We all know how exciting LinkedIn as a social media platform is from a professional point of view. It has emerged as the number one platform in its space leaving all its competitors behind. It boasts of around 740 million members with more than 55 million registered companies. Around 40% of its users use it on a daily basis.
The reason behind the success of LinkedIn is its simplicity, credibility and multi-dimensional range of benefits that it offers. It isn’t just a portal for individuals who are seeking jobs or organisations that are seeking recruits. It is a proper business platform where organisations conduct many of their functions, the most important of them being sales through networking, the USP of LinkedIn.
The use of LinkedIn for business purposes has been increasing. With a rapidly rising number of organisations on LinkedIn, it becomes more important than ever to leverage the platform in a capacity that makes you stand out against your competitors. The platform offers an equal opportunity to all, the ball is in your court to make a difference.
Virtual Selling on LinkedIn
Virtual selling, though isn’t a new concept, it particularly grew in prominence during the restrictive lockdowns. It uses a digital platform for your sales function. LinkedIn as a platform has emerged as one of the most effective platforms for sales in a virtual format. While virtual selling itself boasts of a lot of benefits, using LinkedIn for the same adds even more advantages.
First of all, it lets you reach out to a large audience organically in a relatively easy manner, secondly, you can connect with people who can provide business to your company. Third, it offers a lot of details through which it helps you to measure the impact of your reach and virtual selling campaigns. Fourth, it lets you post your customised high-quality content to present your offerings in a direct or indirect manner. Finally, there’s a good scope for maintaining relationships with your buyers using LinkedIn as a platform. Overall, it proves to be a great mediating platform, removes unnecessary hassles and enhances convenience.
Virtual selling is a long-term prospect. We’ll certainly get respite from the restrictions in the days to come, however, virtual selling will continue to expand its horizon since it offers benefits that are difficult to even imagine under a traditional sales function. Furthermore, organisations are gradually getting accustomed to the virtual form of selling, hence, it would be difficult to completely go back in time to the old ways.
Ways to Leverage LinkedIn for Virtual Selling
How to make the best use of LinkedIn for your virtual selling is a pertinent question. Let’s discuss some of the key elements- optimizing them can make you stand out from the herd on LinkedIn.
Your profile is your home on the platform. It should be well maintained. All the required information should be available. It should be 100% complete. It’s important to have client recommendations and success stories on your profile. If you’re an individual seller, do focus upon your skills and certifications. Highlight them and make sure they are endorsed by your peers to enhance your credibility.
Your profile is the first point of digital contact for a potential buyer who may look out to you in search of their requirements. According to research by Hubspot, more than 60% of buyers check LinkedIn profiles of salespeople as well as their company profiles. Buyers in today’s world have the luxury of comparison through extended awareness around the details of a seller. It’s important to present them with the best version of yourself since your competitors are also present on LinkedIn. The presence of call-to-actions and communication details is a must.
Joining groups is a very common exercise to leverage LinkedIn for your virtual sales. Groups are formations of members who come together for a common area of interest. LinkedIn publicly displays the groups of which an individual is a part. It’s important to analyse your target audience and look out for their groups. The group that includes a significant portion of your target audience is the ideal group for you to join.
After joining a group, make sure that you’re active. You need to participate in discussions. Do present your viewpoint on a particular issue. Feel free to raise questions so as to enhance your engagement. You need to be consistent in your approach. Refrain from spamming the group. A lot of leads can be extracted out of groups however it does take time. Your focus should be on solving a problem rather than hard-selling your product or service. Take an indirect route, build relationships and then present your offerings. It works well in the long term.
For an individual who is engaged in virtual selling on LinkedIn, it’s important to build connections. Connecting on LinkedIn is an easy process. However, it’s important to connect with those people and organisations who are an integral part of your target audience. These connections can yield you leads. You can benefit through their referrals at the same time you can upsell after a period of time.
You need to build a rapport and relationship with your target connections for your virtual sales. For this, you need to understand their problems and offer a personalised solution.
Your connections can also serve as a potential data set for you to target with your virtual selling propositions. You can export a spreadsheet of your connections. This spreadsheet provides you with their basic details such as E-Mail address and their designations. This is indeed a very important feature of LinkedIn that seeks to ease the step of data extraction in the virtual selling process. You need to be aware of such LinkedIn functions so as to make effective use of the platform.
As an individual seller, you can also write a personal note while sending a connection request. It’s not mandatory to write, nevertheless, it adds to the impression and enhances your personal branding.
