It may not have the irresistible scrollability of Instagram or TikTok, but when it comes to field sales, there really is no social substitute for LinkedIn. According to research by the University of Massachusetts, LinkedIn is the number one business networking platform for Fortune 500 companies.
So, as an outside sales professional, how’s your LinkedIn profile working for you?
In this post, we’re going to dive into why a polished LinkedIn profile is important for sales, how to set up your LinkedIn profile as a powerful selling tool, and how to leverage that effort to help meet your sales goals.
LinkedIn Selling: How Sales Reps Use LinkedIn
84% of salespeople are active on LinkedIn, and for good reason; LinkedIn is particularly essential for sales professionals.
What are the main tasks that a sales rep would use LinkedIn for?
Establishing Your Professional Brand
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy from people they like. This is just one of many reasons why salespeople need a brand. The best sales reps have personalities that are engaging, consistent, and likeable, and LinkedIn is a great place to broadcast that personality to the world.
Finding Job Opportunities
The UMass research found that 99% of the Fortune 500 companies use LinkedIn in a variety of ways, including for recruiting purposes. If you’re looking for a job in sales, making yourself accessible on LinkedIn could put you that much closer to a position at a top company.
Researching Sales Targets
According to research by LinkedIn, customers are 71% more likely to engage with a salesperson if they mention specific information relevant to their current job. You can use the treasure trove of info on LinkedIn to learn about a prospect’s company, contacts, responsibilities, and interests.
Establishing Themselves as Thought Leaders
LinkedIn is an important channel for both lead generation and prospecting. In addition to any paid and organic social media efforts made by your marketing team, sales reps can generate engagement by posting daily from their personal profiles on LinkedIn.
92% of B2B customers are willing to engage with sales reps who are known industry thought leaders. Earning credibility as a thought leader is an important part of a salesperson’s LinkedIn posting strategy. Regularly sharing fresh, engaging insights and relevant research points (preferably from reputable third parties) is a great way to establish yourself as a subject matter expert and stand out in an oversaturated sea of content.
Sales Prospecting and Lead Nurturing
Sales reps can use LinkedIn to follow-up with prospects and nudge them through the buying process. All that juicy intel you gathered by doing your research on LinkedIn makes this sales activity even smoother.
This is an area where having a truly polished and complete profile is super important, because people are likely to check out your page before they engage with you. Further, reps can reach out directly to LinkedIn members they’ve already identified as prospects and make connections.
The Anatomy of a LinkedIn Profile
Your LinkedIn profile is a professional landing page for you to manage and display your personal brand. It’s an online, public-facing space for you to introduce the world to your professional experience, skills, and credentials.
Here a quick overview of what you can display on your profile:
- Name, location, and contact info
- Your LinkedIn profile picture
- Professional experience, including jobs, board memberships, and military service
- Education, coursework, test scores, and certifications
- Professional summary
- Work status, and whether you’re currently looking for a new job or hiring
- Recommendations from your peers and client testimonials
- List of relevant skills and strengths
- Major projects and accomplishments
- Honors and awards
- Links to your resume or portfolio
- Volunteer work
Using LinkedIn For Sales: The Most Important LinkedIn Profile Sections
A complete LinkedIn profile is ideal, but not all sections are created equal. Let’s dive into a few important sections of your profile that require some extra attention.
1. Your LinkedIn Profile Picture
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of your LinkedIn profile, it could be worth much more. According to LinkedIn’s research, just having a picture makes your profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others. It might be the first thing other LinkedIn members see, so choose a photo that’s high-resolution, friendly, and recent.
If you can’t book a session with a professional photographer, don’t sweat it! Today, we essentially all have amazing cameras right in our pockets. Enlist a buddy to help (no selfies!) and use your smartphone to take your own headshot.
2. Your Headline
Your headline is the section at the top of the profile where you describe yourself in approximately 240 characters or less. Try to make this section more than just a statement of your current job title. It should be attention-grabbing, accurate, and friendly, letting people know who you are and why they should connect, hire, or do business with you.
