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Do you use LinkedIn all the way through the sales process?

Natural Showcase: If LinkedIn is the sales professional’s new best friend, you should ask yourself whether you’re using it to its full potential.

Natural Training was delighted to host Mark Williams (pictured below), AKA ‘Mr LinkedIn’ at its Natural Showcase earlier this month. We look back over the expert advice he unleashed on delegates during his seminar. Can sales professionals really use LinkedIn to understand prospect motives, challenges and values?

Mark Williams, the first trainer in the UK to be personally accredited by LinkedIn, frequently blogs about the opportunities many sales people waste by not making the most of their LinkedIn account.

Let’s add a little perspective before going any further…

  • There are 10m active users of LinkedIn
  • There are 190m worldwide
  • The vast majority have regularly updated information related to business and personal interest

And, if you weren’t at this Natural Showcase session you’ll have missed Mark’s story about his colleague who, when faced with a ‘tough to close’ prospect, used LinkedIn to great effect…

We’ve all come across them. Those prospects who take that much longer to close, and are that much harder to get in front of – but the fact is they’re simply part of the modern sales professional job. So what role can LinkedIn play to make our lives that much easier?

As Mark told us in during the seminar, his colleague refused to wait around when she encountered her tricky prospect and turned to LinkedIn to help her get to know the individual some more. LinkedIn holds streams of information on millions of people, and sometimes these people include information in their profile that might just help equip the modern day sales professional with detail that could spark that vital buyer/seller relationship into life.

On this occasion, Mark’s colleague spotted her prospect’s Amazon reading list on his profile. This kind of general insight into a client’s tastes can help you understand what they’re interested in and allow you to accurately piece together what it is that gets them out of bed in the morning! And, that’s precisely the attitude that Mark’s colleague took. In his session he described in detail how she identified which books her prospect was planning to read, and then (you guessed it), she bought a copy. It doesn’t end there.

Instead of just having a read and hoping the content might come up in conversation and some point in the future, she took a copy of the book to her next meeting. The prospect spotted it, and the nicely arranged coincidence helped her to develop a strong relationship and eventually close the deal.

With this practical and useful example, Mark cleverly put the magnifying glass over one small feature of LinkedIn that is capable of making all the difference in today’s selling environment.

Top tip from the session: Use LinkedIn signal

The regular LinkedIn search allows users to search updates from all of their contacts, but the extended LinkedIn signal search allows you to pull questions, answers, comments, and news stories from the full LinkedIn network.

Use keywords from what your prospect is interested in and passionate about, and find out what people are saying on the subject. Educate yourself, read up on the issues and present your client not just with your opinions, but potentially answers to some of their questions. If you can reach this stage, you’ve demonstrated your value as what Mark Williams calls a ‘trusted advisor’.

With more information on LinkedIn than ever before, it’s a resource that many sales professionals can tap into for accurate and immediate information. Just as Mark’s colleague met with the tricky client and closed the deal, why not use LinkedIn to your advantage, and speak the same language as your prospective clients?

Mark Williams talks in detail on how to use LinkedIn as a tool in lead generation in our new book, The Natural Sales Evolution, from choosing the right profile picture to effective advice on increasing your network.

Click here to read the first few chapters for free. Alternatively, get in touch with the team at Natural Training to find out more about the types of sales training programmes on offer to engage and excite sales teams in 2013. Contact the team on 0207 043 1582 or email hello@naturaltraining.com.

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