Using Linkedin for sales purposes..

I’m looking into writing something about how to use Linkedin for generating leads and making sales. Here are two articles I found to get you started thinking about it, A Guide to Business Development 2.0 by Alex Iskold, and A Guide to Generating Leads on Linkedin by Ann Handley.

I guess the first important point to come out of these articles is that there are uses for Linkedin beyond job hunting. This wasn’t really much of an issue for me as I haven’t been job hunting for a while.

Next, they look to make points about Linkedin’s popularity (second after facebook of all websites), and of how it is perceived as more of a business than a social site. This is important for two reasons – one, you’re more likely to find the leads / contacts you’re looking for, and two, they’re more likely to being open to a business related approach on Linkedin.

Both make some good points about how to use the search functionality of the site to find potential leads – you can refine a search by company name, location, job title, etc. So if you know that you typically sell to, for example, HR managers, search by that title and then start combing through the names that come up.

The next important point is that Linkedin will show you how you are connected to the various people that come up in your searches – i.e. how many ‘degrees’ you are separated by, and who the linking people are in between the two of you. This allows you to make the next move, which is to approach that person, using the intermediate connections as reference points. For example, my preference is either to call the lead directly and mention that I found them through Linkedin, perhaps mentioning some of our mutual acquaintances, or to contact one of the intermediate people and ask them for an introduction. I’ve found this to be an incredibly powerful way of starting new business relationships, especially if you believe those who would claim that ‘cold calling’ is effectively dead and buried in the age of Web 2.0.

Of course, the proviso underlying all of this is that one has to be sensitive to not abuse relationships or trust. Play open cards is my advice. If in doubt, rather ask for permission to use someone’s name or make contact with one of their connections. In the long run, this online world is not that different from the offline one – if you lack scruples, word will get around and you’ll start to find it very difficult to form any new relationships.

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2 thoughts on “Using Linkedin for sales purposes..

  1. Hi Richard, I wanted to share a point I felt was not touched on in the referenced articles.

    Now unlike you, I am no scholar of Psychology. I am just a sales guy, so please pull me up on any of the points I raise as they come purely from my own experience rather than expertise in the field.

    For me, the true value of Linkedin (and true of all forms of social media stalking) is the fact that the information on an individual profile, is a subjective set of data written by the individual you want to connect with, highlighting the information that is important to them.

    When writing a profile on Linkedin, people invariably focus on branding themselves and highlighting the events and achievements that resonate with who they are and who they want to be.

    By spending time reading into the summary and the salient points they have chosen to highlight, you as a sales person are given access to an invaluable set of data providing you with insight into

    – Your client’s individual brand
    – What they see as being most important in any career
    – What their aspirations are (they invariably highlight strengths and achievements that they see as being important for their aspirational role)

    In the sales process dealing with a true “decision maker”, you cannot afford to waste those precious initial moments of contact, searching for that sense of rapport you need to start an effective conversation.

    I found that using the information gleaned from a client’s Linkedin profile assisted me in more successfully developing rapport with the client in the first 30 seconds of the interaction, that all important FIRST IMPRESSION. In addition, this insight also allowed me to position my proposal more effectively by building the solution in manner that resonated with my clients aspirations.

    I recommend cyber-stalking the hell out of any potential decision maker before ever interacting with them.

    In all sales, the deal is closed because of the trust your client has that what you sell will achieve their true objective best.

    This trust is established by more than just hard facts. It is a series of intangibles that differ for every individual. In our current time poor commercial lives, especially true for “decision makers”, having access to the crux of what they are really after (written by them, about them, for them) in a commercial and professional interaction, helps to identify those intangibles for consideration in shaping your discussion, before you have even met.

    Richard, the reverse is true for decision makers and the people you are coaching. Spend time understanding your intangibles and actively branding or promoting them in social media to ensure:

    – your precious time is not wasted
    – people that have information/solutions that will be valuable to you are able to communicate them more effectively.

    PS lekker blog!

  2. Pingback: Guest Post on using Linkedin to help sales - Paul Hodges | richard jamieson

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