Cold calling is a tried and true tool for the salesperson that has been around – well, since the invention of the telephone. But what many sales teams are beginning to realize is that there is a more appealing method other than cold calling and emailing. And it’s as easy as signing into your LinkedIn account. For companies of all sizes and verticals that are not actively using LinkedIn as part of their sales development than they are missing an abundance of opportunities through social selling.
Did you know according to a HubSpot study that LinkedIn generated a higher visitor-to-lead conversation rate (277%) than Twitter and Facebook combined? According to another study featured in Forbes magazine, 78 % of sales people who use social media outperform those colleagues who were only using cold calling.
What LinkedIn wants you to know…
Social selling has been a term and a trend that has slowly evolved and increased in use thanks in part to the growth of social media. It’s the idea that a relationship is created between a buyer and a seller even before a single transaction or conversation occurs. From conferences to webinars, most selling happens online. The ability to add videos and link to SlideShare makes selling a more viral and shareable process. It also happens to be where introductions, in the form of social connections, take place.
It’s not about cold calling or the hard sell anymore. But before you can change the behavior of your sales team; you need to understand the buying behavior of your prospective customers. With one click, clients or customers can make decisions about products or a service because everything they need to know is online. Before the Internet, researching a major buying decision was a tedious and drawn-out process, especially for B2B companies. Social media networks have changed the landscape of prospecting and research to such a degree that 57 % of every buying decision is made even before speaking with a sales rep according to a LinkedIn report.
Here’s 4 ways to leverage your LinkedIn relationships to drive sales and increase revenue.
- Search More. This is where LinkedIn can help with your research prowess. By using its Advanced Search feature, you can pinpoint the decision-makers, find common ground for easier introductions and make a connection that really counts. Review their activity in LinkedIn paying close attention to updates by using the news feeds or following discussions they participate in to get an idea of the business issues they are trying to solve.
- Identify Key Decision Makers. Whether from a first or second degree connection, you can use LinkedIn’ search capabilities to find a direct starting point in your lead generating efforts. LinkedIn now has a ‘saved search’ feature so if a connection receives a promotion and updates their profile you’ll be the first to know with an alert. Using this feature allows you to grow your account or prospect list with minimal effort. There are tools available to help you automate this process.
- Keep connecting. As a prospecting tool, LinkedIn is perfect for reaching out and maintaining relationships with current customers. Existing clients can sometimes be a bridge to other clients or can be a starting point to expand an existing product line. One prospecting feature called ‘request introduction’ prompts your contacts for an introduction to a potential client they’re connected to via LinkedIn. Its search capability allows you to discover titles and positions within a company to further filter stakeholders and their responsibilities. It can also be used as a mapping point to highlight who has the decision-making power throughout a project’s lifecycle.
- Get Your Group On. Build a better foundation of trust that fosters conversations by sharing content about your interest. The easiest way to do this is by joining or establishing a LinkedIn group that targets the interests of your potential prospects. Being active in groups means posing questions and offering answers to those who seek your advice. The idea is to build a reputation as a credible go-to resource and a knowledgeable expert within your industry. But don’t stop there, comment on other member’s posts, offer links to news updates and post whitepapers.
Above all else remember that social selling on LinkedIn is not about the “Hard Sell.” The point is to prompt a conversation and build from there.
Are you using LinkedIn as a lead generating tool? What tips or suggestions do you have?