This is Part 1 in a 5-part series describing an effective LinkedIn strategy for selling high value products and services.
PART 1: LINKEDIN PROFILE OPTIMIZATION
As the world’s #1 professional network, LinkedIn’s entire value revolves around your personal profile. This means having a compelling profile is essential for getting found and building business on LinkedIn.
How People Find You on LinkedIn (What Counts for Making Sales)
There are numerous ways that people can find you on LinkedIn: Search, Groups, how you’re connected diagram, People You May Know page, Google search, your company page, Updates, Posts, Who’s Viewed Your Profile, etc. Part of the LinkedIn strategy we’re going to lay out here focuses on getting you found by more of your ideal customers.
From the perspective of trying to sell your product or service on LinkedIn the three things that actually count are:
1) LinkedIn Search results (and Google SERPs)
Search results count the most, because your potential “hot” buyers use the search box to actively look for people who provide products and services they need.
LinkedIn’s search engine is “brute force” and doesn’t have the built-in intelligence of Google. That means where you end up in search results is highly dependent on the keywords you use in your profile — and the more the merrier (as long as it’s not spammy-looking i.e. don’t “keyword stuff”).
Google searches will also turn up LinkedIn profiles with high relevance, so you get a double-whammy when you keyword optimize your profile.
2) Updates and Articles
LinkedIn Articles work because keyword-driven content you publish appears in searches. Articles are often shared and liked, expanding your reach significantly. They also appear in on-screen alerts when you publish them.
LinkedIn Updates appear in the LinkedIn social stream right when your sales prospects log in.
These are snippets of exposure that help keep you “front of mind” in your network.
Distributing content and tying it into your profile allows interested buyers to find you determine if you’re credible and reach out to you.
Producing relevant content for your ideal target customers will increase targeted traffic to your profile and potentially lead to sales — exactly what you want from a LinkedIn strategy.
3) Who’s Viewed Your Profile
Who’s Viewed Your Profile works like a “breadcrumb” — an opportunistic trigger for potential buyers to track back and view your profile.
A prospect who sees you’ve viewed their profile will often click your image to find out who you are.
About 1-2% of the time he or she will invite you to connect. If this occurs when they need your product or service, it’s an immediate incoming warm lead.
Who’s Viewed Your Profile analytics require a Premium LinkedIn account.
How to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile (Template)
As somebody responsible for building business and making sales, your profile has one key purpose: Tell the prospect what problem you solve and why he or she should choose you to solve it.
Here are the template elements to optimize for this LinkedIn strategy:
This is simple. Get a professional color headshot done in your normal business attire for your target market.
If you want to shortcut this, have a friend take a photo outdoors in a well-lit area that doesn’t have direct sunlight beaming on you. Good locations are next to buildings, trees in a park, etc. Present a friendly yet professional face your customers will relate to.
Make sure the background is not too light or too dark for your skin color and clothing. What you’re looking for is a good contrasting background — darker if you have light skin / light clothes, lighter if you have dark skin / dark clothes. It’s also helpful if the background is a bit blurred. This focuses the eyes on your face, not the background.
The byline is the text right under your name in the Profile Edit view. This line of text appears everywhere on LinkedIn, including the Who’s Viewed Your Profile and People You May Know areas.
LinkedIn defaults your job title into this field. That’s completely wrong for selling (although it’s correct if you’re looking for a job).
As a key part of this LinkedIn strategy, you want your byline to succinctly describe the SPECIFIC VALUE you provide to your ideal target customers. Here are some examples:
- “I Negotiate Insurance Claims Down”
- “I Solve Divorce-Related Asset Ownership Problems”
- “Top 1% Producing Sales Agent for the Construction Products Industry”
- “Helping Municipalities Reduce Telecom Costs”
- “I Help Families Pay for College”
Your Byline is absolutely critical for executing this LinkedIn strategy for selling high value products and services.
Your Summary section should have all of these elements. This is a “magic formula” that works for any business owner or sales executive:
- Long version of your Byline (1-3 sentences)
- What you do (put this in the language of your ideal customer in terms of what problems you solve, what solutions you bring, and what benefits customers get)
- How you measure success from your customer’s perspective (e.g. performance indicators)
- How you do what you do (i.e. what makes you different)
- Who you want to do business with, and who you don’t (be specific)
- A personal passion or achievement with one sentence about why it’s relevant (e.g. Olympic skier = determination, donor to the dog rescue shelter = compassion)
- How to reach you (email, phone, social, hours)
- List of your skills and specialties
- List of keywords your ideal clients search for when looking to buy
Articles Section (SEE PART 2: LINKEDIN CONTENT PRODUCTION)
Your Experience should include every job you had since college (or internships, etc. if you’re just out of college). Each position should be described in the language your customer cares about, in terms of the benefits you’ve provided. For example, “saved my clients $X money” or “helped my government customer buy 14,000 jet engines with 20% lower failure rate”.
Part of this high value LinkedIn strategy is demonstrating credibility when people read your profile. If you’ve only got the last job and it doesn’t say much about what you’ve achieved for your customers, then you leave your prospects with an open gap they’ll tend to fill with “I don’t trust this person” (authenticity gap) or “I can’t see what’s in it for me” (value gap).
On the other hand, if your current and past job history shows a series of benefits delivered and expertise gained, potential customers will see this and view you as a high value provider, not just “some salesperson”.
Ditto in the Education section. The more detail you put about your education and why it’s relevant to your ideal target customer’s needs, the more likely they’ll view it as a bonus, which increases your credibility, authority and authenticity.
A lack of education i.e. “School of Hard Knocks” can also be turned to your benefit. Most customers respect people who have worked hard and earned their way in the world.
Skills & Endorsements
Skills and Endorsements are a CRITICAL section for our LinkedIn strategy, for two reasons:
1) LinkedIn’s search engine uses Skills heavily when serving up profiles. So you want to be endorsed heavily for skills that match the search terms your potential customers are likely to use when looking for a solution to buy.
2) Third-party endorsements increase social trust, particularly if the endorser is within the prospect’s industry, LinkedIn groups, or network. The more endorsements you have from high credibility people, the greater the likelihood a prospect will find and contact you looking to buy your product or service.
Volunteer / Causes / Interests
Causes and Interests are important for this strategy because they show up as a common topic between you and the second-degree network members you will target. The more Causes and Interests you have in your profile, the more likely a second-degree target customer will reach out and connect with you.
Have you built homes for the poor? Written a ground-breaking white paper? Co-authored a Kindle e-book? Given a TED speech? List them in the Projects section. Projects reveal your depth and interests, and are great topics of conversation.
Languages are important if your business is international, particularly in senior leadership, political, trade or marketing roles.
Publications add a substantial amount of credibility and boost your search engine results in LinkedIn for relevant terms. If you’re in a research-driven industry (pharma, scientific, finance, education, health, etc.) then you should list as many publications as possible where you were the author, co-author, editor or publisher. This includes self-publications and e-books.
Join as many relevant LinkedIn Groups as possible where your ideal target customers hang out (limit is about 50 LinkedIn groups snd you can have 10 outstanding requests to join at any given time). Part of this high value LinkedIn strategy is encouraging relevant second-degree network members to connect with you. The probabilities of inbound connection requests increase when your prospect can see a common Group membership with you.
You should also contribute to Group conversations by commenting on other members’ posts and posting non-self-serving content (SEE PART 5: LINKEDIN ENGAGEMENT ACTIONS). If you want to post sales-oriented content, be sure to obey the guidelines and reach out to the Group owner first. Groups are great for increasing your credibility, but they can also destroy it depending on your behavior, so treat them with a light touch.