LinkedIn Is a
Waste Of a Sales Person's Time!
By Lee B. Salz
There are many misconceptions about LinkedIn. It's not just for job
searches or networking. It is a unique lead generation platform.
I continue to be
amazed at the number of sales people who feel that LinkedIn doesn't
provide any value to them. Yet, these same people spend countless
hours on Facebook telling people what they ate for breakfast, are
leaving for work, or entering YouTube links. How is that a benefit
to your bank account?
My feelings about
LinkedIn are not theoretical and I'm not a paid advertiser of it. I
am a beneficiary of this social media/marketing platform. I've
personally used LinkedIn to build two businesses with this website
as the primary lead source. Just last week, I was speaking to a
skeptical sales team about LinkedIn and the opportunity it provides.
Two minutes before I was going to demonstrate how to use this
medium, I received an email from a president of a company interested
in hiring me for sales management consulting who had found me
through an article I published on LinkedIn. Rather than start the
LinkedIn discussion with a demo of the technology, I put the email
up on the screen and the skepticism evaporated.
sales people with a unique lead generation opportunity. However, the
operative word is unique which means that the approach needs to be
geared toward this medium. Imagine having prospects coming to you
rather than you chasing them. It can be done if you have the right
social media strategy when using this tool. This is marketing's job,
right? Wrong! It is a co-shared responsibility. They have the global
responsibility for positioning your company, but there is a role for
sales people to play as well.
For starters, you
need to take the approach that you are going to position yourself as
a thought leader in your industry...an expert. Remember, as a sales
person, you know more about your solutions than your prospective
clients regardless of their title. You track industry movement and
trends…much more than the users of your products. This approach sets
you on your mission of providing value with the goal of positioning
yourself as an expert in your space. This will lead people to want
to be associated with (or linked) to you.
The first step is
to review your profile page on LinkedIn. What message is conveyed to
someone who is reviewing your profile? This is where many sales
people get stuck. They try to use their LinkedIn profile for
multiple purposes...network with friends (save that for Facebook),
leave the door open for a job search, and business development. That
approach doesn't work as there is no clear message as to why you are
on LinkedIn or what you seek to accomplish.
If your plan is to
use LinkedIn for lead generation or business development, your
approach should be linear. Your profile and recommendations should
clearly position your role in your industry. Since you are not using
LinkedIn, in this instance, for a job search, there is no reason to
list jobs that don't reinforce your expertise. Provide only the
information that helps paint the picture for the impression you want
profile visitors to have of you.
When writing your
bio, don't shoot for length…aim for focus. A one-paragraph bio that
positions you in your industry as an expert is the goal. In this
instance, people don't care about your personal information. If you
aren't sure your bio conveys the desired message, have your peers
read it and ask what message they derive from it.
very important. Your company probably has plenty of references for
its product, service, or technology offering. However, your LinkedIn
testimonials should be about you. What value do your clients receive
by working with you? How do you support their account? Invite those
whom you have earned the right to request a testimonial about their
experience in working with you. The goal is not to get them to write
that you are a sweetheart, but rather the results they received from
working with you.
profile serves as the foundation for everything else you will do on
LinkedIn. All roads lead back to this page. With your profile
developed, the next step is to join groups. Again, the goal is to be
linear. As a free member on LinkedIn, you can join up to 50 groups.
It may seem like a lot, but you'll be surprised how quickly you use
them. Using the search function at the top of the page on LinkedIn,
search for groups using keywords that will show where your target
clients are. If you are in employment screening, you may want to
search on security, security professionals, small business, human
resources, human resources professionals, etc.
The search will return a list of groups shown in order of
number of members with the largest groups shown first. Join the
largest ones, right? Wrong! How can you be visible with 50,000
members? You'll get lost. Ideally, join groups that have between
1,000 and 5,000 members. At that size, the group has enough mass to
justify your time investment, but is not so large that you can't
make yourself visible.
Once you are accepted into the group, there are a number of
things you can do. Remember, your mission is to provide value first,
not seeking to get buyers. Review the active discussions and
participate in those where you can provide key insight. Resist the
temptation to hawk your product here. Value first! (A
suggestion…compose your responses using Word so you can
spell/grammar check what you have written. LinkedIn does not have
You can also create discussions in groups. Don't create
discussions that directly map back to the sale of your product. The
group members will blast you for that. Use this opportunity to get
key insight into the challenges that your buyers are experiencing.
If you sell for a risk mitigation firm, you could create a
discussion around the H1N1 pandemic and how organizations are
handling this issue.
When people participate in discussions, their photo and link
to their profile page are provided next to their comments. (Now,
you see why your profile page is so important.) When readers are
intrigued by comments, they research the author. When you are
engaged in online discussions in a group, you can invite the member
into your LinkedIn network. (Don't use the LinkedIn invite
template…craft your own message.)
Once the members are in your network, you have a number of
ways you can communicate with them. Remember, focus on value in
embarking on this journey, be sure to review your company's social
media policy and/or check with your manager for approval.
Read other articles and learn more about
Lee B. Salz.
[Contact the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]