I recently attended a talk at TechUK from LinkedIn’s Head of Enterprise Sales, Vernon Bubb. His talk revealed the bordering-on-scary power of LinkedIn and gave an insight into the way in which it is transforming B2B selling, especially at the enterprise level, where he is often selling hundreds of user licences to each client. For SMEs without dedicated sales teams, though, it also highlighted an age-old problem.
This talk coincided with my free trial of LinkedIn’s £59.99 per month Premium service.
THE big benefit of Premium membership is access to the Sales Navigator database. With it you can find almost anyone. For example, all Edinburgh finance directors of companies with over 500 employees (195, six of whom share a connection with me), or every UK procurement middle manager with IBM (34), or all self-employed data analysts worldwide who specialise in the aviation industry (52). Using LinkedIn, you can identify a specific key decision-maker in a target business, or all of them.
But what should you do with your target people (Leads), when you have identified them? Another feature of Sales Navigator is that you can send a message to them via LinkedIn. But of course, an out-of-the-blue, cold approach is unlikely to succeed, as one of Vernon’s slides emphasised (though, arguably, if 90% of procurement managers say they reject cold approaches‚Äù, a one-in-ten strike rate is worth exploiting). So what are you supposed to do instead? The answer – i.e. what Vernon sees working consistently for his major plc clients – is that you should wait for your leads to have events which trigger a notification to you. These include blog posts, Likes, mutual contacts connecting, and job changes. All provide opportunities to bring yourself to your target‚ attention in a positive, non-selling way, such as by liking‚ a post they make, or writing posts which mutual contacts are likely to forward or comment upon.
All of which takes time. You accept that you’re going to have to stalk your targets for months and flirt with them at every given opportunity. And that’s ok, if sales is what you do. Use it well and, just as Vernon said, after a while, your sales activity will be driven by the system showing you today’s opportunities to warmly reach out‚ instead of you using it, to schedule each day’s cold approaches. Use it well, and LinkedIn Premium’s £59.99 per month fee, has to be a bargain.
But that’s the issue. I’m not going to use it well. I have clients to look after, a team to support and a business to run. So, personal style aside, I’m just not going to use the system in the way in which it needs to be used anyway. Consequently, even though Sales Navigator has been terrifically valuable in revealing a lot of interesting companies in our target areas which I never knew existed (and of which I’ve kept full note, naturally) I’ll not be signing up this month. I’d strongly recommend the free trial though and, if you will use it longer-term, that you do.
Incidentally, Tech UK in St Bride St EC4 is a brilliant venue for such talks, most of which are free to members. Members are also entitled to use its common room work space, use its wifi and help themselves to inclusive tea, coffee, biscuits. All of the talks I have attended have been worthwhile and were attended by interesting, predominantly senior people. Information on membership and more, at www.techUK.org