LinkedIn Tips for Manufacturers (Part 1)
Annette Carroll 07.22.2020
In today’s manufacturing industry, the selling environment is radically different than it was just four months ago, and most salespeople are in the process of redefining their strategies, tools and tactics. At Okuma America, I’ve been inspired by what I see happening with our own salespeople and those at our distributors. One of the tools we’re focusing on is LinkedIn, and we’re experiencing some great momentum with this platform. I believe that manufacturing is currently seeing just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential for LinkedIn’s effectiveness as a sales facilitator and brand builder. For those wanting to dive in a bit deeper, here I’ll offer some helpful tips for using LinkedIn to enhance sales processes and expand awareness of your company or personal brand.
The First Thing the Customer Buys is You. Every great salesperson knows, developing great rapport and relationships is the springboard to success. In an increasingly virtual business environment, this can become a challenge. Establishing a trustworthy LinkedIn profile and cultivating a reputation as a leading, go-to expert in your field will warm up sales leads and keep you and your company top-of-mind.
A Big Misperception. Back in 2003, when LinkedIn first launched, it was used primarily as a job search and recruiting website, however today that kind of activity represents just a fraction of the overall activity. For any professional wanting to advance and enrich their career, LinkedIn is a central networking place and an actual news outlet that helps you stay up to date with your colleagues, competitors, and industry-at-large. It’s also a very effective place to enhance the reputation and awareness of your company’s brand.Watch: The Modern Buyer Has Changed with Jill Rowley
BEST PRACTICES TO REPRESENT YOURSELF
Make Sure You Have a Great Profile Photo. Many people try to rush through the process of creating their profile, and simply grab whatever image they happen to have on hand. While this may be the easiest path to take, it isn’t the best. Your profile photo is literally where you make your first impression, so hire a professional photographer if at all possible, dress appropriately for your position, and use a nice simple, clean background.
Write an Effective Headline. Your headline is a very valuable, 120-character piece of real estate on your LinkedIn profile. It’s seen over and over because it’s shown every time you do a post. Your headline also shows up in Google search results if someone searches for your name, so you want to communicate your key assets. In most cases your headline should focus on what value you bring to your audience – conveying your areas of expertise. In some instances, especially with C-suite executives, I think it can be appropriate to use a formal job title here. It’s useful for your audience to know your position (if you’re a CEO, folks should know that) and the company you represent.
Focus on Connecting. LinkedIn doesn't have to take up a large portion of your daily routine, but you’ll definitely benefit if you shift toward a mindset of “always connecting.” Your connections on LinkedIn reflect the number of people you can reach, therefore the more the better. This means, whenever you meet with someone, follow up with a connection request (if you’re not connected already). It’s also a good idea to connect with co-workers at your company, and also with editors of your industry trade publications, who’ll be posting useful news and updates. You can go to the “My Network” tab in your LinkedIn account to find relevant people you may want to connect with.
My only caveat here is, I think it’s best to connect only with qualified individuals you personally know in your professional circles. I don’t recommend “mass connecting” with strangers, as this involves too many unknowns and can potentially raise issues in the future.
Before LinkedIn…in the sales world, ABC stood for Always Be Closing. Now, ABC means Always Be Connecting, because your connections lead to your next hire, your next job, and your next close.” –Jill Rowley, Social Selling Evangelist
Make Sure You Have a Good Number of Recommendations. A recommendation from a satisfied customer is priceless for salespeople, because these operate like positive “reviews” online. Readers really pay attention to this because it’s seen as an objective third-party endorsement. Don’t be shy about asking for recommendations, most people are happy to provide them. It’s best to collect recommendations gradually, over time, and the payoff is well worth the effort.
When someone else says you’re great, it carries more weight.
Maximize Your Social Selling Index. The Social Selling index (SSI) is an overall measure of how effective you are on LinkedIn, compared to your professional peers. This becomes especially important for those who get involved in Social Selling, which we’ll get into more in Part 2 of this series. But for now, it’s helpful to understand that social selling centers around creating organic connections and discussions that are related to your products and industry topics as a means of warming up prospects and ultimately having sales conversations. This is a highly evolved selling strategy which is well suited for today’s environment, where cold calls may be less effective.
To find your SSI score, log into LinkedIn and click on this link.
The more I use LinkedIn, the more excited I get about the possibilities it can uncover, especially given today’s market conditions. As more manufacturers begin to realize the potential, it will become even more powerful. For now though, today we have the opportunity to be a part of the leading edge of professionals who are maximizing the benefits of this tool. I hope to see you on LinkedIn, joining us in this journey.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this series, where I’ll cover “Suggestions for Being a Brand Ambassador” and “Social Selling Beyond the Basics.”
Thank you to John Orton, Manager - Pricing Strategy & Analytics, for his contribution to this article.