Last year LinkedIn was great for finding customers.
In 2016, you could do an Advanced Search that would allow you to put in the Job Title of your ideal customer, the ideal industry and a radius within which they were located. Press a button and LinkedIn would search through your 1st, 2nd and 3rd connections plus any Groups that you had joined and produce a list of likely candidates. It would even allow you to save that list and automatically update it for you when anyone new joined LinkedIn who met your criteria.
However, that feature is now severely curtailed in 2017 for free accounts.
But all is not lost - you just need to be a bit more industrious and innovative. And, in some ways, the lack of automation will actually improve the way you select your list of potential prospects. It forces you to be more selective about who you add to your sales pipeline. Read on to find out how to use LinkedIn to find customers in 2017.
Identifying Ideal Buyers and Buyer Personas - It's Not Everyone!
The ideal buyer profile defines which companies are a good fit for your product or service and helps you to exclude those who are not. It's vital that you do this bit of legwork if you want to use LinkedIn effectively as a salesperson.
Once you have decided which types of company you can help, you should build a Target List (and add these businesses as companies on your FREE Hubspot Sales CRM.
Next you need to decide on your buyer persona - these exemplify the different buying patterns of people within the companies in your ideal buyer profile.
LinkedIn allows you to go to the Company Pages of the businesses on your Target List and see any of their employees who are on the platform and the level at which you are connected to them. Sort through these and see who has the job role that fits your buyer persona.
Remember, if you want to use the platform efficiently, you don't want to just connect to ANYONE. You want to find customers. And that means the job role that is most likely to need your product or service AND the job role that is most likely to be in charge of making a decision about BUYING your product or service!
Again, you should add these as contacts to the Company cards on your Hubspot Sales CRM. Prioritise which ones are the most likely to become your customers and the easiest to connect to - do you have mutual connections who could introduce you? Are you in the same Groups?
Move these cards into the Connect column on your CRM and then decide on the best strategy to connect with them.
Getting Past The Gatekeepers
Lollipop's lovely Alex makes for a charming gatekeeper.
Alex - You shall not pass!
She is always polite but she is also very aware that every software salesperson wants the chance to talk to me and present their product as the #1 way to make life easier for Lollipop and our clients.
But I hate cold callers! I am a reader and researcher. I don't buy from a sales call about a problem that I don't know I have yet...
Some salespeople will try to get hold of my mobile number so they can get past Alex, others will call at the beginning or the end of the day to try to avoid her. Still more will tell her that they were just speaking to me or that they are responding to my email to them. None of it washes with our Rottweiler.
Very few of them have worked out that by being charming to Alex and building trust with her through LinkedIn, they might stand a better chance. Their call may be put through to me because if she knows them on LinkedIn and understands their product could solve that problem I was complaining about last week.
If you can use LinkedIn to identify the gatekeeper for your Buyer Persona at a particular company, you can build a relationship that might pay dividends in the future - when you get to speak to your target whilst your competitors do not.
LinkedIn - Connecting Buyer With Supplier!
LinkedIn is the ideal way to avoid gatekeepers and get straight to your buyer persona.
We had a situation recently where a client's ideal prospect was a very elusive type of individual who feels hounded by the huge numbers of suppliers who want to get to know him. And his gatekeeper was extremely protective.
But this type of person does go onto the internet to search for likely suppliers himself. He's out there researching who is going to be the ideal partner rather than waiting for them to come to him.
By adding content to our client's website that was most likely to attract this type of buyer, we laid the first of a trail of breadcrumbs to bring him to our client.
Lo and behold, one of these prized buyers visited the website, read a blog post and had a look around but without downloading the ebook... rats! We had no email address.
However, unbeknown to us, he was very keen to meet the team but lived some distance away. Fortunately he had noticed that our client had a stand booked at an exhibition that was just around the corner.
At 9.30am on the first day of the event, he was the first person through the door, made a beeline for our client's stand and had a chat. He mentioned that he had seen the blog post and website and this had made him want to meet in person. After getting the information that he needed, he then turned around and left again. Job done... but the client was left with only the buyer's name and company - no contact details. Rats again!
A few weeks later, I quizzed my client about how things were progressing and he told me despondently that it had all ground to a halt because calls to the Company had failed to get him past the gatekeeper.
Have you tried LinkedIn, I asked. Errr no, was the reply. I needed no further encouragement!
After a very quick search, the prospect was found! I helped our client to issue a connection invitation.
Within a few minutes, the buyer and the supplier (our client) were connected.
A few days later, that little extra nudge had resulted in drawings being sent with an RFQ.
Who says LinkedIn doesn't work?
Don't Do All The Work...
LinkedIn is an awesome tool for finding your Ideal Buyers, but really your website should be your No. 1 salesperson, working 24/7, 365 days a year to help your Buyer Personas to find you.
To find out how, simply click the image below to download our free Find You eBook.