Think of LinkedIn like a search engine, similar to Google. Many people come across your profile while searching for something specific. Consider the keywords they might be using to search, and try to work them into your headline in a natural way.
3. Your Summary
Your summary or “About” section also lives at the top of your profile, but it’s more in-depth. You get about 2,600 characters to describe yourself and your experience, so take advantage of it! Keywords are also important here.
This is the space to demonstrate your value and tell your story in the most compelling way possible. There are a number of ways to approach this, but as a sales professional, make sure to cover at least a few of the following:
- Your experience and passion for your work
- Skills and areas of focus
- How you can help potential buyers solve their problems
- Your career accomplishments
- The best way to get in touch with you
4. Work Experience
This is the place to list your work experience chronologically. Similar to a resume, you’ll list all of your previous roles, the date ranges, and a few bullets about your responsibilities. Be selective about these bullets, highlighting important projects and times you made career advancements.
Note our use of the word “bullets.” Do your best to write tight and make your bullets as easy to read as possible. People will be scanning these bullets quickly, so avoid wordiness and cut to the chase.
5. Your Recommendations
A recommendation is a positive testimonial from another LinkedIn member that displays on your profile. This section is an invaluable place to demonstrate credibility and trustworthiness.
If you know a client is happy with your work, or they wrote a testimonial for you outside of LinkedIn, don’t be afraid to ask them to post it as a recommendation. You can request a recommendation from a 1st-degree LinkedIn connection by going to their profile, clicking on the 3 dots near their picture, and choosing “Request a recommendation.”
Make it as easy on them as possible; include their write-up in your LinkedIn request, or draft one for their approval. And don’t forget to include steps explaining how to post it!
Grow Your Professional Network On LinkedIn
Once your profile is polished and complete, it’s time to use it to your advantage.
A hefty number of connections on LinkedIn improves your credibility as a seasoned professional. Start building out your network by connecting with everyone you know, including alumni, colleagues, and friends.
In the daily life of a sales pro, most of your time on LinkedIn is spent on research and sales prospecting. Use the strength of your profile to make new connections with potential buyers.
The value propositions you have written into your summary — in the form of experience, accomplishments, and testimonials — will make them more likely to accept your request to connect.
Build Up Your Visibility
Regularly read and engage with content from topics and members of interest, and join LinkedIn groups that are aligned with your industry and sales goals. Groups are a great place to connect with both prospects and like-minded professionals, and they are a fantastic resource for professional development.
Sharing content that resonates with your customers is important for not just visibility, but also prospecting. You can share collateral produced by your company, or third-party content on industry trends and insights.
Make these posts stand out by adding your personal point of view, and engage others by encouraging them to share their own. By and large, posts with graphics and videos drive higher engagement rates and get more visibility, so try to incorporate them into your social sharing.
How To Sell On LinkedIn Using Messenger
According to LinkedIn Sales insights, you can increase your LinkedIn Messaging acceptance rates up to 87% just by keeping your LinkedIn profile complete and up-to-date.
Once you’ve done your research and identified valuable sales targets, use LinkedIn’s messaging feature to write personalized notes to prospects. Just because you’re reaching out on a social platform doesn’t mean you can phone it in, so be sure to put time and effort into crafting your sales pitch on LinkedIn.
Just like emails and phone calls, responding to LinkedIn messages in a timely manner is critical. Carve out time in your weekly sales plan to draft outgoing LinkedIn messages and respond to received messages.
Leverage Your LinkedIn Profile To Get Ahead
Your profile on LinkedIn is the virtual business card you hand to the platform’s 800 million+ members worldwide. A high-performing profile that highlights your expertise and accomplishments can boost your credibility and grab the attention of potential customers. If you haven’t already, dedicate time to refining important areas of your profile, including your photo, your summary, and your work highlights. For more helpful sales tips and insights, follow Map My Customers on LinkedIn today!