If you are in sales or sell your brand as an owner or independent agent, you more than likely know they power that social media has in today's online economy.
Many people are not only just using social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter to stay connected, they also use other channels to explore new markets. LinkedIn has grown as a user base in the past several years from being known for its job seeking users to a business community.
Sadly, most people who try to sell a service or product fail to use this huge business community.
In their ebook, "Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code", authors Konrath and Albee quote those using this tool to grow prospects are seeing huge results.
For instance, 61.4% say they've been successful at translating those online interactions into offline discussions.
After surveying over 3,000 sales people from a wide variety of titles and positions in upper management, they found that only 4.9% fully utilized LinkedIn properly as a sales tool rather than a social posting site. Yet, they found that 39.4% attributed "several opportunities" to their use of LInkedIn.
If your ideal client is a business professional and you are mostly B2B, you should be leveraging this site to generate leads for your business.
So how can we leverage LinkedIn to increase sales performance and generate leads online?
6 Ways You Can Leverage LinkedIn To Increase Sales Performance
1. Clean up your profile and your first impression
Your first impression shouldn't be about previous sales quotas and accolades you have accomplished throughout your tenure. Customers are more interested in knowing what you provide as a solution.
How can you change someone's life with what you have to offer with your skill set?
Your social postings and profile should gesture how your experiences and skills add value to the relationship you can provide.
Rather than using your experience as an accolade, display times you helped others obtain goals or solve problems. Emphasize areas of specialty knowledge or vertical industry expertise.
Also, make sure your profile is up-to-date. If you know someone that is technically savvy, have them help you put up videos, slide shares, or links to a blog you write to.
LInkedIn also has their own blogging platform called Pulse. This is an easy
2. Expand your own connections
We all know people and meet people every day in business networking events and social gatherings. When you get that business card go straight to LInkedIn and invite them to connect.
This shows your eagerness to start a relationship and it give you a chance to build a rapport and trust with your connections.
Additionally, LinkedIn also allows you to see who they are connected with and if they would be good candidates for you to connect with as well. You never know who needs a solution that may benefit from your experiences.
To do this, LinkedIn has a "request introduction" function that takes the awkwardness out of meeting someone online. Leveraging the tool's search functions can give you the ability to explore titles and positions at your prospect company to see who might be at a leverage position for your interaction.
With the right amount of research, you can find multiple ways to connect with an organization that will allow you to gain more of an understanding of how decision are made within an organization.
3. Research the smart way
Don't be afraid to snoop on LinkedIn - if you even want to call it that. I prefer research just like a recruiter.
Even though you might notify your prospect that you have searched their profile, it's ok. It shows your interest and eagerness to connect as long as you are not hard selling.
LinkedIn is the perfect platform to conduct research on job history, work connections, or corporate hierarchy and interests or business challenges.
You might even find that you have people you know in common or may have gone to school with one of their work mates.
Don't forget your competition. Want to know if they are doing a little research and prospecting? Check to see if they have connected as well. Staying connected in their new feeds and activity stream can give you insights on their pain points and problems they face at work or in their profession.
4. Create those prospect lists
This may be one of LinkedIn's best kept secrets. Building prospecting lists. Did you know that you can build a prospecting sales list that is specific to your geographical area or industry even down to titles that each prospect has?
The "saved search" capability allows one to save searches based on your search parameters and you can set up notifications when prospects change their profile to meet your list requirements.
That way your lists grows almost automatically with minimal effort. With the free version, you get 3 searches while premium services gives you more options.
5. Reply when people endorse you or recommend you
The old adage "you scratch my back and I scratch yours" is in full application with the endorsements feature in LinkedIn. Showing you have credibility and expertise is important to let your prospects know you are capable of helping and solving for their problems.
Ask you contacts to endorse some of your specialties but don't forget to endorse them as well. This is the added value feature within LinkedIn for community engagement.
6. Stay active and consistently participate
Let's face it. Habits are hard to implement and being on a social media channel is one of them. It used to be that sales people could be found having early morning coffee and donuts while reading the paper and searching different ads or classifieds and relevant community columns.
Not any more.
Today, savvy sales people are on laptops, ipads, or phones and using social channels such as LinkedIn to maintain a consistent active vibe for their community.
Maintaining a presence is about offering advice on postings, maybe a comment or two, and some moderate opinions. This is personal branding on the LinkedIn feed.
Let people know you are there and you have thoughts, advice, and expertise but make it a habit. This can pay back huge when it comes to connecting with your prospects.
The number one goal for LinkedIn is : Never make an overt pitch for a sale.
Use ads and premium content to promote decision making promotions. "You are never selling in LinkedIn," Konrath says. "The goal is to push people into conversations. In social media, people are resistant to any form of direct push."