How do you use LinkedIn for business? Every business owner, salesperson or marketing professional selling products or services in a business-to-business (B2B) manner wants to understand how to better use LinkedIn. So here goes.
B2B sales and marketing teams acknowledge LinkedIn as the best social network for client prospecting activity and lead generation. With over 660 million users in 200 countries, it doesn’t matter if your business is domestic or international. There is a high probability the decision-makers at the companies you seek will be registered there.
You can search for your prospects personal profiles by name search or by company search and then you can then connect with them. Once you are connected the rest is down to you. Or you can adopt our carefully explained LinkedIn business plan below.
Establishing the rules for LinkedIn for business
A lot of people still don’t understand the rules of LinkedIn. They act belligerently in their approach to strangers; simply assuming what they have is required. This is not the case at all. Also, think about it. If you were at your desk busy working away and you get a notification that someone has contacted you on LinkedIn, that reads
Approaches to avoid on LinkedIn
“Hi, I see that you are a marketing agency owner. Our software is the best solution for managing your processes. When can we talk?”
Would you want to engage with that?
As sneakily are the “Hi, we have several connections in common, so I thought it would be good to connect.”
Why? I don’t know you, so why should we connect on that paper-thin basis?
The former is too aggressive, you don’t know if this person has a problem and you didn’t try to establish that so a failure for me.
The latter is all too familiar and usually follows up with a sales message within the next 72 hours.
So be upfront, but not rude, aggressive or presumptive and be honest, if someone needs a problem solved, they will already know.
The rules are as follows:
- It is all about your prospects
- Be clear and concise
- Only deliver true value to your prospects
- Show how you are the solution to their problems
Outside of this, the rest is easy when you have the know-how. Read on and take note as I enable you to transform your current activity into a productive lead-gen machine.
LinkedIn for business, profiles & pages
To maximise the benefits of your LinkedIn marketing or sales activity, you need to be there in person and with your company. If you scroll through personal profiles and you see a grey square instead of a company logo by their work history (see below)
The likelihood is that the company page isn’t set up or the company page is set up but hasn’t been completed. Either way, it doesn’t present too well if a company can’t be bothered to create a company page on LinkedIn.
How can potential customers know if your business is a bonafide business? (note for self, this is a new business I am involved in so admin to do). As a result, small business owners have the most to do to convince potential clients of their viability to enter into commercial agreements than larger companies.
Create a LinkedIn Company Page
I’m starting with LinkedIn company pages as I believe whether you are a consultant, self-employed or full-time employed, you have a trading style or a brand name. Therefore by cultivating a well-crafted business profile, you start defining your value proposition and build an easy-to-access marketing tool.
Now I am not going to run through a step-by-step guide to setting one up, as LinkedIn does a pretty good job of that itself. What I am going to do is provide the details on how to populate them.
After you complete the basics, company name, company size, customise your URL to match your company and add your website to your company logo, ask your employees to add their current job to their personal profile.
The number of employees registered at the business gives prospective customers an insight into whom they are doing business. It allows them to identify your sales team and decision-makers and learn about who they are and, in turn, who you are.
Later, we will discuss your LinkedIn for business marketing strategy and how the company page and your connected employees are integral to this.
LinkedIn Personal Profiles
Your LinkedIn profile is the most crucial factor in your LinkedIn presence. It has to be structured, apparent, and emphasise the benefits of your experience. Simply stating that I am the CEO of a marketing agency doesn’t tell you what I do or how you would benefit from connecting with me.
It is to this end I want to spend some time talking you through the process of planning your profile with these easy steps.
Step 1. What you do
Take a piece of paper, a word, google doc, or something similar and write the heading, “What I do”. Underneath this, I want you to write down in a short sharp and concise manner what you do to help your target prospects.
Below is an example of how I would frame this for myself.
WHAT I DO:
I help B2B SaaS and Service companies build long-term inbound marketing strategies that establish their authority as their industry's go-to product/service provider. In addition, we generate an immediate pipeline with sales-ready opportunities.
Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a connection tool, we scale your team's outreach to new audiences, helping close more deals. The result is that you focus on making the sale instead of finding it.
Try writing 3 or 4 versions of this and passing it on to your team or business partners. If you are a solopreneur or a consultant, ask your clients what they think of the statement and if the statement resonates with them, how you help.
Step 2. How you do it
My advice to grow your business amongst LinkedIn members is to be hyper-targeted on who you really want to do business with. If you haven’t considered this before, I recommend that you read our guide to buyer personas and customer acquisition.
