The following is based on a true story… A sales rep once lost touch with a contact. It was no fault of his own; the contact had left her previous job as an advancement director at a private school. Because the email address and phone number the sales rep had for her were associated with the school, she could no longer be reached through these more traditional methods. One day, the sales rep was scrolling through LinkedIn when he noticed the lost contact’s name! Her profile showed that she had accepted a new position at a museum, but she was still working in development. Because she was doing similar work at another place, a new opportunity was opened up for the sales rep, all through the power of LinkedIn!
This parable proves that the days of wasting valuable time and effort on Googling lost contacts and crossing your fingers in the hopes that you can actually find the right person’s information are over! In this way, and many others, LinkedIn has become the go-to platform for salespeople and business professionals. In the age of social distancing and distaste for cold calling, LinkedIn is the place to start, develop, and maintain business relationships as part of the process recently coined social selling. Social selling involves identifying leads and prospects on social media platforms and developing relationships based on mutual interests and helpful content.
Taking selling online is a smart move because this is where today’s empowered buyers are conducting their research on individuals. Therefore, showing your value by sharing relevant content on your LinkedIn profile and interacting with others on the platform can help you build trust with prospects, leads, and customers. Although these practices are similar to social media marketing, it is not the same in that social selling aims to cultivate one-on-one relationships instead of sharing messages with an entire audience.
If you’re in sales, you should definitely have a built-out LinkedIn profile that you log into regularly. Connect with any leads and prospects you’ve already identified and keep your eyes peeled for new opportunities. Take time to go through the content these users of interest have posted and react to it. Better yet, leave some helpful comments! Engaging with the right people on this platform is a soft-touch approach to sales and it will keep you top of mind. Here are some more specific tips...
- Are you being watched? Pay attention to the users who have been viewing your profile. With a Basic account you can see the five most recent viewers and with a Premium account you can see everyone who has viewed your profile in the past 90 days. This is useful when it comes to sales because you essentially get a list of people who are often in relevant industries that are voluntarily showing interest in you and what you do. Now it’s time for you to check out their profiles in return, engage with their content, and maybe even connect.
- Slide into the DMs. It’s not always easy to communicate with people face-to-face anymore. In fact, a lot of people would rather communicate quickly online anyway. You can keep a conversation via social media private and personal by sending a direct message. This is a great way to keep in touch with your connections from afar. Afterall, it’s just as important to delight people you’ve already developed a relationship and done business with. This is how you get repeat customers and dedicated followers. Just keep your messages short and sweet, and make sure the reason why you’re reaching out to them is clear and valuable.
- Consider an upgrade. One benefit of upgrading to a Premium LinkedIn account is the InMail feature. This allows you to DM users that you’re not yet connected to. Of course, there are some stipulations or else users would be spammed by people they don’t know way too often. You’re allotted a specific number of InMail credits based on your subscription type, ranging from 3 to 30. However, if you do get a response within 90 days of the send date, you can actually get the credit you used to send it back. This even includes when the recipient sends an autoreply! You also cannot send follow up messages until you get an initial response.
- Sharing (content) is caring. If you work in sales, you may find yourself struggling to create posts and articles. And that’s okay! Of course, adding content to your profile is extremely valuable. But considering your position, it’s okay not to write your own and to instead post things taken from your company’s website, for example. Even just interacting with others’ content holds value.
- What’s your A to my Q? When communicating on LinkedIn, ask some questions. If there’s something else you’d like to know about someone else’s post, ask away. If you belong to a group on the platform, ask the other members industry related questions to get a conversation started. If you’re making your own post, finish it off with an open-ended question to encourage engagement in the comments section. Same goes for DMs, especially InMail messages. People are more likely to respond to direct questions, and if you’re using InMail, this means you’ll get your credit back!
- Keep your contacts close and your competitors closer. LinkedIn is a great place for monitoring your competition. This can teach you about new products being released in your industry, what services others are offering, what posts users interact with most, and what groups others are in that you may want to join. You can even find new prospects by seeing who interacts with your competitors on the platform. If they’re interested in other businesses like yours, chances are they’re seeking solutions that you offer. Are there ways you can show them that you're the best in your field?
- Back to school! Take advantage of LinkedIn Learning, which offers over 14,000 online courses on in-demand business, software, technology, and creative skills that can help you achieve your professional goals. Many LinkedIn Premium subscriptions include access to LinkedIn Learning at no additional charge.
The bottom line is that if you’re in sales, you should be on LinkedIn. Once you have the basics down, it’s definitely worth implementing social selling methods on the platform, and maybe even trying out an upgrade. Your buyers are on social media. Don’t fight it, just meet them where they’re at and you’ll be in business in no time.