Everyone and their mother-in-law is on one (or two, or fifteen) social media networks in this digital day and age. While Facebook is great for sharing photos of your new kitten, it might not be as effective at generating leads. When sales reps turn to social media for help prospecting or generating leads, there is only one social selling option: LinkedIn.
Yet, many sales reps and sales managers remain skeptical of the true powers of social selling via LinkedIn. As an analytics company, we always believe that the proof is in the data-and-statistics pudding. To that end, here are some of the most compelling metrics about social selling on LinkedIn.
While this number might pale in comparison to the 1.1 billion Facebook users, it’s still nothing to shake a stick at. More importantly, a vast majority of the 238 million LinkedIn users worldwide are industry professionals or, in terms that might make your ears perk up, viable prospects and potential leads. This is a large pool of potential prospects to connect with, given the fact that many of them are also qualified (and therefore, high-quality) due to their professional titles or the industry they work in.
In 2011, research from the Sales Executive Council noted that the averaged B2B buyer was only reaching out to vendors when they were more than 50% of the way through their buying cycle. Over the past couple of years, that number has since spiked to 65%, and continues to rise. This means that reps have less time and a smaller window than ever to work with buyers. This demonstrates how paramount it is that reps reach prospects and engage with them earlier than ever in the buying process, something that social selling via LinkedIn can help with tremendously.
That’s how many professional LinkedIn groups exist today, a number that is doubtless ever-increasing. These type of groups, covering such areas of interest as “Sales Management Executives” or “Inside Sales Experts,” are watercoolers of discussion and engagement, where people share ideas or ask for help with their problems. Our friends at InsideView aptly analogize LinkedIn groups to waiting in line for your coffee and overhearing someone talking about a problem that you can help out with. A brief introduction an explanation of how you can help later and this once-random stranger could be a great prospect. Identify groups that are relevant to you, tune in to discussions and engage with the appropriate people, showing your thought leadership.
3×3 research, introduced by Steve Richard, the co-founder of sales training firm Vorsight, is representative of how social selling arms reps with tons of valuable information. The concept states that reps should do background research to find 3 pieces of contextualized information about your prospect or company in no more than 3 minutes. When that information is then used in an outbound phone conversation, the conversion of prospects to appointments increases by 16.7 percent. This research can be more than ably performed via LinkedIn.
Reps are used to sending hundreds of emails to no avail. This is because an impersonal email from a stranger is viewed at with a naturally skeptical eye. On the flipside, using LinkedIn’s inMail service, which can only be sent between connections (no matter how loosely formed), breaks many of the tensions of a cold email. In fact, such correspondences produce a response rate that is 33 times better than cold emails.
Human beings love chatting and connecting with each other. Even if this is done in person, over 140 characters in a message or via a 10 minute phone call, social connections make us feel at ease with each other. Research has found that if there is some kind of social connection – engagement in a LinkedIn user group, an exchange of Tweets – rates of conversations to appointments spikes 70 percent higher.
With such convincing data, sales reps and sales managers will be hard-pressed not to believe in the power of social selling via LinkedIn. Don’t get left behind. Shore up your social selling efforts on LinkedIn and see your results improve tremendously.