LinkedIn might not have as many users as Facebook and Twitter. But it does have a strong core user group that makes it great sales tool for businesses and sales professionals.
Let’s look at how you can leverage it to increase your sales opportunities, identify qualified prospects, and expand your professional network
Step #1 - Humans First
You won’t believe me, but this is typically the biggest mistake I see people making when they use any social channel. I think it’s actually a bit worse on LinkedIn for some reason.
You’re a human… speaking to other humans.
Remember that. Write it on a post-it and stick it to your screen. Make it your personal mantra as you set forth on your journey to land new business using LinkedIn.
Step #2 - Humans Don’t Like You
Hang on before you navigate away and listen for a minute. Remember Step #1. If people hate salespeople, then don’t be one. Be a human talking to humans instead of a salesman talking to a lead.
It’s really that easy.
I see this all the time. Someone will invite me to connect with them on LinkedIn at least once a day and within minutes of accepting their invite, I get a sales pitch in my inbox. Some are short. Some are long. All are annoying.
Think about this a minute. Really think about what this kind of interaction would look like if you were face-to-face in the real world:
“Joe walks up to Sue and offers her his hand. She extends her hand and shakes his. Then Joe launches into a 5 minute sales pitch before Sue even says hello. Sue is annoyed and politely excuses herself as soon as the opportunity presents itself. When Sue sees Joe a few weeks later at another event, she won’t make eye contact and tries to avoid him.”
Joe not only lost Sue as a potential customer, but she also probably won’t say anything nice about Joe to anyone else either.
Step #4 - Connect to People Correctly
The most effective salesmen out there don’t sell. They observe. They listen. They educate.
Social Networks like LinkedIn are all about encouraging you to be social. They want you to build meaningful and impactful relationships using their platform.
They give you all kinds of tools to help you do it.
- You can create and participate in groups where you “meet” other people that share an interest with you.
- You can connect with others to build a network of people that you like talking to.
- You can comment on posts that other write and share.
- You can share posts with other people that are following you.
- You can write your own original posts and share them.
Your Actionable Steps to Selling on LinkedIn
First - Observe:
You can search profiles of people online by whatever criteria makes sense for your matching them against your target audience. Maybe you’re looking for job titles or locations.
You can even use LinkedIn’s Job Change Alerts to monitor vacancies and promotions in a company. Those types of turnover indicate a company is making changes and might be ready for your services.
Take the time to read through their profile before deciding to connect with them. If they have social channels or websites listed, go look at those. If they have written posts or are participating in groups on LinkedIn, then go read what they wrote.
As you’re browsing make a note of 1 to 3 interesting things about them or their company. If they seem like a good fit for your services, then connect with them. You can also connect with your current customers and request referrals to their connections instead of trying to cold connect with them.
This whole process can be done in about 5 minutes.
Second - Listen:
If they didn’t accept your connect request, and they are participating in groups, then you can always chat with them there, but passively. Comment on a post they wrote in the group… but not as a sales shark. Be genuinely interested in what they said and comment appropriately.
If they did accept your connect request, then you can message them. But wait a couple of hours. I know this seems counterintuitive. However, you can thank the pushy salesmen out there for this advice. All of them are messaging a connection within 15 min to an hour of their request being accepted and pasting in cookie-cutter messages.
In this message, reference at least one of the interesting things you made a note of in your Observe step. Then somewhere in the message, ask a question. Remember, you want to listen. So get them talking! Questions are a great tool for that.
Just remember… no sales questions like “Have you been looking to save on your insurance?” And no boring questions like “What do you think about the weather?”
Here’s a good example of a message:
Subject: Question about your insert linkedin group comment
My name is John Doe and I work for Company. We’re both members of the insert linkedin group, and I thought your comment about what she talked about was really interesting.
It reminded me of a insert report/article I read recently about topic of article. I was surprised to learn something that shows you read it.
How, if at all, are you planning on improving your talent management system integration strategy? I’m curious to learn your thoughts?
Can we set up a 20-minute call to discuss?
Finally - Educate
Now that you’ve started a conversation you can further it along by asking enough questions to determine if they might be a good fit for your services. If so, then you can start addressing how you can help them.
You want to educate them… answer questions, have a dialog. Not a dry sales pitch.
Remember, you can force them to buy your product or service. What you can do is educate them to the point that they make that decision on their own.