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Posted December 18, 2018

Industrial sales reps, it’s time to optimize your LinkedIn profile

by Justin Johnson

Manufacturers reps and distributors: Here’s how to optimize your profile to engage more prospects

Justin JohnsonRecently, LinkedIn — the business-focused social network — reported it has 562 million users. That’s up from the 500 million figure it recorded in 2017.

While the total number of LinkedIn users is interesting, what’s more relevant for today’s sales rep is the number of senior-level influencers (61 million) and corporate decision makers (40 million) that use the platform on a regular basis.

Despite this, many sales reps fail to take full advantage of LinkedIn’s capabilities to court buyers and engage prospects. We often see profiles listing skills, achievements in sales and employment history, which is fine for someone who is job hunting.

But those who want to leverage the business networking value of LinkedIn — and thereby improve their sales performance — need to go further. If you are in a sales position and your LinkedIn profile looks more like your resume, you’re most likely leaving leads on the table. Same goes with profiles that are outdated, lean on content or mistake-riddled.

Go beyond your resume
If you think of your LinkedIn sales profile as a digital business card or online resume, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to engage with potential buyers. The key shift here is to see LinkedIn not as a record of your work history, but as a reputation builder. Essentially, your LinkedIn profile is the platform to shape how others see you. Sales reps who use it most effectively present a digital version of themselves that is meaningful and useful to the buyers they hope to attract. This might including sharing how they’ve enabled their buyer’s achievement, providing helpful information that boosts their credibility and establishing themselves as a product expert or trend spotter.

What should a LinkedIn sales profile look like?
Here are five key areas to help optimize your LinkedIn sales profile for better sales performance.

1) Write an attention-grabbing headline
Remember, the aim is not to recite your resume. Use this highly visible real estate to demonstrate how you add value to your clients and customers. A concise summary of who you help, and how, is more compelling than a standard job title.

2) Put your best face forward
Your LinkedIn profile image is the digital equivalent of a first impression — so choose an image that is warm and genuine.

Profile photos should be:

• High quality and cropped to 400×400 pixels to fit the space
• Of you (no friends, children or pets)
• In front of a neutral background
• Professionally captured, if possible (LinkedIn profiles with professional headshots get 14 times more profile views)

3) Summary = Your Value Pitch
Like the headline, the aim of your summary is to convey the value you add to your customers and clients. Here, you can provide more details about your products, your clients’ success, and your results. You can also include a clear call to action that communicates why and how a buyer should get in touch with you.

4) Add content that builds credibility
Does your company have a case study that highlights a satisfied client of yours? Do you maintain a blog? Aim to have at least two pieces of content displayed on your profile, including links to blog posts, videos or landing pages. Think of your profile as your opportunity to educate prospects about market trends, product comparisons, or other content that will solidify your reputation as an expert in your field.

5) Seek out recommendations
One of the best sales tools on LinkedIn is the ability to get third-party recommendations and then prominently display them on your profile. Ideally, clients should mention specific benefits from their association with you, either in terms of a statistic, dollar figure or achievement. LinkedIn recommendations are especially powerful because they are tied directly to people’s profiles — making it quick and easy for your prospects to see that the review came from a real person in the business community.

Once you’ve optimized your LinkedIn profile for selling, it will quickly become one of your best sales tools. Given LinkedIn’s reach — particularly among corporate decision makers — it’s worth investing a little time to update your profile so that it works as an engagement tool and reputation builder.

Justin Johnson has more than 20 years’ experience building software solutions for the manufacturing and distribution sector. He is an author and regular contributor to publications and thought leadership groups on the use of technology to improve profitability for manufacturers and their distributors. Currently, Johnson is co-founder and CEO of LeadMethod (www.leadmethod.com), a channel sales and performance management software company. He can be reached at jjohnson@leadmethod.com or (800) 406-5020.

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