I’m going to start this with a bit of a reality check … call me a wet blanket if you must … but I need to clarify something right from the start. LinkedIn is not going to sell for you. Sorry.
LinkedIn is also not going to remove the need for you to talk to clients and allow you to sit in the office clicking around their site all day and still make target. Sorry again.
What it can do, however, is fundamentally change the way that you identify, listen to, approach and engage with prospects in your market. In the right hands – in your hands – it can quite simply run rings around traditional research and preparation, allowing you to spend more time in front of the right people, with a greater chance they will be willing to listen and work with you.
A short example
A quick story of one small way it can help. A client, where I was running some LinkedIn workshops, reported an experience of one of their sales team. He was going to an exploratory meeting with 3 directors of a potential client – ahead of the meeting, he checked their profiles on LinkedIn, only to discover all three were connected to the owner of a company that was already a client of his.
To cut a long story short, he mentioned this person in their discussions and, in his words, the mood changed totally … there seemed a new found trust in him and the 40 minute exploratory meeting turned into two and a half hours.
All with a little research using one small aspect of how LinkedIn can help within the sales process, but an example of how it can uncover relationships and help cut through the normal sales barriers.
Some potential advantages
A couple of other ideas you might like to try, all of which are possible using the free LinkedIn account by the way, though the LinkedIn Sales Navigator account gives you even greater opportunities through an interface designed specifically for sales teams and professionals.
Have you ever called a company to speak to someone, only to be turned away because the company has a no names policy or gatekeepers who are actively doing their jobs? Try this …
Using the search box at the top of every page, find the company and you will be directed to their Company Page. Clicking on the number of employees displays a full list of everyone working there and the Advanced Search allows you to identify the person or people you are going to want to talk to. You can also check if you know someone who can introduce you – LinkedIn provides that information too.
Want to ask for targeted referrals? LinkedIn allows you to search the connections of current clients to identify potential prospects whom you can ask to be introduced to. Like to know where past clients are now working? Again, the search facility can provide this information and, with the “Save Search” option, LinkedIn even sends new prospects directly into your email inbox on a weekly basis. Can’t be bad!
All this does not replace you, the sales person … just the opposite! It provides the information and options to help you do your job more effectively … to do the real selling but with information that allows you to leverage the relationships, clients and work you have already put in, to best effect.