Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. When that “something” is LinkedIn, you’re just missing out on a significant opportunity.
Sales in 2020 is not business as usual. When you miss out on a potential sales channel, your competition will take advantage. They carve out a niche while you lose out.
Nobody wants that to happen. So can your sales team afford to ignore LinkedIn? Not a chance. It might be just another channel, but it might also become THE channel for you. I’ll outline everything you need to know to leverage LinkedIn for tangible sales growth.
What is LinkedIn?
It never hurts to start with the obvious. Most folks know about LinkedIn, whether they use it or not.
The platform is one of the largest social media networks in the world, with almost 600 million users worldwide. What makes this channel so relevant, though, is its audience.
LinkedIn users are usually 30-64 years old, college educated, and work in a white-collar professions. And it gets better: 61 million users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are C-suite decision makers. The cherry on top? LinkedIn is the single most popular social network among Fortune 500 companies.
Linkedin users interact every day in groups, they share status updates and update their profiles. They post 100,000 long-form posts per week. And of course, they interact in post comments and personal InMail messages for professional advice and networking opportunities.
Advantages of LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting
LinkedIn, thanks to its user demographics and behavior, is a perfect playground for sales teams looking to reach their customers. So why is it effective? Let’s dig deeper…
1) A Relevant Audience
Like I said, no social media network attracts an audience more relevant for sales teams than LinkedIn. So can your sales team afford to ignore LinkedIn? Not a chance, because it’s an ideal fit in the B2B space.
2) Intuitive Relationship Building
Step away from your phone and resist the urge to cold call. Instead, leverage LinkedIn to build initial connections with prospects through mutual acquaintances or interests in similar groups. The process is intuitive because it helps you build relationships naturally before you step in for a sales call. Turn a 4 percent chance to convert your cold call into an 87 percent chance by calling a nurtured prospect.
3) Background Information About Sales Prospects
An informed sales call is a better sales pitch. Why? Because the more you know, the more you can tailor your pitch to your prospects. LinkedIn encourages users to maintain complete profiles. That means your prospects automatically hand over valuable information, like employment, skills and specializations that help you learn about them. With those details in hand, you can make the conversation more relatable, building a rapport with your audience. Sales Navigator (more on this below) is a particular version of LinkedIn premium, there’s a cost associated, but for B2B sales teams, it can be an invaluable tool for data enrichment on prospects.
4) Thought Leadership Opportunities
Don’t let your sales team get reputations as people who promote. Instead, encourage them to build their expertise in the area through sharing and commenting on anything from industry trends to complex scenarios and case studies. That content will show up for prospects when they research your salespeople and your brand. Given that 92 percent of B2B prospects engage with sales pros who are known thought leaders, it’s a crucial advantage.
5) Staying Top of Mind for Prospects
Don’t you forget about me (insert end scene from The Breakfast Club here). Few pitches are isolated. Most of them happen over time, by building a relationship and regularly staying in touch. With LinkedIn, your sales team can stay top of mind for potential customers by posting regularly, making it easier to recall them when it’s time for the final pitch. Although the algorithm for post engagement is proprietary, LinkedIn is known to be a “low-hanging fruit” when it comes to getting exposure to your content put out on the platform.
How to Start Building Your LinkedIn Sales Presence
Now you know why you can’t afford for your sales team to ignore LinkedIn, but you also need to know how. A comprehensive how-to guide on specific strategies for sales on LinkedIn is a book for a different day. For now, the CliffsNotes version.
Leverage Your Existing Connections
If a member of your sales team closes a deal, make sure they connect with that customer. What follows can be powerful.
First, they’ll get relevant connections in the people also viewed section. It’s helpful because the feature enables you to prospect customers based on similar factors. Second, your existing customers can help you get acquainted with their network to expand your prospect pool.
Connect and Engage with Prospects
When you find a sales prospect, connect with them. Engage through direct messages and make sure they see your team’s contacts. That way, every sales agent can build a relationship with specific prospects on their way to becoming customers.
Become an Active Content Publisher
Every member of your team should build a content schedule. Ask them to draw from marketing to leverage social media for awareness and attention. It may even work for your company if each sales agent has a different specialty they post about, establishing themselves as content experts in unique areas.
Join Relevant Industry Groups
LinkedIn’s groups are pools of activity for folks in different industries. Professionals have opportunities to connect with fellow alumni from their alma mater, discuss industry trends and even look for jobs. Have you ever considered using this to your advantage? For instance, strategically-placed members of your sales team can join groups and inject their thoughts (plus subtle promotions), entering the conversation on a personal level.
Use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator
Heads up: Sales Navigator is a paid opportunity. LinkedIn’s dedicated lead prospecting platform integrates with your CRM to find existing prospects unearthed by marketing or sales. It also provides real-time information on prospect actions, helping your team further tailor their efforts and pitches. Using Sales Navigator requires a change of business practices and flows, but it could become a significant opportunity.
LinkedIn is a Channel, NOT a Philosophy
No matter how you use (or don’t use) LinkedIn, it’s impossible to ignore its value today. The platform continues to grow, and so will the companies leveraging its sales opportunities. You want to be a leader, not left behind struggling to find prospects.
At the same time, it’s crucial for C-suite execs to find balance—LinkedIn can’t replace your sales team, or their personalized prospecting efforts. Instead, LinkedIn is designed to enhance your team’s existing efforts. It offers success tools, without changing the core philosophy of nurturing marketing leads to prospects and eventual customers.
LinkedIn enhances existing relationships with your leads. It can also unearth new prospects that marketing missed. But it doesn’t take contact between sales professional and prospect out of the equation. If you don’t have that part down, even your team’s best effort on LinkedIn may fail.
Remember: LinkedIn can’t replace personal connections with potential customers. It simply places them in context, adding a digital component.
Go All In on LinkedIn
The network might be 17 years old, which seems old. But LinkedIn is still fresh. And it’s still on the cusp growing into a powerhouse for B2B organizations who are looking to maximize their sales opportunities.
To make that happen, you can’t just dip your toes in the water. Instead, you have to go all in on LinkedIn. The platform offers new ways reach out to prospects, so even CEOs need to get onboard.
If you know how to use it personally, bring that knowledge into implementing LinkedIn for sales prospecting. With the right support, it can pick up lagging sales or take positive trends to the next level.
You know the saying about opportunity knocking. Will you answer? And will your business know how to make the most of it? Don’t ignore a tool that’s become crucial to business communications. Start embracing LinkedIn now.