Why social selling with LinkedIn?
With LinkedIn 690+ million users worldwide and precise targeting capabilities you are tapping into the largest pool of potential clients for your business, with whom you can easily connect and start a conversation.
If this is not a compelling reason to actively use LinkedIn, here are some more: one and a half million groups targeted by interests and industries, 13 million companies registered, and 41% of the world millionaires actively using LinkedIn for their businesses.
This blog post is also available as a podcast, part of our Build Your Sales Machine series.
How to use LinkedIn as a sales channel?
Your results from social selling through LinkedIn depend on your persistence. The more you engage, the more results will come.
There are two ways to use LinkedIn as a sales channel.
The first one is the outbound method – when we are the proactive side in the process. We define our target audience, initiate contact with them, and track their activities, so that they are more likely to answer our messages. Our goal is to find out whether they’re interested in our product or not.
The second way to use LinkedIn as a sales channel is the inbound method. Our leads are interested in what we’re sharing and in our expertise, so they initiate contact with us. In most cases, they want to find out more about our offering and how we can help them.
The outbound method requires a structured sales strategy, while the inbound approach steps on a well-oiled marketing machine.
Preparation for selling through LinkedIn
So first, think about your ideal client profile. Who are the decision-makers? Who is the buyer? Who is the user? What is your solution? What problem do you solve? How? Based on that, you should identify your key selling points as well as the keywords you use everywhere on LinkedIn, so you can better convert your contacts into leads.
Next is your personal LinkedIn profile. Make sure that you have a professional profile. Fill all required information and emphasize on the problem you can solve for your target audience.
Next steps if I want to use LinkedIn for outbound sales
Be sure that you have the right sales mindset for social selling. You better don’t sell directly. The primary goal of reaching out to a lead is to schedule a meeting or book a call.
The first element of selling through LinkedIn is the invitation note. Think about your ideal client profile again and how you can help them. And remember – you have only 299 characters. What do you want to say? After this step, there are two possible outcomes. Your prospects will respond to your invitation, or they will not.
Let’s say they accepted it and there is no response, what you can do? First, always do follow-ups, at least one per week. LinkedIn has recently added an option to follow up with a voice message and even a video message. Next, you can start following all of the activities of your prospects – their posts, comments and shares. Like, comment, or interact with them. Remember, more engagement is bringing more results.
Third, view their profiles at least twice per week. This will give them a notification that you’re checking them out. Follow their company pages or their posts, what they comment, and what they share. Remember again, you should be the first person who will like, comment, and interact with them and their pages. And last but not least, send a good-bye message. For a salesperson, the second-best answer after a yes is a no.
What to do if they don’t accept our invitation? How can we make them respond?
There are three steps we can take to interact with the targeted decision-makers we are reaching out to. After a certain amount of time, we can withdraw our invitation. Then we can send another one with a personalized note and start the follow-up process from the beginning. As a next step, you can use groups. LinkedIn provides the option to directly communicate with members who are members of the same groups as you. Research in what groups your prospects are involved in, and request to join them.
The last step is the chat panel. When you go to the profile of a person who you’re targeting on the chat panel, you can see suggestions for shared connections. Ask them for a direct referral.
How LinkedIn helped me to start more conversations and ultimately to close more deals?
Thanks to LinkedIn, I met with the CTO of one of the biggest airplane manufacturers in the world. I attended an event where the CEO of the company was a keynote speaker, so I decided to add him on LinkedIn. That’s how we started the conversation, and after eight follow up messages, he forwards me to the company’s CTO. Of course, this was not the end. I needed to like all of the contents he was sharing, regularly viewing his profile, and to send four more messages to schedule the meeting.
To be successful with LinkedIn you need a structured approach and persistence.
Another time I was chasing the CEO of a tech company. I went through the whole sales process again, but unfortunately, without a response from his side. So, I decided to share my thoughts on a short post about their industry. I tagged him in the comments section to get his attention. That’s how he finally checked my profile and my previous messages, and we continued the conversation. Eventually his company became our client.
LinkedIn social selling in a nutshell
LinkedIn is not a channel for direct sales. Your goal is to start a conversation and schedule a meeting or a call.
To get results from LinkedIn you need strategy and persistence.
Engage with your targeted leads in all possible ways – view their profile frequently, interact with the content they post and share, and follow-up regularly. If they say yes, that’s great. If they say no, this is second best. Send a good-bye message and keep them on your radar.
Check LinkedIn daily. Don’t leave messages unanswered. If someone sends you an invitation without a note, write them back with a short message in the lines of “Hey, thanks for the invitation. How can I help you? I see that we have many common connections.” You will be surprised how this can lead to a business meeting or a potential new client.
Connect people within your network, share referrals, and ask for such. The idea is to use the maximum of your LinkedIn profile. Remember, people buy from people not from companies.