Last week I convinced my friend Bob of the value of using LinkedIn for sales. It happened right after I saw him having lunch with John, another friend of mine.
When Bob called me later to let me know that he was doing well in his new position and to make an appointment with me for continued sales coaching, I mentioned that I knew John well. I asked him if he had used LinkedIn before he talked to John. Bob said no, he hadn’t. I was sitting at my computer at the time.
I asked, “Did you talk about the fact that you are both big Hurricanes fans? “No, I didn’t know that,” Bob replied.
Then I asked him, “Did you discuss that you both did your undergraduate work at North Carolina State University?” Again, Bob said no.
“Did you tell Bob he knows your best customer, Richard Jones? Bob replied, “No, that would have been great to know, but it didn’t come up–how did you know this?” I told him I knew it because I had looked at John’s LinkedIn profile.
“If you had just taken a moment before you met John to look up his LinkedIn profile,” I explained to Bob, “you would know all this information and more. Also, since John posted his profile on LinkedIn, it is information that he is clearly comfortable having others know, so it’s okay to mention. You could have said, ‘I looked you up on LinkedIn and noticed that you are a Hurricanes Fan, or that we both went to NC State.”
“Now, on the other hand,” I continued, “if he looked you up on LinkedIn, he would see that you had 15 connections, that your profile says you still work at the company you left two years ago, and that you don’t have a single recommendation.”
“Bob,” I said, “you’ve done your best to always sell top-quality products with a personal commitment to give the best quality support to your customers. Would you want an easy way for potential customers to see your years of experience and be able to check you out before you meet? I know you have a large number of customers that would be pleased to give you a recommendation on LinkedIn if you simply asked. Bob replied, “Can we include some LinkedIn training along with regular sales coaching—as soon as possible?
I told him to start immediately by making sure his LinkedIn profile was fully filled out and to start looking up customers before meeting them. And I noted that there’s also a large amount of information available by looking up the company that many people aren’t even using, which gives info which would have traditionally cost money or a lot of research.
Several key things for a sales professional about LinkedIn: Start looking up companies you are involved with, including your own. Before you meet with someone see if they are on LinkedIn and review their profile. Make sure that when your future customers look you up on LinkedIn, current information is there that enhances understanding and trust of you.
LinkedIn is a valuable tool for a successful Sales Professional and offers a great deal at the free service level.