In an earlier post we revealed nine ways to get more out of LinkedIn; here we dive a little deeper to show you how you can use the world’s largest professional network to generate leads and drive sales.
LinkedIn isn’t just a place to post your CV and look for jobs – it also happens to be the largest database of potential business customers on Earth. That’s why you should consider using LinkedIn as a platform for “social selling”.
Tyron Giuliani, founder of Selling Made Social, explains: “Before someone even approaches a ‘sales’ person they’ve generally done the bulk of the decision-making based on research and recommendations on social media.
“Social selling allows you to position yourself to participate in that early decision-making process.”
The numbers bear this out. In a 2014 study commissioned by LinkedIn, market intelligence firm IDC found three-quarters of B2B buyers and 84 per cent of C-level and vice president executives use social media to make purchasing decisions. The study also found that B2B buyers who use social media for buying support are more senior, have larger budgets and purchase more frequently.
In other words: if you’re not using social media to augment or even drive your selling efforts, you could be missing out on all kinds of opportunities. Here are some ideas to keep your profile client-ready and turn LinkedIn into a lead-generation machine.
Get into these good LinkedIn habits:
Use “Sales Navigator”
The Sales Navigator tool is a subscription-based lead- and prospect-generator. It’s basically a super-granular search engine that allows you to apply filters – including keywords, job title, geography, company size and even content they’ve posted – to produce groups of leads from the LinkedIn subscriber base. You can even set up saved searches to monitor trigger events and changes among your prospects.
Become a publisher
Sales leadership speaker and LinkedIn guru Tony Hughes recommends moving all of your professional blogging activity to the LinkedIn Publisher platform. He says that based on its propensity for virality and how it integrates with your personal brand, LinkedIn Publisher is the “number one blogging platform on the planet”.
“A brutal truth for sellers today is that if they cannot write then they cannot sell,” Tony says. “You need to impress with both your business value and the values by which you operate.
“What do buyers see when they click on your profile? Quota-crushing, Porsche-driving, uber-sales dominator; or do they see ‘social proof’ of credibility, business value, insight and integrity?”
Tony recommends posting content with existing and prospective customers in mind. Above all, he says publish articles that proactively kill common objections that might dissuade a client from engaging with you, for example things that address potential concerns about cost or complexity.
Build quality connections
Be careful who you connect to. LinkedIn is not Facebook, so don’t go round adding people because you like the same band as them or you think they’re cute. Connect with senior, well-regarded people in your industry – ideally people you’ve met in the real world – who have strong and deep networks of their own. You want potential clients to be impressed and reassured by your professional relationships when they view your profile.
Join and engage in industry groups
If you’re not a member of any industry groups, start joining today. It’s really good practice to regularly initiate and participate in group conversations. Not only is it a way to promote your own articles and demonstrate your smarts to relevant people in the industry, it also helps you to grow your network. Again, keep it customer-focused.
Watch the watchers
When you discover that someone you don’t know has viewed your LinkedIn profile, it’s nearly impossible to resist viewing their profile. It’s only natural to want to know who they are and why they decided to virtually check you out.
Use this psychology to draw people into viewing your own profile by viewing the profiles of potential customers in your industry (don’t forget to switch off anonymous viewing before you do this). You can use Sales Navigator to help you identify high-value targets.
Follow the steps above and you may just find that LinkedIn becomes the best sales tool you’ve ever had. After all, if a sale begins with creating a good connection, why not let social media do some of the work for you?