Once you understand your target audience, you can align your “how you do it” to show benefit. Again I will stick to using BIAS to make the examples.
HOW I DO IT:
Our team of industry experts create highly educational content around your product or service, targeted at your ideal buyer personas. We increase awareness, reduce objections and increase qualified conversations.
On LinkedIn, we create strategic messages to connect to your audience. We then reach out and engage your audience using LinkedIn automated sequencing.
Your network size increases with decision-makers while sales-ready opportunities are delivered directly to your CRM.
Can you see how concise I have been here?
My “What I do” does not sound the same as my “How I do”, making it clear for readers of my profile. Again, write 3 or 4 versions of this and test it with people who know you to garner their feedback.
You will immediately differentiate your profile from the pack by mastering your “what” and “how” in a clearly defined value proposition.
Step 3. Who you work with
Casting your mind back to your buyer personas, you will have identified whom you work with if you have completed the worksheet included in the ebook. To accelerate better engagement, you should clarify who your target prospects are.
WHOM I WORK WITH:
Having worked with fast-growth B2B and B2C financial services, property, technology and eCommerce companies for over 22 years, we are expertly positioned to advise strategy within these industries - and we have the awards to prove it.
Creating this statement may take longer to nail than the previous two. Most certainly take advice and get feedback from colleagues, clients and mentors if you have them. This is most important because if you project being everything to everyone, you will lose.
There rarely are people that have niched and then said it was the worst thing they have done. Be confident, and don’t lie. You can niche because it allows you to demonstrate authority from previous projects.
Step 4. Use your testimonials
Now that you have defined your “what”, “how”, and “who”, you need to back it up with accurate feedback. If your business uses a testimonial site like G2 or similar, then leverage the positive feedback with the more prominent companies. Use what people are saying to your advantage.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
“Paul is a very straight-talking, intelligent asset to anyone who seeks his assistance to improve their business in numerous aspects. A single conversation can change your thinking and your current business model and marketing strategy. Highly recommended.”
Bert Donovan, Managing Director SWEPCO UK
“Paul is an expert in early-stage growth, focusing on digital marketing strategies. He employs a founder-centric approach, thus adding value and providing valuable insight from day one.
Paul worked with several of my portfolio companies at a strategic and operational level, delivering digital campaigns through his consultancy.
I continue collaborating with Paul and recommend him to other investors and technology companies trying to troubleshoot their digital presence extending into outbound sales programmes.”
Flavia Richardson SVP, Silicon Valley Bank
These quotes are taken from testimonials given on LinkedIn on my personal profile, so they are easy to find and reconcile. Social proof will play a massive part in helping leverage your profile, and your strengths and build trust.
Step 5. Why choose you?
If you have been following this closely and performing the tasks, you are heading in the right direction. But even with everything you’ve done so far, you still have to demonstrate why it should be you and not somebody else.
This is where you bring the work or life experience you have to bear to demonstrate ability and depth of knowledge and have a solid call to action at the end of it.
Having spent over 20 years working with financial services and technology companies with brands such as JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Stadden Forbes Wealth Management, to name a few. I bring insider knowledge that other agencies don’t have. You work with BIAS for our experience and passion because we’ve got the awards to back it up.
Again, I have leveraged my background and work history to show the ability to work at the top level with brands that my industries will recognise. This increases trust, defines your ability to deliver at scale, and reiterates why your “what” and “how” come together.
Step 6. How to contact you?
Now that you have finished your profile, you need to let people know how they can contact you. My preferred call to action is to post a link to your calendar to book a meeting and your office or mobile number, depending on what’s more relevant.
To learn more, please book a short call https://drift.me/biasdigital/meeting or call 0203 637 4426
This final piece is entirely up to you to set out. I don’t like my email being too public as you reduce the ability to screen other prospectors, and your inbox can get full of spam pretty quickly. Try to test the different options with email, mobile, and office numbers, and see what happens. It’s not an absolute science.
Step 7. Your profile strapline?
I purposely left the strapline until last. By now, you should have so much value in your profile that this is easy to establish. Again looking at my own personal LinkedIn profile, you can see it reads
Having followed my profile through the examples, do you feel I have succinctly brought my value proposition together? I am always open to feedback, but I believe the whole structure is well-rounded.
The importance of your LinkedIn profile strapline
And before we move on, I want you to understand why this one line of information is so important to get right.
