Selling is a social process. It always has been, and it always will be. Social networks have tapped into the social aspect of selling by increasing the amount of connections you can make. With more connections and more information, social networks provide sales people with a great resource to leverage.
If you are not using social media as part of your sales process, then I invite you to consider the following statistic: 73% of sales people who use social media outperform those who don’t ( See research by A Sales Guy Consulting) . This shows the amazing business opportunities social media presents if used correctly.
LinkedIn is the social network for professionals. Not only does it boast over 300 million users, but all of LinkedIn’s users are business professionals. If you aren’t using LinkedIn for sales, you can be sure that one of your competitors will be!
Due to its professional nature and abundance of users, I believe LinkedIn is the no.1 social network you should be using for B2B sales.
How to Use LinkedIn for Sales
In this post I will provide you with my top tips for using LinkedIn for sales. We will focus in on two key areas: prospecting and research.
My favourite way of using LinkedIn to find prospects is the advanced search function. Advanced search allows you to be proactive and targeted in your approach and this leads to better results in your calling campaign.
You can search by specific criteria and generate prospect lists. The search criteria include location, industry, name, past and current company, school and keyword queries. LinkedIn premium even allows you to search by years of experience, interests, groups and seniority!
This gives you the ability to become highly targeted with your research. The closer the match between the search you make and the profile of your customer the higher your chance of converting.
To show you how this works let me give you an example. In a previous life I used to sell fraud detection software to the finance industry. At one stage, I was targeting Barclay’s Bank and looking to arrange a series of meetings in London.
To generate a prospect list of fraud professionals working at Barlcays in London do the following:
- Enter “fraud” as the keyword
- Enter “Barclays” as the company, ensuring you select “current” in the drop down menu
- Enter a central London postcode and the distance you are willing to travel around this postcode
This would generate a list like the following:
LinkedIn will only provide the first name and initial of the last name of a third degree connection. This is why it is so important to connect at every available opportunity, because it extends your network and gives you access to more prospects.
Often, receptionists will only put you through if you have both a first and last name.There is a way around this by using Google.
Bonus Tip: To find the last name of a third degree connection sign out of LinkedIn and search for “first name + initial of last name” + LinkedIn into Google. You will then be able to see the full name through the Google search results.
These lists can form part of your calling campaign. Before making my call I would research the prospects to find out more about their requirements.
Researching your prospect before any interaction is absolutely essential if you want success. You need to know what their buying triggers are if you want to be able to sell to them. Researching a prospect allows you to speak in terms of their needs.
To win another person to your way of thinking means you have to offer them something they genuinely want, and this requires an understanding of their priorities and objectives.
Let me show you how this works in practice. In the example I gave earlier I was selling anti-fraud software. My product had numerous applications areas and part of the challenge was identifying what application to focus on when pitching the product. My approach was to tweak the pitch depending on who I was talking to.
This is easily done when you have LinkedIn providing you with your prospects areas of responsibility and interest.
Below is the snippet of a LinkedIn profile from one of my old prospects:
The areas highlighted in red are potential buying points. You can see that fraud investigation, anti-money laundering, and presenting evidence in court are all under his remit. I can tailor my pitch to highlight my products strengths in these areas. This is much more likely to resonate with the audience than a generic pitch explaining the features and benefits of my product.
It is much like tailoring your CV for different jobs. Your experience and qualifications are the same, but you place emphasis on different skill sets to match the job spec. You are matching your products benefits to the needs of the prospect.
Relating to your prospects based on their needs is an invaluable practice, especially in an introductory call when you have little time to impress.
It is also useful to know about the person who you are meeting. Showing a genuine interest in your prospect will help you open up conversations and form relationships.
Let me give you an example of how you can find great conversation starters. If we take a look at the profile of our Managing Director, Susan Hallam, below:
You can see that Susan has the title “Freeman of the City of London”.This type of accolade is a great conversation starter and gives you the opportunity to get to know your prospect.
It is always good when the person you are meeting is talking more than you, but it is even better when they are talking about themselves. By giving your prospect the opportunity to talk you are allowing them to open up and reveal something they feel passionate about.
LinkedIn is great for getting these gems of information that make your interactions more human. It can also make the difference between making a sale or losing one. At the very least knowing a bit about who you are meeting could save you from the awkward silence in the lift!
Overall, LinkedIn is the number one social network I recommend for B2B sales agents. The information available on LinkedIn allows you to present your company in a way that is aligned with your clients needs. This type of approach will be appreciated by both your clients and your businesses bottom line.
For more tips on using LinkedIn for sales – see these 3 advanced tips.