There have been a few defining moments in my career but none as important as last week when the new LinkedIn Sales Navigator was launched. The product development and product marketing teams have built something that I am truly proud of. There is no other application like this on the market that can deliver a solid social selling experience based on connecting buyers and sellers to build relationships.
It seems like a lifetime ago but I remember the dark ages of sales. One of my first sales jobs had me at a desk with the yellow pages for Indianapolis Indiana. My job was to call every attorney in the yellow pages and sell our service. I loved the idea of sales, commission based income, the better I did the more money I made. I hated and resented the tactic of cold calling. Cold calls and cold emails are rarely met with excitement.
Over the years there were shifts in tactics and new technology introduced that would automate the calling process, send more emails and even apps that would fill my CRM with contact data. It helped but I knew there was a better way.
Before I came to LinkedIn one of the biggest challenges I saw in sales was access to information on the right people that should be focused on. Even in the sales intelligence space, LinkedIn was already the popular social network being used by sales people. Companies that were buying data from a vendor and handing it to sales people to call was as bad if not worse than marketing departments that were blindly doing the same thing and then blasting out an email.
When introduced through a referral, “your sales prospect becomes a client at least 50 percent of the time.
According to Joanne Black, when introduced through a referral, “your sales prospect becomes a client at least 50 percent of the time (and more likely 70 to 90 percent). No other sales prospecting or business-development approach comes close to sales results like these. None.”
The issue with most applications that are in the social selling space is that they only aggregate data. Then you have to take that data, make sure it’s accurate, relevant, valuable and do something else with it. Usually in a totally separate system or platform with the goal of getting the attention of a decision maker or educating your connections. Data is nice but engagement is golden.
Enter the social selling era.
In 2010 I stopped dipping my toe in the proverbial waters of social media as a sales tactic and jumped in head first. I saw enough personal validation as a sales person that I felt the world needed to know about the rise of social selling. Mastering the craft and being a student of how to apply social media to the sales process has become my religion.
When we look at the evolution of social selling it becomes clear that at it’s core the sales profession is the same but the tools, methodology and skills needed have been radically transformed.
There is no other social network better positioned in the professional space than LinkedIn. Every other product out there lacks the “social” component of social selling.
Social Selling is measurable.
When proving the value of social selling the LinkedIn Insights team dug into the data. They looked at the activities of sales professionals to see if there were clear trends in activity that would yield larger sales results. The results are called the Social Selling Index.
After identifying the base activities we did a survey and realized that there was a correlation between high Social Selling Index scores and pipeline. We could even get more granular on the activities on LinkedIn to predict success. Social selling is no longer a talk track. It is measurable and the ultimate game changer for companies and sales professionals.
Social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than the laggards
We also found that high Social Selling Index scores are a leading indicator to people getting promoted.
Directors who had a high Social Selling Index were promoted to VP 17 months faster. Managers were promoted to Director 14 months faster and individual contributors were promoted to Manager 10 months faster.
Optimizing for success
With the Sales Navigator platform you can see insights and use the LinkedIn social network to engage with the content, share with your connections or leverage it to build new relationships. It has become an investment in time versus a time waster on social media. You are now in control.
- Find the right people faster and more easily
- Prioritize the right companies
- Keep track of leads and existing relationships
- Stay up-to-date on contacts and accounts
- Qualify new people at your accounts
- Research prospects wherever you work
- Engage with prospects and customers through your network
- Build your professional reputation
- Reach your prospects directly with the right context
In the era of social selling where relationships matter, sales professionals that try to hold onto the old paradigm of selling are going to watch the world pass by.