How To Use LinkedIn To Attract Better Prospects
Few tools have been as transformative to the sales landscape as LinkedIn.
Sure, we’ve seen the arrival of tools and platforms that enable people to scale their approach to sales and understand who their customers are, but there’s still nothing that compares to LinkedIn when it comes to providing direct access to customers.
Understandably, there’s a lot of noise out there about how to best use LinkedIn to improve your sales, and more particularly, to improve the prospecting aspect of sales.
There are a lot of people spruiking social selling… but what does it actually mean, and how can it be utilised to help you?
In reality, all selling is social selling. You used to be able to do it at networking events; now, instead of handing over a business card at a barbecue, you connect with people on LinkedIn.
It’s crucial to understand that social selling is nothing new, it’s just got a different platform that will enable you to succeed in the new world of sales.
Here are four ways you can optimise and update your LinkedIn profile to generate more prospects from your activity by finding and connecting with the right people.
1. Build a value-based profile
One of the most amazing things about LinkedIn is that it allows you to promote your reputation over your resume.
Take advantage of this.
Your LinkedIn profile should be focused on your ideal customer, not you.
That means that when you’re listing your job titles and achievements within those roles, you shouldn’t just be talking about how many sales you made or how many times you went to the President’s Club.
Instead, you should be talking about what you achieved for your customers and what value they gained out of their interactions with you.
What you’re aiming for is to craft a value-based profile that makes you sound like you have practical skills.
Think credible Vs. incredible.
Of course, you can be both, but remember that you don’t want to be saying a bunch of inaccessible things or sprouting lofty promises that you can possibly never achieve for most customers.
Focus on the value that you can provide to real people.
It goes without saying that you need a professional-looking profile picture, a snappy tagline underneath the photo and a personalised URL.
LinkedIn offers a great feature of being able to personalise the URL that links to your profile. Cut it down from the very long and over construed URL that is automatically generated, and change it to your name.
As for your introduction, remember that this is a chance to tell customers how the world has shaped you to date, and how you can add value to others’ lives.
Last but not least, don’t forget to make good use of the Resources and Recommendations feature. Upload content, videos and presentations to your profile to reinforce an emotional connection with your brand. And put recommendations from people you’ve dealt with up front and centre.
2. Identify your prospects
The second thing that’s going to enable you to succeed on LinkedIn is the ability to identify your prospects.
LinkedIn offers an incredibly diverse database of people from all walks of life from across the globe. So by being able to identify who your customers are, what they’re interested in, and why you’re the right person to solve their needs, you’re going to be able to successfully capitalise on that.
The first thing you need to do before you identify your prospects is to discover the sort of companies you wish to target. In a recent post, I wrote about identifying your Ideal Target Company (ITC). These are the companies with the highest likelihood to buy, deliver the maximum amount of revenue, expend the least amount of capital to acquire, and require the least effort to onboard and support.
LinkedIn gives you a huge opportunity to identify these companies, and the people you need to connect with from within them. When you’re researching on LinkedIn you won’t know exactly who these companies are, but you will know enough information about them to make the most of the advanced search feature.
For example, your ideal prospect may be based on the east coast of Australia, work in organisations between 5 and 5 thousand people, and are in a senior management position within IT.
If you understand these basic criteria you can make the most of LinkedIn search to find relevant prospects who are active on the network. Once you identify who they are, you can then begin to follow the steps to engage with them.
Once you have a better idea of who these prospects are on LinkedIn, you will want to dig a little deeper to discover their unique needs and challenges. You want to find out the drivers that directly impact their business, and influence their decisions.
There are a number of things you can do on LinkedIn to start understanding your prospects (and their businesses) at a deeper level:
- Follow their posts on LinkedIn and try to spot any common themes
- Check out their profile and identify the groups that they are in, their employment history, and any other information that may help you engage with them on a personal level at some point
- Set up search alerts on LinkedIn so that you are aware of any individuals or businesses coming into, or leaving, the cohort of your ideal target group. Here are a couple of tips to setup a saved search.
