Leveraging LinkedIn as Part of Your Sales Process
If you are in sales, you are likely on LinkedIn. And if you are on LinkedIn, you’ve definitely seen promotions for LinkedIn courses and coaches. Today, there are plenty of LinkedIn gurus, who have “cracked the code” and want to help average sales reps transform into six and seven-figure superstars. I believe most coaches and course creators have good intentions and I believe sales reps should invest in themselves to develop their skills. But I’ve learned through experience if you try to “growth hack” your way to sales success with “copy-and-paste” content, you end up getting lost in the sea of content. In this article we will outline tried and true best practices that sales reps can follow to increase their LinkedIn results.
Spend Time or Invest Time on LinkedIn
There are two types of people on LinkedIn: Those that spend time and those who invest time. Some people are using LinkedIn as an entertainment break, daily distraction, and a way to pass time at the office disguised as work, research, or prospecting. Then there are those who look at LinkedIn as an investment. They allocate their most limited resource, time, to specific schedules, routines, and processes. They are measuring outcomes that matter and are not tracking vanity metrics to placate their ego. These LinkedIn practitioners recognize the platform as a sales tool (a very powerful tool), just like the phone, email, or CRM. But like all sales tools, they don’t perform the work, they just make the work easier.
How Much Time Should a Sales Rep Invest on LinkedIn
The answer to this is simple — as much time as you can afford. But there is one caveat to this, pick your time wisely. We all have 24 hours a day. Most sales reps work around 8 hours a day, five days a week. Does that mean you should spend prime selling hours Monday through Friday investing on LinkedIn? That might not be the best use of a sales rep’s time.
During prime selling time, LinkedIn can be a distraction that has resulted in new sales reps being fired. Telling your sales manager, “I know I missed quota the last couple of quarters, but I’ve doubled my LinkedIn connections” has never saved a sales rep’s job. If you are totally new to sales and LinkedIn, I would not invest more than 30 minutes a day during prime selling hours. Regarding those hours — invest as much time as you can afford before work, after work, and on weekends.
Prime Selling Time Investment Hours
At this point, we’ve realized LinkedIn is going to be an investment and we are committed to maximizing our investment. Now we are creating a schedule for activities to be performed during prime selling hours. Prime selling hours are not the time to consume content or create content. This means no reading, watching videos, voting in polls, or commenting on posts. It’s also not the time to let your creative juices flow and create content from scratch. These are non-prime selling activities and there is plenty of time for these activities later.
Prime selling hours are all about moving your current pipeline forward. This could be done a few different ways. For example, if you have an upcoming discovery call or demo scheduled, you could reach out and make a connection request prior to the meeting. You can use a custom, personalized message that you can templatize and be able to modify quickly. Here’s an example:
Hi [first name], looking forward to speaking with you tomorrow about [meeting topic]. I thought it would make sense to connect because I’m always trying to stay updated on [your industry] insights. Best, Nick
This type of pre-call sales activity can tell you a lot about your prospects. Consider prospects that accept and reply immediately as very engaged and interested. For those that accept your request, but don’t reply, it may be an indication of a lukewarm lead. And for those that ignore the request, you might be able to uncover patterns. This type of pre-sales activity can be viewed as a micro-engagement. As you develop your process, you will notice how many micro-engagements are needed for a prospect to become a client. Micro-engagements that move your current pipeline forward include:
- The prospect accepts your connection request
- The prospect views your profile
- The prospect likes your content
- The prospect comments on your content
- The prospect sends you a connection request
Another way to use your prime selling time effectively is to send a LinkedIn message to each prospect after the initial discovery call or product demo. For example, you know from experience that after the first discovery call or product demo, most prospects have questions. Because you already anticipate this, you can send your prospect a direct message immediately following the call saying something like this:
Hi [First Name], during today’s call I felt like I could have spent more time on [topic]. I created a deep dive into this exact topic. Here’s the link in case you missed it. I’m curious to hear your feedback. Best, Nick
Here’s why this is so powerful. First, very few reps are doing it. Second, unlike email, there’s no spam filter or junk folder. Your note will go straight to your prospect if they are first connections. Third, it’s personal. Fourth, and my favorite, you can edit posts or articles any time you want, so they are always relevant and updated.
The takeaway for prime selling time is to either set the table prior to a call or you are serving dessert after a call or demo. What you want to avoid at all costs is what 90% of sales reps do — to send an unsolicited message with a calendar link to a new connection asking them to “hop on a quick call.” That’s old-school and makes you look desperate for an appointment. So invest your prime selling hours with prospects in your pipeline and focus on micro-engagements that can move prospects forward in the sales process.
Non-Prime Selling Time
For LinkedIn to be effective, most of a sales reps’ time should be invested in non-prime selling hours. This means, you create content and consume content during these hours. But just because these activities occur during non-prime hours doesn’t mean you should be doing things randomly. Create a schedule and stick to the schedule. For example, spend 3 hours during the weekend on content creation. Post content 30 minutes prior to the start of your workday. Invest 30 minutes after work to engage with your audience. Build a schedule that works for you and stick to the schedule.
LinkedIn is a Content Platform
If you are in sales, think of LinkedIn as a content platform, not a networking or job platform. For sales professionals, content is about positioning yourself as the subject matter expert for your niche. Think of it like this, “What do you know about your product, service, customers, competitors, or industry that you can’t find on Google?” You can’t copy-and-paste or re-purpose the latest guru post. That will have very little value to you or your audience. Instead, think of the unique opportunities and business relationships you established throughout your sales career and leverage that experience to create unique content.
You could create a simple template to come up with content ideas. It should contain:
[context] + [problem the client faces & impact it has on their business] + [your proposed solution & how it solved their problem]
With this template, every prospecting call, discovery call, or demo can become a content creation opportunity that is relevant and will resonate with your prospect.
What’s the secret to creating compelling content? Taking the time to process what you learn every day and creating content consistently. As sales professionals, this is not something we read on the Internet or have someone else do for you. The better you get at it producing this type of powerful content, the faster your audience will grow and the more valuable LinkedIn will become to you and your company.
I know what you are thinking. What about my profile photo, my background, and my job history? Don’t I need to optimize those for the LinkedIn algorithm? Don’t make me “Niche Slap” you. Focus on creating content for your niche. This is content only you have access to that your audience can’t find on Google. As sales reps, we are in a great position to create content from our best clients that will serve and be valuable to our current prospects. This concept accomplishes two critical components of sales — be known and become trustworthy. It does not require growth hacking or cracking the code. It just requires listening to your clients and creating content.
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