdle, and your body and your mind will rebel against you when it's something entirely new, but sometimes you just need a little jump start, and the Pomodoro Technique, wonderful for doing that when you're feeling like this. For the Pomodoro Technique, you set the clock for 25 minutes and you say, "I will only do this for 25 minutes." And what happens is you dig in, once the clock starts, you dig in and this makes it more fun. You've only got 25 minutes to work on your profile. You've only got 25 minutes to do some work on the groups. And you do it for 25 minutes. And at the end of 25 minutes, you get a break; you get five minutes of break, just to get up, stretch, do something because you have accomplished something. But here's what research shows. Just getting started is the key because once you get the momentum going, it keeps going. Use the Pomodoro. Have fun. Set the clock or pick little tasks that you can check off and say you do. So you could each hang up right now. Hang up. You could sign off. I'm on the phone. You could each sign off right now, and you could each connect with 20 clients, existing clients, right now that you're not connected to. That is a task that moves you forward, and it gets you going in the right direction. 

The other thing too, and again, I hate drudgery in learning, and I think too much of us have been told that that's kind of how it is. I hate that. What I think we need to do is we need to engage in experiments. The thing that you need to realize it that there is no like horrible right and wrong. You're not going to kill yourself on any of these platforms. What you're going to do is try to get better. But you could, for example, if LinkedIn is the one you're doing, and again, it's the one I know the best, you could try different in-mails and see which one gets better responses. You could try an experiment with the updates to see if some updates are more interesting to your prospects then others. But you want to just keep experimenting. A while back, I'll tell you about one I did, a while back I got tired of all those people who had headlines on LinkedIn that talked about like they were the world's most wonderful whatever, and all that self-promoting puffery kind of like really bugged me a lot. So I decided that I was going to one-up everybody. And I put up a LinkedIn headline that said that I was an intergalacticly recognized sales expert, because I figured that was better then world's best, intergalacticly recognized sales expert. And you know what? The truth is I got lots of fun conversations by having that headline up. When people contacted me and prospects were looking at me online, they always talked about it, and it was a way to get past the initial hurdle of who you are right away. So anyway, I experimented because I thought it was fun. I'm now back to my regular one because I came out with a book and I had to change it and get a little bit more professional on that one. 

So, what else do we need to talk about? I want to just kind of start summarizing it. Social selling is a tool. We need to realize that it is a tool; it is not the end all, be all. It is how you use the tool that really, really matters. You have, everyone of us has, I have a lot I can get better at on social selling, but it's not just the tool; it's how you use it. I mean if you, and all of you have received messages from people who have been trying to solicit business from you online, if it's a slimy, skunky message, it's going to stink. It's going to stink and it's not going to work. It's how you use it most effectively and finding a way that really allows you to connect with the people that you want to connect with, deepen your relationships, create new opportunities, and take things to the next level. This is really what social selling is all about.

I'd really encourage you to not let yourself get overwhelmed today. There is a lot to learn, but it doesn't have to be overwhelming. What it requires is the discipline of you saying to yourself, "I am not going to let this happen to me. I am going to listen and take in what I can. I'm going to learn from all these wonderful experts. I'm going to pick that one thing that I can do now, and then I'm going to come back to learning some other stuff a little bit later." So you might choose to use today as a scan to figure out what is out there, what you can use, and what would matter, but then you really need to sit down and have a little conversation with yourself and decide exactly what it is that you are going to get good at. So just keep in mind: focus, step by step learning, one success at a time, and consistently moving forwards. This tool...not this tool...this social selling event will be up here for months on end, so you can come back to it at any point when you need a refresher, or when you're ready to move to the next step. So keep that in mind as you move forward. It doesn't have to be overwhelming. This is here to help you become the sales person that you want to be and to get those opportunities.

Again, I am Jill Konrath. If you'd like to find out more about what I do and check out some of the free resources on my website, there is a link right there. And give me a call if you're having an upcoming sales kickoff meeting and want to find a speaker for that. I love to do that kind of thing. In the meantime, enjoy the session. It's going to be a good one.