Linkedin for Prospecting

Linkedin
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Linkedin is an online social application that help’s users connect at a professional level. Of recent, the social network has become the latest tool for smart sales people prospecting for new sales, specifically real estate sales. Comprising of over 300 million members, it is easy to see why Linkedin is becoming an ideal prospecting tool.

In a recent Salesforce blog, Anna Bratton discusses the top 10 points for employing Linkedin as part of any sales person’s prospecting tool kit. Largely focussed towards the sales process in general, her points are equally significant in the real estate industry. Let’s go through them.

Never miss a chance to connect

The first point Anna highlights on her Top 10 list for Linkedin prospecting is to never miss a chance to connect. Concerning real estate sales, this is a very important message.

“Connections are the currency of Linkedin”, advising that “connections breed connections”. Anna drives home the requirement to not only include family and friends, but to include professional connections.

“Your first level contacts open up a route to a wide range of second and third level connections. This is how you scale your network. Strike while the iron’s hot – whenever you meet anyone (online or off) always follow up quickly with a connection request while you are still fresh in their mind.”

Discover a better way to map your prospects

Anna discusses the importance of mapping out decision making contacts for the purpose of closing the deal. Although this is largely useful for enterprise sales, you can employ this style of mapping for residential & commercial real estate sales.

With your existing Linkedin contacts, you should be able to work out who is the key decision maker in the family, including who works where and for which company. Anna mentions “You’d be surprised how much people put in their profiles”, use this information to map a concise picture of the entity you are selling to (a business, family or individual).

Never make a cold call again

Know who you are talking to. Returning a missed call/email or replying to a request for further information should never be done cold. Get to know the person you are able to liaise with, finding them on Linkedin is the first step to finding out who they are, where they are and what work they perform.

Anna Bratton writes that with LinkedIn, she can almost always learn enough about someone to make the initial call more relevant. She adds that “it shows I’ve gone to more trouble than 90% of the other salespeople who call them every day.”

“I pay particular attention to changes in profile, status updates, connections we have in common and anything they’ve posted to a group (which can be reason enough to call them in the first place). Also, with a paid account, you can see expanded profiles of everyone on LinkedIn (not just those of your immediate contacts). This provides even more useful insights you can use to make a real-life connection.”

Get past the gatekeeper with InMail

In the article, Anna advises that senior decision makers are a tough group to get through to. Concerning real estate sales, the gatekeeper could be anything between you and the sale. This could be someone or an object, finding the best means through to the decision maker is half the battle.

Anna recommends LinkedIn’s internal email system InMail, which allows you to send an email to any LinkedIn user without requiring an introduction or knowing their email address. Basically, it ensures your email gets through to their inbox. LinkedIn claims that an InMail is 30 times more likely to get a response than a cold call (which, if anything, sounds conservative from my experience).

InMails are only available on paid accounts. The higher level the account you have, the more you get. On the entry-level business account you’ll get three to five InMail ‘credits’ each month. This means you’ll want to reserve them for when everything else fails. But the good news is that if you receive a response to an InMail within 90 days – even a “not interested” response – the credit you spent to send it gets refunded.

Unlock a smarter way to search

Employing the Linkedin Search you can drill down to people, industry, company or other keywords. Anna claims that if you have a paid account and you can add company size and seniority level, adding”by intelligently mixing the different filters you can get really deep and identify key individuals quickly and easily”.

Employing this methodology within the real estate industry, this could add a new layer of knowledge to your prospective process. Ann adds “you can also save your search criteria and get a weekly report listing anyone new who matches the customers you’re looking for”.

Learn what’s happening in your prospect companies

Knowing what is happening in your prospect’s business world may sound like it is more suited to commercial real estate sales within the corporate sales environment, it isn’t and do not excuse this routine.

It pays to be informed. Without knowing valuable, key information of what is happening in your prospect’s work environment, you could be selling to someone about to change roles, companies or they may been just made redundant. A real estate transaction may now be toward the bottom of their list of priorities.

“LinkedIn makes discovering these changes easy. You can follow any company that has a LinkedIn page. That way you’ll see anything that changes directly in your updates. It’s an easy way to stay up to date and spot new opportunities.”

Use groups for more than simply keeping up to date

Linkined groups are known as an ideal way to remain updated within an industry/appreciation, but they can also be a great way to discover new prospects. Anna advises “Member questions are great for telling you about frustrations and unmet needs. They can also give you the perfect reason for making contact with a prospect.”

Anna add’s that Linkedin groups can be useful in other ways:

  1. They can give you further insights into what’s happening within a prospect company – how active they are, whether they’re hiring etc.
  2. They allow you to see more of an individual prospect’s details – in particular their full name. This is usually restricted to first level contacts (which reinforces the importance of tip 1).
  3. Group membership gives you both the reason and capability to make more connections (it’s one of the criteria you can select when you send a connection request).

Make your profile work harder for you

Linkedin is about connections, therefore your profile is extremely important to showcase your sales successes and your professionalism. Remember prospective buyers/vendors are looking to profile you, they are researching you and your history. Most, if not all prospective buyer & vendors will check out your profile at least once. Your Linkedin profile is yet another way to promote your positive online footprint.

Anna recommends these important tips for managing your profile “Make sure you include current links to your company site, your Twitter account and Facebook page (I find that a significant number of people who check out my LinkedIn profile go on to follow me on Twitter).”

“You should also get some high quality recommendations – especially from existing happy customers (quality is better than quantity). This will give visitors a better idea of what you’re like as a person. After all, even in B2B, people still buy from people.”

Anna add’s “Finally, always add a photo. It makes you more tangibly real and creates a good impression. Make sure it’s a good quality shot (nothing wacky or from a recent party) and don’t forget to smile!”

The ‘look and look back’ trick

In her article, Anna says that it amazes her how few people know that you can see who looked at your profile (unless visitors have set their profiles to anonymous). The free account limits how many you can see while paid accounts give you the whole list.

Anna mentions that this can work for you in two ways:

  1. The fact that someone looked at your profile is a good excuse to reach out with a connection request
  2. If you look at other people’s profiles, a certain proportion will always look back (see 1 above)

Even when you get visitors described as “Procurement Professional from the Pharmaceutical Industry” you can still click on them. LinkedIn will then give you a list which will include the actual visitor. It then takes just minutes to quickly visit each profile to show you’ve looked back.

Concerning real estate, this activity reinforces that you are being profiled by prospective buyers or vendors. Make sure you click on their profile to return the favour and reach out to them. Send through your recent list of sold properties or properties you have available, a simple “Hi there, thought you might be interested in these homes near your search area.”

Integrate LinkedIn with Sales Cloud

The blog written by Anna Bratton resides on a Salesforce website, so you would expect the CRM recommended is Salesforce. Whether you like Salesforce or not, it highlights the need for a CRM. You must employ a CRM to ensure you are maximising your communications and not over contacting (spamming). Check out the article Real Estate CRM’s.

Anna mentions she is a user of Salesforce to tack and manage her sales pipeline.

I can easily integrate my LinkedIn contacts with my Sales Cloud records and tag where they came from. It means I can quickly see their work experience and education as well as our shared connections. I can also add in their photo (which I find really useful).

Of course, LinkedIn isn’t the only place I get information about my prospects. Sales Cloud also allows me to bring in what I learn on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Klout too. It means I can get a more rounded (and ultimately more valuable) view of my prospects.”

You can read the Salesforce Blog at the UK Salesforce website, www.salesforce.com/uk/blog/2015/12/ten-tips-for-using-linkedin-for-sales-prospecting.html