Every sales leader cares deeply about these two things: A consistently robust pipeline and achieving more close-won deals. These two attributes are needed to make and exceed quota. So, why don’t sales leaders recognize the value in training their team to be more effective in selling with LinkedIn to reach more buyers and build more pipeline?

We surveyed 862 sales reps to learn about their LinkedIn practices – i.e., their skills using LinkedIn in their selling activities. We published the findings in our State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn 2019 report. The findings are neither surprising nor good news for sales leaders. Many sales professionals are underutilizing LinkedIn despite the fact the network has more than 600 million members of business professionals. As if that’s not enough, LinkedIn makes it easy to search and find prospects.

If only sales reps knew how to do that!

If you follow our content at Vengreso, you know that we are passionate about helping B2B sales professionals leverage digital selling to start more conversations with qualified buyers in their path to winning more deals. CSO Insights reports that companies with a formal “social selling” initiative win more deals.

We decided to publish our own findings from our Digital Selling Benchmark Assessment surveys. We looked at the results from 862 sales reps who answered 10 questions about how they use LinkedIn. These reps work at companies across five industries: technology, professional services, financial services, manufacturing and healthcare.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Why do #SalesLeaders need to train their team to be more effective in #SellingwithLinkedIn? @BernieBorges, CMO at Vengreso, shares with us 3 key points they discovered in the #SoDS2019 Report. #DigitalSelling #SalesLeadership” quote=”Why do #SalesLeaders need to train their team to be more effective in #SellingwithLinkedIn? @BernieBorges, CMO at Vengreso, shares with us 3 key points they discovered in the #SoDS2019 Report. #DigitalSelling #SalesLeadership”]

We asked sales reps these 10 multiple choice questions:

Question 1: Which version of LinkedIn are you using?

○ Don’t know
○ Free
LinkedIn Premium (not Sales Navigator)
○ Sales Navigator (purchased by me)
LinkedIn Sales Navigator (purchased by my company)

Question 2: How would you describe your LinkedIn photo?

○ Recognizable and professional
○ Acceptable for business
○ Too casual for business
○ Poor quality (focus or distant)
○ No photo

Question 3: What types of media have you added to your LinkedIn profile?

○ Documents
○ Images
○ Presentations
○ Videos
○ None

Question 4: How many LinkedIn connections do you have?

○ 0 – 250
○ 251 – 500
○ 501 – 1000
○ 1001 +
○ Don’t know

Question 5: In the last three months, how many times have you asked someone in your LinkedIn network for an introduction or referral to someone in their network?

○ 0 (zero)
○ 1 – 10
○ 11 – 20
○ 21 +

Question 6: How many times per month do you use LinkedIn advanced search features to find prospects?

○ 0 (zero)
○ 1 – 10
○ 11 – 20
○ 21 +

Question 7: How often do you share content with your LinkedIn network?

○ Never
○ A few times per month
○ A few times per week
○ A few times per day
○ Don’t know

Question 8: Which online resources do you typically check before a first call with a prospect? (check all that apply)

○ Google
○ Company website
○ Company social media
○ Individual’s social media
○ None

Question 9: In the last 3 months, have you sent a prospect or a customer an email containing a personal video message?

○ Yes
○ No

Question 10: What is your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) score?

○ 0 – 9
○ 10 – 19
○ 20 – 29
○ 30 – 39
○ 40 – 49
○ 50 – 59
○ 60 – 69
○ 70 – 79
○ 80 – 89
○ 90 – 100

I encourage you to read the State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn report to see for yourself the findings for each of these ten questions.

For the remainder of this post, I offer you three key insights from our survey that sales AND marketing leaders need to understand and to consider how they impact your team’s success.

LinkedIn is Misunderstood by Many Salespeople

It’s clear that too many sales professionals still don’t understand the power of LinkedIn to help them find, engage and connect with qualified buyers. Too many reps do not have a profile that is written through the lens of the buyer so that the buyer is “attracted” to the rep as a valuable resource. Only 32 percent of survey respondents have a LinkedIn photo “acceptable for business” and about 11 percent have “no photo.” The photo is the first thing a visitor notices on a LinkedIn profile. It sends an immediate message to your buyer. You’ve heard it said, “you only get one chance to make a first impression”. Also, be sure to leverage your LinkedIn headline!

