While LinkedIn started out as a social platform that helped people find new job opportunities, nowadays it has much more to offer. With coverage in 200 countries and more than 645 million users, LinkedIn has become a platform that cannot be ignored by anybody looking to market their B2B business. This article describes the four ways you can leverage LinkedIn to reach your target audience and build a sales pipeline.
Showcase your business with a company page
A company page allows you to display what your company does and how it provides value for its customers. When you set up your page, it is important to include your value proposition and a call to action in the company description. When people read about your company, you want to guide them to a next step. For example, you can ask them to get in touch with you or guide them to your website.
When your company page is all set up, you can start working on creating thought leadership among prospects and your existing customers. You do this by regularly posting interesting content on your page. The focus of these posts should be on educating your followers and providing them with valuable insights. When you provide lots of value, others will share your content, and your page will gain visibility and followers. As a result, your followers are being nurtured over time without having to reach out to them individually.
Social Selling with your personal profile
While having a company page is important, LinkedIn is meant to be a social media platform that is defined by human interaction. People want to engage with people and not necessarily with a company logo. Therefore, creating your own personal profile that promotes your business (social selling) should, in most cases, be the highest priority on LinkedIn.
With your personal profile, you can identify and connect with your target audience proactively. When you start to build up your network of prospects, you’ll have to have an informative and convincing profile in place. When your profile is written to appeal to your target audience, they are much more likely to accept your connection invitation. The same goes for your opening message. You don’t want to come out with a generic sales pitch. It’s better to write a personalized message – just like you would write to somebody you personally know. You can personalize messages with input you gather from a prospect’s profile. Use information like the job title, company, field of work or latest posts as hooks to draft your message and make it stand out.
Just like with the company page, it is important to regularly share content with your network. Most people that you send a connection request to will not be interested in receiving an offer right away. There are numerous reasons why a prospect is not ready to engage in a sales conversation (budget, timing, immediate need, etc.). However, once prospects are part of your network, they will see content that you post come by on their timeline. You want to nurture these people over time so that when prospects are ready to engage in a sales conversation, they already know the value of your company. And more importantly, they know you! This puts you ahead of other competitors when a prospect is evaluating his or her options.
For anybody who wants to take Social Selling to the next level, LinkedIn has a tool named Sales Navigator. This extensive tool allows you to identify and learn about prospects much quicker than using a free account. Whereas with your free account, you will run into volume restrictions pretty quickly, Sales Navigator lets you browse the whole LinkedIn platform with almost no restrictions.
Engaging in groups
Another source to identify new prospects are LinkedIn groups. Groups can be considered as sub-communities, and for most industries and solutions, there are existing groups you can participate in. When you are part of a group, you can browse its members or identify interesting opportunities by going through posts in that group. Of course, you can also contribute to the group with posts of your own. Be careful with straight out promoting your business in groups. While some groups (usually the ones with low engagement) might allow it, most have user guidelines which state that you can’t.
When there is no existing group or you simply would like to create your own community, you can start a group of your own. When you do this, it is important to keep in mind that the key for successfully growing such a community lies in engagement. If there is nothing happening in the group, people lose their interest and don’t come back. As the group owner, you’ll have to take responsibility for both moderating content that is contributed by members as well as keeping the conversation going by posting interesting content yourself.
Advertise among your target audience
When you want to reach your target audience on a large scale with immediate impact, LinkedIn provides you with a robust advertisement platform that allows you to precisely pinpoint your B2B target audience. Segmentation options include geographic area, industry, job title, companies and many others. Only the target audience that you select will see the advertisements that you can use to promote an asset, generate website traffic or increase your brand awareness.
A common question that most people starting with LinkedIn advertising have is about the cost. Just like with Google and Facebook, LinkedIn uses an auction system (businesses can set a maximum they would want to pay per click or 1000 views) to determine the pricing and distribution of advertisements. That means there is no way to give an exact number in advance because it heavily depends on who you are competing with over advertisement space. However, the bidding system puts you in control of how much you want to spend. You can set maximum total budgets and a budget per click. That way you never pay more than what a click is worth to you.
While all four ways to promote your business on LinkedIn help you reach your goals individually, it’s best to use a combination of two, three or even all four. But be careful not to spread your resources too thin. When you don’t have the capacity to do everything at once and do it well, pick the ones that make the most impact. In most cases, that will include Social Selling, but it depends all on the nature of your business and how your target audience uses LinkedIn. One thing is for sure – with 645 million users out there, your B2B target audience is out there!