Social media has become a marketing game-changer. In B2B selling, LinkedIn (LI) has emerged as a must-have in your sales repertoire. Several books have been written about social media and using LI in your sales/marketing efforts, and it wouldn’t be difficult to write another one right here. Instead, this article focuses just on LI as a sales tool, and includes the 5 things you can use that will improve your sales.
What makes you so special? – Your LinkedIn profile
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE is quoted as saying, “if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.” This principle applies to your LI profile. Your profile is step #1. Following are five critical elements to your LI profile…
Is your profile 100% complete? If not, you lose credibility.
- Does your profile contain popular search phrases that someone might use to search for people like you? If not, identify good search phrases and integrate them into your profile. However, write your profile for the reader, not the search engine.
- Do you have recommendations? If not, get them. Last I checked you need at least two recommendations to have a 100% profile.
- Does your profile stand out and present you as more qualified than the next person? If not, acquire some certifications and author content that enhances your expertise and your competitive advantages.
Do you play well with others? – LinkedIn groups
There are almost 1.2 million different LI Groups. If you live inTurkeyand graduated from VA Tech, there’s a LI group for you! Why join any LI Groups? Here’s why…
When you are a member of a group you can email anyone else in that group.
- Participating in a group in which people in your target market participate facilitates connecting with the right people, and can give you a common bond with people to whom you can add value.
- Contributing positively to a group will enhance your personal brand and increase awareness in your marketplace.
- Participate in the “Help Forum.” This is a place where you can document your expertise and when other LI members seek help in the Help Forum, you can participate in answering questions and become a known expert.
Sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know – connecting with people
In LinkedIn when you are a “1st Degree Contact” (one of your Connections) you can interact directly with that person. However, unless you have an upgraded LI account you cannot communicate directly with anyone who isn’t a “connection.”
When you are seeking to contact someone who isn’t connected directly with you, find one of your contacts who is connected to the person you are seeking. Here’s how to do it…
- Type in the person’s name in the search bar
- When his/her profile appears, look to the right of the page to see how you might be connected – through someone else
- Reach out to the person with whom you are connected seeking an introduction to the person you want to contact
The image to the right is an example. I searched for Meril Gerstenmaier, who is a “2nd Degree Connection”, and I see two people who are my connections (Sabet Stroman & Eric Sunberg) are connected to Meril. So, I reach out to Sabet or Eric and seek an introduction to Meril. It’s that easy!
People do business with people they know – research your prospects
When you first meet a sales prospect it is important to build rapport – that’s Selling 101. What better way to begin building rapport than to know more about that person? Using LI, and the other social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Google +, you can find out quite a lot about someone.
Before you meet with that new prospect, search for him/her in LI. Where did he go to school? Who does each of you know in common? Where has she worked in the past? What are his interests? Any other common things emerge that you can use as a rapport builder? Don’t comment about the fish on the wall or embarrass yourself by making an inappropriate comment. Do your research and use it to build rapport.
Information is power – be a LinkedIn premium member
I don’t earn sales commissions from LI! But, I do suggest you pay a little extra every month to utilize LI premium services. Here are three benefits you get with an upgraded LI membership…
- Unlimited InMail to reach anyone on LinkedIn
- See who is viewing your profile and get more information about them
- Hundreds of additional search results and more precise search filters
Certainly there’s more to using social media in your selling activities, but make sure you do the basics first - utilizing LinkedIn, especially in B2B sales. You should look good (your LinkedIn profile), behave well (participation in LinkedIn Groups), be sociable (connect to others through your connections), be prepared (research your prospects ahead of time) and act like an elite sales professional (premium LinkedIn features). Do these things along with other sales best practices, and your sales will grow.