Most salespeople understand the value of having a network. The saying “your network is your net worth,” has been popularized in the digital age, but this adage has been a reality for many decades. It’s disappointing to learn that 50 percent of survey respondents have 500 or fewer connections on LinkedIn. When you consider the average number of people involved in the B2B decision process is estimated at 6.8 people, it’s not rocket science to suggest that salespeople should expand their network within their target accounts. While it’s not all about quantity for the sake of quantity, there’s an easy case to build that any salesperson should have well over 1000 relevant contacts in their network. More contacts mean more opportunity for more engagement, which means more opportunity to boost your LinkedIn SSI score. As discussed in the report, reps with higher SSI scores make quota more than those who don’t. See the correlation?

[click_to_tweet tweet=”Among 862 #sales reps, only 32% have a LinkedIn Profile photo that’s ‘acceptable for business’. How do you turn things around as a #salesleader? #SalesTraining #Leadership @BernieBorges” quote=”Among 862 #sales reps, only 32% have a LinkedIn Profile photo that’s ‘acceptable for business’. How do you turn things around as a #salesleader? #SalesTraining #Leadership @BernieBorges”]

Marketing is Not Pulling their Weight to Empower Salespeople

Marketing has long been the owner of the brand strategy as well as the publisher of website content along with content such as case studies, webinars, white papers, technical documents, to name a few types of content published by Marketing.

Considering that 59 percent of survey respondents have published no media content to their LinkedIn profile, this is a huge missed opportunity for Marketing. The company’s website is the main online property used to attract visitors who consume information about the company’s products and services. But most companies only have one website.

If you employ 100 sales reps, each rep’s LinkedIn profile has the potential to be an extension of the company website when the rep displays content on their profile. LinkedIn allows you to display content formats on your profile such as PDF, videos, PowerPoint, Word, jpg, text among others. This allows reps to display content supplied by Marketing to extend the reach of the brand beyond just www.companywebsite.com. Imagine having 100 mini-websites, each displaying relevant content supplied by Marketing used to communicate to buyers engaging with sales rep’s LinkedIn profiles. If each rep has 500 connections, that’s 50,000 people (in this example) who can get exposed to the company’s content.

Add to this the known fact that people buy from people and consider information from people more credible than information supplied by a brand.

Marketing executives need to consider one more powerful fact:

“62% of decision makers look for an informative LinkedIn profile when considering talking with a sales rep.” This finding is from the LinkedIn State of Sales 2018 report.

Marketers MUST recognize the opportunity to extend the reach and communication power of their sales reps by arming them with relevant content to display on their LinkedIn profile.

[click_to_tweet tweet=”.@BernieBorges says these 3 game-changing takeaways should be a wake-up call for any #SalesLeader who is struggling to achieve a robust pipeline and close-won rates that meet your goals. #SellingWithLinkedIn #DigitalSales” quote=”.@BernieBorges says these 3 game-changing takeaways should be a wake-up call for any #SalesLeader who is struggling to achieve a robust pipeline and close-won rates that meet your goals. #SellingWithLinkedIn #DigitalSales”]

Training is Not Recognized as a Priority

The good news for sales leaders about their reps learning how to become effective at selling with LinkedIn is that it’s not rocket science. The bad news – sorry to break it to you – is that effective training is not realistically achieved in a one-day workshop.

Blame no one for this. It’s just human nature. We simply don’t learn anything in one day. Did you learn an entire college course in one day?

I’ll clarify this statement…People don’t change behavior based on what is learned in one day. If you want your sales team to sell with LinkedIn effectively, they must learn techniques to find, engage and connect with people. To learn these techniques, they need to learn how to use the PVC method which we teach in our Digital Selling curriculum, spread across nine modules.

For sales reps to find relevant people, they need to know how to use LinkedIn’s advanced search function. 78 percent of the survey respondents conduct an advanced search less than 10 times per month. Why? Because, they have NOT been trained to use advanced search features in LinkedIn, otherwise they would do it more often to find more prospects!

We don’t need to train salespeople on the value of a referral from a trusted customer to a prospective customer….Or, do we? 92 percent of survey respondents asked for a referral or introduction from someone in their network ten times or less in the last three months…..Why? Because they have not been trained in the two-step referral process to ask for a referral.

Are you ready to take your business to the next level with a digital selling program? Don’t miss our 10 Steps to Launching a Digital Sales Program.

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