By Bob Woods, Social Sales Link
I often talk about a statistic published by consulting services provider Corporate Visions, stating that 74% of buyers looking to buy products or services choose the salesperson who was first to add value and insight into their situation. The best place for that insight comes from a salesperson’s presence on LinkedIn.
Nowadays, LinkedIn is essential for any channel salesperson to use in prospecting. But it takes much more than slapping up a profile page and maybe saying “nice post” occasionally on a piece of content that someone else shared. To utilize LinkedIn at its highest and best use, you must commit to using it correctly.
If you’re not showing up as that resource consistently, guess what? You might have a chance at snagging that other 26%. But it’ll take a lot of work to get them (cold calls, marketing, etc.).
With that in mind, let’s look at some of the mistakes many people make on LinkedIn and how you can avoid making them in the first place.
Self-Centered LinkedIn Profiles
As salespeople, our purpose for being on LinkedIn is not to land a new job. So, our profiles shouldn’t read like a resume. I liken it to transforming a sales professional’s profile from a resume to a resource.
People who land on your profile and start reading it don’t care that you’ve made President’s Club three times, you’re a great negotiator and closer, and so on. They want to know how you can help them with their current problem or situation. We want the profile to resonate with them, create the curiosity that they’ll want to read more about us and teach them something new that gets them thinking differently about how they’re currently doing things.
Changing your profile from a resume to a resource requires you to write information about their situation that they’ll find helpful. Teach them, and in the process, you’ll become a resource in their mind. All of this should get them to either raise their hand and connect with you or accept your connection request in the future.
Connect And Pitch
Say this aloud three times: “Connect and pitch is a bait and switch.” Memorize it. Live by it.
This phrase refers to connecting with someone (no matter who initiates the connection request) and then pitching your product or service immediately after the connection is made. You’ve just committed relationship murder.
Think of it like this: If you walked up to someone at a conference, immediately handed them your business card, shook their hand, and said, “Hey, we help people just like you do X, Y, and Z,” they would very likely roll their eyes and walk away. So why do we think we can do that on LinkedIn? It happens much more often than you think.
We need to stop pitching and start showing up as a resource, bring value, and earn the right to get an initial sales conversation. Your profile does a good amount of the heavy lifting there.
Plan A Content Sharing And Engaging Process
A good amount of “heavy lifting” comes from the content you share and how you engage with other people’s content. Both are very important in your quest to show up as a knowledgeable resource for your prospects. But, as the old saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
That’s why I don’t believe in “random acts of social.” If you’re random in your efforts, your results will be haphazard at best and non-existent at worst. Turn your attitude around from “I’m just going to show up; sometimes I’ll comment, and sometimes I’ll like or share” to planning your sharing of content and engaging with the right people. You can convert those people into connections and, ultimately, conversations. Change your random acts of social to purposeful acts of social.
With your content, make sure it’s educational and not “pitchy” about your product or service, and target it to the audience of prospects with whom you want sales conversations. Don’t share the content you’re interested in; instead, “program” your shares for the items you know your audience of prospects needs to read for their business purposes. Also, when people comment on your content, make sure you engage with them; you never know if they’re looking to have an offline conversation with you about your product.
Commenting on other people’s posts can be just as important as publishing your content. Your comment shouldn’t be the typical “Great post!” that most people write. Instead, provide thoughtful engagement with the content by providing your thoughts and views on what was shared. This way, you’re further promoting your thought leadership… without posting any content yourself.
By not committing these three mistakes, you’ll significantly increase your chances of being the salesperson who adds insight and value to a buyer’s situation. Once you’re in that position, you’ll have a much greater chance of closing prospects.
About The Author
When LinkedIn launched in 2003, Bob Woods was one of the first people to join. He's taken his lengthy study of and involvement in the platform and combined it with his sales experience to consult and train in LinkedIn for social selling at companies large and small for the past eight years.
If you're looking to learn more about LinkedIn and incorporating social selling with your sales team, please contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, connect with him on LinkedIn, or schedule a 15-minute call.