Crediting LinkedIn as helping them with acquisition, research, referrals, and engagement, four in five sales professionals who use social selling are outselling their peers (source). In today's market, a profile that shows why people should invest their time, energy, and personal reputation in you is a valuable asset.
For sales management and sales leaders ignoring the power of social selling amounts to professional negligence.
LinkedIn have identified the four most important areas for sales professionals to invest their social selling time for maximum payoff. These are:
These elements will build an authentic LinkedIn presence, narrative, and outreach. In this article, we’ll help you elevate each area. Before we get started:
Let’s dive in 👇
On LinkedIn the major components of your professional brand are your profile, the content you share with your network, and how you engage with others. “Establish Your Professional Brand” looks at just the first two, reflecting metrics like the completeness of your profile, content you have produced, and how other members engage with them (source).
You have a lot of flexibility with your personal brand, so it’s important to consider what unique value do you offer, who your target audience is, and how you want to be seen. These should all catch the threat of your overarching goal of building trust and credibility with your target audience.
Whether you choose to keep your brand simple or deeply invest, the most important thing is to always keep your target audience front of mind when you’re on LinkedIn, from completing your profile to sharing insight in a comment.
There are essential components every sales professional’s LinkedIn profile should have. LinkedIn have created a basic how-to guide for these essentials. Here is how to further elevate yours:
Your profile photo, along with your name and headline, will follow you everywhere on LinkedIn, so they're important to get right.
On top of photo basics like not having any issues with blur, pixelation, light, colour, or contrast, and being centred on your head, make sure to:
If you’re having trouble picturing the ‘right’ image this meme is great for checking you aren’t mixing up your priorities.
Your headline is the few-sentence micro-bio displayed alongside your name and profile photo. An eye-catching headline is a fast way to communicate your value and relevance to a broad scale, so don’t waste the real estate on your title and company. Try talking about your:
You’ll find some more examples from LinkedIn here.
Headlines are 120 characters but are often trimmed to ~70, plus attention spans are short. Put your most important information first and keep it punchy.
The background photo appears at the top of your profile, and in some other views on LinkedIn. Paired with your headline, it’s a great way for a prospect to quickly understand what you do and/or who you work for. A professional background photo is a huge visual element on your profile, polishing it to help build trust and credibility.
Pre-made options provided by marketing are perfect, but if you don't have those consider a professional image of you, your product, the team, company, or storefront. You could also creating your own photo using a Canva template. If you aren’t a designer, err on the side of simple and stick with the colors your company uses most often.
Regularly check that your contact details are current and as complete as you are comfortable with. You can change your contact settings by visiting your profile and clicking the pencil icon.
The meatiest part of your profile, the personal summary is a maximum of 2000 characters (approx. 250-500 words). This is where you can deliver your 30-second pitch, but remember that this isn’t an online CV. It’s a landing page about how you (a uniquely, trustworthy, and credible potential partner) can offer them value.
To get you started, LinkedIn have a suggested structure here, and have provided some examples here.
Work experience is the most resume-like section on LinkedIn, but can be a great opportunity to build your credibility and relevance, especially if you are new to sales. Each role allows a 2,000 character description which you can use to link it to your current value, including:
When it comes to listing past sales performance (or brags), first consider how the metrics or achievements may look to prospective customers. For example: “Rising Star” award might indicate you are great with clients, where “highest average revenue per deal” might raise concerns about your priorities. Adding context like “worked closely with clients to achieve record revenue results” can help make sales results more relevant.
If you're anxious about removing sales results, remember that a tailored and well-executed LinkedIn presence is likely to impress prospective employers all on its own.
Other Profile Sections
LinkedIn have a range of supplementary sections to deepen your profile. This is helpful to build trust and credibility, and should again be tightly centred around the value you deliver to your target audience.
Should I Switch to Creator Mode?
Creator Mode is available to eligible LinkedIn profiles (both free and premium). It adds abilities like better analytics, pinning posts, and going live and makes changes like prompting users to “follow” you, rather than “connect.” Consider which mode is the best fit for your audience and goals.
