The power of LinkedIn as a medium to help business people make more money continues to grow. Indeed, the network's growth rate continues to steadily climb, with more than 660+ people using the network. Contrary to the misnomer about the network, people continue to spend a ton of time on it: 675 million people use the site on at least a monthly basis, and 270 million use it daily.
All of this points to the continued durability and popularity of this platform as a social network. Broadly speaking, this means that your business must be able to successfully use this social network as part of a sales effort.
As any good business person knows, you have to give your sales team the resources that they need to be successful. This may mean a variety of things, but in this instance, it means that you absolutely must train them on how to use this platform.
Here are some tips and best practices on how to train them and what you should be training them on.
You would never walk into a sales meeting or event without being fully dressed, right? The same is true for this social network: You must have your profile ready to go before you start to actively attempt to make sales on the network.
What does this mean? Well, you may have to really spend sometime gathering information and figuring out the right way to discuss your various professional accomplishments. Here are some general thoughts:
This social network, just like the real world, has a culture and social norms that must be followed in order for you to maximize your success on the network.
For example, in the real world, you would never just barge in on a conversation and start screaming, "HELLO I WOULD LIKE TO SELL YOU MY WIDGETS THEY ARE REALLY GREAT." This network works the same way. Everyone has gotten random messages from strangers that launch right into a sales pitch. Those never work. In fact, they only serve to frighten away a potential prospect.
Instead, understand that this service works best when it is used to build relationships. You can and should connect with people who you meet in the real world and use that information to better get to know a prospect. Find information about what a prospect is interested in and send it to them. Message them periodically. Get to know them better. From there, you can attempt to meet with them and make a sale or build a relationship that will work for both of you.
In some instances, this social network can be used as a direct sales tool, but it is often better used to prospect and nurture relationships. In this sense, the service can be an invaluable tool, but people have to be trained to understand how best to use the network in order to maximize its potential.
As noted above, this social network works great when it is used for the purposes of enhancing your already existing network. This means that your salespeople should be trained in how to incorporate their already existing network into their profile.
Thankfully, the network makes it very easy for you to upload your Outlook file or link your personal Email address to your profile. Doing so will enable you to send requests, in mass, to people you already have a relationship with.
Furthermore, there needs to be a mindset shift on the part of your salespeople. Going forward, when they get a business card, they should move to add someone to their network. When they send the connection request, they should make sure to personalize the message. "Hey, it was great to meet you at the event the other day." This will ensure that the connection request sticks more than a "standard" one will.
Doing all of this will create a more robust digital network that can be leveraged for the purposes of research, prospecting, and sales.
One of the most effective ways you can help your salespeople leverage this social network is by teaching them how to use it to prospect and research others. Thankfully, there are a variety of useful tips that enable your sales team to do just that. For example:
One of the more underutilized features of your profile is the dashboard. The free version shows off a variety of important information, including who has viewed your profile and posts, as well as how many times you have appeared in someone's search.
You can teach your sales team how to investigate that information further. Again, the free version of the website allows you to see some of this data, but not much. The paid version will give you access to a much wider array of data an enable you to see who is viewing your profile and what search trends you are appearing in.
For most people, the free version provides all of the information you may need. However, paid upgrades can unquestionably give you a leg up on the competition, and giving your salespeople access to this data may be extremely helpful.
The website offers four premium options. The best option for Sales is the Sales Navigator, which starts at a cost of $64.99 a month. It offers a variety of custom options, including additional messages, advanced lead searching options, lead recommendations, and an improved interface designed specifically to help salespeople sort and find leads and sales. This upgrade is not cheap, but depending on your needs, it may be worth it. It also offers a free month, so you are able to try the program for a month and make a determination about if it suits what you are looking for.
LinkedIn can be an exceptionally powerful tool for you and your sales team - but only if you give them the resources to succeed. That means time, training, and potentially paid upgrades. Remember, this social network is like any other business tool: It is only good if you invest real time and resources into it. That's why it is so important that you take the time to educate your sales force on how to use it.