You’ve optimised your profile, started to grow your network, liked a few of your followers’ posts, and published a few articles on LinkedIn Pulse.
Time to start selling, right?
Yes – if you want your audience to head for the hills…
Presumably, you’d like to grow your following – not reduce those that you have to hill-dwellers.
LinkedIn is a superb marketing vehicle that can set your leads and sales alight and burn brightly if you use it correctly, but it can equally turn into a damp squib that lights no fires – if you get the timing wrong.
Most times, professionals start selling too early: over-eagerness to drum up leads and opportunities can result in impatience, misunderstanding of follower intentions, and misuse of LinkedIn accounts.
However, it is equally a crime to miss the unique benefits of LinkedIn to create opportunities – through inactivity, letting your account sit idle, or realising opportunities too late.
Timing really is everything on LinkedIn. Here I provide a few pointers about the time to start using the platform to ‘sell’.
First, earn the right to sell
And, more importantly, you’ll know how to start doing that with consistent activity.
Only with consistent activity will you EARN the right later to be able to introduce offers to your network.
Without earning this right, you will come across as another two-bit player and your offers will seem like just another hollow sales ad.
Activity builds your foundation on LinkedIn and it takes time to build the necessary influence to pull people in towards you rather than pushing out towards them.
Remember the lighthouse and the tugboat here. You want to be the lighthouse that shines as a beacon of safety in the stormy seas, helping clients to safety.
The tugboat approach of ‘pulling’ them to safety might also work but it is harder, involves more work in the long run, and may put your own life at risk.
Work on building influence through activity before you even start introducing offers to your network. Earn the right to introduce the offer.
Creating the opportunity
Quality content, group interaction, likes, comments, and status updates, all help you appear consistently and prominently in the news feeds of your followers.
After you have consistently added value to your network daily by engaging with your followers, it’s time to introduce an offer.
This is where the ‘selling’ part begins. And it takes activity of a different kind.
Now is not the time to shrink. Remember: missing the opportunity is just as big a crime as jumping in too early.
So here’s where you get more direct. Why?
Because of the following:
If you send someone a short and simple offer after having engaged with them and provided them with value, AND it lands in their inbox at a point in time when they have a specific NEED for it, then it creates an opportunity.
This is when a simple connection or ‘lead’ becomes an opportunity; you have the chance to turn the opportunity into a sale.
The numbers game
It’s worth remembering the simple rule of sales that if you don’t ask you don’t get; importantly, you’ve earned the right to ask through engagement with your followers.
Many professionals and business leaders hesitate at this point. The question you ask may involve a NO answer – and that introduces doubts and fears into worried minds.
This may hark back to childhood when the word NO was associated with doing something wrong and having negative consequences.
But you shouldn’t be fearful of the word. People don’t usually say NO because they don’t like you (unless you jump in with the sales talk too early); it’s usually because the offer’s not right for them. They are not against you; they are for themselves! It may just be the wrong time.
Getting a YES or a NO should be welcomed; it’s the MAYBEs that create the problems and the delays.
As you may have worked out, the more offers you send out the more YES and NOs you will get. That’s why you need a decent size of network to target and hence my previous tips on how to grow that network.
You can ignore the NOs. The number of YES answers will be the statistic that will help you increase your sales and grow your business.
It really is a numbers game:
To enter this numbers game, you have to pay the entrance fee – and there are no discounts!
You need to pay with your time and your commitment to daily activity on LinkedIn for a period of months.
Only then will you have built up the necessary credibility and influence for your offer to be taken seriously; and only then will you stand a chance of winning the numbers game.