We hear a lot about providing value, education and insight in modern sales. In fact, as I’m sure you’re aware, buyers today are not responding to the “hard sell,” the way they have in the past.

Prospects are savvier, more informed and more educated than ever. They want to make decisions based on their own findings and not through manipulative sales tactics. They want you to help them envision the benefit and outcome. This means the way you sell has to be adjusted.

LinkedIn and social media are ideal places to do so, as the prospect research possibilities are robust and full of endless opportunities.

If you’ve been having trouble understanding how to take full advantage of LinkedIn and are finding it increasingly difficult to generate new leads and sales, then it’s time to change your tune.

As a sales professional, I had major issues generating leads and sales through LinkedIn as the switch in techniques changed.

The #1 reason I was not making sales, was because I was moving in for the hard and fast sell.  What that means is I would fire out as many InMail messages to prospects with absolutely ZERO added value and was missing the most crucial step in the process;

Well I finally figured it out and there’s one specific method that I’ve been practicing for quite some time which has essentially built me an automated sales pipeline. Meaning, once you’ve put some time and effort into this method, you should have a consistent flow of highly targeted leads and sales.

“Ok, and what is this magical method… what’s the secret?”

It’s not really a secret and can easily start being implemented today. The method is: I prospect buyers BEFORE they even know they want to buy.

“Sorry…what? That’s crazy talk, how does prospecting someone before they want to buy make sense?”

Look at it this way, prospects already in the sales cycle are not always the best leads. They typically have already been speaking with competitors and the gears are in motion.  If you haven’t shaped that buyers journey, than you are competing on price and shiny feature, not on value and benefits.

If you shaped my journey, I’m thinking of shifting money and priorities for you in the future.

65% of Buyers feel that the Vendor’s Content had an Impact on the Final Decision Process

And thus the method which we call Value and Insight Selling enters the equation.

Getting in early, providing value and insight and nurturing the prospect until they’re ready to buy will both position you as an expert and will force your buyer to maintain a sense of loyalty. It will also set you up for a steady stream of current and future business.

“74% of Buyers use the Sales Rep that was First to Add Value and Insight” –

So how do we start executing this?

You will want to start by developing what we call: A Buyer Persona Blueprint

You can develop a buyer persona blueprint by understanding your buyer, what they want and what compels them.

Once you’ve targeted who you buyer is, ask the following questions:

  • What are they interested in?
  • What motivates or excites them?
  • What frustrates them?
  • What will push them to change the way they’ve traditionally been doing things?


It’s your job to convince the buyer that your way is the best way and what they’ve been doing up until now can be adjusted.

Research here is key and if your buyer is as connected as you are, it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure out the answers to these questions.

You will want to start on LinkedIn: Checkout LinkedIn Skills – by searching for keywords under advanced search. You could use any pertinent keywords to your buyer’s business.

If you are hunting IT professionals, you may want to search for Document Management, Windows Scripting or Network Administration as an example.

Once you’ve viewed a prospect page, scroll to the skills section and you will see all the other people connected to your prospect who have endorsed them. At least 70-80% of  endorsers will be in a similar vertical or industry to your buyer.  Now you have a lot to work with! You can start going through different profiles with these skills and start to understand what their motives and common themes are.

  • Make a list of the shared groups these individuals are attached to, then scour the groups for general themes, conversations and pain points
  • Take note of the similar wording and pain points used in summaries and headlines
  • Ask questions on LinkedIn, Quora or Reddit related to your prospects industry to better gain insight
  • Start conversations everywhere – Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and of course – LinkedIn

Now the fun begins, as you can really start to investigate the buyer long before you’ve even spoken. Most of these prospects should also link to other social networks their connected too. Here’s where you can start following them on Twitter, check out their personal blog or Facebook page and get a real understanding of who they are and what makes them tick.

Twitter specifically allows you to informally get involved in a conversation and is heavily used in the business world as a casual yet effective means of connection.

Add your prospects to a Twitter list. Do so by navigating to lists under your profile and select new. You can then call the list any relevant name and choose if you would like it public or private. Now every time your prospect tweets or is mentioned in a tweet, you will be informed, so you won’t miss any of the action.

You can also download LinkedIn’s Rapportive, which is a free Gmail plugin that searches the social web for information about your prospect to qualify them and give you some critical insights into how to get their attention.

You should now have enough information now for a warm introduction. But it doesn’t stop there. The whole point is to provide them with value and insight right?

Remember to: Lead with insight before leading with an ask. This is where content creation and curation comes in to play. Your content should follow these 4 steps:

  1. Highlight the problem
  2. Highlight the solution
  3. Highlight how YOU have this solution
  4. Confirm and solidify that solution to position you as a valuable asset for the buyer.

How can you do this? Well this is your chance to get creative:

  • Create a video outlining the problems and solutions you can offer, upload to YouTube and link in a tweet or message.
  • Craft a LinkedIn or blog post with the prospect in mind.
  • Mention them in a Tweet or Facebook post
  • Answer questions by starting a group conversation
  • Invite your prospect to a chat or webinar on Blab.im or Google Hangouts
  • Add your prospect to your email list and really start building and nurturing that relationship

Now you can connect with a follow up message, stating:

“I hope you had a chance to view my content, I would love to speak further.”

This will double or even triple your chances of connecting and engaging. Even if they aren’t interested in speaking again at this moment, you’ve actively connected with them in a more value driven way than simply a cold email saying “I want to sell you X, let’s chat!”  You can circle back in another 30-60 days to see where they are in their cycle.

Additionally, there’s a tool called Sidekick  which is an app by HubSpot that alerts you when someone interacts with your content. The free account comes with 200 free notifications and the paid account comes with unlimited. If this prospect does engage with your content, you know it’s time to start connecting again. Sidekick also lets you schedule emails to be sent out at a later date.

I’m sure by now you can see how Value and Insight Selling can be an extremely effective means of prospecting. In fact, executed properly, there should be a consistent stream of warm leads flowing through your pipeline. But where do we go from here? How do we close deals and eventually make the sale? Well the fantastic thing about LinkedIn and Social Selling is there are many different ways to do so effectively.

We are living in the most opportunistic time in the history of mankind, greatness is possible for ANYONE if you want it.

Remember in social and modern selling – Value is Currency.  

Matt Brennan is on a mission to educate entrepreneurs, small business owners, sales professionals, coaches/consultant, network marketers and more that social selling is not a ‘buzz’ word and is the future of selling 

He is also the founder of The Modern Sales Pro; a consulting and e-learning business dedicated to helping ANYONE develop a successful social selling program.