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Laura Erdem: Video Makes You Approachable

Laura Erdem is a Sales Leader at Dreamdata heading the Americas team as well as a marketing enthusiast. Known for her innovative social selling strategies, she grows her yearly following by 100% year over year, currently at 25000 and is recognised as an upcoming talent in Denmark under 34.  

Laura will be giving an in-depth talk on social selling at the Parrot conference on February 20th. 

Marketers notoriously love buzzwords, new terminology and so forth. How do you define social selling and what does it mean to be an expert in social selling? 

Social selling means meeting your prospects on their preferred social platforms and providing them a chance to learn about your products via those platforms. 

It's definitely not connecting with people and offering your services through direct messages. Social selling is being active on the platforms where your ideal customer profiles are hanging out. For me, that platform is LinkedIn, for others that might be Twitter or Reddit. A platform where you are able to build an audience that could become your potential buyers in the future.

Later you will have a much easier time reaching out and offering your services because they know you already – what you stand for and what type of services you offer. Simply put, you’ll be top-of-mind once the need for those services arises. 

Combining that with other buying signals, from G2 comparison pages, LinkedIn ads impressions, reverse IP lookup on the website – you're able to be the type of salesperson that works with intent and can avoid cold outreach which is often very difficult and not always successful. 

When it comes to social selling, the theory suggests avoiding being too aggressive which doesn’t always translate well in real life situations. How do you find the balance? 

It depends on the product. If you're selling a software plan starting from 50,000 dollars a year, it’s not wise to be pushy because the buying cycle is quite long for such expenses. 

First of all, the potential buyer needs to be aware of the problem and who’s solving that problem. Once they have identified those pieces, it's a little bit easier to push the deal forward using their agenda and what they want to achieve that year.

Companies selling more affordable products will probably benefit from typical outbound because you need volume and speed to be able to go through the funnel. It also requires a certain bubble of interest (or FOMO as some might say), where it seems that everybody is buying this product and I’m missing out. It’s much easier for a sales person to bounce off this dynamic and deliver results. 

You are very active on LinkedIn whereas the company you work for is less so. If somebody as active as you would leave the company and go work for the competition, then you would take all your social capital with you. What’s your stance on corporate vs personal brand building? 

I think you have to enable as many people as possible in the company to do social selling. It does not start with me, I’m just a sales leader at a company of 50 people. The founders have to build their brands as well in order to show to the rest of the company that social is something we're focusing on, and it's not just play. 

A company profile builds up a brand directly, whereas the personal profile builds up that brand through a personality.

Once more people in the company regard this as part of the culture, the audiences start to overlap quite quickly and the fear of losing the social capital of a single employee diminishes. The capital that you build up together with your team is already there. 

Personal profiles attract people to follow company profiles as well. As professionals we share sponsor posts too. A company profile builds up a brand directly, whereas the personal profile builds up that brand through a personality.

LinkedIn is a global platform. How do you make sure to target the right people? 

For a salesperson, when you post and what you post does matter. You also have to define your exact ideal customer profile. 

For example, I only post in the morning for the U.S. and choose the Eastern Time, so I can also hit a little bit of Europe. You should also consider who you connect with, what type of people you build the audience with. I connect with target people that are in the U.S., follow and engage with American influencers. 

Vanity numbers like views, likes and comments are not that important, hitting the right target market is. 

Once you have an idea of your target, send a hundred connection requests every week. Quite often, I do that according to the intent that Dreamdata is getting, which also helps me further in the sales process. If I see company X browsing on our website, I make sure to consider that information in further activities. 

Most of the time, I'm still top of the list for people following and commenting from Denmark because this is where I live. As long as I've got two Americans, it's fine. LinkedIn social selling goes so much broader than just posting. Nobody wants to be sold to, they want to buy on their own premises and they buy from the people they follow and like. 

When choosing the content, always check the statistics. Vanity numbers like views, likes and comments are not that important, hitting the right target market is. 

Video versus other formats. You use quite a bit of video, but you do text as well. What's the right balance in your opinion? 

If you asked me half a year or a year ago, videos were so unpopular. Nobody did videos because the algorithm didn't like them. But video does a very beautiful thing for salespeople: puts your face and your voice in front of your buyers. Once you reach out and try to book a meeting, it’s more likely they will feel comfortable accepting. 

You will have text in your post anyway as part of the description. Moreover, repetition matters – you can use the same idea and convey it via picture or text. Nobody will notice, but people will notice that you do quite a bit of a video and know how to talk in public. 

When we evaluate LinkedIn posts via the prism of journalism, the quality of content is very poor but it seems to have no effect on engagement. Posts with trivial ideas receive thousands of positive reactions. Why? 

The people behind those posts might have a specific agenda: grow their following no matter what or hike up statistics in order to secure an agreement with an influencer company. 

Always start by defining what you want to achieve with your post. I'm on LinkedIn because of sales, I need to sell Dreamdata products. And that comes with an aftertaste of seeing me on video, sometimes talking about women in sales or whatever works to attract my buyers. I'm selling to marketing and operations people who hate being sold to. Therefore I have to package my message in an entertaining way. 

If I started to do those stupid posts like eat breakfast for a successful life – hopefully, somebody would call me out on that. 

It is said that commenting on posts is even more important than posting. And with the help of ChatGPT and other tools, there is an epidemic of nonsense comments because it's relatively easy to produce them. What's your five cents on commenting? 

Comments work. They're great!

When you read my clever comment on something, you make a mental note of me in your brain. Comment with purpose, same like posting. 

Personally, I don't use AI or any bots because they're not that clever just yet. It shines through and you look stupid. I recently flagged one of my good friends on that. 

Laura will be giving an in-depth talk on social selling at the Parrot conference on February 20th. 


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