Having spent 60 straight months testing, deploying and refining various B2B sales strategies and approaches over on LinkedIn, it's become very clear to me what works - and what doesn't.
For starters, the opportunity to sell your B2B-themed products and services on LinkedIn remains enormous. With nearly 500 million members in 200 countries, and with 2 new members joining the platform every second, LinkedIn has a very distinctive (and captive) audience of professionals.
In order to capture their time, interest and attention, you need to eschew what the network is best known for (job hunting and online résumés) and take a far different approach.
What follows are five specific strategies I see working over and over again when it comes to selling your products and services on LinkedIn.
Strategy 1: Content = Currency
You must earn the time, attention and interest of the prospects you discover on LinkedIn. Creating and sharing free, valuable content that helps a niche audience solve some of their biggest professional problems is how you set yourself apart from the competition.
In addition, content has become the currency of today's online marketplace. If you want to "buy" the time, attention and interest of your ideal prospects on LinkedIn, you must create content that will be of intense interest (and value) to them.
Strategy 2: Don't Claim. Demonstrate.
Anyone can claim authority - especially online. These days, it seems like everywhere you turn, you see another person calling himself or herself a "guru," "ninja" or whatever else.
To really win someone's trust, you must demonstrate authority. Your free content proves to people that you are the expert, that you can help them achieve their goals and that you are worth their time, interest and attention.
Strategy 3: Your Ask = Amount of Trust Earned.
Gone are the days of being able to just ask a new LinkedIn connection to grab coffee or jump on the phone for 15 minutes.
Instead, you have to earn the opportunity. People are far too busy (and, let's face it, far too interested in ourselves and our own unique challenges!) to just give away their time and attention.
Also, the bigger your "ask" of someone, the more trust you must earn.
For instance, you don't ask someone to marry you on the first date, and you can't ask someone for a sale as soon as you get connected and exchange a few pleasantries on LinkedIn.
Instead, your "ask" must always be in direct proportion to the amount of trust you've earned with the other person up to that point in the relationship.
Strategy 4: The Riches are in the Niches.
Your LinkedIn content should be hyper-focused on a targeted, niche audience, to the point of including their job title or industry name in the headline of your blog posts and articles.
Say, for example, that you want to sell online video marketing services. And that one of your target markets is chiropractors.
Because of LinkedIn's incredible internal search engine and member data, you can instantly and easily find countless chiropractors to connect with and market to.
And, just like anyone else, those chiropractors will want to feel like you really "get" their industry and all the unique challenges and issues they face on a daily basis.
So, while you can do online video marketing for anyone, you want to make sure that on LinkedIn, at least, you make it clear that you specialize in helping chiropractors use online video to get new patients.
That means having what I call a client-facing profile - one that caters to chiropractors and includes case studies and testimonials of other chiropractors who have landed new patients using your online videos.
Then, once you've begun connecting with and talking to chiropractors on LinkedIn, you can "earn" more of their time and attention by sharing free content, tips and examples of your videos with them.
For instance, you can publish a blog post titled, "3 Ways Chiropractors Can Leverage Online Video To Land New Patients" and include why online video works so well, how it helps chiropractors land new patients and show examples of videos you've made for chiropractors.
Strategy 5: Headlines are EVERYTHING.
Now, you can create the greatest piece of content in the world, but if the headline is confusing, boring or uninspiring, nobody will consume it!
Over on LinkedIn, the ideal headline formula for your content should be: "Target Audience Name + Your Service + Benefit They Want".
Here's an example headline: "3 Ways Chiropractors Can Leverage Online Video To Land New Patients!"
Chiropractor = Target Audience
Online Video = Your Service
New Patients = Benefit They Want
Note: Your content should not be written like a sales letter or advertisement, but rather as an informative, helpful and strategic guide of how this target audience could use the service you're talking about to achieve one of the benefits they want.
A Plan for Success
If you follow the strategies outlined in this post, you will set yourself apart from your competition on LinkedIn by being clear, hyper-focused and personalized. Through your content, you'll demonstrate your expertise and built trust without having to be sales-y, sleazy or spammy in the process.
Best of all, LinkedIn makes it easy to create a personalized, 1-on-1 marketing approach in any niche you can imagine.
When you take all these elements together, and combine it with the incredible amount of prospects sitting over on LinkedIn, it becomes easy to sell your products and services on the platform.