The Complete Guide to Using LinkedIn for Sales Successfully

There are many ways that the internet has changed the face of modern business.

It’s completely opened up many businesses to new markets in ways that might never have imagined, it’s torn down borders of geography, and it’s even allowed for businesses to exist without any kind of physical presence thanks to remote working and ease of communication. However, there’s one thing that the rise of the internet has changed more than just about anything else: marketing.

Digital marketing has outstripped its more traditional counterpart by such a significant margin that it’s actually rather shocking. It has been shown time and time again to be more effective, more efficient, and a far better return on your investment.

However, even in the digital space things are always changing and the last few years have been significant thanks to the rise of social media. There are plenty of different social media avenues available to you when to marketing your business but there’s one place that seems to be ignored all too often. That place is LinkedIn.

You may well be familiar with LinkedIn but, simply put, it’s the social network for professionals. A place where people share their lives in a professional capacity and not just to have arguments about politics and post pictures of food.

The vast majority of businesses will have experience with Linkedin as a method of making professional connections with other businesses or searching out potential candidates for jobs. However, Linkedin is also a valuable tool in your marketing toolkit. In fact, it’s been shown to be up to 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. You’ve just got to understand how to use it.

In this article, we will talk about how LinkedIn can be beneficial in increasing your sales and how you can go about making that into a reality.

The benefits

The first thing that you need when exploring the possibilities of LinkedIn for sales is to understand what benefits it can offer you. One of the biggest mistakes that a lot of businesses make when exploring new sales and marketing avenues is that they don’t fully comprehend why they’re doing it.

This leads them to move in the wrong direction and even to lack motivation because they can’t easily visualize the benefits that these avenues are providing to their business. With that in mind, here are just some reasons LinkedIn is so valuable for driving sales in your business.

There are buyers there

There is no doubt that social media is a fantastic place to look when trying to draw in new customers. Customers are there and they are ready and willing to engage with businesses on plenty of platforms. In fact, the largest social media demographics, 18-34-year-olds now make up 46% of decision-makers.

And Linkedin has an added benefit that professional and business interactions are built into Linkedin’s core design. After all, advertising and marketing can seem somewhat obtrusive on the more personal social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. In fact, many people are becoming more and more frustrated with targeted social media ads.

However, Linkedin doesn’t have that issue. People are expecting to interact with businesses on Linkedin which means that you’re already at a much greater advantage than you would be otherwise. Of course, that still comes down to how you interact with those potential customers but that’s something we’ll get to in a little while.

Social networks influence people’s buying decisions

More and more people are making their purchasing decisions online thanks to the ease, convenience, and potential saving that it offers.

So it shouldn’t come as much of a shock that those same customer’s purchasing decisions are being influenced by their online surroundings. Since most people spend the vast majority of their online time on social media, that’s the place they tend to look when they’re after guidance on purchasing decisions.

Recent studies have shown that 74% of consumers rely on social networks to assist with their purchasing decisions and a further 71% being more likely to make purchases based on referrals they see on social media.

There are plenty of reasons for this. The ubiquity of social media has allowed a lot of marketing to connect with people more strongly than it would if they saw an advertisement on TV or on a billboard. There’s also the rise of the influencer and the personable relationship that customers have with brands on social media that ensures that they’re much more likely to connect with marketing.

It increases sales marketing alignment

Sales marketing alignment is an important part of any business and it’s only become more important thanks to the ubiquity of the internet. If your sales and marketing aren’t working together, then you’re putting yourself at a serious disadvantage.

It allows a far clearer understanding of your customers than you might have otherwise. Despite their clear crossover, sales and marketing interact with customers in fundamentally different ways and making sure that you’re always engaging with your customers properly is essential.

By being able to align your sales and marketing thanks to the increased communication afforded by sites like LinkedIn, you’re able to better understand the needs and desires of your customers at any given time. Making it far easier to usher them over that all-important transactional finish line.

