Prospecting on LinkedIn: Does it Pay?

When I first joined LinkedIn, back in the stone age circa 2008, I appreciated the nascent application at the same level as My Space, America Online and Twitter. Back then, LinkedIn was an environment for recruiters and the unemployed. Salespeople rarely engaged with prospects or customers online.  I joined because it seemed interesting.

Today, things are very different.  Indeed, since COVID-19 and Microsoft’s purchase, the still strong recruitment application has become a singular business-to-business platform.

According to some LinkedIn business statistics:

  • There are 57M+ companies listed on LinkedIn.
  • 73% of buyers are more likely to consider a brand if the salesperson reaches out via LinkedIn.
  • There are more than 10,000 B2B software product pages on LinkedIn.
  • There was an increase of 110% in confirmed hires year-over-year in Q2 FY22.
  • Remote work searches on LinkedIn tripled after the coronavirus onset.
  • LinkedIn has proven to be an effective platform for lead generation and customer acquisition. In fact, it’s 277% more effective than Facebook in generating leads.
  • LinkedIn is more than a recruitment tool and being used by more and more professional salespeople every day.

These numbers are huge and cannot be ignored.  I know of selling professionals in other B2B industries spending most of their time systematically prospecting inside LinkedIn. Sure, they work the phones, but the shorter cycles are the ones created online.

Advanced B2B professionals are developing relationships on LinkedIn.  It’s worth repeating — new salespeople are initiating contact, establishing credibility, and building bonds and rapport online.

How?

Subscribe –

First, if you’re not signed up for LinkedIn, do so now.

Engage –

This is what counts.  The more one contributes to the landscape, the more like-minded people follow. This doesn’t mean that to be effective you must create content. You can simply post links to relevant content or hit the “like” button.

LinkedIn has groups where people can expect relevant content.  Get involved with groups that prospects normally belong to. Study the conversations and align your interests. Do outside research then contribute.

Be authentic

In today’s world, being real is important and builds trust.  This means contributing content that isn’t about you or your company.  It means sending personalized messages with each invite to connect and NOT hitting them with a value proposition as soon as they accept.  You’re out there to attract people who want to be with you.

It’s that simple.

Also, and this is subtle but significant: do not worry about looking “polished.”  The more commercial or sponsored content appears, the less authentic it feels when compared to organic content. So share points that you feel are interesting and relevant to your prospective audience through your words, in your style.

Be yourself.

A good profile

Should you spend money on a headshot? No. But should you crop your ex out of a wedding picture? Heck no.  A decent picture is all you need.

Your profile should be focused on the problems you solved, not necessarily who you’ve worked for and what you’ve sold.  This is going to be a bit challenging because LinkedIn’s recruiter DNA is reflected in the work history section of the profile.  My advice is to show your work history but remember you’re trying to attract new clients more than a new job.

Post narratives about problems you’ve solved and highlight the results of your solution.  Again, showing results versus brand names and logos impresses and is not braggadocious.

Contribute

The professionals contribute and interact with others.

At first, you should simply comment, especially when your prospect posts.  As you get comfortable, share pertinent information, ultimately providing content you generate.

Important:  When you receive a response to one of your posts, always respond with a “thank you” message.  Not only is this good for that specific response it shows you are engaged and engaging to the entire group.

Don’t Sell, Don’t Sell, Don’t Sell –

The bane of the LinkedIn realm is those who start selling right out of the box.  This is a turn-off.  For example, when an invite to connect is immediately followed by a message to get together in an apparent sales meeting, the relationship is over.  And it’s not just the online connection; gaining a F2F appointment is now near impossible.

Side Note:

LinkedIn can be an echo chamber.  We end up talking to ourselves, bragging about industry awards, our latest sales and sports team sponsorships.  Collaboration is good but gladhanding and humble brags do not resonate with prospects.  Unless you are selling to the industry keep your content focused on prospects’ challenges.

My message to new and more seasoned selling professionals is to immerse yourself completely in the online selling realm and use LinkedIn as your platform.  I do not make this recommendation lightly as I believe in face-to-face appointments and working the phones. But I have seen other industries build relationships and sell more via LinkedIn.

If you spend four hours working LinkedIn and four hours working the phones, which activity is more productive?  And by productive, I mean more appointments, more sales revenue, and more profit.

Try it.  Join groups where your prospects go and build one relationship – just one.

Like it or not, LinkedIn has become a de facto standard for business-to-business communications and relationship building.  I expect most copier dealers will resist, if not outright deny, LinkedIn, just like they initially did with managed IT Services, MPS, digital fax, and falling volumes.

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is an entrepreneur and founder of the notorious destination site TheDeathOfTheCopier, where he comments on all things imaging, the rise of managed services and the advance of business technology. A prolific writer and frequent speaker, Greg shares his passionate, unique – and often provocative – view of technology and people, addressing the impact of digital on 21st century business. His 2014 book, Death Of The Copier, offers a controversial summary of the early days of Managed Print Services and the not-so-distant future of the hard copy industry. Reach out to Greg at greg@grwalters.com.