When it comes building a sales funnel, there has never been a better platform than LinkedIn. I've personally used LinkedIn as a primary lead source to grow my business and gain more than 47,000 followers who continue to open doors to many opportunities. 

In 2017, we finally began to see an integration of powerful sales tools between Microsoft and LinkedIn. The combination of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Dynamics 365, and Office 365 created an integration of a company's social and sales data for the first time, which made it easier for sales reps to find the right prospects and engage with them throughout the entire sales cycle.

Even if your organization doesn't have the budget to upgrade your customer relationship software in 2018 and you're just using a free LinkedIn account, you can use these tips to generate sales leads and close more business this year.

1. Optimize your profile for sales

Once you have a job, you should use your profile primarily as a sales tool instead of as a resume. Move away from focusing on your past experience. Instead, create a profile that demonstrates how you add value right now in your current role. 

Here's what you need to keep in mind to create leads from your LinkedIn profile:

  • Add a customized branded banner photo with your company's logo and slogan.
  • Always have a professional profile photo. 
  • Include attention-grabbing keywords in your headline that you want to be found for, not just your job title.
  • Show how you add value to your clients in your summary section.
  • Post links to your company's top two pieces of content in your experience section. This is an excellent spot for explainer videos and blog posts.
  • Connect with the right people.
  • Once your profile has been optimized, start using LinkedIn to connect with the key players in your industry.

Using the search feature on LinkedIn will reveal key decision makers and the members of their teams in the companies you would like to target.

Once you find them, send them a personalized connection request stating why you would like to connect.

View their profile first to see if you share any common connections, interests, or other commonalities you can mention in your invite to warm up the request and increase the likelihood of them accepting. 

Never send out generic sounding connection requests to people you want to do business with.

Once you have identified and connected to key individuals within your company's target market, you can figure out the best ways to begin building relationships with them.

2. Post thought-provoking content that starts conversations

People come to LinkedIn because they want business-related content that will add to their industry knowledge. In other words, "they are over" the crap that's on their Facebook wall and they have come to LinkedIn to be intellectually challenged. 

Always keep your buyer in mind when you are posting content to LinkedIn. Once your prospects have seen and engaged with your content, it makes pitching them later much more natural.

Never just post links to outside websites on LinkedIn that don't include any context. In fact, LinkedIn's algorithm prefers that you don't post any external links. They want you to create on-platform discussions. 

There are two ways top users on the site are hacking LinkedIn's algorithm to reach a massive audience well beyond their immediate network and start conversations with their prospects:

Text-only Posts. Use text-only posts that demonstrate your knowledge and start conversations. LinkedIn used to encourage discussions in their groups. Now it seems they want those type of in-depth conversations happening right in the newsfeed for everyone to see.  

If your network engages on your text-only post initially, LinkedIn's algorithm will grab it and continue to accelerate your post showing it to a massive audience.

Many people I know have reached well over a million people organically with their text-only posts, all without spending anything.

Native Video. In 2017, LinkedIn finally launched on-platform native video, and the algorithm is favoring it. Marketers are using the feature to reach a wide audience in their network and well beyond. Just like with the text-only posts, if your network responds to the video, LinkedIn's algorithm will begin to show it to a larger audience.

Conclusion

Selling on LinkedIn is about creating relationships. It's never been about clicking on random links to make sales. 

When you approach LinkedIn the right way, you can use it to build a powerful funnel that over time will be a consistent lead generator for your business.

And the best part is you don't have to drop a bunch of money on ads to do it.

Published on: Jan 2, 2018