A reader asks, "Over the last year, I've invested time and money into LinkedIn for my sales staff. I've hired a professional photographer for head shots, as well as a consultant to help with company and staff profiles. Any good tips on how to use LinkedIn to increase sales?"
LinkedIn offers many ways for salespeople to increase the size of their prospect list or gather helpful information about a potential new customer. Let me share one that I think goes underutilized.
LinkedIn notifies subscribers about their contacts' work anniversaries, birthdays, endorsements, awards and professional accomplishments -- all great information to read up on before getting in touch with someone.
In my experience the notifications about my contacts accepting positions with new employers has proven to be the most valuable. I'll tell you why.
They pick up the phone. I don't know how many times I've called and asked for a recently hired employee, and been told the following:
- "Their voicemail isn't connected yet; let me try to find them for you."
- "I'm not sure what their extension is, oh wait, I just saw them walk by, hang on a minute please."
- "They are in today but I don't know where they are. Let me take and old fashioned hand-written message for you and I'll make sure they get it."
When someone starts a new job, fellow co-workers who might normally screen their calls put the calls through. They don't know their new co-worker all that well, and will want to steer clear of a potential mistake by doing so.
When the recently hired contact does accept the call, they often pay attention to what you have to say. They might not recognize your name at first. Few of us know all of our connections on LinkedIn. They lack familiarity with all of the top accounts and customers. You might be one and they have little interest in offending you. New employees at any level try to avoid gaffes early in their tenure.
In their last position, they lobbied to purchase certain products or services only to be turned down. You never know what your contact might have negotiated before starting the new job. Perhaps they insisted on a certain product or service as a contingency of employment. A door previously closed to a salesperson could be wide open now.
Overwhelmed vs. Busy
Recently hired employees feel inundated by all the new people, products, customers, and software programs. They probably aren't even 100% sure how to operate the coffee maker. We've all been through it and it's stressful. Though they'll go to great pains not to show it -- they might not actually be all that busy just yet.
They aren't yet copied on all relevant emails, don't know about every meeting they should attend, or have a set schedule yet for one-on-ones with all direct reports. Gaps occur in their calendar. While they acclimate to the new job, they have a few minutes to talk.
Not too long ago, I received a message from LinkedIn letting me know that 12% of my connections had recently started new jobs. Twelve percent? Astounding. On that list was someone I had wanted to reach out to for quite some time. We worked together once before. The job they held for several years afterward wasn't in my field. In their new position, they could potentially use my services again.
If only to congratulate them and catch up, connect with those in your LinkedIn network who've accepted new positions. At the very least, they'll be glad to hear a friendly voice. Who knows what might come from the conversation?