Well done! Now your profile is set up it's on to part two of building your professional brand: your content 👇
Sharing insightful and valuable content gives prospective customers a reason to connect, and reaches new audiences. Much like other sales skills, as you get into a rhythm of posting, post performance will give you a feel for what tactics work best for you, your products, and your target audience.
Choose Content Pillars i.e. the key topics you'll be known for.
Identifying some core content pillars to centre your posts around is a pro tip from many LinkedIn content creators. Content pillars are the broad topics you'll post about most often, guidelines that keep your posts relevant to your audience and consistent with your brand. They're also valuable writers-block-busters, reminding you of the things you want to talk about most.
Your pillars (the general suggestion is 3-5) are ‘hero’ topics that are highly relevant to your target audience .This might include trends or best practices in their role or industry, your technology, product, or industry, or related broader topics such as AI.
Your pillars should also reflect you. Having a pillar about a personal passion (like running, psychology, or reading) or demographics (like your gender, generation, or location) makes your brand more memorable and is a reliable conversation starter.
Come Up With an Idea. If you have a preformed idea for a post, great! If not, places you might draw inspiration include:
Choose Your Angle i.e. how you want to talk about the idea. Some ideas include:
Decide How to Format It i.e. how will it catch the audience's attention? On LinkedIn you can use:
Schedule It i.e. when will you post it. Keep in mind:
Stay Out of Your Own Way. Like public speaking, many find posting on social media intimidating. Here are some key things to remember:
Next up, let's find your audience 👇
For the majority of sales people LinkedIn is their best prospect researching tool (source). But with almost one billion users (77% of whom are outside the US) you still need a strategy to efficiently find you audience. In your SSI, "Find the Right People" tells you how well your current approach is working based on your search-related activity and profile views, as well as how often you are active on LinkedIn (source).
Social selling leaders create 45% more opportunities than peers with lower SSI (source).
A paid offering designed for sales professionals, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator is purpose built to help you find, engage, and build relationships with your target audience. If you don’t have access to Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s search function is still powerful enough to filter out your target audience using traits including employers, job title, location, connections, and post content.
Outside of your target market, you should also aim to find:
Once you’ve found your audience, the next step is to engage with them 👇
“Engage with Insights” on your SSI reflects how you interact with other members on LinkedIn including activity (reactions, shares/reshares, and comments), responsiveness to notifications, direct messaging (including response rate), and participation in groups (source).
Reaching out to your prospects via LinkedIn has become a standard technique to cut through, engaging more broadly online can serve a double purpose. Tactics like sharing valuable insights in the comments of a popular post will get you into the feed of both your audience, and new ones.
92% of B2B Buyers will engage with sellers known as industry thought leaders.
LinkedIn, 2023 (source).
LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator provides a dedicated feed of activity from your prospects to help you engage at the right time but, again, LinkedIn free features including notification settings (change this by clicking the bell on a person’s profile) and advanced search (e.g. following hashtags) are helpful ways to keep your finger on the pulse both within and outside of your network.
Next up is the final component of your SSI: relationships 👇
The final piece of your SSI is “Build Relationships.” It reflects the number, quality, and type of connections your LinkedIn efforts have amassed. A healthy or improving score indicates LinkedIn is successfully bridging the digital trust gap between you and decision makers.
Social selling leaders are 51% more likely to reach quota (source).
For this score LinkedIn uses data about your connections, including the acceptance rate of your connection requests (source). Your earlier work on effective professional brand, efficient search, and valuable engagement will boost this rate, but some other ways you can help it are:
Now we’ve identified the four areas to focus on, let’s set you up for ongoing success 👇
These four areas identified are all major contributors to social selling success, but by no means is it an exhaustive list. Social media trends, the algorithm, and your audience are constantly evolving, meaning those who are always learning and testing are consistent outperformers.
Here are some resources to help you do the same:
See you on LinkedIn 👋