LinkedIn may be the best source of sales intelligence on the planet for finding and reaching out to a prospective customer.
From our perspective in the inside sales industry, we have found LinkedIn has become one of the leading tools inside sales reps use to connect to and meet qualified prospects.
Here is what works:
1- Use CEO clout through LinkedIn to close deals: Dave Elkington, our CEO, just shared a great technique he learned from Josh James, of Omniture/Adobe fame. Often the CEO or sales executive can reach out to prospective clients and resolve last-minute issues holding up signing a sales agreement. They can push it over the edge. (And I’m writing this on the last day of the quarter. Any of you in sales knows the pressure to finish out a quarter with great results.)
LinkedIn helps reach out quickly.
2- Grab your names: If you haven’t already done this, get on LinkedIn and grab your name and your company name. Edit the URL on your profile so it reads with your actual name like this: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kenkrogue. If you leave what LinkedIn automatically does for you there will be lots of extra numbers and characters which confuse people.
3- Complete your profile: Nothing screams “Rookie” like an unfinished profile. Take the time and get it done, both for yourself and your company. There are a few other essentials to getting started. A new book called The LinkedIn Essentials by Asia Bird is helpful, as is the eBook How to Use LinkedIn for Business by Hubspot.
This article goes beyond essentials to address this week’s theme for Forbes Entrepreneurs: Finding and Pitching to the Customer.
4- Connect to your warm market: If you can’t figure out who to connect with, start with friends, colleagues, and family. The average wedding planner knows that any given person knows about 250 people to invite to a wedding. Make your wedding list. If you are an old timer, make your funeral list.
5- Use LinkedIn to follow up after other communications: Don’t make the mistake of trying to connect with lots people you don’t know. LinkedIn will warn you, and then shut you down if too many people don’t respond to your connection request. Whenever you receive an email, business card, or leave a voicemail; put a “PS” that you are going to also connect by LinkedIn right at the end. Then people make the connection as someone they know and approve your connection request.
I also recommend that you change the standard connection request message that LinkedIn puts in to something you write that is more personal.
6- Select your “Doorway” people: LinkedIn lets you see two levels deep of connections for free (and more with the premium version – highly recommended). I’m a Doorway person in my company because I connect to nearly 3000 sales people, managers, and executives. If all my sales reps are connected to me, when I connect to people in companies, they can see them also.
7- Teach LinkedIn strategy and tactics to your employees: Get your people together and coordinate your efforts and strategies. Years ago, my business partner Dave Elkington, started a company-wide Friday morning meeting where we constantly share new approaches and ideas with each other as part of our culture. We even started a Social Media group of super users who really push the envelope.
8- Expand your LinkedIn reach with Twitter: There is a little checkbox at the bottom of your “Share an update” box that copies everything you share with your Connections to all of your Twitter followers.
Tips 9-27 and Complete Forbes Article