With 450 million registered worldwide*, LinkedIn remains the social network the most used by social sellers (84.1% **). So how do you identify good contacts and win their trust? Here are 6 prospecting techniques to improve you sales performance on LinkedIn.
What is social selling?
In BtoB, 75% of buyers use social networks to make purchasing decisions ***. During this pre-purchase phase, your prospects scour the web to learn about your product, compare it, and read short feedback experiences to get an opinion.
What could be more reassuring than a recommendation made by a trusted third-party? Social selling is about becoming a trusted third-party by displaying an authority in your area of expertise.
In the BtoB world, LinkedIn is the true social selling engine. It's where you will find most of your prospects and customers. Therefore, we will look at the methods and approaches to help you make your presence on LinkedIn a real showcase for your activity and a machine to gather new prospects.
1) Identify "core" companies
As a salesperson, your first challenge with LinkedIn is building a list of companies that fit your marketing objectives. Are you targeting NASDAQ companies or startups with strong growth? Sector of activity, number of employees, geographical location: LinkedIn enables you to sort out the exact kind of prospect you are looking for with their filters.
To make the most of the available filters, it may make sense to subscribe to a premium subscription. It also gives you other benefits such as the ability to see who's viewed your profile and to send InMails (messages that you can send out directly from you LinkedIn account, see Focus).
If you work in a team, then you will probably be interested in Sales Navigator. Sellsy is really designed for companies that prospect to large groups.
2) Identify the Decision-Makers
Most often, B2B investment decisions involve several different decision-makers. For example, when we sell Sellsy, it probably involves the Sales Manager, but it could also include the Marketing Director, the CFO, and the CIO. Your sale cannot be limited to one single contact connection, but it requires a broader dimension of trying to get a clear idea of the chain of decision.
A good approach is to attack the problem at the bottom of the scale. If you are looking to join the CEO, you are likely to fall on an impassable barrier. However, if you try to contact a junior salesperson, there is a good chance that they will pick up; they're paid for it. They'll be more available to provide you with necessary information during your discovery process such as tools and processes already in place, potential barriers and opportunities, and identifying decision-makers. In addition, you can rely on their recommendation when targeting executives.
3) Take Care of your LinkedIn Profile
It's more than just an online resume, your LinkedIn profile reflects your legitimacy in your area of expertise. A professional photo, good keywords, and an attractive presentation are essential but not enough. Recommendations left by your colleagues or customers, your publications, and your contributions to the discussions are all signs of the solidity of your expertise. It's your personal brand that is at stake, value it!
4) Inform (Without Spamming)
The best way to inspire the confidence of your prospects is to serve them by diffusing information with high added value and viral if possible. Objective: to become a reliable (and unavoidable) source to expand your area of influence. Key figures, case studies, feedback, interviews of your employees: create or share content like this and participate in discussions. With time and rigorous oversight, you should quickly gain credibility and start to elevate yourself above the leaders of your industry.
Don't have very much content to post? Think about sharing content from your news feed.
5) Personalize your InMails
Nothing could be more unpleasant than an impersonal message sent to large masses of people. To keep your prospects' attention and to make them feel unique, using their proper name is already a good start. Here are some other techniques for breaking the ice with LinkedIn messages:
- Find a common contact that can put you in touch
- React to a post published by your contact. Ex: "I enjoyed reading the TechCrunch article that you shared. Thanks!"
- Specify why you are contacting this person in the place of another: ex. "I noticed that we worked for the same customer" or "that you are interested in..."
- Highlight the concrete interests of your contact: "I would like to share little tip with you that will save you precious time."
- Suggest content that may be of interest to your contact
FOCUS : Contact for free or by InMail?
By default, Linkedin only allows you to contact your first level contacts by message.
Outside of your network, it's imperative to go through a relationship before you can contact them. The only exception is when you request to connect with them, then, you can add a short message with the request.
It's the only way to contact members outside of your network with a personalized message.
The only problem is that these messages often remain unread and do not always trigger an effective relationship.
To counteract this problem (and ensure its turnover), LinkedIn offers a quota of InMails in premium accounts (see above).
InMails you can use are somewhat based upon the quality of your exchanges. Simply put, if you send an InMail and your customer answers (even negatively), it is credited back into your account. It is therefore possible to send 100 messages per month with a credit of only 30 InMails if your messages are relevant enough to prompt the contact to react.
6) Expand your Network
LinkedIn is extremely viral: when a person ads you to their network, it brings you closer to all of their first level contacts that you can then contact (without spamming of course).
As you'll see in use, LinkedIn no longer shows the number of connections after 500 relationships (the famous 500+ that you can see on the profiles). This highly coveted number is a basic goal for any salesperson using LinkedIn. Its displays an obvious level of seriousness.
However, be sure not to fall into excess. It's also essential to have a network of quality. So try to avoid adding contact by mass hoping that some fall into your purse. If your visitors find that your network is made up of completely random contacts, you will get the opposite impression.