If you’re in B2B sales, you already know that LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable tool for learning more about sales prospects and using triggers to connect more effectively. You probably spend a huge amount of your time on LinkedIn searching for potential prospects, connecting with new leads, and researching background for sales calls.
However, there is a right way to use LinkedIn — and a wrong way.
Some sales reps don’t use LinkedIn as it was intended — to connect with prospects and build professional relationships. Instead, they use it to annoy everyone and violate professional boundaries at every turn. If you’ve ever been sold to, you have probably already experienced this uglier side of social selling.
If you’re not engaging with prospects the right way on LinkedIn, you’ll never connect with anyone. Instead of getting new leads and more deals, prospects will ignore every message you send. Here’s how to break your bad habits and stop being a creep on LinkedIn.
DON’T Add People Without an Intro
People know that they’re going to be sold to on LinkedIn, but how you sell to them matters. If you’re looking to connect with a new prospect, don’t just add them without any introduction or message. Most prospects will not connect with “that random person on LinkedIn” they don’t know — especially not one with a sales title. People on LinkedIn are smart, and they know better than to accept every request they receive.
Ideally, you should have a few shared connections that you can use to leverage an introduction to a prospect. If you don’t have any common connections, you can still increase your odds of being accepted by including a friendly message along with your LinkedIn request explaining who you are and why they should bother accepting your request. You have to be open, honest, and disclose who you are before you offer a sales pitch.
DON’T Forget to Fill Out Your Profile
What do you do exactly? When a prospect checks out your LinkedIn profile, it shouldn’t be a mystery to them who they’re accepting as a connection. You don’t want to be perceived as “that mysterious sales rep on LinkedIn.” You should have more than just your title and company — you have to fully fill out your profile. A great sales rep profile on LinkedIn should be very detailed, and include a lot of information about you and your company.
Sales reps in particular should think about LinkedIn not as a resume, but as a tool that helps them engage more effectively with prospects. Instead of listing your actual job responsibilities, use this space as a sales pitch for what you offer prospects. Include your company’s value proposition within your job title and description. A great profile can actually help start the sales process before you even send a prospect a message.
DON’T Stalk Profiles Excessively
When a prospect sees you check their profile every week for a month, they won’t appreciate your persistence — they’ll just think it’s creepy. If you don’t know already, you CAN use LinkedIn anonymously so that people don’t know you’re looking at their profile that often. While you do research into a prospect’s role and company, don’t let them know you’re looking at their profile that often.
Openly viewing someone’s profile should be used strategically to kick off the sales process. They’ll see your name, and then recognize it again when you send them a message the next day. A profile view should help increase the chance that they’ll engage with you on LinkedIn, not ensure that they’ll ignore you forever as “that creepy sales rep on LinkedIn.”
DON’T Endorse Randomly
Endorsing a prospect you barely know for every single skill on their list isn’t a nice gesture — it’s a desperate one. The point of endorsements is to honestly share your knowledge of someone’s skills with LinkedIn. You should really only endorse people that you know well and have worked with closely.
If you start endorsing prospects for skills in the hopes that they’ll talk to you out of gratitude, you’re sadly mistaken. This isn’t an effective tactic, and will either confuse or annoy your prospects. They’ll think of you as “that weird sales rep who endorsed me for ‘Leadership Skills.’” Then they’ll continue to ignore your messages.
DON’T Abuse InMail
Sending mass emails via InMail is annoying, agrees everyone. You should treat InMail as a more valuable version of email, reaching more qualified prospects on a social network they’re on often. If you’re sending a prospect a message via InMail, make sure it’s personalized, relevant and — most of all — spells their name correctly.
If you don’t follow these rules, prospects will immediately dismiss you as “that spammy sales rep on LinkedIn.” Your message will be deleted and ignored and all of your efforts will be wasted. Apply the Golden Rule to InMail: if you wouldn’t want to receive a message like that yourself, then don’t send it.
LinkedIn is an amazing sales tool that can greatly improve your prospecting efforts. But if you don’t use LinkedIn the right way, you’ll never get the leads you need and you won’t be closing deals anytime soon. Follow these rules, and you’ll never be “that creepy rep on LinkedIn” ever again.