Hey Mr CEO, Think Your Sales Team can Afford to Ignore LinkedIn?

Ignoring something doesn’t make it go away. When it comes to LinkedIn, it just means you’re missing out on a significant opportunity.

Sales in 2019 is not business as usual. Far from it. In fact, it might just be the opposite. When you miss out on a potential sales channel, your competition will take advantage. They carve out a niche, and you lose out.

Nobody wants that to happen. And that’s exactly why your sales team cannot afford to ignore LinkedIn. Yes, it’s just another channel. But used right, it might just become THE channel for you. This is everything you need to know to get started and leverage this opportunity for tangible sales growth.

First Things First: What Even Is LinkedIn?

It never hurts to start with the obvious. Chances are you’ve heard of LinkedIn. Hell, you might even use it personally. Still, let’s start with some perspective.

The platform is one of the largest social media networks in the world, with almost 600 million users worldwide. That might not quite match up with a giant like Facebook. What makes this channel so relevant, though, is its audience.

The average LinkedIn user is between 30 and 64 years old, college educated, and works in a white collar profession. It gets better: 61 million users are senior level influencers, and 40 million are decision makers at the C-Suite level. Among Fortune 500 companies, LinkedIn is the single most popular social network.

On a daily basis, these users interact in groups, share status updates, and update their profiles. They post 100,000 long-form posts per week. And of course, they interact with each other, from comments to personal InMail messages that range from professional advice to networking.

The Sales Prospecting Advantages of LinkedIn

Go ahead: read that section above again. Lots of statistics to digest, but they all come down to one truth: LinkedIn, thanks to its user demographics and behavior, is a perfect playground for sales teams looking to make a mark and reach their customers. Let’s dig down a bit deeper on just why that is the case.

1) A Relevant Audience

I already covered this one above, but it bears repeating: no social media network attracts an audience more relevant for sales teams than LinkedIn. Especially in the B2B space, it’s an ideal fit.

2) Intuitive Relationship-Building

Step away from the cold call. Instead, leverage the network to build initial connections with prospects through mutual acquaintances or interests in similar groups. The process is intuitive, helping you build the relationship naturally before you step in for the sales call. Turn a 4% chance to convert your cold call into a 87% chance to achieve success in calling an already nurtured prospect.

3) Background Information About Sales Prospects

An informed sales call is a better sales pitch. The more you know, the more you can tailor your pitch to your prospects. You can also make the conversation more relatable, building a rapport with your audience. Because LinkedIn encourages complete profiles, you can gain a lot of information about employment, skills, and specializations with a simple glance at the profile of your prospects.

4) An Opportunity for Thought Leadership

Don’t allow your sales team to be known as the people who promote. Instead, encourage them to build their expertise in the area through sharing and commenting on anything from industry trends to complex scenarios and case studies. That content will show up for prospects when they research their contact. Given that 92% of B2B prospects engage with sales pros who are known thought leaders, it’s a crucial advantage.

5) Staying Top of Mind for Prospects

In other words, don’t let them forget about you. Few pitches are isolated. Most of them occur over time, through the process of building a relationship and touching base on a regular basis. LinkedIn allows your sales team to stay top-of-mind for potential customers through regular posts and updates, making it easier to recall them when the time for the final pitch comes.

How to Get Started in Building Your LinkedIn Sales Presence

Now you know why you can’t afford to allow your sales team to ignore LinkedIn. Time to step into the how. Much has been written about tactics and best practices for B2B sales professionals on the network. A thorough examination probably requires its own treatment; for now, consider some of these quick tips a great start for success.

Leverage Your Existing Connections

If a member of your sales team closes a deal, make sure they connect with that customer. What follows can be powerful work.

First, they’ll get relevant connections in the people also viewed section on the right of the page. It’s like a built-in lookalike tool, helping you prospect similar customers based on similar factors. Second, your existing customers can help you get acquainted with their network to expand your prospect pool.

Connect and Engage with Prospects

When you find a sales prospect, try to connect with them. Engage through direct messages and make sure they see your team’s contacts. That way, every sales agent can build a relationship with specific prospects on their way to becoming customers.

Become an Active Content Publisher

Every member of your team should build a content schedule. Ask them to draw from marketing on how to best leverage social media for awareness and attention. You may even want to organize this opportunity to the point where each sales agent has a different specialty that they post about on a regular basis, establishing themselves as content experts in that area.

Join Relevant Industry Groups

LinkedIn’s groups are a constant pool of activity for professionals across industries. Here, they connect with fellow alumni from their alma mater, discuss industry trends, and even look for jobs. A strategically placed member of your sales team can inject their thoughts and occasional subtle (but not obnoxious) promotions, entering the conversation on a personal level.

Use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator

Heads up: this is a paid opportunity. LinkedIn’s dedicated lead prospecting platform integrates with your CRM to find existing prospects unearthed by marketing or sales. It gives you real-time information on prospect actions within the platform, helping your team further tailor their efforts and pitches. It requires a change of business practices and flows, but could become a significant opportunity.

LinkedIn is a Channel, NOT a Philosophy

No matter how you use LinkedIn, the truth remains that it’s impossible to ignore today. The network will only continue to thrive and grow, and so will the companies leveraging its opportunities for sales success. This is one space where you want to be the leader in your industry, not the laggard who finds no prospects left to contact.

At the same time, it’s absolutely crucial at the C-Suite level to not lose sight of one thing: LinkedIn cannot replace your sales team, or their personalized efforts to connect with prospects. Instead, it’s a platform designed to enhance the existing relationship building that your team already does. It offers the tools to make that effort successful, without changing the core philosophy of nurturing marketing leads to prospects and eventual customers.

LinkedIn enhances existing relationships with your leads. It can also unearth new prospects that marketing might not (yet) have found. It cannot, however, take the actual contact between sales professional and potential customer out of the equation. If you don’t have that part down, even your team’s best effort on LinkedIn may not amount to much.

Always remember that LinkedIn doesn’t replace the personal connections with potential customers your audience needs to make. It simply places them in context, adding a digital component to that process to take it into 2019 and beyond.

Make 2019 The Year Your Sales Team Goes All In on LinkedIn

The network might be 17 years old. That makes it older than Facebook, but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fresh. It’s just starting to grow into its powerhouse role for B2B organizations who are looking for new edges to maximize their sales opportunities.

To make that happen, you can’t just dip your toes in the water. Instead, you have to go all in. LinkedIn, especially its more advanced features, offer a comprehensive rethinking of the way you reach out to prospects. It’s very much a strategic approach that should be supported and directed at the CEO level.

Especially if you already know how to use it personally, you can bring that knowledge into the implementation of these processes. With the right support, it might just be the channel you need to pick up lagging sales or bring already existing positive trends to the next level.

That opportunity is waiting for your organization in the form of a social network that just continues to grow. Will you take it? More importantly, will your business know how to take it in a way that actually maximizes your opportunity and minimizes potential complications?

The time to embrace LinkedIn is now. You simply cannot afford to ignore it in a world where it’s become so crucial to business communications.

This article first appeared on Jefflizik.com

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