Why Reps Should Be Using LinkedIn for Sales More Often
Updating and using LinkedIn has become a bit like flossing your teeth. We are encouraged to do it every day, it seems like a good idea, but the benefits may not be readily apparent.
It takes some discipline, habit and a little bit of time. I often hear from our sales training clients that they know they should be using LinkedIn for sales, but they don’t have the time, knowledge or motivation to leverage the tool.
I sympathize with this challenge, and in fact I came up with a list of reasons that you shouldn’t use LinkedIn in your sales efforts. For every reason not to use LinkedIn, there is a compelling counterpoint that may encourage us to spend a bit more time with it.
1) You know that none of the 500M+ people on LinkedIn are prospective customers
LinkedIn has become the largest professional network and claims more than 330 million members, on their way to a goal of three billion. It is the de-facto standard for business connections. Chances are pretty good your next big client is on LinkedIn, perhaps with a bit of effort you can find them there.
2) You have all the business you can handle
Perhaps you’re so busy taking large orders and turning down more work that you don’t have time for LinkedIn. Congratulations – stop reading this article and keep doing what you’re doing. Unless of course there’s some chance this might change in the future.
3) You prefer cold calls over warm calls
LinkedIn can give you visibility to second and third level connections (depending on subscription). Your connections can provide insight, information and potentially introductions to those prospects you want to speak with and sell to.
4) You already know everything there is to know about your prospects and potential buyers
Using LinkedIn for research is one of the most important and significant features you can exploit. Not only can it help you locate that particular title and prospect within a target account, but you can find key pieces of information to help you connect, build rapport and engage with a new target customer.
5) You feel that your incomplete LinkedIn profile represents you well and makes you mysterious
A photo with your LinkedIn profile has been shown to increase the chances your profile will get viewed by 11-14x. That’s a pretty good return on a few minutes of time – but please use a professional photo and not the one from your college reunion or your last fishing trip.
6) There aren’t any additional contacts within your existing accounts who could buy something from you
LinkedIn for Account Management is becoming a bigger and more important component of a Key Account Manager’s job. Connecting to every person you meet within your key accounts yields you hundreds of second level connections within that account. These connections may be the next big sponsor, coach or buyer for your product.
7) You can keep all your professional networking contacts in your head, including their updated contact information
LinkedIn does a unique job of keeping you updated where people are and what they are doing. Jobs, titles, emails and employers change, but since LinkedIn is updated by the individual it is often the best source for current contact information. A client of ours recently closed their biggest deal of the year just because they congratulated a former client on their move to a new company, which resulted in a call back, a proposal and an order.
8) You’re afraid that sharing your knowledge in groups and status updates makes you look too smart
LinkedIn is a simple equation – you get out what you put in. Contributing to groups and status updates (that are not self-promoting sales messages) allows you to demonstrate you know your field and are willing contribute to the industry dialogue. People notice and will engage. Pay-it-forward and don’t expect immediate pay-pack.
9) You prefer to keep your professional networking activity to monthly dinner events and annual industry shows
LinkedIn and other online forums have become an extension of monthly and annual networking events. In person events are still important and a great way to engage face-to-face, but why not continue that same interaction every day in the LinkedIn group associated with that meeting?
10) You’re done learning all there is to know about your industry and target market
Connecting with thought-leaders and following discussion in industry groups allows you to stay connected to the pulse of your industry. I’m always amazed at the insightful and often provocative opinions of LinkedIn members in groups and online discussions. I may not agree with every post but it provides a unique education to what people are thinking and what topics are important.
11) You don’t need another edge over your competition
If you’re beating your competition every time, then great – keep it up. However if you’re like the rest of us, you’re always looking for a way to be more competitive. LinkedIn can help you prospect, research, position and build your reputation in ways that can help you beat your competition. It’s not a cure-all or magic bullet, but then again neither is flossing. Sometimes you just have to do it.
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.