Can LinkedIn Be Used As A Sales Tool?
LinkedIn is the world’s pre-eminent business social media network, but how effective is it as a sales tool? The recruitment consultant using LinkedIn to scout out new business is so common an image that it has become a social media stereotype, but what about other types of business?
Here are some effective ways that you can use LinkedIn to augment your business development strategy:
1) Research Your Prospect Businesses
Companies post a lot of information on LinkedIn, all of which can be used to your advantage. For instance, you can find out if a business is hiring, giving a good indication about their expansion plans and the direction of their business. You can discover what a company’s main services are, where they engage with their customers (e.g. trade shows, conferences), and who their main customers and suppliers are. You can also find out the names of their directors and senior decision-makers. Reading between the lines of a prospect’s company page, you may be able to find out what their current issues are. For instance, ask yourself why they are currently recruiting two new database managers? Does this reveal an issue that you can help them with? You can use the solution as a blog topic, an email post, or even a direct approach.
2) Search For Warm Prospects
LinkedIn has a brilliant search function, meaning you never have to do ‘cold calls’ again! Using LinkedIn’s advanced search, you can find individual people by keyword, company, location, title, company size, level of seniority and much more. Search for the precise customer type you want to get in touch with, and so avoid wasting time with gatekeepers and dead ends. New people join LinkedIn all the time, so you can save searches and opt to receive a weekly report with any new users that match your criteria. This helps keep new decision-makers, businesses and useful contacts on your radar as soon as they join LinkedIn.
3) Use Every Opportunity To Connect
Actively seek out opportunities to connect with prospects on LinkedIn. Connections tend to have a snowball effect, so once you start getting meaningful connections, connecting with second or third tier prospects will be an easier business. If you’ve done your research correctly, you should be able to start the process of relationship building with potential leads. They may not be ready for a connection request right away, so try grabbing their attention by getting involved with a LinkedIn group relevant to both your businesses.
4) Optimise Your Company Page For Inbound Leads
Forget outbound sales for the moment. LinkedIn is also extremely important as an inbound, lead generating tool. Everything about your LinkedIn profile and your company page is searchable, as we have seen. If a prospect is interested in your business on LinkedIn, the first place they will look is your company page, so make sure it is well written, complete and puts across a professional image of your company. Include current links to any major events, promotions and services, and make sure you include off-site contact details.
Don’t Mention The ‘S’ Word
So, to conclude; LinkedIn is a sales tool, but not in the way that sales is commonly understood. LinkedIn’s community of decision-makers see LinkedIn as a safe space where they are insulated from direct sales approaches, while at the same time being open to the possibility of doing business with connections. LinkedIn users like to act as if they’re not engaged in sales, whereas that is exactly what they are doing – and they all know it. Understanding this seemingly contradictory state of affairs is the key to being successful on LinkedIn. Your LinkedIn connections will have no problem with the idea of becoming a customer of yours, but a direct approach is likely to put them off.
Relationship Building With Your LinkedIn Connections
You therefore need to be subtle with your communications on LinkedIn – no pushy messages or direct sales adverts – but be careful not to waste time. Everyone knows that people are on LinkedIn in order to make money and strike new deals, so there is no point endlessly beating around the bush with your LinkedIn marketing.
The key is to use your LinkedIn relationships to foster an atmosphere of trust, providing your connections with valuable content and free advice. With this indirect approach in place, you may find your connections start approaching you about your products and services. Other LinkedIn leads can be converted through other channels, such as a supporting email marketing campaign.
If you want to learn more about how powerful LinkedIn can be for your business, read these great articles:
LinkedIn Marketing With JDR
To improve your results from LinkedIn marketing, have a chat with one of our JDR marketing specialists. We use LinkedIn as part of a multichannel marketing strategy that focuses on the end result of new business – and uses whatever strategies you need to get you to that point.