You can connect with customers sooner

One of the most common limitations of traditional marketing is that you may end up having to wait for quite a while for any marketing to translate into sales which can often be a serious waste of time and resources. Thanks to the immediacy of the internet, that’s no longer a problem.

Not only that but the reality is that a lot of people have notifications for social media sites like LinkedIn set up for both their email accounts and their smart devices. That means that the moment you get in contact with them or your business crosses paths with their interests on the site, they will be pretty much instantly informed about it. This is something that previous business generations could only manage in their wildest dreams!

It’s proven to be the ideal platform

As previously said, the reality of LinkedIn is that it’s perhaps the most effective sales tool available to you in the social media sphere. There are several reasons for this but most of them come down to the fundamental construction of LinkedIn as a concept.

People use LinkedIn to showcase their professional lives and their career, make connections, and engage with businesses. This is the primary function of LinkedIn, whereas social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have entirely separate functions outside of engaging with businesses. People visiting LinkedIn are already in an incredibly valuable business mindset. That means that the presence of your business will feel far more natural than it would on just about any other social network.

Not only that but thanks to the business first perspective that is so essential to LinkedIn’s design, you will not get nearly the same level of clutter that you would find on a different social network. No baby photos or conversations about the latest movies. People on LinkedIn can consume the content that engages them and it’s far less likely that any content will just wash over them the way it so often does on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

It increases the strength of personal connections

A common obstacle that many businesses have come up against time and time again over the years is the fact that sales and marketing can both be a little impersonal at times.

Sure, there have been many attempts over the years to combat this through advertising campaigns built on creating some kind of emotional response in potential customers. The trouble is, that’s a pretty fine line to walk and for every successful sales campaign that connects with people on a personal level, there are plenty that fail miserably.

However, on a social media site like LinkedIn, that sense of personal connection is somewhat baked into the entire format. After all, if you’re messaging customers then you’re interacting with them one-on-one, something that is all but guaranteed to foster a strong connection between you and potential customers.

Likewise, if you’re posting content on your LinkedIn, then you’ll be able to put a lot of personality into it which is one of the most effective ways to create a genuine connection with customers as they get a glimpse at the human side of your business.

It offers essential insights into your target markets

Understanding your target marketing and demographics is always essential, but it’s also something that can be a serious challenge. While the more traditional avenues of gathering that kind of information are still important, LinkedIn is one of the best ways to gather the insights into your target market that you really need.

By paying attention to the kinds of things that your customers are saying on LinkedIn you will be in a much better position to understand what they need. You can figure out what they’re having trouble with, what issues they find with other businesses, what solutions they would like to see implemented, what they’re doing to improve the situation for themselves, how well existing solutions are working for them, and even how certain modern trends are influencing the decisions they’re making.

Any business that is willing to open their ears and pay close attention to the things that customers within their demographics are saying will be in a far better position to adjust and improve their products, services, and sales pitch to meet the demands of their customers.

Customers will come to you

The traditional format for marketing and driving sales is that customers take on something of a passive role with you bringing content to them to drive their engagement. Sure, that’s something that definitely still happens on social networking sites like LinkedIn, but in many cases, a great deal of that work has been done for you.

LinkedIn is unique among even other social networks that it’s one of the only places where people who want and need what you offer will actively come looking for it. If you can make sure that your profile is optimized and you’re showing up in the most appropriate searches thanks to the right keywords, often customers will come to you rather than things having to be the other way round.

Improved customer feedback

The immediacy offered by sites like LinkedIn doesn’t just work one way. While you’re able to get your sales and marketing out to customers faster than ever before, they will provide you with their feedback faster than ever.

Feedback is an essential part of improving any business and meeting the needs of your customers so being able to receive feedback from your customers as quickly as possible is essential to making sure that you’re not wasting your time doing things that simply don’t work.

The way that LinkedIn provides not only a channel through which your customers can communicate with you directly but also gives you the chance to observe the things that your customers are saying about your business and its competitors in real-time which allows you to make those essential adjustments to your business with no kind of delay, making things far more efficient and also letting your customers know that you’re paying close attention to the things they’re saying.

