Buyers Begin Their Hunt on LinkedIn
I was honored last month when Volvo Trucks Canada invited me to participate in a panel at their sales conference in Collingwood, Ontario. Initially I was reluctant to accept since my target market isn’t truck peddlers, but the temptation of a post-conference shindig with industry good-guy Peter Currie was impossible to resist.
One of the many things our panel discussed was the dramatic changes in the art of selling. Tactics that used get you in the door don’t cut the mustard any more. Cold calling is as productive as a 45-foot trailer.
Today’s buyers trust what their smart phones tell them. Long before they meet you for a “coffee” they hunt you down online. If they don’t like what they find you’ll never get in the front door.
During the panel session I was asked what’s the first thing a “veteran” sales rep should do to adapt to these changes?
My response: LinkedIn. With 467 million users, LinkedIn is the only social media tool that caters to the business crowd. It’s also the first place most buyers start their hunt when they want to know more about you and your brand.
Assuming you can invest the two hours needed to create a profile that doesn’t look like it was completed in a traffic jam, here are some of the reasons I’m so bullish on LinkedIn.
An extensive LinkedIn network gives you access to everyone who matters in the transportation industry. At last count, my network is comprised of 3,645 accredited business connections.
Say you’ve lost track of a customer and want to reconnect, but your contact information is as old as your teenaged children. With LinkedIn, your connections update their info for you. They want to be found. Heck, I don’t even bother to update business contacts anymore.
Power of acceptance
How do you react to the unwanted pitches that litter your inbox? It’s hard to be enamored about a company’s brand when its first contact with you is considered to be illegal under Canada’s anti spam laws.
One of the biggest benefits of LinkedIn is the implied consent when people accept your invitation to connect. This allows you to ramp up a content marketing program to industry connections without having to solicit “strangers” to sign up for your propaganda.
LinkedIn provides a platform to deliver well-conceived content. In a very short time you can look like an expert. This is a huge advantage when your LinkedIn connections have freight to ship.
Once you learn the basics you can try other powerful LinkedIn tools like Sales Navigator, Plugins, and Crystal. But that’s for another column.
Who’s zooming who?
Unfortunately, not enough LinkedIn users will pay the $60 per month to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium.
The most important feature of Premium is that it shows who’s been hunting you. Your connections are checking you out for a reason. Every view is an opportunity you should pounce on.
But I’m compelled to share something else that took place in Collingwood, even though it makes me look a little bad. I’m just a full disclosure kinda guy.
While preparing for the evening’s festivities with Mr. Currie I had the pleasure of meeting a young Volvo sales rep named Shawn Shoeybi. Over a pint (or three) he sheepishly admitted that he doesn’t use LinkedIn. But he could see the benefits and promised Peter he would get right on it.
Quietly, I wondered to myself how many trucks this dude could possibly sell.
Fast forward to the awards dinner and guess who won the big prize for the most units sold in Canada last year? Yep, Mr. Shoeybi.
As important as LinkedIn is, this proves that the social network is just part of the sales equation.