How long social distancing will be in place for is – like many things right now – uncertain. But what we can be sure of is that social selling has already proven its worth and looks set to massively increase in importance in both the immediate and long-term future.
LinkedIn is the social selling platform that can deliver the best returns.
In this – and our companion post – you’re going to discover:
- Why LinkedIn should be a part of your sales process.
- Exactly what effective use of social selling can deliver.
- And – in our second post – actionable advice on making LinkedIn work for you.
Before serving the main course, let’s add a healthy sensible pinch of salt.
LinkedIn is not the answer to all your problems.
It will not provide your teams with a magic bullet that will shoot through your annual sales targets.
Instead, social selling is an incredibly useful weapon in your armoury.
You are severely weakened without it.
Like all powerful tools, it needs the right training, tactics and use to succeed. It also works best by adding to, supplementing and strengthening activity elsewhere.
If you deploy it tactically it will significantly boost your introductions, engagement and close rates – and its influence is 100% trackable.
Let’s find out why you need LinkedIn, what it offers and how you can maximise its benefits.
The LinkedIn ‘rabbit hole’
LinkedIn is hardly the NKOTB. Launched in 2003 – and a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft since 2016 – LinkedIn is an established social tool.
Its use by salespeople is likewise not breaking news. Before social distancing, LinkedIn accounted for a significant amount of sales teams’ time, whether for researching, prospecting, engaging or closing. In fact, the typical salesperson was spending anything between 14 to 40 hours per month on LinkedIn.
To quantify this in terms of ‘an investment’ in a sales channel:
- For sales executives on a £27K salary this represents a cost of £1.6k to £8k per year.
- For software sales, where the average salary is £37.5K, this equates to a cost of £1.8K to £8.8K per year.
- For senior sales professionals, taking home a typical £45K salary, this amounts to £2.1K to £10.6K per year.
That’s a significant investment – and it’s likely only to increase.
As long as you are aware of this and have made sure this chunk of time has received proportionate investment in training – and that ROI from it can be tracked – then that’s all well and good.
But, if that’s not the case, it is critical that you review the varying degrees of success achieved – because many are struggling to make efficient and effective use of the time spent on LinkedIn.
Without tactical understanding and strategic training LinkedIn can quickly become a rabbit hole that swallows up time without actually driving sales performance.
It’s not hard to see the attraction of social selling and LinkedIn.
The headline figures are pretty compelling:
The number of impressions content in LinkedIn feeds receive each week.
(And, with only 3 million users sharing content each week, the potential reach for those who do is high.)
The number of UK LinkedIn users.
Of top salespeople use social selling tools.
(Compared with 71% of all sales professionals.)
Of LinkedIn users check in at least once a
(And 40% access it daily.)
Of social media leads for B2B marketers come from LinkedIn.
Of B2B buyers do business with those who are recommended by their professional network.
Of top performing sales people attribute social selling as critical to their success.
Of sales professionals say they’re most active on LinkedIn – over other social media platforms – for business purposes.
Likelihood of social selling leaders hitting their sales targets, in comparison to their non-social selling peers.
Of B2B buyers review information on LinkedIn before making a purchase decision.
Of LinkedIn users are decision makers and senior influencers.
The B2B opportunities offered by LinkedIn are verified by several pieces of research and by our own work with clients looking to sell more effectively.
There is a vast audience of decision makers and influencers who can be reached and engaged through content and personal messages. Trust can be developed through content marketing and shared groups or contacts.
This audience is regularly using LinkedIn and openly admit to relying on social networks for researching vendors and receiving recommendations when considering purchasing.
Significantly more leads are coming from LinkedIn than all the other social networks put together and the stats suggest a close alignment between sales success (in terms of prospecting, engaging and closing) and regular use of LinkedIn as a sales tool.
A recent study reported that highly active LinkedIn users gain 45% more sales opportunities, are 51% more likely to hit their quotas and are 80% more productive.
To ensure your sales team aren’t falling down rabbit holes – but are hitting some significant revenue streams – you need to ensure their time on LinkedIn is spent productively.
Let’s assume you could drive just a quarter of these forecasted figures through the strategic deployment of LinkedIn within your sales process: the results would be far from something to be sniffed at in their contribution to hitting your targets.
How to use LinkedIn to boost your sales and speed up the sales process
We’ve looked at all the signals that suggest your sales team most definitely should be using LinkedIn throughout the sales process. The opportunities are there to be tapped in to.
We’ve also highlighted the potential costs of just letting them loose on LinkedIn without a structured plan – this we called the ‘rabbit hole’ scenario where hours are fruitlessly spent without pulling a bunny out the hat.
Let’s now explore how the top sales professionals are using social selling to attract customers and close. In our next post we’ll show you how you can optimise the time spent on LinkedIn to maximise your results.
2020 LinkedIn & Social Selling Survey
Take part in our 2020 LinkedIn and Social Selling survey, which explores how B2B sales teams are currently making use of these tools. Receive the report in return to understand current performance levels and benchmark yourself against the industry.
Survey length: 2-3 minutes
Sources of research which informed this article (and useful background reading on social selling, LinkedIn and sales performance):
‘38 Social Selling Statistics: How to Master the Art of Social Selling‘ by Super Office, Mar20
‘LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report Pocket Guide‘ by LinkedIn, 2019
‘48 Shocking B2B Social Selling Statistics‘ by ZoomInfo, Feb19