What can you do?

Of course, understanding the benefits that using LinkedIn for sales can have for your business is only the first step.

That knowledge and information aren’t going to be worth much to your business unless you understand how to put in into practice in the most effective and efficient ways possible. Far too often businesses jump into things like this without a full enough understanding of how to make the most of it.

If that happens then you not only risk wasting a lot of time and resources but you also risk having the opposite impact that you intended, driving away customers that you’re supposed to be connecting with. With that in mind, here are just some ways that you can make sure that your LinkedIn works exactly the way you need it to.

Improve your profile

The first thing that you need to do if you want to make the most of your presence on LinkedIn is to ensure that your profile is up to scratch. There are a whole variety of reasons for this ranging from how your profile interacts with LinkedIn’s search algorithm and analytics to how customers perceive your profile and by extension your business.

The essential thing to remember is that you’re gearing your presence on LinkedIn towards sales. That means that you need to approach creating and improving your profile in a completely different way to those who might try to appeal to hiring managers and recruiters.

This means you don’t want your profile to highlight your skills at sales. If you remind your customers that sales are the purpose of your profile, that’s just going to make them far less likely to engage with you in any kind of meaningful way.

This means you have to highlight the things that customers want from your LinkedIn. In particular, you need to highlight how you’ve helped other customers in their position and how you will do the same for them.

Many of the things that you can do to make your LinkedIn profile more appealing are incredibly simple. A well written and fully proofread summary is essential, as is a picture. A picture makes customers a whopping 14 times more likely to view your profile than they would if you didn’t have one.

Make sure that your brand is strong

Of course, it’s not just a matter of ensuring that your profile is well put together, you’ve got to be sure you’re doing everything you can to stand out from the crowd on LinkedIn.

The best way to do this is to ensure that your branding is always as strong as possible. This applies to most social media platforms and your own website, but it’s important enough that it bears mentioning specifically regarding your LinkedIn profile.

If you’re not able to present your brand in the best way possible, not only is that going to make it much harder to convert connections into sales, but it’s going to cause a ripple effect.

Reputations spread incredibly quickly on LinkedIn and that can be a double-edged sword. A good reputation spreading can be incredibly positive for your business. However, a reputation that your business isn’t worth taking seriously because of poor branding can spread like wildfire on LinkedIn, which can be tantamount to a death sentence.

Figure out who your customers are

Once you know that your LinkedIn profile is up to the right standard, you need to think about the specifics of exactly how you will go about connecting with your customers.

The first step towards doing this needs to be figuring out who your customers are. This might seem like something of a challenge at first but LinkedIn as a platform offers a lot of functions that make your life a whole lot easier.

One of the best places to start is to look at potential competitors to see the kinds of markets that they’re tapping into. After all, if you’re able to offer a superior product or service then there are plenty of great reasons to slip into the networks of your competitors and see if you can find potential customers to connect with.

Once you know what your customer base is, it’s far easier to connect with them.

Build your connections

If you’re looking to convert your LinkedIn profile into some genuine sales, it’s not enough to have a profile that reflects your business well. A LinkedIn profile without connections is pretty much useless.

So look at your connections list. If it’s particularly short or is filled with people who really aren’t all that likely to engage with your business in the first place, it might be time to rethink things.

The thing to remember about connections is that they always produce more connections. Your first level of contacts opens up new avenues of connection to more and more people. Simply put, the more connections you have, the more connections you can make. Being able to scale your network is essential and it starts with just a few connections.

Remember, if you meet someone either online or in person, follow up with a connection request while you and your business are still both fresh in their minds.

Create contact lists

Once you’ve got a solid base of connections established, the average connections per user being around 400, it can be intimidating to see them all stretched out in front of you like that. That’s where it becomes important to create contact lists.

