Why LinkedIn Is Not The Place To Sell

By Nigel Cliffe

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In a recent LinkedIn group discussion this question was raised…

How can we leverage LinkedIn to sell more without being salesy or spammy?

It would seem there is a very wide range of answers to the question indeed.

We are all bombarded with emails, often poorly targeted, which claim to offer us the ‘best deal’ in the world. My expectation on LinkedIn is far less tolerant of such communication.

For example, if I see this type of message (purporting to be a discussion) in a group – I will likely leave the group.

However, we might also acknowledge that apart from the many other benefits of being active on LinkedIn, such as knowledge sharing, showcasing your experience and undertaking market research for example, LinkedIn is undoubtedly a place to do business, and therefore to sell.

Or is it?

Here is my take.

There is no ‘Buy’ button on LinkedIn. The sale will always be done somewhere else, most often face to face in the world of business to business. So just how sales-orientated is it okay to be on LinkedIn?

I would say ‘not very’ – at least not until you’ve done your research and are very sure that your prospect has a high likelihood of being interested, at some point, in your product or service.

Here are some useful tips I took from the debate (and have added a few of my own…)

*  Understand the new culture – selling through social media is, well, different

*  Start with a complete and inbound optimised LinkedIn profile

*  Think of prospect clients as units on one, not one to many

*  See yourself as someone knowledgeable in your field and share – they will come to you

*  Be genuine, honest and help others, at all times

*  Give to get – be a resource people will seek out

*  Never pitch – tell your story through example

*  Make connections, but stay engaged until the time comes when an opening arises

*  Explain why, in a personalised connection request, you wish to connect

*  Get into your prospects peripheral vision. Join common groups, be in the conversation, add your opinion – respectfully

*  Prepare thoroughly

*  Have good examples ready to demonstrate how you can help others with their problem

*  Listen, listen, listen

*  Attract – then engage

*  Take the conversation off LinkedIn at the earliest opportunity

The bottom line may very well be sales-orientated, but beware trying to close the sale too soon on LinkedIn. This is the place to start the conversation, not close the deal.

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