LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2020 shows that 44 percent of companies are seeing a significant decrease in responsiveness to social and other outreach because of COVID-19. Even though many companies are at a standstill and are in cash conservation mode, I believe the unresponsiveness is because everyone is pushing out messaging to the masses rather than focusing on providing relevant value and building relationships.
Through his social content and discussions on LinkedIn, James Harris (the CEO of Seraph Science) mentions that the C-suite are not interested in making more friends or building their networks. They do not engage on most digital platforms and, unlike the majority of people searching Google or visiting your website or following you on Twitter, C-suite buyers are not interested in your product. They operate at a strategic level, focusing on building relationships with those who can bring value to their organization both personally and inside the boardroom.
In a social-distancing environment where there is no face-to-face interaction and no live events, investor and C-level buyer relationships can get started on LinkedIn. This is the platform where business and sales leaders can earn the trust of buyers and deliver value. As Harris mentions:
- If you do not have trust or value, you will be ignored by buyers and investors.
- If you lack trust, the C-suite and investors will seek other sources for validation.
- If you lack value, the C-suite and investors will seek only social engagement with you. It will not lead to a business conversation.
- If you tick both the trust and value boxes, the C-suite and investors will engage with you beyond the social connection.
Lori Harmon, VP of Global Cloud Sales at NetApp, explains that LinkedIn can help business and sales leaders stay relevant with buyers.
During a recent Stop the Sales Drop Podcast, Lori Harmon mentioned that virtual selling will not be temporary. There will be fewer live events and live meetings, even when COVID-19 is in the rearview mirror. Sales and leadership teams will need to find ways to build strong digital relationships and trust that they’re used to forming face-to-face.
Right now, we have the opportunity to craft our own story and build a personal brand on LinkedIn that positions us as trusted advisers with the accounts we want to win and with the investors we want funding from. We can show our relevance in the marketplace now, the challenges that we can uniquely fill, and the role we can play in the future.
Scott Barker from Sales Hacker believes that building your personal brand on LinkedIn will increase trust and response rates.
In our June 2020 virtual summit, Scott Barker mentioned that the No. 1 priority companies should focus on is teaching leadership and prospect/customer-facing teams how to better leverage LinkedIn. Why? Because the Edelman Trust Barometer shows an evident lack of trust in institutions, with the majority of respondents seeing corporations, the media and government as unethical. In times of uncertainty, trust only becomes more critical.
Not surprisingly, as organizational trust erodes, buyers and investors seem to crave it even more, and they want a trusting relationship with key stakeholders and individuals within companies. Buyers and investors do not trust companies, but they do trust the people. LinkedIn is where sales and business leaders can build a personal brand with their profile and content. This is a platform where they can show their business-relevant story for investors and buyers to connect, and they can demonstrate a clear understanding of their targeted audiences’ business needs.
James Gilbert, CMO at CRMNext, said LinkedIn helps you make one-to-one connections with buyers.
James Gilbert, CMO of CRMNext likes to tell his team that relationships are built one-to-one, which is a significant challenge for most marketers who focus on campaigns. These campaigns often lack relevance and integrity from the perspective of the C-suite and investors.
However, sales, marketing and business leadership teams can work together to make the right connections within the right companies and deliver commercial insights that can lead to close, intimate relationships that are profitable for everyone. By using explicit and implicit intent data, we can provide insights that uncover unconsidered gaps and personal impacts, which will differentiate you from everyone else who focuses on what is keeping prospects up. We can be talking about what should keep the target accounts up and “why” as we use information and stories that the specific account and the human buyer can relate to. We can change their perspective and establish reasons for the C-suite to get involved in a discussion.
Unfortunately, most sales teams are using LinkedIn like other social media platforms–Facebook and Twitter, for example–in which the C-suite and investors do not engage. They are using it to speak to the masses and to amplify their messages. They are focused on building their network (following) versus building a community of engaged potential buyers and investors. For example, when we reviewed the connection invites and nurture messages my team received during the past four months, we noticed that sales, marketing and leadership teams are not being personal. They’re reading as if the messages are fill-in-the-blank templates, which means those teams are speaking “at” accounts and “at” investor groups rather than to them. Can this be why over one-third (34 percent) of respondents to a Pipedrive State of Sales Survey mentioned that they think prospecting is going to be the biggest challenge for salespeople in 2020?
We can build trust and strong digital relationships with prospects and investors on LinkedIn by:
- Demonstrating a clear understanding of our targeted audience’s business needs.
- Showing a clear understanding of the targeted audience’s role in the decision-making process.
- Going beyond personalization by providing personal messaging. We need to speak to the humans within target accounts or investor groups rather than at them.
- Sharing content that is applicable and relevant to their decision-making process. This is why we say content should always start with the selling conversations you want to have with prospects or investors.
- Building a consensus with decision-makers and influencers.
You can learn more by registering for our virtual 3-day LinkedIn training where we will have 20+ fireside chats and panel discussions. The experts include Lori Harmon and James Gilbert, as well as Darryl Praill (CRO at VanillaSoft), Spencer Wixom (SVP of marketing at Challenger), Tyler Lessard (VP of marketing at Vidyard) and Patrick Downs (Sales Enablement at PandaDoc)