Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to Open Target Accounts
Across our client base and in our sales training workshops, we are seeing sales professionals becoming more familiar with leveraging LinkedIn to prospect, conduct research and gain access to decision makers during a sales pursuit.
With new features and capabilities of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, these skills can be extended to even more challenging pursuits such as Prospecting into target (named) accounts and navigating complex organizations. Specifically, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has new features that help us research and gain visibility into accounts in ways that have never been possible, short of having an employee badge or a strong inside advocate. Three ways that LinkedIn supports prospecting into complex accounts include:
#1 Mapping the Account
The first focus area in opening a target account is to map the organization and figure out where we need to prospect. Using the Advanced Search and Lead Builder features in LinkedIn, we can search by company name, seniority level, functional area and key word to develop a list of potential decision makers.
Often by a little inspection and research we can find out who the key person we need to meet with and learn about their background. If we have common connections, these acquaintances can become great sources for learning more about that decision maker and we may be able to develop a few coaches who can help us identify who’s who and what they care about. LinkedIn can provide us a valuable tool to map the landscape, and our friendly connections can help us validate the organization structure and provide insight into who has influence in the organization.
Sales professionals are becoming cognizant that buyers are completing much more of the purchase process before they even speak with a sales person. In response to this trend, Sales Professionals need to be much more informed and knowledgeable about their accounts and the business issues before they ever pick up the phone or have the first meeting. Gone are the days when a sales rep has the liberty to “go to school” on the prospect in the first meeting and interrogate them without adding value.
Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, we can follow the company and capture the key decision makers as Leads, which will allow us to get individual “Lead Updates” and “Lead Shares” from these prospects. Our goal is to learn about what they are interested in and what they care about, before we connect.
We can also review their profile, their connections and especially the LinkedIn Groups to which they belong. Groups are a great way to determine what they care about and discover whether they are engaging and active in particular areas where we can help. As we conduct our research and follow our prospects, we should be developing a list of value drivers, which we can categorize into three areas:
- Industry trends
- Business Issues
- Operational challenges
These categories can then help us develop key messages and a compelling value proposition that is unique to the company and prospect, which can be infinitely more likely to get the prospects attention and result in a meeting or follow-up call.
#3 Gaining Access
Our ultimate goal for prospecting in a target account is to learn enough about who’s who and what they care about so that when we place a call we can have a valid reason to schedule a meeting. Again, our common connections and coaches can be invaluable in helping us understand how to contact our prospect and the best way to book a meeting. An introduction or referral always has a better chance of success than a cold call.
There are many other advanced techniques for gaining access into a target accounts, such as targeted marketing messages, focused networking efforts with people in and around the account, and offering educational or value-added services to demonstrate our expertise. These techniques can all be assisted by LinkedIn since we can develop a better idea of what may work for this particular account and what to say when we get there.
Once we understand who we’re targeting and what our messaging will be, we can leverage InMail, direct email, a warm call, or an introduction through a common connection to get access. Every time we connect on LinkedIn with a person in the account, we open up dozens of new connections within that account who may be able to help. LinkedIn, and especially LinkedIn Sales Navigator give us tools to help us research, navigate and gain access within our target accounts. We need to be fluent in these new tools in order to compete successfully in today’s connected and informed selling environment.
About Ray Makela
Ray Makela is CEO and Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He oversees all client engagements as well as serves as a senior facilitator on sales management, coaching, negotiation and sales training workshops. Ray has over 20 years of management, consulting, and sales experience and writes frequently on best practices for coaching and developing sales teams.