3 Game Changers Sales Leaders Should Know About Selling With LinkedIn

Every sales leader cares deeply about these two things: A consistently robust pipeline and achieving more close-won deals. These two attributes are needed to make and exceed quota. So, why don’t sales leaders recognize the value in training their team to be more effective in selling with LinkedIn to reach more buyers and build more pipeline?

We surveyed 862 sales reps to learn about their LinkedIn practices – i.e., their skills using LinkedIn in their selling activities. We published the findings in our State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn 2019 report. The findings are neither surprising nor good news for sales leaders. Many sales professionals are underutilizing LinkedIn despite the fact the network has more than 600 million members of business professionals. As if that’s not enough, LinkedIn makes it easy to search and find prospects.

If only sales reps knew how to do that!

If you follow our content at Vengreso, you know that we are passionate about helping B2B sales professionals leverage digital selling to start more conversations with qualified buyers in their path to winning more deals. CSO Insights reports that companies with a formal “social selling” initiative win more deals.

We decided to publish our own findings from our Digital Selling Benchmark surveys. We looked at the results from 862 sales reps who answered 10 questions about how they use LinkedIn. These reps work at companies across five industries: technology, professional services, financial services, manufacturing, and healthcare.

We asked sales reps these 10 multiple choice questions:

Question 1: Which version of LinkedIn are you using?

○ Don’t know
○ Free
○ Premium (not Sales Navigator)
○ Sales Navigator (purchased by me)
○ Sales Navigator (purchased by my company)

Question 2: How would you describe your LinkedIn photo?

○ Recognizable and professional
○ Acceptable for business
○ Too casual for business
○ Poor quality (focus or distant)
○ No photo

Question 3: What types of media have you added to your LinkedIn profile?

○ Documents
○ Images
○ Presentations
○ Videos
○ None

Question 4: How many LinkedIn connections do you have?

○ 0 – 250
○ 251 – 500
○ 501 – 1000
○ 1001 +
○ Don’t know

Question 5: In the last three months, how many times have you asked someone in your LinkedIn network for an introduction or referral to someone in their network?

○ 0 (zero)
○ 1 – 10
○ 11 – 20
○ 21 +

Question 6: How many times per month do you use LinkedIn advanced search features to find prospects?

○ 0 (zero)
○ 1 – 10
○ 11 – 20
○ 21 +

Question 7: How often do you share content with your LinkedIn network?

○ Never
○ A few times per month
○ A few times per week
○ A few times per day
○ Don’t know

Question 8: Which online resources do you typically check before a first call with a prospect? (check all that apply)

○ Google
○ Company website
○ Company social media
○ Individual’s social media
○ None

Question 9: In the last 3 months, have you sent a prospect or a customer an email containing a personal video message?

○ Yes
○ No

Question 10: What is your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) score?

○ 0 – 9
○ 10 – 19
○ 20 – 29
○ 30 – 39
○ 40 – 49
○ 50 – 59
○ 60 – 69
○ 70 – 79
○ 80 – 89
○ 90 – 100

I encourage you to read the State of Digital Selling with LinkedIn 2019 report to see for yourself the findings for each of these ten questions. For the remainder of this post, I offer you three key insights from our survey that sales AND marketing leaders need to understand and to consider how they impact your team’s success.

LinkedIn is Misunderstood by Many Salespeople

It’s clear that too many sales professionals still don’t understand the power of LinkedIn to help them find, engage and connect with qualified buyers. Too many reps do not have a profile that is written through the lens of the buyer so that the buyer is “attracted” to the rep as a valuable resource. Only 32 percent of survey respondents have a photo “acceptable for business” and about 11 percent have “no photo.” The photo is the first thing a visitor notices on a LinkedIn profile. It sends an immediate message to your buyer. You’ve heard it said, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.”  

When you consider the average number of people involved in the B2B decision process is estimated at 6.8 people, it’s not rocket science to suggest that salespeople should expand their network within their target accounts.

Most salespeople understand the value of having a network. The saying “your network is your net worth,” has been popularized in the digital age, but this adage has been a reality for many decades. It’s disappointing to learn that 50 percent of survey respondents have 500 or fewer connections on LinkedIn. When you consider the average number of people involved in the B2B decision process is estimated at 6.8 people, it’s not rocket science to suggest that salespeople should expand their network within their target accounts. While it’s not all about quantity for the sake of quantity, there’s an easy case to build that any salesperson should have well over 1000 relevant contacts in their network. More contacts mean more opportunity for more engagement, which means more opportunity to boost your SSI score. As discussed in the report, reps with higher SSI scores make quota more than those who don’t. See the correlation?


Bernie Borges
Bernie Borges
BERNIE is co-founder and CMO of Vengreso, The Digital Sales Transformation company. Bernie is the host of the award-winning Social Business Engine podcast with over 200 episodes published. Bernie’s career spans three decades with a unique background in B2B marketing roles and sales roles. He founded a leading digital marketing agency, which after 15 years merged into Vengreso in 2017. Bernie is a frequent speaker at industry events and is the author of Marketing 2.0. He has been recognized by industry peers, including Marketing Insider’s 60 Best Marketing Speakers, 50 Social Media Marketing Influencers and Onalytica’s Top 100 AI Influencers. Bernie teaches the Content Marketing module in the University of South Florida Digital Marketing Certificate Program.

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