It’s difficult to imagine what the B2B sales universe would look like without LinkedIn. The professional social platform is an essential business development tool. It’s a content distribution channel, a line item on a corporate ad budget, a testing ground, a place to learn, a place to stay connected, a discussion board and much, much more. It is a fantastic and required resource.
But from a B2B sales perspective, LinkedIn’s utility has its limits. Is it great for account and contact R&D? Absolutely. Is it the place to effectively sell? Not really. Yet unfortunately, throngs of salespeople have gone ahead and tried to anyway. (And they’re still trying!)
Salespeople need to take a step back and reassess the role LinkedIn plays in their work. They need to reexamine how their customer buys and the guided, collaborative experience they require.
Align with Customer Expectations
LinkedIn is noisy. (I’ve heard people refer to their feeds as “word vomit.”) Customers don’t want to buy in that sort of environment. They can’t! Yet salespeople keep trying. Customers now expect (and hate) to be sold on LinkedIn. From unknown connection requests and InMail to ads and those trendy-yet-oh-so-annoying posts that feature a bunch of short sentences, double-spaced.
What I’m talking about.
What about this environment says sales should happen here? Again, LinkedIn is a great R&D tool, but it is not the place to sell. BD on LinkedIn until your heart’s content but once engagement starts to stick, take the sales process off the platform and onto another digital experience that aligns with your customers’ expectations of personalization, collaboration, and privacy.
Rethink All That Sharing You’re Doing
Back in the day, when you posted or shared something on LinkedIn, your connections would see it in their feed in chronological order. Sharing had real value! Today, however, algorithms rule the feed. Sharing organic content (aka, your insights) is basically a crapshoot. (Want guaranteed visibility? Pay up.)
The point is this: sales professionals have spent — and continue to spend — a solid chunk of time sharing content and posting insights to LinkedIn with zero certainty that even a small percentage of their connections will see them. It’s like sending out a mass blast email that has an 80 percent straight-to-spam rate. Not exactly worthwhile.
Acknowledge that No One Buys Alone
LinkedIn is great for a one-to-one connection. But when was the last time you sold into an organization, spoke to one person, and closed the deal? For some, the answer is never. For others, it’s decades ago. People don’t buy expensive products and solutions on their own anymore. It’s too much risk for them to take on. Instead, you sell to teams of people. In fact, the average “customer” is comprised of 6.8 people. So why spend so much time on a one-to-one engagement, when you know you need to engage the masses?
NO LOVE LOST FOR LINKEDIN
As mentioned throughout this post, LinkedIn is an amazing product. It has revolutionized the professional world. We’ll absolutely share this post on our company page and nudge folks on our team to share personally. But that’s where the “selling” ends. When we get early engagement, we’ll take the experience off LinkedIn and into a guided customer journey that facilitates collaboration and whole-team engagement that flows frictionlessly into a closed deal, onboarding, management, renewal, upselling and cross-selling.
We recommend you do the same.