Summertime can be a difficult time for salespeople. Vacations, seasonal businesses, and other distractions can make it more challenging to get in touch with decision-makers. LinkedIn is a smart way to be more productive during these months. Of course, every great business deal requires a conversation. Using LinkedIn, you can make sure you have more of those conversations, have them with the right people, and have the best conversation possible.
Many companies and salespeople waste time, money and resources talking to unqualified prospects outside their ideal target market. LinkedIn helps you target better by giving you access to specific decision-makers in specific industries, as well as insights into the organizational structure that may influence the decision-making process. You don’t have to be a master of advanced LinkedIn search techniques to identify these people. Just use your existing target list, search for the contact names and companies prior to engaging with them, resolve only to send personalized, high-value communications, and make sure you understand each individual’s background.
You can also use LinkedIn to send concise, relevant InMail messages directly. Yes, most people will set an out-of-office reply on their email when they head out for some time off … but try finding a high-level executive who doesn’t take the smartphone on vacation! That smartphone gives top executives access to LinkedIn during their “away” time, and you can bet they check in. And a LinkedIn message is about ten times more likely to be opened than a direct email. Be sure to keep your messaging brief and focused on a topic of genuine mutual benefit. Remember, people will likely be reading your message on a tiny screen!
This raises a question: How do you make sure you’re using LinkedIn to support the best initial conversation possible with decision makers? There are lots of possibilities. You might check the person’s status updates and find a topic of mutual interest – some shared concern that could be a reason to set up a phone call. You could ask for a recommendation about openings in the groups and associations the person belongs to. You could ask the person directly about a competitor’s activity. You could simply note one or more commonalities in interests and skills, and wait to see how the person responds.
Probably the best way to turn a cold call into a warm call is to find a mutual friend and get an introduction. Fortunately, LinkedIn makes this easy. Why not use (so-called) summer “down time” to create as many such introductions with new decision makers as you can?
One of the few benefits for salespeople who face slowdowns in the summer months is the extra time for prospecting. Here are three proactive steps you can take on LinkedIn this summer to generate additional leads:
- Create and post compelling status updates of interest to your ideal customer. Share them with your connections and groups. (Note that these should not be “sales pitches,” but resources and updates that immediately add direct value to your target audience.)
- Improve your profile by adding a powerful 30-second commercial to your summary area, and updating your information to attract clients. Remember: Your profile should not send the message that you are looking for a job. It should send the message that you are looking to add value to the day of a specific, clearly identified kind of professional person. If you have a high-quality video, consider adding that to your profile page.
- Use the LinkedIn Pulse news app to spot articles of interest to specific high-value prospects and clients – then share those articles with them before your competition does!
These are just a few of the ways you can use social selling to improve on your prospecting tactics this summer. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is a tool to supplement your existing selling skills, not a magic wand that replaces them. The most effective prospecting plans have a combination of proactive activities, using several different strategies to reach your ideal clients. LinkedIn should be part of that effort this summer!