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How Salespeople Can Use LinkedIn

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How Salespeople Can Use LinkedIn
A post from our Sales blog

      Written by John Boddington
If you're not yet on LinkedIn, you're seriously missing out. The platform has over 277 million users, with over 3 million company pages created on a daily basis. It's undoubtedly an integral part of anyone who does business, period.

But while most sales professionals have a LinkedIn profile, they rarely leverage the true power the platform offers. In fact, if used correctly, it's one of the most powerful sales tools out there. These techniques are the most effective ways to make LinkedIn work for you, increasing your sales figures and building long lasting business connections.

Recommendations

When someone ‘recommends' you for a certain skill set or industry, it can lead to increased sales figures without you having to lift a finger. Recommendations on LinkedIn are incredibly valuable, as they're given either by fellow professionals or actual clients that have experience with your product or service. It's like getting a positive review, which is what most people online base their decisions on these days.

While recommendations from fellow professionals are certainly worth getting, the ones you should really be looking for are those coming from customers. That's what potential leads really care about and will largely base their decisions off those.

Customer Feedback

When it comes to recommendations, you should be looking for quality over quantity. Approach clients that you trust and have built a solid relationship with. 2 or 3 per role should be more than plenty, as leads won't be reading much more than that. Remember, the more senior the recommendation (e.g. directors or executives) the better.

Don't just ask for a general recommendation either. Try and be very specific with your request. This covers two useful elements. Firstly, there's a greater chance of a response. It's much easier to write a recommendation with instructions, as it'll go as if on autopilot. Having to conjure something up from scratch will generally have your target leaving things till tomorrow – or more likely, never. Additionally, you'll get exactly what you're looking for out of your recommendation, highlighting the exact points that will stand you in good stead in the sales process.

Use Third-Party Tools to Enhance Connections

When using LinkedIn, it's not always easy to find the right targets for your business. That's where third-party tools can come in handy. Products like Rapportive allow you to connect to those that you interact with via Gmail. You'll get full profile information right within your client, which makes connecting with relevant people easy and quick. It's 100% free and an integral addition to your day-to-day.

And that's just the start. There are plenty of other tools out there that will make your LinkedIn life much easier. Hootsuite, for example, allows you to connect to all of your social media profiles, which means you can share blog posts and other content with just a few clicks (without needing to log in to each individual platform).

Research Tool

You should already be aware that researching your leads is key to selling. And
LinkedIn doesn't just need to be used for direct sales – it's also a very valuable research tool. You can also use its rich database to find out more about potential leads quickly and easily, with succinct and useful information at your fingertips. In fact, it's often more practical than the actual client website.

LinkedIn allows you to find out whom your prospects link to and how they connect with others in the industry. It lets you see what makes your leads tick, giving you invaluable insight in how to best approach your sales process.

LinkedIn Ads

Whenever someone mentions ads online, most invariably think about PPC through Google Adwords. And while it's certainly a viable strategy, it's not the only avenue available to you. But LinkedIn has its very own ads platform that's very useful indeed.

There are no long-term contracts, you can stop anytime you like, and the budget can be limited to just a test run. The advantage that LinkedIn gives over Google Adwords is that your ads are guaranteed to show to a very specific audience. You can specify by job title, location, and industry. In terms of cost, it's actually very affordable. If you can tweak your ad strategy to get ROI, LinkedIn can deliver the majority of your leads on autopilot.

Using Groups to Connect to Leads

LinkedIn has a very nifty section that can help you connect with significant players in your industry straight away. LinkedIn Groups provides a platform where you can exchange information, find answers to niche-relevant questions, post jobs, and make connections. It essentially allows you to network without having to leave your seat.

Join Online Discussions

The search feature on LinkedIn allows you to find groups that cater to the industry you operate in. Once you join a few groups, you'll get automatic suggestions to others that are similar. It's a very useful place to hang around in, as you not only get to establish great contacts but you can also find excellent information that will come in handy.

Give Value to Get Value

Just having a LinkedIn profile is the bare minimum these days. Even the most IT-illiterate salesman has one. What's really going to set you apart is keeping on top of your account on a day-to-day basis. Sharing high value and relevant content (rather than blatant sales pitches) is the best way to get a lead hooked.

So what kind of content can you share? You've got quite a lot of options, which means that you've got to be careful not to overflow your feed with useless information that no one cares about. Instead, create interesting and thought-provoking articles you've found online. If you can, add a little commentary to spark conversation.

You'll find that after you start implementing this tactic, people will start following what you're doing more and more. They'll see you as an expert in the field, someone worth listening to. When the time comes to engage a company, yours will be first on the list.

More Important than Your Website?

LinkedIn is such a powerful tool for those operating in sales that it's even more important than your business website. The platform instantly allows you to connect to potential leads, it's a networking tool, you can run low cost advertisements, and much more.

Your website, on the other hand, is much harder to market to a potential lead. For people to find you, you're at the mercy of your ranking on Google or how much effort you put into social media. LinkedIn, on the other hand, can be taken advantage of the minute you set up your profile.

Final Advice: Don't Go in Cold

The last thing you want to do on LinkedIn is go in with a cold approach. In other words, don't just randomly try and sell to people you don't know or have never spoken to before. When it comes to LinkedIn etiquette, it's an absolute no-no. If you pull a stunt akin to cold calling, you're guaranteed to put off a potential client forever.

LinkedIn is an essential tool in the modern age. It's a given that you should already be signed up with a profile that full and fleshed out. However, if you haven't yet started to leverage its power to increase your sales, get on it today.

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