Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #Smallbizchat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET. This is excerpted from my recent interview with Dana Taylor @EthosGold. Dana is CEO & Chief Strategist of Intelligent Ethos, Inc. which serves businesses ranging $2M-$10M in revenue, in fields such as change management, data consulting, information technology, and market research. Intelligent Ethos® provides sales pipeline development and customer relationship management advisory services, methodology, and delivery. www.intelligentethos.com
SmallBizLady: Why should small businesses use LinkedIn for sales and business development?
Dana Taylor: LinkedIn’s members represent a rich pool of potential customers from a number of industries. The valuable profile information makes it easier to close sales.
SmallBizLady: Who should business owners connect with on LinkedIn?
Dana Taylor: A person’s LinkedIn network of connections should reflect who they are and how they live. Your connections should include all business colleagues with whom you have established a nice rapport, and you want to keep in touch with them. Your connections should also include personal contacts, classmates from high school and college, colleagues from past jobs, and associates from professional membership and civic organizations.
SmallBizLady: Should people connect with people they do not know on LinkedIn?
Dana Taylor: Yes, it is a good thing to connect with new people on LinkedIn, particularly after you have reviewed their profile for common areas of interest as well as mutual connections. If the connection shows promise, you can cultivate that relationship from that point forward.
SmallBizLady: How does a person select which LinkedIn Groups to join?
Dana Taylor: The LinkedIn Groups that you join should include groups that your prospects are likely to join, including groups of their professional peers and their company’s or industry organizations. You should also join groups including your own alumni association and professional service area. Lastly, join local groups. People enjoy working with people where there is potential to meet in-person and participate in local activities.
SmallBizLady: What is the most effective way to leverage LinkedIn Groups?
Dana Taylor: Sharing is caring. When sharing articles, event information, and other types of expertise, LinkedIn has easy to use functionality allowing you to share that information directly into multiple groups in one step. Doing this regularly helps establish you as a thought leader, while also drawing those group members to your LinkedIn profile.
SmallBizLady: What is the key approach to building your sales pipeline using LinkedIn?
Dana Taylor: The gold is in the ‘Advanced Search’ function. This is where you build a quantitative and measurable sales pipeline. All sales campaigns should start here.
SmallBizLady: What are the best criteria to use in ‘Advanced Search’ in LinkedIn?
Dana Taylor: 1 – Industry, 2 – Company Size, 3 – Seniority Level, and 4 – Location. If you do not know which of these to select, figuring out which of the options in each of these categories is the best fit for your business will be a huge step in the right direction.
SmallBizLady: Why is the size of a prospect’s company relevant in the sales process?
Dana Taylor: Size matters. Size of your prospect’s company is directly related to their need to buy, likelihood to buy, willingness to buy, and ability to buy your product or service.
SmallBizLady: How do you create an action plan with the information you receive in LinkedIn Advanced Search results?
Dana Taylor: Use of LinkedIn is all about leveraging relationships. In creating an action plan, you must review and evaluate which of your connections are common to you and your prospects. Key questions to consider are: ‘Does this person really know my targeted prospect? Will this person introduce me to my targeted prospect?’ Your answers to these questions will lay the foundation for your action plan moving forward.
SmallBizLady: What are common techniques for requesting an introduction to another person on LinkedIn?
Dana Taylor: When the person you are asking to make the introduction knows you and your product or service well, asking for an introduction is as simple as sending an email or making a quick phone call. However, sometimes it is helpful to educate the person you are asking to make the introduction about your business and why you want to reach out so that they are better equipped to make an impactful introduction. This is best done in a phone conversation or a brief in-person meeting.
SmallBizLady: What successes have small businesses seen using LinkedIn to build their sales pipeline?
Dana Taylor: One particular business was targeting 50 prospects, identified 15 common connections in their LinkedIn network, and secured 5 sales meetings from that exercise. That is an outstanding outcome.
SmallBizLady: Have you seen any unusual outcomes from using LinkedIn to develop a sales pipeline?
Dana Taylor: One gentleman found that many of his targeted prospects shared connections with him that were neighbors of his, fellow soccer parents, and even a groomsman in his wedding.
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