We know that now, more than ever, digital marketing is at an all-time high. Thanks to COVID-19, more companies are moving their processes — including sales — online, and sales teams are looking to marketing teams for guidance. One digital tool that can be useful for both marketing and sales is LinkedIn.
Selling is a social process, and LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network, with over 575 million members. 260 million of those are active on a monthly basis. Using LinkedIn isn’t just a convenient tool for the current climate. Studies show that 89% of top-performing salespeople say social networking platforms, such as LinkedIn, are important in closing deals and are part of their sales strategy. Here’s how to use LinkedIn for B2B sales.
LinkedIn profiles hold a wealth of information about your prospects, a gold mine you don’t want to miss out on. Taking the time to do a little bit of prospect research can not only help you position your pitch but will also help you genuinely connect with your prospect. Maybe you have some similar interests or are part of the same groups. Knowing this information sets you up for success.
Finding new prospects
You can also use LinkedIn to find potential prospects. LinkedIn’s search function allows you to filter criteria specifically, with options that include location, industry, name, past and current company, and interests. Not sure who to contact at a specific company? Use LinkedIn. While I don’t recommend connecting with someone unless you know them in person, you can use this feature as a way to search for contacts you may not otherwise have known about.
Staying in touch with current prospects
One of LinkedIn’s most useful features is the ability to export a spreadsheet of your contacts. The spreadsheet generates a list of names, including job titles and company for every connection you have. For users who have allowed their email to be shared with connections, you’ll also get email addresses. Here’s how you can access the spreadsheet, straight from LinkedIn’s help center:
- Click the “Me” icon at the top of your LinkedIn homepage.
- Select “Settings & Privacy” from the dropdown.
- Click the “Privacy” tab at the top of the page.
- Under the “How LinkedIn uses your data” section, click “Change” next to “Download your data.”
- You’ll be redirected to the “Download your data page” where you can select “Connections.”
- You’ll receive an email to your primary email address which will include a link where you can download your list of connections.
Another way to use LinkedIn for B2B sales is simply through networking. Sales — especially B2B sales — is all about building relationships. Since seeing your prospects in person isn’t always possible, even in a pre-COVID world, connecting with them digitally can help maintain your relationships.
If you’re ready to start posting but not sure where to start, begin by using your personal account to share company news and content. In fact, using your personal account to amplify your company’s social media content helps expand the reach of your company’s posts and increases brand awareness, which, as you know, also helps with sales.
You can also share industry-specific news or a great article you read. Attending a conference? Use LinkedIn to announce your presence there and let your contacts know how to find you to connect. Just remember this is a professional network site — keep your posts professional and tasteful.
While there’s certainly nothing wrong with using your platform to promote yourself and your solutions, remember that your primary goal should be to listen. Connect with your prospects and pay attention to what they’re posting and sharing to engage appropriately. Find out their goals or their pain points. Offer your product/service as a solution only when it fits. Just be human and interact in a human way. People are loyal to people, and your goal is to make a genuine connection in a world that’s constantly screaming “buy this!” Read updates from your network and congratulate achievements without an ulterior motive.
If you’re looking to expand your network and engage in meaningful conversation with others in your industry, LinkedIn’s groups are the perfect way to do so. You can search for groups by keyword and join or request to join. Once you’re in, it’s easy to interact. You can:
- Comment on others’ posts
- Answer a community question
- Ask for help or advice
- Reshare content you found helpful
Even if you never post in a group, joining and watching is an excellent way to keep an ear to the ground in your industry. You can see what issues others are running into and what solutions are offered, as well as how they go about solving their problems. You can learn a lot about your prospects through groups.
Have more thought leadership perspective you want to share? Use LinkedIn to publish content. You can find some of the best business content published directly on LinkedIn. Although previously only influencers and thought leaders could publish content, this feature is now open to anyone with a LinkedIn account. Here are some examples of content you could publish:
- Provide commentary on an industry trend
- Interview one of your customers
- Give product updates
- Share something you learned from a customer
Using LinkedIn as a B2B sales tool boils down to prospect research and networking, but it can be a huge asset to your digital sales capability to make the most out of this free tool.
Keep in mind that all these tips will get you nowhere if your personal profile isn’t well developed. For tips on building out your professional profile on LinkedIn, check out this downloadable presentation.