I'm learning to love LinkedIn more and more as a B2B sales prospecting tool. But the more I use it, the more I wish someone at LinkedIn would get off their ass and make the platform what it could be versus what it is.
Right now LinkedIn is a great tool for networking but leaves much to be desired as a prospecting tool. Yes, I think there is a distinct difference between prospecting and networking.
Networking is asking someone you know to introduce you to someone they know. It's a form of prospecting and certainly a powerful one for industries like real estate, financial advisors, and such.
Prospecting is systematically using data to identifiy, target and reach out to high value people or companies that you don't necessarily have any level of connectivity with right now.
5 Features That Would Make LinkedIn a World-Class Prospecting Platform
People You Wish You Knew
Right now LinkedIn will gladly show you people you may know. But aside from turning 2nd and 3rd Connections into 1st Connections, it's really not all that helpful for folks that want to prospect versus network.
Why not give me a daily or weekly email of people I wish I knew? Let me punch in key criteria and then based on that criteria, and my network, show me folks I don't know exist but based on my criteria probably would like to know exist. This goes well beyond the saved searches you can do currently.
Encourage users to sign up to receive targeted, high-value content on topics they care about. I'm not talking about what LinkedIn has today. I'm talking about giving everyone on LinkedIn the opportunity to apply to become a writer for LinkedIn Today, as in a proprietary content platform owned and operated by LinkedIn.
Contributors and their contributions would be vetted and constantly scored. Thus, recepients of the information would be ensured of getting helpful information versus linkbait.
Contributors would provide the content for free in exchange for data in the form of notifications of who read their content.
Ideally, LinkedIn would track all of the content a person reads and roll that up into a profile that I as a contributor could access -- but only if the member had read one or more of my articles. How would that be for an incentive to write awesome content?
People do business with people they like. Video is the ultimate tool to convey the true personality of a person, so why doesn't LinkedIn give us the ability to have a simple one minute or 90 second video greeting on our profile?
This gives the prospectee a chance to show themselves off a tad and the prospector a chance to better qualify which prospects are good vs bad fits and target accordingly.
UPDATE: The awseome Wade Kwon left a great comment -- he shows you how to use a Slideshare Video to hack LinkedIn to actually have a video greeting. I had seen that you could do this but mistakenly thought the video had to appear way down your profile (read, below the fold) but Wade just showed me how you can move it all the way to the first position! Here's how you do it.
LinkedIn Knowledge Base
The current Answers section is a start but it suffers from a few big problems. First, I have to go in search of questions to answer. Yes, you can subscribe to a category feed, but that can quickly become overwhelming.
Second, there needs to be a way to grade questions and those that post the question. Far too many of the "questions" posted in the Answer section are outright advertising or just plain stupid.
Instead, create a true knowlege base where every LinkedIn user can sign up to answer questions in up to five categories. The categories should be hyper-niched, thus forcing folks to focus on those areas where they have really deep knowledge vs trying to be a jack of all trades.
Members could have three settings -- send me no questions (I'll log on), send me all questions in my categories or just send me questions posed by users in key industries or from my prospect companies.
For those users that want LinkedIn to be a really targeted prospecting tool, the last option creates one hell of a Top of the Funnel prospecting tool.
When someone is in the market for something business related, whether it be to hire a social media agency, locate a mobile web developer or maybe even hire a new employee, LinkedIn could be the match.com of that world.
Right now you can do pretty powerful searches on LinkedIn, but they're not perfect. Further, after that you're on your own. How much more effecient would a search be for both the buyer and seller (and that includes employer and prospective employee) if LinkedIn created a toolset within LinkedIn that made the sourcing, evaluation, meeting and even hiring/awarding of work a seamless, painless process within LInkedIn?
Painless Prospecting Is The Future
Technology, the economy and culture are combining to create a perfect storm. Today's sales person not only wants, but needs to know that every time they get on a call or attend a meeting with a prospect, that the prospect is already in buy mode and wants to buy what the seller is selling. Ineffeciency means you have to give up something you love to spend more time doing something you probably don't love -- prospecting.
Technology and data can and do make this dream a reality. We'll talk more about that reality in future posts. But for now, I can only hope that the biggest business platform in the world -- LInkedIn -- gives this post a read and finds a few items they can get behind and implement sooner rather than later to help make prospecting on LinkedIn a bit less painless.
So what do you think? Was this helpful?
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Other Posts on Prospecting You Should Read
- The Art of Sales Seduction -- Converse Digital Blog
- Painless Prospecting --Positive Disruption
- Your B2B Target Definition Is Wrong -- Converse Digital Blog
- Creating Compelling Content for Niche Industries - Positive Disruption
- How to Segment Your B2B Database With eMail -- Converse Digital Blog
- The Biggest Content Marketing Mistakes Businesses Make - Positive Disruption
- Painless Prospecting For a New Year - Vimeo
photo by Ayleen Gaspar