In the first quarter of 2016, LinkedIn had433 million members. While this number is only expected to grow, it’s safe to say that the platform has become the primary social networking tool for businesses. Think that LinkedIn is a way to look for jobs and network with current and former co-workers? It is. But it’s so much more.
The platform has evolved into a research tool for prospecting. And savvy channel partners are using LinkedIn as a source for new leads and tangible revenue. So how are your channel partners using LinkedIn to improve business?
Connections are the bread and butter of LinkedIn. And if your partners are simply connected with current co-workers and old college friends, then they’ve got some work to do. Knowing how to connect on LinkedIn can make or break the lead nurturing process.
It’s best to connect when the iron is hot. Following up with a connection request after meeting someone (whether in person or online) ensures that your partner is fresh in their mind.
While it’s important to grow your network, having a reason to connect is also important - for the askee. Spamming people with connection requests can do more damage than good.
2. Map Out Prospects
Are your partners having trouble finding decision makers within your target prospects? LinkedIn can help.
First, tell them to take a look at the existing companies they are trying to contact. Use the Companies search option to locate the prospective client company page, and take it from there. Often, they’ll be able to discover which teams and projects specific employees are working on.
People list all kinds of valuable information on their profiles. With just a little detective work, they’ll be able to map out prospects in no time.
3. Use Groups Wisely
In addition to creating a source of sales prospects, groups can provide insights into what’s happening within a prospect company and expand your partner’s network. But it’s important to approach groups wisely.
First off, selection is critical. As a rule of thumb, value quality over quantity. Unless they plan to dedicate time to numerous groups, it’s wise to limit to five in which your partner will be active. Your partners should choose groups that are relevant to their industry, career, or interests. If they’re feeling a little lost, they can check outLinkedIn Group Search to discover valuable networks.
Simply joining a group is a waste of time. They must be willing to join conversations and add their own value as a new member. Not only can this help discover prospects, it can build up their credentials as a thought leader.
4. Get Personal
These days, there’s really no excuse for your channel partners to go into a call totally cold. With LinkedIn, it’s possible to learn just enough about a prospect to make their call relevant and useful.
Pro tip: During the call, they should mention any connections they may have in common, particular experiences they find impressive, or any interesting status updates or posts. Tell them not to worry about digital stalking. Looking up a prospect before a phone call shows that your partner rep has done their homework.
5. Avoid the Gatekeeper
It’s tough to get through to senior decision makers. But we can’t blame them. Between innumerable calls, emails, and other attempts to connect, it’s no wonder they enlist a gatekeeper to help reduce unwanted communications.
That’s where InMail comes in.
The internal email system allows your partner sales reps to send emails to any LinkedIn user without requiring an introduction. Make it count!According to the LinkedIn, InMail messages are 30x more likely to receive a reply than a cold call or email.
By using these techniques on finding connections, mapping out prospects, and getting personal, you partner reps will only increase the strength of their prospecting efforts.