Demystifying The Art Of 'Social Selling'


A few weeks back, I offered to write a free article for my newsletter in which I answer a specific marketing problem from anyone on my newsletter list.

One friend, Will, wanted to find other options to ‘cold calling’. And one idea I’d heard about was about ‘Social Selling’. It’s a new technique and not many people know about it – yet.

But it really can work. Especially if you are selling from one business to another where fewer people are involved.

I interviewed social selling expert Jonathon Barnes and asked how he does it.

So, instead of a report, here’s my interview with Jonathon for you.

I found it fascinating and I hope it helps you with your marketing.

Simon | The Chief Brain

P.S. This is Jonathon's LinkedIn profile. Look him up here if you like

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SIMON: How would you describe Social Selling?



Social Selling is a bit like when the telephone was invented and everyone got one

If you phoned someone up and said that you had a product that they might need, people would buy from you.

And so the cold call was invented. Businesses became reliant on the cold call. Whole techniques would be invented about how to do a cold call, how to do your introduction, how to work out your hook.


But cold calls don’t work anymore

People are sick of them. People know now when they are being cold called. The clue to the problem is in the name: ‘cold’. Cold because there is no relationship: you don’t necessarily know who you are calling, and they don’t know you.

The usual process is that you call up, you get a gatekeeper (like a PA), and you ask them for help. They may neither be the person you need to speak to, nor willing to help you, so you end up talking to someone who is cold to you. Why should they talk to you? A few places do cold calling well. But for most they don't, which means that the cold call is effectively dead.


There’s got to be another way to connect to people so you can sell to them

‘Social Selling’ can sometimes be an unhelpful term to describe it. It’s more about being social and being relevant.

Lots of companies aren’t doing Social Selling because they don’t what it is, how it works or how it can help them. There’s a big open door for companies who are starting to do it. Give it 5 to 7 years maybe, and everyone will be doing it. It will become as popular as using Twitter.


The main channel for Social Selling is LinkedIn, however

Twitter can be used, but LinkedIn lends itself best. The idea is to share relevant content with people that you are trying to sell to in your network.

When you are trying to connect with someone who you haven’t connected with before, make everything personal to them. Make the updates in your newsfeed about a particular, relevant subject. If you can create say, a microsite, a stand alone site or a landing page (somewhere where your content is shared) then link to that.

You’ll share content through your LinkedIn newsfeed, so when you send a ‘connection request’ to someone on LinkedIn, they can see what you’ve been sharing is useful to them.


Ensure you keep your introduction personal to someone new you want to connect with

So when you send your connection message, it’s not a bog-standard, impersonal, ‘one-size-fits-all’ connection message like: ‘please connect with me’.


It needs to be tailored to that person

Something like: “Hi [name], I am currently sharing content about [insert particular subject]. I see that you are interested in [subject] and that it could be helpful to you in your role as [insert role]. Please connect with me and I’d like to share with you a link to our latest blog or whitepaper.”

The person reading will then realise that you’ve reached out because you have taken the time to get to know who they are and understand what they are interested in.

So if that person looks at your profile, they’ll see that there’s relevancy between what you do and what they’re interested in, giving them a reason to connect with you.



I have a friend whose business needs to connect to travel agents. How does he do that via LinkedIn?



The key is to use your LinkedIn profile

When people first started using LinkedIn, they used it like a CV and for looking for jobs. Many are written in the third person, and they list what they do.

People tend to write things like: “I’ve worked in sales for x years. I’ve broken my targets for x years”. Why should anyone care about that? Why should I buy from you so you can continue to break your sales targets? It’s nonsense.

So the first thing to do is to turn your profile into a personalised introduction on what you do and why you do it.

[An example of Simon's LinkedIn page]


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Your headline should open with a statement about what you do

So whether it’s package holidays, bespoke experiences, corporate experiences or honeymoons, explain what type of holidays you offer. In your headline, people need to know immediately what you provide.


The next section is your summary

This needs to be a view of the landscape, to show what is going on in a particular industry. You need to weave in the first sentence or two of your summary as to why what is happening in an industry is relevant to your audience.

The summary is not about your job role, it’s not about your company: it’s about the landscape. You must show here that you understand the landscape in which you are operating, so you can prove that you and your company’s services are as useful as possible.


When people look at a summary, they only look at the first couple of lines

It’s only about 150 characters, so you have to make your first two sentences punchy. People may or may not agree with the statement you make about your industry’s landscape, but it must be bold so it gets a reaction and piques people’s interest.

Your ‘experience’ section is where you talk about what you do day-to-day and how you can offer a useful solution through the services you offer.



Should you change your summary each time depending on who you want to target?



No. That wouldn’t work because you don’t know when somebody is going to read your connection request and when they’re going to read your feed.

The best thing to do is to change your connection request message each time, to make it personal to whoever you are contacting. Then they will know why you are connecting with them and see that you are offering something relevant to their business and that you know your stuff.

It’s about being timely, relevant and that all-important personal connection.



Thanks Jonathon


Thanks for reading. For now, over and out, tally ho and toodle pip  :o)

Simon | The Chief Brain