LinkedIn is the leading social media network for business professionals. The website has had a tremendous impact on the sales industry and it’s easy to see why. It’s simple to interact with, great at finding new contacts and what’s more, it’s free to use at point of entry.
So why are so many sales professionals out there not utilizing this tool to its fullest potential? Many don’t know how to use LinkedIn for sales, which is to their detriment. Using specific techniques on LinkedIn to search for new sales contacts and deals will significantly boost your bottom line.
Prospecting on LinkedIn – Nine of the best techniques
In particular there are nine key techniques you can use to become proficient at prospecting for sales on LinkedIn. They are all equally useful to novices and experts alike, therefore any business person can implement them. Let’s start with the basics, optimising your profile for sales proficiency.
Optimise your profile
You’re not going to get anywhere on LinkedIn if your profile looks unprofessional and unappealing to potential connections. The sales business in general now requires you to have a high quality profile as your prospects will frequently search for you during negotiations. A good profile also makes unsought for connections more likely.
Make sure your profile is 100% complete (LinkedIn will help you with this) before you make it public. Ensure your headline is well-written and precise, you can be creative with your 120 character limit. Finally, invest in a photographer for a high quality photograph, this is an often overlooked technique but a good photograph is remarkably effective at drawing in hits.
Research profiles in your industry
When you’ve set up your 100% rating profile your next step is to look for profiles of other people working in your industry. Find potential contacts with whom you can connect, try to find something in common. You can scan the different sections of their profile and find something useful to you.
By using LinkedIn’s search functions and checking out a large number of profiles in your target industry you will expand your knowledge and potential customer base. We recommend you don’t set your profile to anonymous while utilizing this technique. This will increase your credibility and make a sales connection more likely.
Use alumni search
Another technique you can use to prospect for sales is to use the alumni search function. Use the search to find people who attended the same school, college or university as you did. You can refine this further by searching for alumni living in specific cities or countries.
Alumni networks act like old school clubs and you’ll often find that prospects are more amenable to assisting you if you’re from the same network. Just remember to be professional and don’t act like you’ve already closed a deal because you studied at the same institution. You can also use this tool to get alumni to recommend you to another prospect, one who may not have studied at the same institution.
Contact newbie prospects
We’ve all experienced new job jitters, the fear of putting a foot wrong and the determination to prove your worth. A new job is a major trigger event in sales, one that LinkedIn allows you to exploit. In fact you can assist both yourself and your potential newbie prospect.
When the newbie posts a new position on their LinkedIn profile they’ll be keen to make an impression so help them by helping yourself; contact them to set up a deal. Around 50% of your prospecting on LinkedIn should be targeted at newbie employees, at least during the initial stages. When you’ve succeeded with new employees you’ll have more experience for connections with advanced level staff.
Browse users that interact with your content
Make sure you post updates to your profile and like/comment on other users’ posts at reasonably regular intervals. This improves your profile credibility and it also displays you to potential connections as well. Think of it as performing a search technique for you.
To follow who’s posted new content or interacted with yours just click on the “notifications” tab and check the updates. Consider upgrading to a premium level membership if you want more information on who views your profile and content. Using a premium membership also means that you can stay anonymous while viewing other user profiles, though in most cases we recommend you remain public.
Join LinkedIn groups
Groups on LinkedIn are an excellent way for you to deploy soft sell tactics. You can search and connect with potential customers in these groups and use your shared interest in the group’s subject to facilitate dialogue. After establishing a connection you can then move forward towards closing a deal.
The key here is to be an active user, this technique won’t work if you just lurk in the groups and never contribute. Make sure you post in the groups regularly and a good idea is to limit yourself to joining two or three groups. When it comes to using this technique the watch phrase is quality over quantity.
Create a job search alert
When you become more familiar with the LinkedIn interface you should set up a search alert. This technique allows you to find the prospect you need at a specific company by monitoring the company’s hiring process. Check a company’s page and click “create search alert,” then select a means for LinkedIn to use to keep you informed.
When you’re notified about a new position being filled you then use the same tactics as with a newbie prospect. Build rapport between the two of you by commenting on their LinkedIn posts or engaging with them on other social media, then start negotiating. It’s slightly more advanced than the newbie prospect technique but no less effective.
Add your closers to your network
If you successfully close a deal with a customer then you absolutely must try to connect with them on LinkedIn. This needs to become part of your best practices techniques for two reasons. Firstly, if you already have customers in your network referrals become easier to secure as you have a wider pool of contacts to call on.
Secondly, you’ll learn when one of your customers moves company or gets promoted. Similarly to creating a job search alert this will allow you to connect with your contact in a meaningful way. Use this opportunity to facilitate a new deal or transaction.
Post your content
LinkedIn is an excellent place to deploy soft sales tactics like publishing content. This can include your personal content or that of your company’s. Share the content on your profile, in groups, and try to generate discussion and interaction about it.
Using your content in this manner allows you to generate potential prospects as it advertises your product and yourself. Use your content to build up your audience and the sales will start flying in. Naturally, this requires you to be able to generate high quality content so make sure you have good marketing team members or you can produce quality content yourself.
These LinkedIn techniques will go a long way towards securing more sales for your business. Remember, a solid sales strategy depends on social media so you should invest plenty of time in both LinkedIn and your other social media pages. Try to be creative, use a structured posting schedule, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
We have a number of other articles on sales on our blog covering a wide range of specific and niche topics. Make sure you check back for more content, and be sure to like and subscribe to our social media pages for the latest sales news and updates.