Social networking keeps growing, and despite Facebook’s recent spotty IPO, businesses continue to flock to it and other platforms to extend their marketing efforts and engage on a deeper level with their prospects. The king of social media for B2B professionals, however, is not Facebook, but LinkedIn, which proves especially popular with recruiters and job seekers alike.
Apart from headhunters, B2B salespeople are also leveraging LinkedIn for their prospecting efforts. Today, effective sales training must include best practices for this powerful tool, which in some cases is acting as the de facto company brochure and résumé for many professionals.
Here are some top tips for making LinkedIn pay off.
Spend the time to build a complete profile.
A quick scan of random profiles shows that there are plenty of profiles with no photos, and very little other information for that matter. This demonstrates a lack of discipline, effective sales training and professionalism that reflects poorly on the profile owners.
In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, profiles with photos are seven times more likely to be viewed than those without, so it is in every sales professional’s best interest to provide all the information requested. Furthermore, having a complete profile allows you to create a résumé in seconds using the Résumé Builder.
Refrain from being too sales-y or spammy. On LinkedIn, it is far better to make connections organically that allows you to build relationships, rather than viewing it as just another “numbers game.” It is obvious when poor salespeople, who haven’t had effective sales training, are simply sizing you up with commission dollar signs in their eyes, so don’t behave as they do. Instead, add value to your conversations, and you will find yourself having many more of them.
Success in content marketing and social media platforms, such as LinkedIn, depend on providing value first and therefore earning the business.
- Join groups related to your industry and become a thought leader by sharing relevant content, links, e-books, podcasts, or anything else which helps your target market.
- Answer questions in the “Answer” page of the platform. Some LinkedIn members answer hundreds of questions per week, giving them an opportunity to be featured as a “Top Expert.”
- Post status updates regularly.
- Browse company pages to see personnel changes — you might be able to provide a referral or discover a potential business need you can serve due to the departure.
Optimize for search engines
Anything which helps a search engine and potential clients find you means a greater potential lead flow.
- Optimize your URL to make it more search engine- and user-friendly.
- Use keywords in all of your description fields, including experience, summary, specialties, etc.
- Add hyperlinks with relevant anchor text to your blog, other professional social media profiles and your website.
Develop a call to action
If you provide value, you have a right to ask for something in return. If you do not ask the reader to do anything, you will have wasted an opportunity. Ask them to visit your website, make a recommendation, call a specific number for a free consultation, or add themselves to your email list.
LinkedIn, as the leading B2B networking platform on the Internet today, must be stressed as part of every effective sales training regimen. It not only improves the prospecting stage of the sales cycle, but also the qualification and referral stages as well due to the ease with which information on prospects can be found, and the speed with which they can spread your name to their networks. Follow the previous tips for greater social media success!