It is my belief that if you're in sales and you're not on LinkedIn you are missing a trick! However, if you are going to use LinkedIn as a sales platform and to generate leads, PLEASE, PLEASE use it properly and don’t use it to “hard sell”, because if you do, you will damage your reputation and your credibility.
This week I've seen an upsurge in people asking to connect with me because they want to “add me to their network”. Nothing wrong with that at all, I love meeting new people, but the minute I press the accept connection button, it all went wrong. They immediately sent me information about their products and services, what they can do to help me, and then ask when is a good time to have a chat about it? This, Ladies and Gentlemen, is not how you do it!
What they have done is adopted a “hard sell” approach. They haven’t understood what this great platform is all about.
You need to think and treat LinkedIn as if you were attending a networking meeting. You are there to generate business, that's a given, but it’s done via building relationships, getting to know someone, and offering advice. You gain trust and this breeds direct business and referral business. What you wouldn't do, is the minute that you are introduced to someone, “sell” them what you do, how you could help them, and then suggest that you have a meeting to discuss further. What you are doing is coming at them like a freight train! You're going to put them off and you'll end up standing at the coffee machine on your own with everybody in the room avoiding you because you're a hard salesperson (a Hunter). Hunters never ever do well at a networking event mainly because their approaches put people off and they don't get any business. They’ve damaged their credibility.
LinkedIn is the same!
Asking to connect with somebody is fine, it's acceptable, it's what we do on LinkedIn, but it's what you do afterward that will set you out as a Hunter OR someone who wants to build a relationship.
Here are my tips for successful lead and sales generation: -
Using LinkedIn for sales is about playing the long game and the approach that I have discussed is how to do this effectively. You don't sign up to LinkedIn and get thousands of pounds worth of business in five minutes, as, with any networking, it needs work.