Jill Konrath and I recently released a report, Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code, that details what we learned from a survey of 3,094 salespeople about their use of LinkedIn as a sales tool. As a marketing professional, I found the responses fascinating and began thinking about how the data crosses boundaries to inform the marketing side.
In the report, we looked at two sides of the coin; Salespeople who could attribute lots of sales opportunities to LinkedIn (Top Performers) and the others who generated a few—or none at all. The differences were quite striking—as was the admission by 58% of respondents who said they lacked an understanding of how to use the capabilities of LinkedIn.
LinkedIn provides a wealth of tools and insights about our markets. I nearly live on the site most of the time because it contributes so much to the work I do.
In this post, I’d like to pull out a few key findings from the report and discuss them from a marketing perspective. And I’d also like to add a few insights of my own that may help marketers find more value in LinkedIn.
Establishing a Professional Presence
41.3% of Top Sellers rate their profile as well done,
compared to 15% of all other respondents
One of the things about LinkedIn that’s not necessarily true about other social platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, is that marketers cannot hide behind their company logos. Whatever you do on LinkedIn is tied directly back to your personal profile. This puts a lot of pressure on marketers who can only talk knowledgeably about their products and their jobs, but not necessarily about the needs and priorities of their customers.
While I see a lot of marketers on LinkedIn participating in marketing-focused groups and learning to improve their skills or asking and answering marketing-related questions, I don’t see a lot of them involved in effective engagement with prospects. Posting a link to a blog post in a group without adding commentary designed to initiate a useful discussion, doesn’t count—and “useful” relates to the value seen by the group’s members.
Things to consider:
- How many groups do you belong to and participate in where your prospects hang out?
- How many times each month do you share relevant content or participate in discussions?
- Starting a group related to what your prospects
One respondent to the survey told us, “LinkedIn is an extremely valuable part of my career. The group I moderate has now become an inbound ‘business opportunity’ marketing machine.”
Why it’s important:
- Your participation is a reflection of your company’s value
- Uncovering qualified sales opportunities is part of your job
- What if you could establish engagement and introduce a warm lead directly to a salesperson?
The Market Research Tool You Shouldn’t Ignore
LinkedIn is probably the best prospect research tool I’ve ever come across. Marketers need much more insight than is made available through buying lists or sites that only provide demographic information. LinkedIn is a community of real people who share their perspectives about what they do and what they value and the jobs they do. While some people still use the site as a boring resume exercise, others provide a wealth of insight previously unavailable to marketers.
For every project I do, I use LinkedIn as a source of insight. Some of the tasks I frequently perform include:
- Using advanced search to find a list of
prospects who could be representative of my clients’ target markets. I review
hundreds of profiles to uncover insights, priorities, aspirations, and more.
Granted, I use the professional version which allows me cool ways to filter
lists, but it’s worth every penny. This research not only helps me understand
how to conduct persona interviews, but also helps keep me updated on trends as
- I use Signal (under News in the navigation) to
do searches on keyword phrases, such as “oil production” that I need for
insights about a project I’m working on. I also have searches saved for
subjects, such as “content strategy,” to keep up with my own industry.
- When I’m reviewing profiles, I always look to learn about which groups potential prospects belong to and check them out. One of the best things LinkedIn did was make it possible to open up groups – and many have taken advantage. This removes the conundrum about how to qualify to gain access to specialized groups and allows me to learn about the trends being discussed among the members.
Using LinkedIn for research can help you identify market trends, prospect priorities and topics that will resonate with different groups. Just like it doesn’t work to create one-size-fits-all content, it doesn’t work to post the same links to a bunch of groups and hope for the best.
Next post I’ll share insights to sales enablement that relate to the report.
Download your copy of Cracking the LinkedIn Sales Code