Social Selling: The 5 Steps to Social Referrals

social selling

10 Jan Social Selling: The 5 Steps to Social Referrals

Social Selling Helps Sales Teams Extend their Reach and Acquire New Business

Social Selling continues to take the industry by storm. With the power of LinkedIn, we’re able to gain warm introductions to new prospects and get ahead of the competition.

Today, we’ll look at tips from Ryan Tognazzini, Principal at Sales Benchmark Index, on how to gain referrals. He shared this wisdom in a recent webinar co-sponsored by KnowledgeTree, titled “Guide to Social Selling Strategy: How to Use Social to Crush Your Number.”

The 5-Step Process

Step 1: Identify Potential Referrals

Sometimes, getting started is the most difficult part of any new venture. To get off the ground with your first Social selling referrals, explore your current clients and even strong past clients. On LinkedIn, just approach your 1st degree and 2nd degree connections. Once you get to 3rd degree contacts, your back to cold calling techniques.

Step 2: Maintain a Referral Database

As you and your team begin building referrals, you need to keep them all in a central location. This is easily accomplished by tying each LinkedIn account to your CRM. Once it’s captured there, you’ll be able to use your favorite sales tools to guide prospects down the funnel.

Step 3: Create Social Debt

This is the step that most sales people either miss, or choose not to pursue. However, it’s the most important activity to grow your referrals. Creating social debt is simply the practice of helping others first – or giving before you receive. By adding value to your contacts and others in your community, you’ll build goodwill and earn potential reciprocation in the future.

It’s important to note that social debt is only created when you proactively help someone without being asked to do so. More importantly, you need to give without asking for anything in return, in the short term. This greatly differentiates you from your competitors, who are approaching your contacts and asking to receive something, but giving nothing in back. It positions you as a giver, and a valued resource.

So how and what do you and your team give and create social debt? B2B decision makers need a number of resources that you may have at your disposal. Can you help them locate an ideal new hire? Or perhaps they’re looking for a new job opportunity, and you provide the introduction that lands them a new career. Do you know of an opportunity that can help them grow their personal brand or introduce them to a partner that can increase their business? These are valuable gifts. And most can be simply done within LinkedIn.

Step 4: Leverage Social Debt and Request Referrals

After creating social debt, you earn the right to ask for referrals in return. It’s important to be specific when requesting referrals. Ask your contacts for the exact types of prospects you’d like to meet. If the ideal target is difficult to describe, hyperlink to a LinkedIn profile that provides an example of who you’d like to meet. Sometimes, it also helps to provide a sample message your contact can simply re-purpose when making the introduction. Also, only ask for one specific introduction at a time. Don’t frustrate your referral source. However, after creating enough social debt, you’ll find that some contacts want to provide more than one referral by their own choice, as a display of their thanks. The further you grow this relationship, the more fruit it will produce.

Step 5: Repeat!

Growing your network, creating social debt and gaining new referrals is a constantly ongoing process. The good news is that it can have a positive snowball effect, increasing your contacts and growing your business exponentially faster as you continue to give and receive.

Patience Pays Off

Don’t be tempted to ask for referrals before creating social debt. If you ask for referrals without first creating the debt, you’re chances of success are greatly diminished. And, it will frustrate your social connections. Give, then get. In time, you’ll earn the benefits and excel at Social Selling.

2 Comments
  • Brent Diefenbacher
    Posted at 10:34h, 13 January Reply

    Greg- this is a very helpful article. Will share it with my clients in sales. To add to your point on connecting with only 1st and 2nd degree connections, here’s an article I wrote on the importance of sticking to 2nd degree connections on LinkedIn http://ow.ly/sx4PE

    Thanks again for this article,

    Brent @TeamExecnote

  • Brian O'Connnell
    Posted at 10:39h, 15 March Reply

    Very insightful. Social Selling represents a shift in how sellers reach and interact with buyers in the digital age. Business’s must first validate and then implement how their set of target customers are now sourcing information on product and services. Very few buyers’ journeys have been left unchanged in the digital age. Social Selling is not some new craze, it is just selling evolved to match the realities of today’s online business environment.
    Certain steps in the sales cycle or process have evolved a lot over the past 10 years. All social selling is doing is to get sales people and sales management to reassessed how well a step, let’s say “sales prospecting” gets done given the new set of capabilities afforded by the social networks.

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