If LinkedIn is that easy to use, why aren’t we exploiting it effectively? If LinkedIn is that easy to use, why aren’t we exploiting it effectively?

If LinkedIn is that easy to use, why aren’t we exploiting it effectively?
31 Oct 2015

This week I took a long hard look at my sales process and you know what - I realised that I no longer had one. This rather startling revelation made me pull up smartly and ask myself what happened.

I’ve always had a sales process. In fact, for years this is what I’ve taught to professional services businesses and their teams, so how come I no longer had a process myself?

As ‘salespeople’ we can become lazy. We learn skills that make us good salespeople and then over time we implement the ones that are easier and ignore the ones we don’t like.

“But I’m not a salesperson. I work in payroll,” I hear you cry. That last statement is interesting, because I would argue that we are all salespeople. If we provide a service which others invest in, either their money or their time, then we are salespeople.

A few of weeks ago, I was sitting with three regional salespeople and their team leader. Early on in their LinkedIn training workshop, I asked them to describe their ideal target client, which they duly did. A few moments later I completed a LinkedIn advanced search on the screen and presented them with several hundred decision maker profiles, which met their ideal target audience. Eureka! It never fails to impress. But hang on, they don’t look impressed.

So I explained that here are several hundred ideal prospects, each with detailed background information, for free, that they can invite to connect and engage with. Still minimal reaction. Hmm.

Essentially, the response I received was that each of them would drive past the showroom of a potential client, stop the car and call in to see if the showroom manager or business owner was available to chat (very 1970’s).

If they were in then the goal was to engage them in a qualification conversation. If not, a brochure was left with the receptionist, the showroom manager’s/owner’s name and number obtained, to be followed up a day or so later.

On LinkedIn there are already several hundred of those kinds of people. You don’t need a car, you don’t even need to ask the receptionist for their name or number, you just need to invite them to connect. See how easy it is?

What is a sales process anyway and how does it apply to payroll services?

Driving around with a brochure is not a sales process. You can argue that the follow up element is, but for me a sales process starts long before this.

It begins with the hard work of filling the hopper, filling it with qualified leads that you can nurture and turn a good percentage into new clients. In payroll services, it’s about building your network, using LinkedIn and other social media tools to reach out to potential new clients, referral partners and clients and continuing to build your professional networks.

In the year 2015, the tools we now have available to facilitate the process of professional network building are such that a previous generation of ‘salespeople’ would have grasped these eagerly with both hands. 382 million professionals are no more than a click of your keyboard away and perhaps this is the problem.

If it’s that easy then why aren’t more sales and marketing professionals seizing the opportunity?

When faced with an over-supply of anything in life we value that commodity less. It’s always going to be there, so why bother just now? Intellectually we know differently, we understand that scarcity sells and therein lies the problem.

When I presented the huge list of potential prospects to the sales team I was coaching, they simply saw a massive list of names. However, when they drove past that showroom there was only one there - they had to make that visit count.

Now just imagine, if that level of individual prospect attention was devoted to every single LinkedIn connection you came across today, tomorrow, and this week. You could:

• Take the time to review each profile carefully, looking for information that would allow you to pitch your services in just the right way.
• Look at their connections, particularly those who work at the same company, to ensure you’re approaching all the relevant decision makers.
• Look at LinkedIn’s suggestion of ‘People also viewed’ to see if other useful prospects are being listed.
• Check out the past companies your prospect has worked at to see who has now taken over their role.
• Review their contact information profile section to check out their website links or instantly follow them on Twitter.
• See what common interests you have with your prospect, from groups you share in common, personal hobbies, common connections or other relevant points of connection you could refer to when introducing yourself.

In fact if the sales team I was working with had the level of information available from the average LinkedIn profile, prior to approaching any prospect, how different could their sales pitch be?

If LinkedIn is not a part of your team’s pre-qualification process, why not? So, it’s back to the drawing board for me today - time to start re-filling the hopper again, because for too long I’ve been taking the easy route.

By Steve Phillip managing director, Linked2Success Ltd. Since 2009, he has helped hundreds of professionals around the UK and in Europe, such
as FedEx, The EDHEC Business School and many universities and professional service businesses to raise their online profiles and generate hundreds of
new client opportunities, using tools such as LinkedIn and other social media.

