One of the most common questions I get asked is, "How can LinkedIn help me sell more?" LinkedIn isn’t just for job seekers and recruiters. And while trying to use LinkedIn as a cold-calling tool may not be very effective, there are several ways that you can use LinkedIn to support the entire sales lifecycle: lead generation, sales acceleration and solution delivery.
Find and be found. Search by title and industry for the ideal contacts at your ideal customers. Search by title and company name for specific target customers. Be sure your profile is complete and contains the appropriate keywords for your business so that people looking for your solution will find you. Endorsements/recommendations count for a lot — get them from people who have actually been your clients if at all possible.
Learn more: Using LinkedIn to Make the Sale
Search for people at your prospect who are not closely involved in your deal – preferably 2nd degree contacts, not 3rd degree. Ask for an informational interview. This is where strong, trusted relationships count for a lot – "light linking" breaks down here. Ask your interview subject about the priorities that are going on at the company — what are the high-level factors that might be influencing the buying process. Be completely open/transparent. If you have a good solution and a really good referral to a true "friend of a friend", you will very likely find an internal champion in that person. This is the #1 technique that LinkedIn supports better than any other tool.
Learn more: A Tool to Help with Reference Selling
Quite often, especially for small businesses, you can’t do it all yourself. LinkedIn is invaluable for finding partners with particular skill sets who can help you deliver the total solution. In addition to searching, you can post questions asking about the solution area you need expertise in and use that as a way to attract potential partners.
Learn more: Getting More Than Just Answers