The rise of social media has changed the way we keep in touch with family and friends, and in business, has given us the ability to super-charge our online networking and sales prospecting.
The major social media networks include Facebook, Twitter, Google and Instagram. While these sites have some benefits for sales prospecting, with general consumers, the real powerhouse for business networking and prospecting is the business focused social media site, LinkedIn. In fact, when it comes to business, LinkedIn with over 360 million members world-wide is the top social media choice for business networking and sales prospecting.
For many, LinkedIn has been somewhat pigeon-holed as the go to social site when you’re looking for your next job. While it certainly has value for this purpose, and it is extensively used by recruitment specialists world-wide to find and contact prospects, looking at just this function is doing yourself a huge disservice! Astute business people are using LinkedIn more and more as a revenue generating, sales prospecting tool.
In fact, LinkedIn is a perfect tool to make lead and sales prospecting smoother, quicker, and ultimately profitable. More and more, LinkedIn is being used as a go-to source for generating new leads and tangible revenue. It is an extremely cost effective tool for business development. Modern sales techniques have changed and LinkedIn allows you to connect directly with and gather information on companies and prospects, as well as developing relationships and contacting decision makers directly.
Let’s look at some proactive, easy to implement strategies for using LinkedIn as a tool to turbo charge your sales prospecting and grow your business revenues!
1. Connect and Engage!
The first thing to do when beginning to get serious about using LinkedIn for prospecting is to take a long hard look at your contacts. Contacts are the bread and butter on the site. If yours are predominantly family, your college buddies, and friends, you need to do a little work!
Connections spawn more connections! Your primary contacts open a route to a wide range of second and third level connections. This is how to scale up your efforts. Whenever you meet anyone online or at real world events, always follow-up quickly with a note and a connection request, while you’re still fresh in their mind.
2. Target Your Leads
LinkedIn is a great site for mapping out your approach to a new prospect. There can often be numerous decision makers in a larger corporation that you will need to reach out to and engage with in order to make a sale.
LinkedIn users generally put a tremendous amount of information on their profiles. Everything from which teams they work with, what projects they are focusing on, which office they work out of and more. With a little research you can quickly determine who you need to be talking to, what they’re all about and what they’ve done before.
You can use this information to develop a map of who the decision makers are and how they can be reached and influenced to make the sale. (Start by checking out the “viewers of this profile also viewed…” box on their profile.)
3. Use LinkedIn Groups to Keep Up To Date and Engage With Prospects
Groups on LinkedIn are collections of people with similar likes, needs, skills and more. They are a great way to learn about the industries you target for sales and can be a great source for new prospects. Engaging with member questions is a great way to build trust and authority while raising your thought leader profile which can lead to sales inquiries. They are also a great “soft” way to make contact with a prospect. In additions groups can:
-Give you insights into what is happening within a prospects business, their activity, if they’re hiring, projects they may be planning etc.
-Give you a greater understanding of an individual’s details – their full name, and more, This is usually restricted to “first level” contacts.
-Group membership gives you a reason and the capability to increase connections. It’s one of the criteria you can select when requesting a connection.
4. Turn Your Profile Into A Lead Generator
Much of what we’ve touched on so far has been outbound information, where to go to find prospects, how to engage, etc. This is purely inbound. The prospects you’ve engaged with through connections and Groups will most likely seek out your profile to learn more about you. (Information flows both ways on LinkedIn!). So it only makes sense to optimize your profile to drive sales.
Make sure you have current links to your company site, your Twitter account and your Facebook page. Include some high-quality recommendations from existing happy customers – think quality, not quantity. This can give visitors a better idea of who you are and what you’re all about. Remember, effective sales is all about building trust and relationships! Finally, always add a photo to put a face to the name. It makes you more “real” and creates a good impression. Keep it professional (no need to put a shot of your last Cabo tequila party!) and make sure to smile!
5. Use LinkedIn Pulse to Publish Content
Publish on LinkedIn Pulse to establish thought leadership, address your target market’s pain points, provide solutions and engage with prospects. Content is hugely powerful as a tool for establishing relationships and trust. Pulse gives you the opportunity to share your insights through your professional knowledge. It also allows you to reach an audience instantly. The bonus is that when you publish on LinkedIn Pulse, everyone you’re connected to receives notice whenever you publish new content.
As with any social media site, you need to regularly contribute, make new connections to grow your network, engage with your groups, and publish content regularly to develop your profile. LinkedIn is a perfect vehicle for developing and managing your sales pipeline. While LinkedIn won’t make the sale for you, if you use it wisely, it can be a tremendous tool for developing the contacts, building relationships and increasing the authority and trust to move a prospect for the lead column to the sales column.
Using LinkedIn can give you a tremendous advantage over your competitors and offers you a tangible advantage for developing and growing sales. Effectively and efficiently working with the platform can give you the crucial edge that can translate into more sales and higher close percentages. So, get out there, explore, engage, and grow your business!