This fantastic feature of LinkedIn allows you to compile all of your connections into a single comprehensive spreadsheet. This makes observing your connections far easier and makes the process of contacting specific clients far more streamlined.

Setting up a contacts list is a simple process, and it allows you to contact customers without having to look through each individual profile. You’re even able to add filters for things like job title or company to even further streamline and narrow down your list, making sending out mass messages simple and easy.

Do a little digging on potential clients

LinkedIn offers some really useful avenues for you to do a little detective work to find the right customers who are actually interested in your business. Even if you’re making a lot of connections, you can’t always be sure they’re going to convert into sales.

One of the most valuable tools for you is the “People Also Viewed” section. This section is often used to help you find business connections that you might know but it’s also a fantastic way to essentially clone your perfect customer.

If there is someone who has really benefited from your business, who had a fantastic experience, looking at the “People Also Viewed” section of their profile has the potential to offer you up a treasure trove of potential clients in the same position and are eagerly waiting for you to come to their rescue.

Connect with the right groups

Spreading your net in as wide an arc as possible on sites like LinkedIn can be incredibly useful but it’s far from the only option available to you. Think about how narrowing your focus can be just as valuable.

Focussing on more concentrated market leads can lead to higher engagement and much better conversion rates. Look into various groups on LinkedIn. There are so many that you’re likely to find some niche groups that fall into your business’s wheelhouse comfortably.

You can even use services on LinkedIn to find trending topics within your industry to not only see what customers are talking about but to much more effectively quantify how well you’re getting your message out there.

Engage directly

One of the best things about LinkedIn is that it offers a wide range of potential ways to engage with other people on the platform.

Being engaged with the groups you’re a part of is a fantastic way to generate sales. This ranges from leaving comments on other member’s posts with your thoughts and opinions, answering questions and providing support to the community, posting original content that helps promote your products, and sharing other people’s content that you like.

Making yourself a valuable community member on LinkedIn is so important. Not only does it increase your standing on the platform but it also makes individual customers far more likely to respond positively when you engage with them directly.

Make your interactions relevant to customers

No one likes cold calling. Even in the digital age, receiving messages or emails that feel like they were drawn straight from a template is enough to put anyone off to a business entirely.

That’s why it’s so important that you make the effort to make all of your interactions with customers relevant to their needs and their interests. This is the place where all of that research that you’ve done into your customer base comes into its own.

It allows you to connect with customers in a truly personal way which is not only going to get their attention far more effectively but it’s also a much better way to create a clear and impactful emotional connection with them.

Offer interesting and engaging content

The final point is one of the most important by far. If being one of your connections on LinkedIn doesn’t offer other members anything, they will forget about you, or worse, remove you as a connection entirely. Because of that, you need to make sure you’re providing your connections with the most interesting and engaging content possible.

This content can take a wide variety of forms but the key is that you make it not only engaging but relevant to the needs of your customers. Whether you’re putting out video content, blog posts, informational articles, or anything else, the most important thing is that it’s the content people will enjoy and not just something that clutters up their feed.

Not only that but being able to deliver your content to a decent schedule is just as important. If you go too long without offering your customers anything then you run the risk of them moving on and forgetting about you entirely.

What comes next?

One of the most important things for you to remember is that LinkedIn is just like any other social media platform in several ways but one of the most crucial is that it moves at a fast pace. The internet age is one where, if you stay in one place for too long, you risk falling behind the competition and being forgotten about by your clients and customers.

The reality is that you need to keep on top of what engages people. The only way that you will do that is to make sure you push yourself to do as much research as possible. Keep up with blogs and websites dedicated to marketing and social media.

Keep up to date with how LinkedIn and other social media sites are changing. Even simple changes to how a site like LinkedIn functions for either businesses or customers can have a huge impact on the kinds of things that are or aren’t effective for marketing your business and driving up sales.

Don’t treat your LinkedIn as a static object. The modern world is one that is always changing, and you need to do the same in all aspects of your business if you really want to drive up your sales.