Step 1?—?Conduct a search
Step 2?—?Go to the ‘People’ tab
Step 3?—?Scroll to the bottom and select, ‘Create search alert’
Step 4?—?Name the search
Now every time you go back into the ‘People’ tab, your saved search will be there and provide an update on any new people who meet the criteria.
All of this information is extremely valuable because it means you can engage with these prospects with relevance, something which is more powerful than just personalisation.
3. Engage with their profiles
Now for the fun part, where you actually get to engage with your prospects on LinkedIn.
This can happen in a number of ways, but we’re going to start with some very light, easy, low-risk moves.
One of the most popular features on LinkedIn is called ‘Who’s viewed my profile’. If you’ve followed my advice to create a value-based profile, chances are your customer is already going to be drawn towards your page and will be visiting it. In return, check out their profile. This leads into an opportunity to engage in a relevant conversation.
See, in old-school sales terms, LinkedIn has just effectively functioned as your outbound call, and now you’re calling back.
Another simple tactic is to set an alert for your prospects’ posts and start commenting on their content or liking their updates. Everyone wants their posts to be popular so this adds real value to the conversations they’re having.
Make sure that whenever they’re active on LinkedIn, you’re there, dependably presenting or providing some sort of value that will make them feel more successful in their role or career.
Then initiate a connection request, if one of you hasn’t already. But hold up?—?although this part sounds super easy, I see people doing it incorrectly all the time.
When you go to send that connection request, never use the default request text. Make sure it is relevant to that individual.
You need a personal touch to ensure the recipient understands that this isn’t an accidental connect and that you care about their business. You need to make it crystal clear that you’re keen to engage and learn more about them, and vice versa.
Keep it targeted.
You’re going to need to take the same approach in this initial message that you use in email marketing. Remember the three R’s of relevance, reward and request?
It’s what will help you stand out from the crowd.
Provide value in your proposition to make your potential customer want to reach out to you in response. The value of the connection is only going to increase if you write your initial message correctly.
Also, never underestimate the value of getting a third party referral. Use your existing network to find new contacts then search for second or third degree connections that may be able to make the introduction.
Just remember to make life easy for the person you’re asking to refer you and ghostwrite the message for them so that it’s absolutely no skin off their nose.
And finally, make sure you’re only connecting with people that you have some sort of real-world contact or association with, or who are involved within your industry. Remember, you’re building value in your own professional database to attract better prospects.
4. Become a thought leader
Now let’s move onto the final aspect of attracting better prospects using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn provides a fabulous opportunity to become an expert in your field and broaden your reach across a large cross-section of people within your industry and beyond.
One of the greatest tools they have for doing this is LinkedIn Pulse.
LinkedIn Pulse is basically an online blogging platform that appears in users’ news feeds.
More importantly, it allows you to build a backlog of your expertise and content that your prospects, when they view or connect with your profile, can access.
Publish statistics, blog posts or repost articles that spoke to you and your values. But just remember that you are effectively building your farm on someone else’s property, so consider those implications for the future and save the best content for your website.
While it may initially seem like a headache trying to fit this into your already busy workload, there are all sorts of apps and systems that can help with cross-promoting content and staying ahead of the curve.
Plus, the only way to become an influencer in your field is to prioritise your selling activity and industry knowledge.
Earlier in this article, I spoke about how LinkedIn basically offers a digital version of a networking event. In the past, people used to carve time out of their calendars to go to networking events and shake some hands as a successful means to engage more prospects.
So look at LinkedIn like that and start to treat it as an effective sales channel.
LinkedIn is, at its core, a social engagement tool and an incredibly efficient way to find and maintain connections.
Using the above tips, you will attract more prospects and close more sales than you will if you only log in occasionally and have an incomplete profile.
Efficiency is key here. There’s no point spending lots of time on LinkedIn with little to no return.
So try out these strategies and tie everything together with an action plan so that each tactic you’re executing is intentional and trackable.
Good luck, and don’t forget the golden rule of social selling: keep your communications relevant, craft them so they spark curiosity, and close with a clear call to action.