By Collin Stewart
Every prospector has a favorite tool.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a seasoned professional, a novice, or somewhere in between, everyone has that piece of sales software they just can’t get through the day without.
And those tech dependencies, of which I have many myself, are for good reason: we need sales products to help us manage our leads, our outreach, and our prospecting (to name but three critical requirements).
But amongst the always-growing world of sales enablement software, there is one that looms larger than the rest – LinkedIn.
Sure, most people, in most industries, have come to view LinkedIn as a professional social networking platform. And they’re right in that assessment – LinkedIn is a great place to display your professional experience, and connect with colleagues and other professionals in your field.
But for salespeople, LinkedIn is an absolute treasure trove of sales intelligence: who works where, who is in charge of what, and who is a go-to contact for thought leadership pieces on their industry.
And this applies to every conceivable vertical. Regardless of who you sell to, LinkedIn has information you can use to your advantage.
“It’s a place where people are constantly updating their information – their current company is up to date and you can extrapolate a lot of good useful information to target them,” says Cole Fox, Portfolio Operations at private equity firm Bregal Sagemount, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
“And, you can see how you are connected to people as well. You can ask for a referral where possible, and that is huge in sales.”
Your Personal Landing Page
Sure… LinkedIn is a great place to find leads, and glean critical data about the industry you sell to.
But, before you start hunting, LinkedIn is also a fantastic platform for salespeople to build their own brand. Too often we jump to get our hands on every lead we can (for good reason, of course), but it’s important for sales professionals of all stripes to also think of how they are positioning themselves to others.
According to Fox, the brand-building opportunity LinkedIn presents should be capitalized on by all sales people.
“Everyone is going to go look at your LinkedIn or your social media channels, so you want to have established some credibility there. I mean, you may even be sending a message via LinkedIn. So, you really should start your focus there,” says Fox.
“A good landing page has a good headshot. Don’t use your sorority photo. You want to spend, maybe, $50 on a good headshot. That will pay for itself very quickly. We make a lot of subconscious judgements about a photo on a profile. I would invest in that.”
As for your headline and description – two deceptively important LinkedIn features – Fox says one should always strive to be informative and catchy.
For example, when Fox worked at LeadIQ, his LinkedIn headline was “Innovating The Art of The Hustle.” This headline proved particularly effective because his target market was salespeople, all of whom are well-versed in the importance of hustling. Moreover, LeadIQ sold into startups
“Make sure your words are tight. You want to show that you are a good communicator, you are articulate and educated in your space,” says Fox.
“We’ve had demos booked from SDR emailing the person, person looking at their profile, seeing what they do and realizing it’s relevant to them. So, combine personality and the value you give, all the better. Afterall, LinkedIn is a landing page, right?”
Content is King
To add one last powerful feature to your LinkedIn profile, Fox suggests publishing pieces relevant to your industry, or the industry you sell to.
For a fresh-out-of-school SDR, it may be difficult to write, say, a whitepaper about a complex business process. But, you can write short pieces re-capping trends, or share quotes from your prospects that you found particularly engaging and informative. This will catch the eye of people on LinkedIn interested in that specific topic, and make you a knowledgeable, trusted source.
“Or, if that doesn’t work, you can also interview people. I’ve interviewed the BDR manager at Salesloft, for instance. It’s pretty easy to generate content,” says Fox.
“People will see that. They will see that you are creating and trying. So, set a 20 minute window, do some writing, be methodical, and share information.”
Once you’ve tuned up your LinkedIn page, it’s time to start exploring the various ways LinkedIn can supercharge your hustle.
As I mentioned above, LinkedIn is a great way, for instance, to check in on specific contacts. But, what if you’re looking to build a list of contacts? What if you don’t know who to target specifically?
Fox says a methodical LinkedIn search will narrow down a high-quality list of contacts.
“You don’t want to just search for a title. You want to organize and make a strategy. You want to segment a search,” says Fox.
“For example, you’re looking for contacts in the cloud security world. You’re going to want to go deep on this. So, you can search for directors in cloud security that work for companies with 200 – 500 employees. Then, you can move on to companies with 1,000 – 5,000 people. The point is to be methodical, know what you’ve searched and what you will be searching next. Leave no stone unturned.”
If you want to get fancy, adds Fox, you can also do boolean searches to make sure you aren’t leaving anyone possibly related to your search out. For example, cloud security may be too strict a term, so you can add “cloud data integrity” in a boolean search so you capture people with that related term on their LinkedIn page as well.
Your search, in that case, will look like “cloud security” and “cloud data integrity.”
The only trick to a successful boolean search, really, is to ensure you are combining your different search terms with “and,” “or” or “not.” That’s how LinkedIn knows whether to add or subtract the terms in question.
Depending on the size of the vertical you’re searching, you can find yourself with an unwieldy list of contacts.
I know, I know, what’s the trouble, right? The more the merrier!
But, there’s only one catch – by default, LinkedIn Sales Navigator will only show you 25 contacts per page. That can make scrolling through your list a little cumbersome.
So, to streamline your search, click on the address bar and change the count in the LinkedIn URL from “count=25” to whatever number you wish (50, 100 – whatever makes your life easier).
If you don’t have a paid LinkedIn subscription (and, subsequently, don’t have Sales Navigator), you can still cobble together effective lists to prospect to.
For example, the free LinkedIn tier still let’s you see other people’s connections. If you know your competitors, and your competitors have salespeople, they are probably connecting with their prospects and customers.
So, to see who your competitors are selling to, just click connections of your competitors, add a relevant title, and you pull up the people you are trying to sell to that are connected to your competitors.
“Those connections could be in the market for what you are selling,” adds Fox.
Customer support service by UserEcho