We’ve all heard it time and time again, “LinkedIn is just the same as your resume.” Well, no – especially not for sales professionals.
Your sales resume should be chock full of individual metrics that helped you move the company’s needle. If you plan to start using your LinkedIn profile for sales, it should be a curated version of that “sell yourself” document, combined with a value proposition specific to your current role and company.
While LinkedIn influencers are seemingly on the rise (aka popping up in our feeds daily), social selling isn’t a new concept. However, as the platform changes, users innovate new ways to leverage it.
LinkedIn has over 380 million members. It’s a game of cutting through the noise, especially with sales and marketing pitches. Before you start selling yourself or your service, you have to make sure you polish up your LinkedIn profile ??
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Best practices for your LinkedIn profile
- LinkedIn sales profile examples
- How to use your profile for sales
Yes, it’s a lot of work – but the payoff is huge, and not only for your sales pipeline. It helps your personal brand as well.
LinkedIn Profile Tips For Sales Professionals
Your LinkedIn profile should feature a healthy mix of individual accomplishments and your customers’ achievements that resulted from those wins. There are several ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile that will ensure you’re putting your best direct message forward.
Let’s look at a typical LinkedIn profile page from top to bottom:
1. Use A Professional Photo
While this may seem obvious, there are a ton of profiles out there that are missing even this first impression. Whether it’s a selfie or clear that someone else was cropped out of a picture, it’s always been best practice to have a professional (or even professional looking) photo on your LinkedIn profile.
Your profile picture should also be relatively recent. Company headshots are a great starting point, even if it’s a little quirky. Think to yourself “How much personality do I want to put out there?” In short, read the room.
Avoid blurry or stretched out images by using the correct LinkedIn profile picture size of 400 X 400 pixels.
2. Optimize Your Headline
The best LinkedIn headlines give your profile context in the form of a value proposition. The most basic value prop statement includes two components:
- Identify a specific need of your target audience
- Explain how you/your product meets that need
In other words, a high-level value proposition should convey who you are helping and how. Let’s take a look at a few LinkedIn headline examples, both good and bad.
By formatting your headline more like a mini value prop, your sales prospecting efforts are getting a head start. You know that they are interested in generating more leads and you don’t have to start the pitch at the top of the funnel. Instead, you have the opportunity to dig in and figure out what is and isn’t working with their current programs and how to best position your product.
3. Sell In The Summary
After someone sees your awesome profile picture and headline, they click to see more! This is where you’ve got the floor. Chances are they’ll do a quick scroll through your job experience before deciding whether they are truly interested in learning more or that you’re not what they expected (if this is the case, you might want to take another shot at that headline).
If they stay on your profile page to learn more, they will likely click into your summary, which should be an extension of your headline and its promise. Explain what you do in a way that is easy to follow. It’s essentially a cold email armed with a few more definite answers – they need more leads, remember?
When you’re crafting your LinkedIn summary, include industry keywords that your buyers are probably searching for. Don’t forget a strong call to action that clearly states how someone should contact you.
4. Stay Active With Your Network
The LinkedIn activity section is next on the page after your summary. It’s a snapshot of how engaged you are with your network. It also includes your own thought leadership posts that prove you aren’t just another sales deck. Your profile is starting to feel more human already.
Posting and sharing regularly on LinkedIn can be a big investment, but keep in mind that it is a source for prospects to find you in the first place. If they did happen to stumble across your profile from a comment you made, they will probably check out other posts you have engaged with.
If you’re not ready to start sharing your daily musings, start with your company’s content and work off the pitch you have. It’s something comfortable you can adapt for the platform, but make sure you’re not just pushing product – the thought leadership piece of the puzzle is key.
5. Write Detailed Job Descriptions
Yes, for every position you have listed under your experience. Be sure to add your promotions and titles as well. While detail is important in explaining your role, don’t go on and on. Similar to your resume, create a short summary with key points and metrics you think are important to your story and your prospective buyers.
Break it up with bullet points that include applicable skills. Try to frame the focus around how you used each one to help a customer with X tactic and Y method.
It’s also a great idea to add projects and media to your experience section. A deck you love or a video that better explains the company’s mission gives more context and weight to your profile.
6. Ask For Endorsements & Recommendations
Adding relevant skills to your profile opens up the opportunity for your network to endorse you for them. This can include hard and soft skills to make your profile, and you, more well-rounded.
