Using social media for sales research
For those of you who work in a sales-driven environment, LinkedIn offers several uniquely valuable features that you may not want to ignore.
The first step to taking advantage of those opportunities, though, is to lay the right foundation. With that in mind, could it be possible that you're under-utilising your LinkedIn profile as a sales tool?
My agency works with a variety of professionals in a number of industries to help them optimise their LinkedIn profiles to generate sales. In my experience, one of the most common mistakes I see with my clients is that they've created their LinkedIn profiles to look like their CV’s. While this strategy makes sense on the surface, it may not pull your prospects in and spark those coveted conversations that can inevitably lead to sales.
A profile that is truly optimised for social selling is more than just a list of your skills, employment history and sales achievements. Make your profile all about your company, your position and your value. I'm talking about the value that you can provide to both existing and prospective customers. So if your business or sales profile discusses your past more than your present, then you might be missing out on crucial lead opportunities.
Let’s look at what you can do to optimise the key elements of your LinkedIn profile to drive a successful social selling strategy and ultimately increase sales.
Aim to showcase your brand. Your LinkedIn profile is your business card, so make first impressions count. Take advantage of the use of profile and background photos. Do you have a company logo? If so, then ensure that it's prominently displayed. For instance, use your logo as a background image or display a custom background photo with your logo superimposed over the image.
Use your background image to position yourself — on first glance — as an authority. For example, many of our clients are professional speakers, so they could have a background photo showing themselves speaking to a public audience. This sets the tone right away, creating an air of authority in the mind of the prospect visiting their profiles.
As for profile pictures, use a high-quality, professional-looking photo of yourself alone. After all, customers want to see the face of the person they might be doing business with. Group photos, product photos and other common choices may simply confuse your prospects.
Don’t let your profile's headline fall to the default setting, which is merely a restatement of your job title. Prospects are going to read that and understand what you do anyway (or perhaps not, which is even more of a sin!). Instead, make a point to customise your headline with something attention-grabbing. Remember that your headline is highly visible real estate on your profile, and it can potentially be used to provide immediate value to your current and prospective customers. So make it your mission to create a headline that will resonate with anyone who visits your page.
Make your headline short and sweet, and speak to how you can help your prospective customer or connection on LinkedIn. Try not to sound like a salesperson, though. For our clients, we often recommend a format such as “I help (target market) with (my service)” or “I help (target market) get more (the desired outcome of your target market).”
Think of your profile’s summary section as your opportunity to give your best “elevator pitch”. Don’t approach this section haphazardly. As you craft your pitch, make sure the focus is solely on what your expertise can bring to the table. Be sure to also include keywords that your target audience will be using in their own searches. Most importantly, don’t forget to include a call to action so that interested users know what steps to take next. Anytime you have the opportunity to eliminate the guesswork, take it.
It’s also important to note that the summary section only shows the first 270-320 characters before having to click “see more” when viewed on most laptops and desktops. So it's best to feature the call to action in this section. Consider including in your call to action your company phone number, a free offer or even a link to an online calendar so people can book an appointment with you.
As a business owner, consultant or sales professional looking to generate leads, your LinkedIn profile is essentially your sales presentation. That’s a really important point to keep in mind, as most savvy business professionals will tell you that a memorable sales pitch often includes the use of strong visual aids.
This is why you may want to ensure that your profile includes some form of multimedia content, whether it’s a video or links to blog posts, product reviews, landing pages, etc. These are all elements that can help drive the buying process.
Reviews and Recommendations
Most users these days look to product and/or service reviews before they decide to buy. So take advantage of this invaluable sales tool. LinkedIn allows you to get recommendations from clients that can be displayed on your profile for all users to see.
Be sure to ask past and current clients for public feedback whenever you can. It may seem daunting at first, but making the request often gets much easier over time, and those reviews can be incredibly valuable to you where your future sales are concerned.
Use the descriptive space under your current position listed in your profile's experience section to drive home how your solutions can positively impact your clients’ lives. For example, provide strong data about how your products and/or services can help them make work more efficient, improve operations, save money and so on. Show them why they may need you.
Your LinkedIn profile can easily become your most powerful selling tool, but you have to do the legwork up front to ensure that you’re giving yourself a solid start. By optimising these elements in your profile, you'll likely have more success in generating leads and ultimately converting them to paying clients or customers.
WSI is a digital marketing agency based in Eastbourne, generating business for clients for over 14 years. Email: [email protected]