Because this line pops up in so many places, like when
- you post in the news feed, the tagline shows up
- you first land on someone’s profile page, the tagline shows up
- someone sees your message in their inbox, the tagline shows up
- you are browsing the people who have viewed your profile, the tagline shows up
- you show up in “Recommended People,” the tagline shows up.
Need I say more? This line could direct that person who could sign the deal of the year for you to your profile… or not!!!
Step 8. Your profile image
This is the final step in creating a winning LinkedIn business profile that will accelerate your opportunities in social media marketing. Take the time to invest in professional headshots. Present yourself how your customers present themselves to you. If they wear suits and ties, do so; if they are smart casual, be that. Photos send subliminal messages, and if you present yourself as being in their club, all the better.
LinkedIn Profile Summary
You must have company and personal profiles to capitalise on your LinkedIn business profile. Following our guidelines, you can ensure you do not write an epic bio that seems so wordy and far too long to break down. This will undoubtedly ensure people skip by your profile, losing a valuable opportunity.
Your combined LinkedIn profiles aim to convince people that you are the solution to their problems.
Develop a LinkedIn marketing strategy
I’m so glad you’re still with me. I love LinkedIn for business and have always respected the platform's ability to drive new business opportunities. But you need to know your customer to capitalise on the platform's functionality. To do this, you MUST, without fail have buyer personas identified for your business. Please do read the buyer persona ebook we wrote. You don’t have to sign up for it; you can read it online.
Understand your customer persona
So why is this persona stuff so important? Well, that is simple. If you are going to prospect for business without defining your value proposition, you are effectively guessing. Because of this, when you approach the wrong person or business, you waste valuable time. And believe me, the best way to succeed is by planning, not guessing.
Personas help you build marketing funnels. They help so much that when Adobe adopted a persona-led approach, they increased online revenues by 54%. Imagine what an increase in current revenues would do for your business. Imagine if you could repeat that as you refine your personas year after year.
Create valuable content (engage)
After you have set up your personal and company profiles and defined your customer persona, you can move on to the marketing and sales strategy. You will know by now how to use content to attract, engage and retain your customers.
Once you have covered inbound marketing, you can utilise the following content types to wow your customers and prospects on LinkedIn. This will help with your brand awareness.
Use rich media
Rich media is excellent for social media platforms. In easy-to-understand terms, use video and audio (vlogging and podcasts) to help distribute the reach of your content. Create a video on your mobile or camera and use platforms like otter.ai to transcribe your videos so that you can add subtitles to your content.
Written content is excellent, so posting your blogs to your company pages is suitable as part of a more comprehensive digital marketing strategy. Both written and visual forms of content allow you to create thought leadership content that differentiates you from the competition.
LinkedIn Showcase pages
In addition to the standard company pages, LinkedIn has allowed you to create showcase pages. Showcase pages enable you to set up sub-pages focused explicitly on individual products or services.
The advantage of having showcase pages is that you can highlight products and services as mini experiences for your business. If multiple personas are buying different products or services, having a single page for each is excellent for segmentation. This prevents you from diluting your messaging and allows you to show thought leadership. Blog posts are a great way of doing this.
For those with the capacity and ability to engage constantly on LinkedIn, you could consider creating a LinkedIn group. This way, you can invite the chosen prospects to a closed environment where you provide constant value with your content without selling directly. You can also close out the competition by setting the group to private and not allowing them in.
LinkedIn ads are crucial to your marketing and sales strategy on LinkedIn. Using your buyer personas to identify your key decision-makers, you can run sales and marketing campaigns directly to those who matter.
The best ads share your thought leadership pieces or invite them to events. I prefer ads like this to Google Adwords for the highest customer targeting.
The LinkedIn algorithm
LinkedIn’s latest change to its algorithm in 2020 means that the platform is prioritising content that sparks conversation. Its mission is to serve content from “People you know, talking about things you care about”. Knowing this, we advise you to voice your opinion on industry trends, share news and content relevant to your profession and comment on content within the hashtags you follow. LinkedIn prompts you to do this by advising on trending content if you watch your notifications.
LinkedIn page admins have insight into how their content is doing. If your sales and marketing teams (yes both) are producing content that solves problems, these stats should be great. Use these to help guide you on the quality of content and use the comments to add context. Status updates also give insight into how your audience regards your content too.
And now for LinkedIn Prospecting
I want to apologise for the length of this article. I had no idea where it would lead me when I started writing it. However, I only really want to produce content that has real value. None of this high-level content leaves a reader largely unable to act upon it.
So if you are ready to continue, let’s get back at it.