You can boast of having thousands of connections or followers on LinkedIn, you can also be a part of several groups that includes your target audience, still, you’ll find it difficult to conduct your virtual selling operations on LinkedIn if you don’t have engagement.
There are several ways to increase your engagement on LinkedIn. The basic way is through your content.
The lifeline of your LinkedIn page or account is your content. It is the element of LinkedIn through which you attract, persuade and convert your prospects into buyers. The best way to leverage LinkedIn for virtual selling is through driving engagement by high-quality content that’s consistent in nature.
The main objective of content is to inform and be ‘informed’ yourself. You can literally inform your audience anything that’s related to your virtual selling goals. The other way round, getting informed by your audience provides you with keen insights on how and what is your audience’s point of view about a particular issue or problem. This information can be utilised for deciding your next flow of action with respect to your virtual sales objectives.
Content comes in distinct forms. A simple textual post or it can be a poll, it can also include infographics and videos, links to articles etc. It’s important to use these forms in a strategic manner. If you’re using a simple textual post, ask questions to the audience who’ll answer them in the form of comments. If using a poll, put an option in a manner that results in an explicit or implicit association with your offering. Again, put an open-ended option that seeks audience response in the comments.
Quality videos and infographics catch the user’s attention in an enhanced manner. They can be effectively used to describe a problem and its solution, a client testimonial or a success story or the salient features of your product. Using call to action in the form of links to the website or a web page is a very important step to lead your users deep into the sales funnel.
You must also organise webinars, workshops and discussions with industry experts on a regular basis. These are credibility-builders. A lot of organic engagement can be derived through the credentials of these experts. To keep in mind is the selection of a topic that relates well to your business.
Under any of these content types, usage of appropriate hashtags is a must. Hashtags increase your engagement. You need to use a strategic number of broad and niche hashtags. Remember to be limited in your approach, ‘excess of everything is bad’.
As mentioned previously, it’s important to have a problem-solving approach on LinkedIn. LinkedIn isn’t the digital emulation of a traditional market where hard-sell works. It may work to an extent but to leverage LinkedIn in its truest sense, it’s important to use it in the way recommended as a social selling part of your virtual sales.
With inbound marketing gaining prominence, it’s important to look at these developments from a non-conventional mindset. The focus is now on the problems or requirements of a prospect. The ultimate objective is to solve that problem through your offerings. LinkedIn lets the buyer come to you, rather than you intruding into the buyer. People are extremely busy in the 21st century. A cold call might not yield the same result as it did a few years back. You need other tools in your virtual selling arsenal.
With technology as an emerging part of our lives, buyers find it easy to reach for a product or a service without any physical effort. Under such a scenario, it’s important to lace yourself up with a social selling approach that makes the prospect travel down the customer buying journey through your content so as to expand your virtual sales network on LinkedIn. Research conducted by Hubspot revealed that this kind of social selling approach creates 45% more sales opportunities. Hence, it’s definitely worth a selection.
With LinkedIn analytics, you can track and get insights on your time-based performance. It’s important to check analytics regularly so as to understand what sort of attributes are working in your favour and what are the areas where improvement is required. Analytics quantify the performance results so that you can gain a better understanding. The real-time data from analytics should be leveraged to identify patterns and trends.
Analytics lets you measure common metrics such as the number of followers, shares and views, the demographics of your users, their roles and industries, website visitors, the source of engagement with respect to your content and in addition a whole lot of other details on several parameters on its dashboard. Using these, you can easily get information around the various customer touchpoints and their business needs. It can be used as a basis for your personalised virtual selling strategy. In fact, analytics in itself is the essence of a platform for virtual selling since it’s a product of modern-day technical advancements.
These are the seven ways to leverage LinkedIn as a virtual selling platform. Optimising each one of them is important so as to get the best results. It’s essential to plan your LinkedIn strategy and work around your objectives in an attempt to leverage LinkedIn for your long-term virtual selling goals.
People are adapting to the virtual and with time, it’s only going to increase. According to a Mckinsey report, around three-quarters of buyers and sellers say they actually prefer digital interaction over face to face. Such digital interaction for sales is flexible and is indifferent to any sort of disruption in the form of uncertainty in the business environment. As virtual selling gains prominence, it becomes imperative for businesses to join a universal medium that’s common and reliable.
LinkedIn if leveraged comes out as a perfect medium that aims to offer immense value to your virtual selling function. It productively caters to the changing buyer’s expectations through its tools and resources. It also provides a way to stay close to your networks, particularly in these restrictive times.
LinkedIn has indeed turned into a FOMO factor, better adapt and optimise rather than lose out on a good chunk of business to your contemporaries!