LinkedIn will not increase your sales. I hate to tell people this, but it’s true. When the bottom 50% of your sales team signs up for the LinkedIn, they will probably stay in the bottom 50%. Money will not automatically rain from the sky like manna from Heaven. If someone has poor sales skills, they will probably continue to have poor sales skills.

I went to a karaoke bar once with some friends. I had all of the tools of a skilled singer: microphone, stage, trendy clothes and adoring fans (OK, even my wife laughed at me). However, when it came time to sing, all I heard were giggles and laughter. LinkedIn works the same way as the microphone: a skillful tool in the hands of a professional. It is not a “sales panacea” to cure all that ails a failing organization. Are you good in sales? Here is how LinkedIn can make you GREAT.

  1. Lead Generation – If you are already going to networking events, picking up the phone and asking existing clients for referrals, use the Advanced Search feature in LinkedIn. Select keywords, companies and locations to target new leads. If it proves to be a fruitful search, save it. LinkedIn will send you alerts weekly or monthly. If you really want to up your game, subscribe to the Linked Sales Navigator. It will suggest leads for you based on existing clients and a desired geography.
  2. Engagement – Average sales people have their internal assistant send birthday and holiday cards. Award winning sales leaders know the specific details of their clients and they act on it. Use LinkedIn to notify you when your clients have a work anniversary, change jobs, get a promotion or have a birthday. Then send a personalized note or give them a call. This may be a good time to discuss a 401(k) rollover, 529 savings plan or meeting just to check in.
  3. Client Management – No other client relationship management (CRM) software tool can match the BIG DATA power of LinkedIn. Why? The clients put the information in themselves. Before any phone call or meeting, look up their information. When I was in pharmaceutical sales, I always reviewed physician information before going into the office. Great sales people never go into a discussion cold. Don’t forget to tag your connections to make it easier to filter on specific industries, or interests.
  4. Process – Here is part of the secret sauce to my sales success: I send 10 LinkedIn invitations per day. That means I send 50 per week. My analysis shows that out of 50 invitations and Inmails, I will schedule 5 meetings. Those 5 meetings will turn into 3 high value sales. With LinkedIn, my sales conversion is about 10 – 15 times higher than phone calls or emails. Similarly, it allows me to incorporate referrals into an already efficient process.
  5. Education – About 30% of US Households use Facebook to get news – and it’s not just silly cat videos. LinkedIn is a hotbed of news activity that can be easily shared with your connections. When you find an article your audience may be interested in, share it. Similarly, use Groups to learn and participate in conversations with like minded professionals. LinkedIn allows you to market yourself as a subject matter expert in nearly any industry or field. After a year of reading and sharing, your clients will look to you as a trusted advisor and resource.

LinkedIn is the number one social media site salespeople use (followed respectively by Twitter, Facebook and blogging). However, it is just a tool to amplify existing skills. Buying a hammer and nails, does not make you a carpenter. Buying running shoes does not make you a marathon winner. Decide how you will incorporate LinkedIn into you selling strategy and work to increase connections and sales.

Scientifically Speaking, of course.