B2B snapshots: LinkedIn’s head of marketing on the benefits of social selling and the pitfalls of not getting it right

Kevin Ryan, head of marketing for LinkedIn’s Sales Solutions business in EMEA, catches up with Jess Pike to talk all things social selling

Social selling is so popular with B2B companies because 90% of decision makers never answer a cold call, rendering the whole process a waste of time. Yet 75% of B2B buyers use social media in their decision making process – making it a clear platform for engaging with those hard-to-reach potential customers. 

When it comes to social selling, most B2B brands go wrong by connecting with their target audience too late in the buying process. Today, business decision makers can be up to 60% along the decision-making journey before engaging a vendor, meaning it’s critical for salespeople and brands to make themselves known within the initial part of the process. Having a well-established online professional brand and sharing relevant content are two quick and simple ways to grab the attention of the right decision makers.

My go-to social selling B2B guru is Derek Pando because... I don’t believe there’s anyone out there with such a rounded knowledge set in this area – from industry know-how to practical social selling expertise.

"Just like you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date, don’t jump in cold with a big ask in business without learning more about your prospect first"

Kevin Ryan, head of marketing, LinkedIn

The golden rules of social selling are:

  1. Establish a strong professional brand. Your social media profile will likely be the first impression a new prospect gets of your business, so think carefully about what it says about you. Complete your LinkedIn profile with the customer in mind, and add rich, meaningful content that addresses challenges they’re likely to be facing.
  2. Find the right contacts. You never know who could come in handy when it comes to building relationships with customers and prospects. That elusive prospect you’ve been chasing for a meeting could be an old contact of the IT guy or a family friend of the office intern. Social media is a great way of finding out about those coincidental connections. 
  3. Pick your moment. Good relationships take time. Just like you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you on a first date, don’t jump in cold with a big ask in business without learning more about your prospect first. Social media has made it much easier to keep track of relevant decision makers within companies, so take note of the articles and updates they share in a professional context, and look for opportunities to respond or check in with them. It doesn’t always have to be about business either – how did their beloved football team do at the weekend, for example? 

On LinkedIn, a big social selling no-no is taking a scattergun approach to new prospects. You wouldn’t deliver your elevator pitch to everyone you meet at a party, so don’t go in with a hard sell to every new connection you make on LinkedIn. You need to earn the right to start a conversation by doing the research and communicating with prospects with information that’s personal and relevant to them or their company.

Santander is a great example of a company that is social selling really well. Social selling has helped the team work towards a 600% increase in their revenue goals in the past year, seeing a 171X return on investment – demonstrating how much easier it can be to identify and initiate contact with prospective customers through social media than the traditional, ineffective methods of cold-calling or constantly sending unsolicited emails.