Seven Rules for Using LinkedIn as a Sales Prospecting Tool

LinkedIn is a valuable social network aimed at getting professional contacts. It’s a goldmine of prospecting opportunities for any sales rep who wants to take the time to understand and use it properly. The following list provides seven rules that anyone in the sales profession should keep in mind when using LinkedIn as a prospecting tool.

1. Make sure your personal profile is always up to date. You want to efficiently provide as much information as possible to prospects who might be viewing your profile for future business. Your LinkedIn profile should include a link to your company website, as well as any other business social media links. Many prospects will want to “check” the services you provide and more details about your customers and businesses before contacting you so they don’t waste their valuable time.

two. Conduct an Internet search for companies that may benefit from product or service offerings. On many company websites, you can find names of managers / leaders to connect with. Most managers, the ones who make purchasing decisions, will be on LinkedIn. Having a social connection can make it much easier for you to get dates with leaders without going through their guardians first. People tend to manage their own individual social media accounts rather than having someone else control them.

3. Help contacts because reciprocity works. Whenever one of your LinkedIn contacts meets with you or hosts a presentation for you, be sure to thank them. Also, get in the habit of giving your contacts endorsements and, more importantly, referrals. LinkedIn makes it easy to endorse the skills of others, and adding personal references shows that you really know the professionalism of others.

Four. Research new contacts before accepting an invitation to connect. Verifying the potential LinkedIn contact will ensure that they are a qualified candidate for your business. In other words, you may receive random invitations from people who would not expand your business opportunities or who just want to create their own contact list. In those cases, you don’t want to connect. With that said, think about your potential connections in your company as well. Just because they are not in senior management, they might still be a good person to connect with due to the fact that they can match you with a suitable decision maker.

5. Take a look at the connections of those who are already connected. When you’re connected, LinkedIn can let you know other people you’ve recently connected with. Make sure to check out recent connections, as they could be leads in deals you haven’t thought of yet. Many people have friends who hold senior management positions at other companies who can work to their advantage.

6. Join groups that would allow more business lead matches. Joining specific LinkedIn groups that are in your target environment or industry will increase your chances of identifying true prospects. You can be as specific or vague as you like in these group additions and you can also go back and add or remove groups to increase your goal. Sign up for group post summaries so you can keep track of questions asked and provide solutions to get their attention.

7. Please note that other social media sites are for personal interaction. Keep your LinkedIn account professional to increase the chances of potential business opportunities. In other words, keep your family and friends out of your contacts here, unless they can offer you more business opportunities. For example, if you have a family member who can provide leads, then have them on your LinkedIn. Otherwise, you have to choose another social media site to interact with them.

Sales professionals using the seven rules above should easily learn the common sense provided and better understand how they can use it as a great prospecting tool to increase sales. Sales reps should take advantage of the social network of professional connections that LinkedIn offers and the functionality it can provide to find the golden opportunities that may be waiting there.

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