We all know at this stage that LinkedIn is the B2B social hub. A lot of column inches have been generated around the job hunting and recruitment opportunities presented by LinkedIn, as well as using it as an effective tool to demonstrate expertise in your chosen field. But what about using it to generate sales leads?
LinkedIn can help you:
- Find and be found: you can search by customer, title and industry. Leverage your network to identify prospects and to deepen existing relationships.
- Shorten the sales cycle: Who do you know that works there but would not be part of any sale? This should be a first level or second level connection. Look to set up a meeting to discuss the company’s key priorities and seek out information around key criteria that feed the company’s decision making process. A successful meeting should also deliver an internal champion for you in the organisation.
- Find partners to help you present a full client solution. This can be done by a combination of searching and posing questions to your network to identify potential partners.
I’ve found in my various roles that sales people can at times be reluctant to put pen to paper (while marketers should maybe take a moment and wonder why as professionals we tend to go too far the other way). Whether it is Word, Google docs, PowerPoint, a scribble on a scrap of paper an SMS anything? Sales people rarely want to give the game away, with cards played close to their chests. LinkedIn is not a game of poker; you are looking to be as open and upfront about what your area of expertise is. Why shouldn’t your business look to leverage introductions via your network to generate sales leads?
Here’s a high level checklist to get you started:
- Make sure you have a decent headshot: Sales is about forming a relationship, and building trust. You can’t imagine how hard this is if all someone can see if a grey box in the top left corner where your photo should appear.
- Upload your address book to expand your network: Importing your desktop e-mail contacts is a quick way to get started on building a network of connections.
- Explain what you do: What do you do now and what did you do in any previous roles. All experience is relevant as it adds context
- Add your website, e-mail address and phone number, you do want to be contacted after all this effort.
- Interests: Adding your hobbies and interests can unearth hidden connections and shared interests with existing clients and thereby deepening your relationships.
- Connections, connections, connections: Get into the habit of sending a connection request after each meeting be they suppliers, clients or competitor. Connect with your old colleagues, as well as your college and school friends.
- Recommendations: Who has used your products or services before and more importantly who is willing to recommend you? So get out there and ask your top clients to provide a recommendation on you.
- LinkedIn Answers: Answering Questions from total strangers may seem like a poor time investment. But it presents you as an industry expert for any potential prospect.
- LinkedIn Groups: Join groups, and encourage any of your sales teams to do the same. With a large enough team you can segment the team by industry sector or vertical sector.
- Asking questions & up-date your status: Status up-dates should not take the same form as Facebook, no one needs to know what you’ve eaten, who you’ve had a pint with, what type of transformer, character from star wars, or WWF wrestler you are (trust me, even your friends on Facebook aren’t really interested in this either). Articles worth sharing via e-mail or newsletter with your clients are also relevant to be shared on Linked In.
So if your profile is non-existent, patchy or anaemic looking bring it to life! Social media can have an impact on your sales but you need to get out there and do this yourself, nobody else can do this for you. We are all looking for growth and opportunities for our businesses so let’s get going.