This week I took a long hard look at my sales process and you know what - I realised that I no longer had one. This rather startling revelation made me pull up smartly and ask myself what happened.

I’ve always had a sales process. In fact, for years this is what I’ve taught to professional services businesses and their teams, so how come I no longer had a process myself?

As ‘salespeople’ we can become lazy. We learn skills that make us good salespeople and then over time we implement the ones that are easier and ignore the ones we don’t like.

“But I’m not a salesperson. I work in payroll,” I hear you cry. That last statement is interesting, because I would argue that we are all salespeople. If we provide a service which others invest in, either their money or their time, then we are salespeople.

A few of weeks ago, I was sitting with three regional salespeople and their team leader. Early on in their LinkedIn training workshop, I asked them to describe their ideal target client, which they duly did. A few moments later I completed a LinkedIn advanced search on the screen and presented them with several hundred decision maker profiles, which met their ideal target audience. Eureka! It never fails to impress. But hang on, they don’t look impressed.

So I explained that here are several hundred ideal prospects, each with detailed background information, for free, that they can invite to connect and engage with. Still minimal reaction. Hmm.

Essentially, the response I received was that each of them would drive past the showroom of a potential client, stop the car and call in to see if the showroom manager or business owner was available to chat (very 1970’s).

If they were in then the goal was to engage them in a qualification conversation. If not, a brochure was left with the receptionist, the showroom manager’s/owner’s name and number obtained, to be followed up a day or so later.

On LinkedIn there are already several hundred of those kinds of people. You don’t need a car, you don’t even need to ask the receptionist for their name or number, you just need to invite them to connect. See how easy it is?

What is a sales process anyway and how does it apply to payroll services?

Driving around with a brochure is not a sales process. You can argue that the follow up element is, but for me a sales process starts long before this.

It begins with the hard work of filling the hopper, filling it with qualified leads that you can nurture and turn a good percentage into new clients. In payroll services, it’s about building your network, using LinkedIn and other social media tools to reach out to potential new clients, referral partners and clients and continuing to build your professional networks.

In the year 2015, the tools we now have available to facilitate the process of professional network building are such that a previous generation of ‘salespeople’ would have grasped these eagerly with both hands. 382 million professionals are no more than a click of your keyboard away and perhaps this is the problem.

If it’s that easy then why aren’t more sales and marketing professionals seizing the opportunity?

When faced with an over-supply of anything in life we value that commodity less. It’s always going to be there, so why bother just now? Intellectually we know differently, we understand that scarcity sells and therein lies the problem.

When I presented the huge list of potential prospects to the sales team I was coaching, they simply saw a massive list of names. However, when they drove past that showroom there was only one there - they had to make that visit count.

Now just imagine, if that level of individual prospect attention was devoted to every single LinkedIn connection you came across today, tomorrow, and this week. You could:

• Take the time to review each profile carefully, looking for information that would allow you to pitch your services in just the right way.
• Look at their connections, particularly those who work at the same company, to ensure you’re approaching all the relevant decision makers.
• Look at LinkedIn’s suggestion of ‘People also viewed’ to see if other useful prospects are being listed.
• Check out the past companies your prospect has worked at to see who has now taken over their role.
• Review their contact information profile section to check out their website links or instantly follow them on Twitter.
• See what common interests you have with your prospect, from groups you share in common, personal hobbies, common connections or other relevant points of connection you could refer to when introducing yourself.

In fact if the sales team I was working with had the level of information available from the average LinkedIn profile, prior to approaching any prospect, how different could their sales pitch be?

If LinkedIn is not a part of your team’s pre-qualification process, why not? So, it’s back to the drawing board for me today - time to start re-filling the hopper again, because for too long I’ve been taking the easy route.

By Steve Phillip managing director, Linked2Success Ltd. Since 2009, he has helped hundreds of professionals around the UK and in Europe, such
as FedEx, The EDHEC Business School and many universities and professional service businesses to raise their online profiles and generate hundreds of
new client opportunities, using tools such as LinkedIn and other social media.