LinkedIn is the greatest source of business to business (B2B) sales intelligence and research data for the average sales professional ever invented. This kind of tool has never existed before. LinkedIn let’s you connect with people and see their network of connections. Once you understand that you can only see relationships that are 2 levels deep it gets much easier to use and understand.
I just came from training a great team atVeracity Networks, a local internet, voice, and tv provider in Utah and long-time customer of ours. We talked about all the ways that LinkedIn can help in B2B prospecting. I also promised on my last webinar that I would make a list of 20 ways to use LinkedIn, well I got carried away.
Here is one thing you can do for every day of the month.
1- First, use LinkedIn to get in to a new account. I remember when I wanted to get into the inside sales department at a company just up the street by the name of Novell. I looked up the company, found an old friend of mine that works there named Morgan Spencer, contacted him, and asked for a referral.
Now he works at Concierge Communications, so maybe I should see if he can refer me again. Anyway, it worked and took just a few minutes. That was my first productive use of LinkedIn years ago.
2- Follow your customers companies.That means you should be connected through LinkedIn to ALL OF YOUR CUSTOMERS! That seems like a no brainer, but very few companies do that. We recommend that your CEO, VP Sales, VP Support, etc. reach out with the welcome pack to each new customer and connect. Then ping them now and again to ask “how are things are coming?” Follow each of your customers companies in LinkedIn.
3- Make sure you complete your profile, keep it fresh, and set it up correctly so you have credibility. Complete the profile! That means 100%. Salespeople never take the time to finish and this hurts them.
4- Use a good close-up picture that stands out. Our company uses black and white short-cropped head shots that are sort of cool. Why black and white? We stand out. Nobody else on the page is black and white. I like to zig when everyone else chooses to zag. (Sorry you can’t use this one, everyone else has to stay with color pictures.)
5- Grab your name before someone else does! Make sure that your public profile is shortened to contain just your name, ie:http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenkrogue. If you leave this to LinkedIn it will have lots of crazy random letters and numbers and looks like a mess and is hard to link to. Write a compelling introduction to you and your company so people know what you do! If your company is hiring, mention it like our VP Sales did, it works!
6- Have a point person at your company. LinkedIn works by letting you connect to people 2 levels deep. It is a good idea to have at least one person in the company who reaches out to lots of connections. If everyone else at the company is connected to them, they act like a “window” with great connections for everyone else. I’m connected to over 2300 people, and through me, all of my sales reps have a connection that is far more broad than their own.
7- Connect to your employees. Spend time and teach your colleagues and employees the value of using LinkedIn as a team. By designating a “point person” as mentioned above, make sure that person is connected to every single employee. Do it from day one in the onboarding process for all new hires.
8- Connect to your customers. Who in the B2B world is more important than your customers? I like to use Tags to connect to and classify my customers as part of my LinkedIn network. Why? I care deeply about my customers. They are like the kinds of prospects I want to also become my customers. Be getting to know them well, I can connect to others just like them. I can find the groups they are part of. I can ask for referrals or recommendations that will really have impact (if I have earned it.)
9- Connect to your prospects. We ask our salespeople to connect to all of their prospects right after the first contact attempt. Do they always do it? The smart ones do. Why have them connect? Increases rate of building a relationship. LinkedIn increases response to communications by 300% versus email.
You can also search by keywords to find lots of prospects. For us anybody with “inside sales”, “lead management” or “salesforce.com” in their LinkedIn profile is a prospect. What are your keywords?
10 – Do a 3×3 analysis of your prospects.My friend Steve Richard from Vorsight,outsourcers in inside sales training, taught me this. Take 3 minutes before calling a prospect to find 3 things you have in common to talk with them about. LinkedIn is great for a resume, company, college sports or alma maters, common trade groups perspective, Facebook for hobbies, sports, etc.