There is a lot of hype surrounding social media marketing and there are numerous articles explaining how to set up the accounts, how to use the various platforms and outlets, and, daily, new app’s to assist you in your marketing efforts. Frankly, it’s overwhelming.
This article is not going to discuss much about how to “build” your LinkedIN profile. We have several blog postings that cover that. We will talk about some “construction” issues but only as they relate to your selling efforts. Rather than focus on what’s new, what’s the latest and greatest, this is going to focus on how you and your company can use a LinkedIN as a sales tool and drive sales and profits to your bottom line. LinkedIn is one of the ‘cornerstone’ social media outlets for b-to-b selling. It’s not something that any marketing agency can “do’ for you. YOU have to do it yourself.
As anyone who has been in sales for any length of time will tell you, sales is about relationships: When you get right down to it’s one person trusting another person enough to do business with them. Selling is a people business. People do business with people. LinkedIn is a tool just like a car, a cell phone or email. LinkedIn is a tool that can help you and your company:
As with other tools if you don’t use them, if you don’t check voice mail, if you don’t respond to emails, if you don’t pick up the phone, make a call and drive to see someone you won’t sell anything. By the same token, if you have a retail store and all of the products are in the warehouse, and the shelves are bare, then anyone who walks in won’t know what you have to sell. LinkedIn is like a retail storefront.
As a first step in your LinkedIn “storefront” here’s a short checklist of must do’s to “stock your shelves” in your LinkedIn storefront:
Have you sent out newsletters? Have your salespeople sent out emails to customers with news stories that affect them? Have you encouraged salespeople to “prospect” through trade magazines, customer lists, contact files? If you have done any of this then you will find LinkedIn a great tool. Just by completing some of the above “Getting Started” areas salespeople will quickly learn that there are numerous ways to be in touch with new people.
Did you know that you can update your status on LinkedIn? This isn’t just used to say “I love this restaurant” it’s a way to share with your connections news articles and industry information. But wait. That’s not where it ends. If you believe that a news article is relevant enough to send in an email to some of your customers then you should also share it with your LinkedIn groups where others might find it useful information as well.
LinkedIn makes this easy. As soon as it posts in your status you can click the “share” button and post it to groups that you are a member of and even send it out as an email to specific people whether they are on LinkedIn or not. By doing this you are accomplishing several things:
Shorten the Sales Cycle One of the first things that we all do in sales is try to figure out how to develop rapport with people when we meet them. LinkedIn can shorten that cycle. IF you have completed your profile you can send out connection invites to new contacts and old. You might be surprised what you find out. I have an interest in STEM education, Autism, Gifted Education, Old cars, Racing and numerous other personal interests.
These are my personal interests and you have your own. You don’t have your hobbies to sell more you have them because you like them. But, it is a commonality to develop rapport and strengthen new and existing relationships. A friend of my runs marathons. He connected with a new prospect on LinkedIn and at his meeting he found that they both run marathons: “That’s why I didn’t cancel the meeting when something else came up.”
I had a customer whom I already had a good relationship with, who called me and asked me in to talk about some new projects he needed help with. After our meeting he told me, out of the blue, “I like working with guys who wrestled.” Who knew?!? People do business with People.
Account penetration Do you have great relationships with some customers but still feel that others may not completely trust you? You’ve serviced someone well, you’ve felt that you’ve done everything “just right” but you just can’t seem to get to that next level? Perhaps, again, perhaps, LinkedIn can help you with that. The conversation might go something like this: “I saw that Bobby Ray wrote a recommendation for you on LinkedIn, Did you know we do a lot with his company? He’s a good guy, Come on into my office I want you to look at some stuff” As you can see there is not just one thing that you can use LinkedIn for as a selling tool. This short article barely scratches the surface of how you can begin to use LinkedIn in your sales efforts. Sales people are pretty good at “thinking out of the box” and looking for solutions. Give them the tools, encourage them to learn how to use them, and you may just be surprised at some of the innovative ideas that they start to implement LinkedIn to assist them in their sales efforts.