LinkedIn boasts over 700 million members with fully one-third of those reporting as active users. As the world’s largest professional social networking site, it’s not where people share cat videos, it’s where business professionals network, connect, recruit, look for jobs, and get work done, especially sales.
Fully 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a source for making purchase decisions, and with over 61 million senior-level influencers and over 40 million who have the authority to make company-related decisions on LinkedIn, the platform offers a tremendous opportunity for the business savvy.
Ready to start closing more deals? Follow these 5 proven steps to greatly improve your close rate and get the most sales out of LinkedIn.
1) Polish Your Profile
Before you even begin prospecting and driving sales, you need to make sure your profile puts your best face forward. Literally.
First, get a professional headshot.
According to LinkedIn, members who include a profile photo receive 21x times more profile views and up to 36x more messages than those without. Ryan Robinson, a well known content marketer, is a great example of someone who has built an incredible profile. Not only is his profile photo professionally done but so is his background photo.
Next, craft a killer headline.
Keep it short and sweet. Don’t just say what you do, tailor your headline to your audience by using their language, and emphasize your value. If you missed Ryan's header in that last screenshot, here it is again:
Craft a personal bio.
Again, less is more, but here you want to get a little more personal; LinkedIn is a social network after all. Include your current role and any pertinent company info, but also include what makes you unique like your alma mater, current projects, and even blog posts that you've written.
Another important aspect of your LinkedIn bio is the About section. This allows you to craft a short paragraph that is personal to you. This can be used to go into more detail about your background, your favorite sports team, or any projects or hobbies that you’re passionate about. These personal details make you memorable and increase your chances of making a real connection when you start pursuing leads.
2) Search Smart
LinkedIn is more than just a collection of profiles, it’s also a robust search engine you can use to find the people who are most interested in what you have to offer.
The platform’s search bar supports Boolean search that allows you to use quotes, “NOT”, “AND”, “OR”, parenthesis and other items that enable you to do complex searches to find your target audience.
Of course with nearly three-quarters of a billion users, even with a smart search, you’re likely to get a lot of less-than-useful results. This is where filters come into play.
LinkedIn has numerous filters that hone your results even further, including by location, current company, past companies, industries, schools, and more.
Next, set up search alerts. These tools allow you to save a search and set up an alert whenever someone new meets your criteria. Say you’re only looking for upper-level decision-makers in a certain industry in a particular market. With search alerts, you’ll be notified when someone is promoted, joins that industry, or moves to that market.
By learning the nuances of LinkedIn’s search and filter functions, you’ll waste less time combing through weak results and be able to focus on the good leads you do find. Which leads us to our next step…
3) Research Your Leads
We’ll say it again because it bears repeating: LinkedIn is a social network. When you find potential leads, dive into their profiles. By doing a little leg work you can find out if you went to the same school, share a hobby, or have a mutual friend who could introduce you.
As Steli Efti notes, when salespeople reach out to clients,
only 4% [of clients] had a favorable impression of a salesperson who reached out cold, but 87% had a favorable impression of a salesperson who was introduced to them by someone in their professional network.
By researching your leads you’re able to find connections that elevate you from a salesperson to a like-minded individual with shared interests and experiences.
Even if you discover that you have nothing in common, when you look at someone’s profile on LinkedIn, LinkedIn notifies them that you’re looking. By doing this, LinkedIn introduces you to them. So even if you don’t have a strong connection, when you decide to reach out, they’ll already know who you are, making that first contact more like a follow-up than a cold call.
Of course, the same goes for you as well - when someone interacts with your profile, you’ll be alerted. Be sure to follow up.
4) Get Their Email
The vast majority of professionals choose to leave their email address off of their LinkedIn profile. The reasons are varied, but the result is that you’ve done all this work to find someone who can truly benefit from what you have to offer and have no way to get in touch with them. This is why you need the LeadLoft LinkedIn Prospector.
LeadLoft offers a suite of solutions that make fundraising and sales easy and that includes their LinkedIn Prospector -- an easy-to-use Chrome extension that uses advanced email parsing algorithms to find and verify anyone's emails with extreme accuracy.
Cold outreach can have a response rate of up to 15% and if only 20% of people on LinkedIn are accepting requests and 50% of them are responding, that's a net response rate of 10% on LinkedIn. By stacking cold email on top of traditional LinkedIn outreach, you can get your net response rate up to 25%+. Now, what could have been a dead-end is now a throughway to potential sales. Bingo.
5) Stay Active & Engaged
Next, dive into the LinkedIn community by posting, commenting, and liking often. Sales is all about the follow-up and sharing and staying engaged on LinkedIn sends a gentle reminder to prospects who may be growing distant. The best content to share is anything that provides value or builds a stronger connection so relevant tips and personal stories are both great.
Helen Guo, Co-Founder and CMO of Schoolyard Snacks, grew her LinkedIn connections to over 30,000 in just a few months. Here’s her advice on how to use LinkedIn:
1. Find your niche. For example, focus on topics related to entrepreneurship, self-help, and mental health.
2. Create content that people actually want to read. If you write interesting content that helps people or inspires them in one way or another, they'll keep coming back for more.
3. Engage with your followers. It's a two-way conversation, always!
Simply put, the more value you bring to your followers and connections, the more your community will value you and want to connect. By actively participating in the LinkedIn community, you can build a reputation for trust and quality, all of which pay huge dividends when it’s time to prospect.
As home to the world’s top professionals, LinkedIn is a potential goldmine of leads and prospects. By setting yourself up as a industry leader, establishing your value within the community, intelligently using search to find strong prospects, researching hits to find the best leads, and pairing with LeadLoft to enable connections, you’ll be more than ready to make the world’s largest professional social network your number one point of sale.