How to build your network strategy
LinkedIn is primarily there for a single reason. To allow people to connect and create opportunities. Those opportunities are employment and business. Despite recent changes in behaviour to humanise it further with posts of fundraising and life achievements, it still stays true to its original directive.
Targeting the right companies
As this article is about business, you first need to understand what types of companies can use, afford and regularly buy products or services like yours. You should have already identified this in your profile.
If you haven’t, then consider the following:
- The size of the company
- Number of employees
- Annual turnover/revenues
Identifying the decision-makers when using LinkedIn for Business
In addition to knowing the types and sizes of businesses you work with, you must understand the buyer’s journey. Again, I can’t stress enough the need for personas to make this work.
I advise that whilst there are 660 million-plus users on LinkedIn, only connect with people at businesses that have the power to buy or influence. As an entrepreneur, this is vital to your business and your success.
I connect with people in the following roles:
- Chief Marketing Officer, Head of Marketing, Director of Marketing, Marketing Director
- Head of Sales, Sales Director, Director of Sales
- Business Development Director, Head of Business Development
- Business Owner
All of these have the interest and influence to buy, book meetings and utilise a product or service like ours.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
The LinkedIn standard allows you to search and prospect, but it is limited and does not give you the power that LinkedIn sales navigator does—acting much like a search CRM tool, saving your connections in lists. This enables you to monitor prospects' updates, build relationships, and nurture sales conversations.
You’ll be able to look for people that have recently changed jobs. Did you know that most senior executives who change roles decide to implement a new product or service within three months?
When it comes to LinkedIn for business sales navigator, is, in my view, critical for your success.
Build your network
As with anything worth doing, connecting on LinkedIn is a strategy. Therefore it requires strict planning to succeed. Remember, iterating brings success, and you must try, measure and improve.
The best way to connect is around a defined sequence. You cannot just reach out and start selling. You should reach out with intent and be transparent. Check out my opening strategy.
Your outreach strategy
- On day one, look at the profile of the intended target. They will be notified that someone has viewed their profile. Occasionally, the recipient may reach straight back out, but don’t expect that to be the norm.
- On day two, send your connection request, and mine looks like
BIAS specialises in inbound marketing, sales and lead generation for your industry. I saw that you’re a , so I thought it would be good to connect to share how we are helping solve challenges for companies like .
- Then wait until you are connected and see the LinkedIn notification. Give it 2 or 3 working days, and then follow up with a more direct message. Something like:
Thanks for accepting my request.
Here at BIAS, we specialise in Inbound Marketing and Sales Solutions to many companies similar to . I thought it would be good to connect as I feel you may face similar challenges in those areas.
Would this be something you’re interested in discussing further?
0203 637 4426
Now understand that this isn’t an exact science; just because you have been accepted and follow up doesn’t mean you’re actually into a conversation; people often connect without intent to do business.
If you don’t receive a follow-up within 7 working days, then thank them for connecting, attach your company deck to the message and say goodbye. You will be surprised how often the breakup message prompts a response.
Nurture your prospects
Now that you have identified and written your sequences, it’s time to engage your target audience. Follow their posts, comment on them (don’t just like them) and share them to your network with positive feedback and commentary.
Try to identify solutions or posts with an objective perspective to enlighten your audience's knowledge of a challenge you may not be able to satisfy yourself.
Understand what you’re trying to achieve
If you have followed my guideline this far, you are well on your way to using Linkedin for business success. So remember what your challenges are:
Start conversations with carefully targeted decision-makers at companies you can logically do business with. Read our account-based marketing ebook to learn more about targeting the correct type of business in more detail.
Aim for appointments and calls, not closing deals. Don’t try and close a deal on Linkedin at all. You won’t learn enough about the suitability of your prospect. They could well be shielding issues from you that would, in most circumstances, be clear. You will need a well-crafted sales process and want to learn as much about their business as possible.
Research your prospects before responding. When you outreach and get a positive response. Search the internet for news about their business. Look at their website, see how many employees they have on Linkedin, and check their revenues at Companies House.
Ask questions but do not interview your prospect. You need to LISTEN more than you speak and record a meeting on Zoom or Skype to avoid interrupting and breaking the flow. Follow these LinkedIn for business tips and flourish.
For more tips on a comprehensive social media strategy, check out this article we wrote on How to increase brand with social media marketing; it looks at strategy, the data you need to make the right choices, social selling and much more.
If your organisation is looking for a team that can support its customer acquisition strategy in a multi-channel environment, please reach out to our team and book a call here.