Think LinkedIn is a waste of time? Just a profile to be updated whenever you’re on the lookout for your next job opportunity?

Think the idea of using LinkedIn to generate leads, let alone new business, is a modern-day sales myth?

It isn’t.

Social selling is far from new, but it’s hugely under-utilised and for many, presents a wealth of untapped opportunity. Done well, it can be hugely successful at not just expanding your professional network, but bringing in real, tangible business deals.

Case in point: LinkedIn is one of my most successful channels for new business opportunities. And since using it, I’ve won over £20K of new business.

Ready to do the same?

WHY you need to put social selling at the top of your sales plan (right now)

If the prospect of £20K of new business isn’t enough to sell (pardon the pun) the idea of social selling to you, let’s take a minute to consider the value of LinkedIn.

LinkedIn has over 546 million members worldwide, spanning over 200 countries, all the way from the fresh-faced grad to the 50+ years of experience CEO. You’ve got decision-makers from every feasible industry sector and background; your CIO, CCO, CTO, CMO… and, apparently, a few ‘Paranoid in Chiefs’ too. [That’s ‘Chief Information Security Officer’ to you and me.] LinkedIn is your gateway to these.

Social selling is a valuable tool for self-sufficient lead generation. For those of us not backed by a 20-strong marketing team and a lofty PPC budget, it’s a no-brainer to generate much-needed pipeline.

But even if you do have these resources behind you, leveraging your social network helps you find the right prospects. It helps you build trusted relationships with them, nurture them along the sales funnel, and ultimately, win new business. It can eliminate the need for cold-calling entirely.

So, we get the why. The most important bit is – how?

It’s all about you: specifically, your professional brand

 Did you know that the average consumer sees anything between 4000 to an eye-watering 10,000 marketing messages a day?

The truth is, competition for our attention is intense and an ever-savvy consumer is increasingly ignoring ads, shifting instead to more ‘trusted’ sources such as peer recommendations and trusted, credible and recognised brands.

LinkedIn is one of the primary platforms to promote both your individual and company brand, build that credibility, and get those much-needed recommendations.

For me, achieving those goals comes down to 3 key things:

  • My profile
  • Content
  • My network

My LinkedIn Profile

A high impact profile in the public domain establishes a presence and gives a direct, personable connection that prospects can engage with. Sales is about people, after all; putting a ‘face to the name’ fosters better relationships than hiding behind an email or being a faceless voice over the phone.

A few essential things to remember;

  • LinkedIn profiles with professional head-shots get 14 times more profile views and are 36 times more likely to receive a message. A crisp head and shoulders shot goes a long way. Save the selfies and boozing in Tenerife shots for Facebook.
  • A compelling headline that highlights your job title, current company and a to-the-point tagline about how you can help customers captures attention.
  • Use your summary to tell your story – don’t be afraid to stand out. Share your vision for your company, be aspirational, inject your personality. Business doesn’t have to be boring!
  • Be concise and broad in listing your employment history. This allows for interpretation and prevents your readers from switching off.
  • Add rich media: videos, images, media, presentations – these all appeal to the modern-day digital consumer and will better showcase who you are, and what you do.

 

Want to benchmark your social selling capacity? LinkedIn has its very own ‘Social Selling Index’ that looks at your professional brand, network, engagement levels, and relationships to provide a rating. Check yours out at Social Selling Index.

 

Content is King

How do you build trust and credibility with prospects? By positioning yourself as an expert in your field.

Over 62% of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with relevant insights, opportunities, and content. Sharing and publishing valuable information that resonates with the challenges or pain points of your prospects not only gives them a reason to reach out and engage with you but serves as a valuable yet subtle marketing tool to keep your name in mind.

This is a multi-pronged plan of attack:

  • Sharing content: Pushing out relevant, useful, engaging and insightful content from third-party sources that prospects will find interesting or that will showcase your interests, knowledge and expertise.
  • Engaging with content: stay up-to-date with your prospects and use their news updates as a touchpoint to stand front-of-mind. Like, comment, initiate conversations. Show you’re interested and build genuine relationships by interacting with their updates.
  • Creating content: boost your brand and credibility by authoring and publishing your own unique content, positioning yourself as a thought leader.

 

What do I post?

Admittedly, there’s an unimaginable amount of information and content out there – deciding what’s of value to post can feel overwhelming. My advice is, mix it up. Consider:

  • Setting up a Google Alert for key words, trends, themes to keep you up-to-date on things of interest to your prospects
  • Share company news and press releases
  • Industry news and updates
  • Special offers
  • Handy tips or ‘how to’ guides
  • Videos
  • Polls
  • Quizzes
  • Infographics

Variety of type but frequency and consistency in volume are the key to a successful social media strategy. Create a schedule and show up for your prospects, until you become a dependable and recognisable source of information.

My network

546 million users is a lot. Where do you get started?

One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is its search. For me, this is a way to zone in on the right type of prospect and build a quality network.

 

Filter by name, job title, company, location, industry, interest and more. The spray and pray approach to prospecting is old news: I determine which executives matter, use LinkedIn to map out the key influencers, and then go in with a tailored approach for the individuals I’m connecting with.  Customising the message is essential: the generic “I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn” tends to fall flat.

The next step I took was to join Groups.

 

These link you to active users with shared interests or areas of expertise, and if you are contributing in a group regularly, they’re more likely to recognise and connect with you as a result.

Don’t just use groups as a sales channel, however: ensure you’re posting useful, relevant, and non-sales content alongside your pitches. This way, you’ll come across as more credible and gain the trust of other members. Ask questions, answer the questions of others, provide advice or feedback. Conversations rule the day and will encourage people to approach or recommend you.

Social selling: you can’t afford not to

When I ask executives or professionals, “why don’t you use LinkedIn?” the answer is pretty much always along the lines of, “I don’t have time”… “It’s not a good use of my time”…”I don’t see the value.”

Trust me. It has tremendous value. You can’t afford not to.

Want to dig deeper? Join Thompson Training for a FREE course on ‘Making a Killing on LinkedIn’ on June the 5th at the Clayton Hotel in Manchester from 9.30AM. You can register here; https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/making-a-killing-on-linkedin-tickets-45030308866