LinkedIn usage is soaring, with the platform seeing ‘record levels of engagement’ for the last five quarters, and as economic activity begins to ramp up once again, in the gradual recovery from the pandemic, those usage rates are only going to increase, as professionals seek new opportunities, and brands look to connect with new talent to cater to demand.
But LinkedIn can also be a powerful platform for selling too, with many key decision-makers highly active in the app. If you’re a B2B business, in particular, LinkedIn offers strong potential in this respect – but it can also pose challenges in approaching users the right way, and pitching your products and services to the right people in the app.
LinkedIn offers solutions like its Sales Navigator platform to assist with this, but it does cost money, and it can be difficult to know whether it’s worth the investment for your business, and what sort of value salespeople can glean from the platform in this respect.
So how should salespeople be using LinkedIn, and should you be signing up to a Sales Navigator subscription to optimize your approach?
We recently put these questions to Mitali Pattnaik, the Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, to get her insights to help inform your on-platform strategies.
Q: LinkedIn is seeing engagement numbers go up across the platform, but what are the best ways for salespeople to tap into that activity and reach target buyers?
MP: With a wealth of information at their fingertips, buyers are researching products and solutions well before they consider purchasing, and oftentimes, they are turning to salespeople they trust for guidance on their purchasing decisions, even if the product is outside of that salesperson’s portfolio.
So, if you find yourself writing an impersonal email or gearing up to call someone with no background information, put down the phone and reconsider your approach. To reach today’s buyers, you need to put their priorities front and center; get to know them and their challenges; and before you begin selling anything, start helping them to solve their problems.
This is where LinkedIn is really adding tremendous value for salespeople today. As the largest B2B marketplace, we’re helping millions of buyers and sellers interact with one another in meaningful ways, not simply to sell a product or service, but to solve real business problems.
And, we know it’s working, as sales professionals are some of the most highly engaged people out of our 774+ million members, and they’re often turning to us for guidance on how to continue adapting to this virtual selling environment.
Q: It seems like sales professionals could achieve everything they need to by just having a free LinkedIn account – or maybe investing in Premium – why should they consider investing in Sales Navigator?
MP: LinkedIn is a great way for sellers to research key accounts and prospects, craft personalized outreach, and develop and maintain relationships over time. But as sales organizations seek to better understand their top accounts, and deliver more value, Sales Navigator provides data-driven insights to help them make informed decisions.
Powered by the most up-to-date information on the world’s largest professional graph - information that members and companies are sharing and updating regularly - Sales Navigator provides customers with the ability to target the right decision-makers at the right time. And just today we launched a new Sales Navigator feature, ‘Account Buyer Interest’, which determines an account’s aggregate interest in the selling company’s products or services, which will help sales professionals prioritize the highest intent accounts and contact customers when their outreach is most likely to be well received.
As the future of work begins to unfold, LinkedIn and Sales Navigator will become increasingly important for sales organizations. We’re in the midst of ‘The Great Reshuffle’, a moment of unprecedented change where employers and employees are rethinking how and why they work.
As this shift continues, accurate data will be vital to sales organizations’ success, and we believe that sellers will increasingly rely on our platform to maintain close relationships with their accounts as buyers may be on the go to new career opportunities more than ever before.
Q: What are some key tips for salespeople looking to leverage LinkedIn and/or Sales Navigator to engage with buyers?
MP: In 2020, we looked at how salespeople were using the platform in order to identify the most effective ways to engage with buyers, and of all the actions analyzed, we found that a primary determinant of salesperson success is having a complete LinkedIn profile.
The data indicated that having a complete LinkedIn profile could increase a salesperson’s chances of meeting or exceeding their sales targets by more than 2X, and it could increase InMail acceptance rates by as much as 87%.
I also encourage all sales professionals to dedicate time to listen and understand buyers’ challenges before discussing a solution, and to leverage LinkedIn to learn more about their key accounts and trends in industries that they serve.
This upfront research is also essential for prospecting and making a first connection on LinkedIn. With Sales Navigator, customers can see all of their organizations’ connections so they can understand how they may be connected to a prospect and collaborate with their colleagues to facilitate an introduction. Additionally, key functionality like CRM sync makes Sales Navigator a key part of our customers’ sales technology stack.
Q: Personal branding is another key element for salespeople – what are some key tips for how salespeople can enhance their personal brands on LinkedIn?
MP: One way salespeople can build their brands is to develop and share their own thought leadership content on industry trends.
Our Global State of Sales data underscores the importance of trust, with 89% of buyers describing their sales representatives as “trusted advisors.” To help buyers solve problems and derive value from their solutions, sellers need to increasingly prioritize their role as a consultant, and have a pulse on their industry.
As a place where buyers and sellers connect, our platform offers many ways for sales professionals to share their unique perspectives and spark meaningful conversations.
Q: What are some key buying trends that you’re seeing via LinkedIn?
MP: Virtual selling, which will evolve into hybrid selling as in-person engagements return, is here to stay.
71% of buyers say that they would like to work remotely half or more of the time in the future, and 55% of buyers have said that working remotely has made the purchasing process easier. As a significant shift from the ways sellers traditionally engaged with buyers, virtual selling requires a new set of skills with adaptability as one of the top skills.
Additionally, relationships have never been more important in B2B sales, and at its core, our platform is about connecting with others and growing your network. Sales Navigator dives even deeper, building on the platform’s extensive ecosystem, to provide people-powered data and insights that enable sales organizations to focus on the accounts with the most opportunity, so that sellers can develop and grow relationships with buyers at scale.
You can check out the latest updates for LinkedIn Sales Navigator here.