Finding Sales Success Using LinkedIn
Using LinkedIn, companies achieve measurable results in sales by building impactful customer relationships and establishing more effective marketing and networking strategies. But just how can the right target customer be found through LinkedIn and how can you establish the customer relationship in the B2B and B2C network up to C-level? Let’s explore.
As an experienced digital marketing professional, I’ve been asked by sales specialists, especially the “old-fashioned” ones, why it’s important to win customers via social media and be present on platforms such as LinkedIn. The straightest answer is: “You can’t afford not to.” If you don’t live in a mountain lodge far away from civilization, you will find that the growing digitalization has fundamentally changed the sales process and the way in which customer relationships are managed. Two-thirds of consumers use social media as a source of information for their purchasing decisions. This enables buyers to ask their network for their experiences. Anyone can get first-hand recommendations without ever having to contact a seller.
The new way of selling has developed into a new discipline in sales. This means proactively using social networks for sales activities—from lead generation and customer acquisition to bonding with customers.
One of the most important fundamentals in today’s business is to correctly follow and interpret the digital traces of one’s customers. What are they interested in? What do they need? Who do they trust? And where can they be found? Statistics confirm that a fifth of the time people spend on the internet is devoted to social media sites. This is a great opportunity for companies to establish contact with their potential customers. Buyers use social media to research services or products and evaluate brands. Anyone who is not found or does not convey a professional impression loses.
Efficient networking with LinkedIn
It is at least as important as the reach of social media to have the right contacts and to know what target customers are interested in and what their needs are. For example, the world’s largest business network, LinkedIn, currently has more than 590 million members, more than 2 million of whom are in Switzerland. This also means that millions of potential customers are updating their job status, sharing posts in the LinkedIn news feed, and publishing their own content. In the world of digital economy, personal relationships are worth a fortune. In the past, this was achieved by exchanging business cards, personal recommendations, attending events, and with the help of many phone calls or e-mails. Social media works in a very similar way. It’s rather easy to socialize via these networks and use a powerful tool such as LinkedIn, for example, to establish, ethically and by data protection law correct, authentic and valuable business contacts.
Important success factors for customer relationship management are a convincing personal profile, frequent and valuable posts, a real dialogue with target customers about current topics, and a consistent monitoring of the activities of the desired community. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Convince the boss
And yes, in theory it all sounds quite simple. However, the reality is more complex and it shows: Before a customer relationship project can be successfully implemented on a business platform like LinkedIn, it needs a concept with smart, achievable goals, and a solid, consistent strategy. This also means: The approval and support of executive management is absolutely necessary. If there is no or insufficient know-how about the possibilities with LinkedIn at the top management level of a company, the experts within the company must first persuade them. It makes sense to identify allies within the company, whether in the C-level, marketing, communications, or specialized divisions.
The CEO must support customer acquisition with LinkedIn and support the strategy.
The boss is a role model and leader. The CEO must be the person to stand behind customer acquisition with LinkedIn and support the strategy. In the best case, the members of management can be trained or coached in LinkedIn strategies in order to be able to professionally accompany the strategic process.
Stand out with your profile
For a strong performance, a client-centric profile on LinkedIn is important. This is because the LinkedIn profile is your personal business card on the Web. If you don’t present yourself professionally in an online business platform or post relevant content, you will miss out on opportunities with potential customers or simply won’t be found. Social-psychological studies prove it: The first impression counts in the internet. On average, an Internet user only stays on one page for five seconds – and then remains to take a closer look at an offer or simply clicks away. The increasing use of smartphones also means that an offer on LinkedIn mobile must actually be ” mobile-compatible ” – i.e. with content that will bring the most important things to the point concisely and in clear language.
My tip for your profile and content: Make it amazing. A professional profile and content consulting will help you quickly and strategically. Don’t harm your reputation or miss opportunities. I see it more and more, especially in Switzerland.
For a great performance an expressive profile on LinkedIn is important.
A strong branding with the LinkedIn company page
However, becoming visible on LinkedIn is only half the battle. The entire company can also be presented effectively on the platform – via its own LinkedIn company page. The LinkedIn Pages got a complete new design with new features. In this way your brand will be visible and more easily found.
Currently there are already more than 30 million company pages on LinkedIn. As a result, LinkedIn is an excellent place for content marketing, which also can be boosted with LinkedIn ads or provides confidence-building insight into corporate culture – for example, by regularly posting exciting and relevant articles. People buy from people, which is why it is important for employees to promote the dialogue with target customers through their own contributions, likes, and comments—and also to answer questions quickly.
People buy from people, so it is important that employees encourage the dialogue with target customers through their own engagement, likes, comments and also answer questions.
Involve and empower the employees as ambassadors
Employees are the best and most credible ambassadors of a company. They all carry the corporate brand to the public. The employees’ network achieves reach. In other words, new contacts are made over and over again and leads are generated or the turnover increased. As an employer, you should therefore enable your employees to use LinkedIn.
Tips and rules of conduct should be defined in a LinkedIn Social Media Guideline in order to establish a good social networking culture. A lecture or training in using LinkedIn is helpful to achieve a reasonable professional level. This includes knowledge of how to design a good LinkedIn profile and what marketing and networking opportunities are offered.
Thanks to a specific marketing and network strategy, you will achieve a LinkedIn Social Selling Index of at least 60, making you one of the top performers in your industry.
Use relevant content to position yourself as an expert
Pre-sales is all about first attracting customers’ attention with relevant content and then starting a dialogue with the interested user.
It is not a question of providing interchangeable statements about the company or advertising phrases that are not perceived as useful by interested parties. Rather it depends on a genuine interest in the opposite – with the goal of learning more about the customer and their needs. Only then it is possible to build up the necessary trust for a purchase decision. It is a matter of continuously exchanging thoughts with potential customers about relevant topics, important concerns and challenges or problems. Concrete and valuable information on products, services, and benefits can also be of interest to customers in this context.
With the help of a qualitative network such as LinkedIn, it is also possible to explore connections between you and potential customers and ask friends, customers or colleagues for a positive recommendation. Every sales specialist knows: A recommendation is worth more than a cold call. A personal relationship arises from such dialogues. Trust builds up. Know, Like, Trust- these are the key steps to success.
If you know someone and find them pleasant, the customers trust them and this simplifies the sales process. Companies that focus on the needs of their target customers and offer attractive solutions will be able to increase their profits. A professional LinkedIn presence is crucial for this.
The question remains as to why modern selling via LinkedIn is particularly efficient.
A recent study by software provider Hubspot – a CRM solution for controlling and implementing inbound marketing – shows that LinkedIn is 277 percent more effective at generating leads than any other social media network (see illustration).
Of all leads generated via social media, 80 percent of B2B leads come from LinkedIn. 79 percent of B2B marketers questioned agree that LinkedIn is an effective marketing channel. 46 percent of the social media traffic that comes to B2B company sites originates from LinkedIn. 43 percent of the surveyed marketers have customers of LinkedIn. 92 percent of B2B marketers prefer LinkedIn to all other social platforms. And 79 percent of B2B marketers see LinkedIn as an effective source of B2B leads.
What interests you about gaining leads or customers with LinkedIn? What are your challenges? I look forward to your comments or contact me – thank you!
Original article in the blog of topsoft and in the print edition of topsoft specialist magazine no. 18-3.
Many thanks to Bruno Züttel for the graphic design.
Erica Kessler is the founder and CEO of Kessler Social Media.
A LinkedIn marketing strategist, trainer, and international speaker. Erica empowers and consults business people, companies in Switzerland and English speaking countries to boost influence, earn more business, identify potential clients, and find top talent using LinkedIn marketing.