Prospecting is an art that has changed a bit over the last few years. Thanks to platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, prospects’ vital info is out there for the world to see and for sales reps to use for cold calling and emailing. That being said, there’s a fine line between social selling and being creepy. In this post, we’ll share some of the ways your reps can leverage the social media platform without being creepers. But first, here are some staggering stats on how buyers and sales reps use LinkedIn. Be sure to have your reps take note of the last one . . .
- 75% of B2B buyers use social media in their decision-making process
- B2B buyers are around 57% through their buying decision before they reach out to reps
- 49% of buyers research vendors through LinkedIn
- 44% of buyers find potential vendors through shared LinkedIn connections
- 50% of buyers avoid sales professionals with incomplete profiles
- Reps are 70% more likely to get an appointment from a cold request if they cite a common LinkedIn group
- B2B buyers are 5 times more likely to buy from a seller who is an industry thought leader
- Sales reps who exceed their quota engage with prospects via LinkedIn 39% more than other sales professionals
Before prospecting and reaching out to cold prospects on LinkedIn, your reps need to ensure their own profiles are on point—50 percent of buyers avoid reps with profiles that aren’t. Be sure your team members:
1) Write for the real audience: prospects. While LinkedIn profiles are today’s resumes, your reps’ profiles should be written to appeal to prospects, not recruiters. Since nearly half of all prospects research vendors on LinkedIn, profiles should include keywords that are relevant to their challenges and goals, not SAT scores and irrelevant deets.
2) Become an industry influencer by sharing content from other thought leaders. Team members should not only follow industry influencers, but regularly share and curate their content on their own LinkedIn profiles (so long as the info is helpful). Another nugget from LinkedIn: B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with sellers who are known thought leaders.
3) Join all relevant industry groups. This includes joining and contributing to relevant LinkedIn groups, as reps are 70 percent more likely to get an appointment from a cold request if they reference a shared group.
4) Avoid viewing profiles in “anonymous” mode. Face it, we’re all guilty of perusing the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” feature. Unless your reps are actually being creepy, the goal should be to have those people return the favor and check out their profiles. Tell them not to view other profiles in stealth mode, or suffer the consequences.
5) Pay attention to the “People Also Viewed” feature. The benefits of this feature may not be as obvious. For many, it reveals your reps’ competition. But it can also give a preview of other influencers within your prospect’s organization who could have a say in the purchase decision (who should be researched and connected with, too).
6) Join alumni groups. Finding and connecting with fellow alumni is easy. Just click on the “Interests” tab, click the “Education” drop down, type the university name, and click the “Students & Alumni” tab where all students and alumni appear, and mutual connections can quickly be viewed to warm up any cold-connection request. Reps can also include any shared alma mater when crafting a personalized LinkedIn invite.
7) Watch for job change alerts. Job change alerts not only help you follow current prospects and customers to their new gigs, but can also be a valuable source for connecting to the newbie in your connection’s previous role. Why not maintain positive relationships with both? According to LinkedIn, newly hired decision makers are up to 10 times more likely to make a purchase than established ones. So tell them to act fast!
8) Look within your own organization. Social media has made the world much smaller. Your reps should look to see if prospects may be connected to other members of your own organization as another way to warm up a cold connection request or email. With 44 percent of buyers finding potential vendors through shared LinkedIn connections, reps should grow their networks as large as possible. An easy way to do that is to connect with everyone in your organization.
9) Use the “People You May Know” feature. Whether they’re mutual connections from a previous job or the connections of current customers, train your reps to leverage the “People You May Know” feature to warm up any cold-connection requests.
10) Personalize every LinkedIn invite. Generic invites are a great way to make a horrible first impression. Reps should do a little homework on each prospect, then draft a LinkedIn invite that references any mutual connections, LinkedIn groups, alma mater or any other details to warm it up, while focusing on how to help the prospect solve problems.
These tips and tricks are the starting point for a successful social selling program. If they need some brushing up, training tools like Bridge can help. You can create online courses in a matter of minutes, build in quizzes to ensure reps are picking up what you’re putting down and deploy them enterprise wide for viewing on any device. It all adds up to more SWAG for your sales team.
Hopefully, your team has already implemented a few of them and can continue to leverage LinkedIn sans the creep factor.