Of course, formal recommendations can go a long way when you’re looking for your next role, but also when a potential buyer is thinking about working with you. Ask your colleagues to speak toward your demeanor and overall attitude as a team member. If you have a long-standing relationship with a customer, don’t be afraid to ask them to leave a recommendation detailing what it was like to work with you.
7. Add All Of Your Accomplishments
The bottom of your LinkedIn profile might not be your highest priority. However, listing your accomplishments, including degrees, honors and awards, online courses, and certifications rounds out your entire profile.
Maybe you’ll find a common interest with a prospect, or that you even attended the same school. Adding online courses and certifications shows that you’re hungry to learn and interested in more than just what your current role demands. Better yet, take courses on your own that would be relevant to your target audience to truly start to understand their problems and create pitches with solutions for them.
How To Use LinkedIn For Sales
Now that you’ve got your shiny new profile, it’s time to put it to the test. LinkedIn can be used as part of an account-based marketing strategy in tandem with your CRM tool to help target a specific account and its key decision-maker.
I asked the experts for their best advice on using LinkedIn for sales and here’s what they had to say ?
Targeted Thought Leadership
“I use LinkedIn to share experiences that helped me in some way. The hope is those lessons can be valuable to others. People will engage with you because you brought them value and LinkedIn is the best platform to get organic growth FOR FREE. So focus on how you can help your target persona if you want them to pay attention to you. ” says G2’s Danny Read.
For some sales reps, this extra effort can do wonders for their personal brand, as well as build their professional reputation.
“I’m roughly a couple steps into the ‘marathon’ that is building a LinkedIn brand, but my goal right now is to post content that establishes who I am as an individual,” writes Josh Humbert of DialogTech.
He continues “I don’t think the marketers I prospect necessarily care about my SDR progression but over time it will build credibility and humanize me. My hope/bet is it will become a larger differentiator from other reps as I progress in my career.”
Sometimes these thought leadership posts can be used to learn something new while simultaneously building your credibility.
UpCity’s Peter Rufo explains, “I currently use LinkedIn to expand both my sales knowledge and my personal brand. In sales, we don’t know everything. So leveraging the insights and feedback from LinkedIn helps me build up my sales knowledge and sharpen my skills. As for a personal brand, I use LinkedIn to share my insights on how to create a strong mental attitude. In sales, we understand that ‘attitude is altitude.’ However high your attitude is will lead you to where you want to go.”
G2’s Molly Rothhaas writes: “I use LinkedIn to bring a more personal element to my prospecting. Whether that’s connecting, sending a message, liking one of their posts, or just looking at their profile so you show up in their notifications, it helps them put a face to the name that’s sent them an email or left a voicemail. It also helps you stay top of mind.”
Using LinkedIn for prospecting can be extremely effective in ‘nudging’ your point of contact in a way that feels more natural than a value add email.
“I use my LinkedIn to enhance my credibility and let prospects know I’m a real human being. Putting a face to a name helps a lot when communicating with people over the phone. I end up meeting some of these people at conferences and although it’s a bit creepy, it helps connect familiar faces in a big crowd,” says Rachael Ericson of NuArx, Inc.
Mary Burbridge from Lytics takes a more structured approach, going above and beyond to avoid any awkwardness. She recommends you “Setup alerts for job changes, account news, and anything relevant I could use to personalize outreach at an account level. Then, create lead lists for top titles at all target accounts and scan them every day for job changes or updates.”
Build Authentic Relationships
“I want people to know about the professional and personal sides of me, both of which shine through on this platform. If a “business conversation” or “qualified opportunity” comes from my work on this platform or connecting with folks here, that’s great – BUT that’s not my intention of interacting at all,” writes Ben Maxwell of Emarsys.
Instead, he explains: “I have a general interest in specific industries, others’ backgrounds, where they’ve worked, folks we may know mutually, places we live(d), etc.”
Nutshell’s Mike Carroll agrees with this connection approach: “I’m using [LinkedIn] to create and nurture relationships with potential content partners, engage people of influence, and share thoughts and learning I think will be helpful to [our] core audience in an effort to boost awareness and affinity.”
What you ultimately do with these connections is up to you, but you have to create them first. Reel them in by being yourself and let your personality shine through.
According to Bill Rice from Kaleidico, LinkedIn is perfect for “building personal, conversational relationships with people I hope to work with or for someday, He adds this frustration with some of the quick-win tactics we see a lot, explaining there’s “too much Twitter-style broadcasting instead of digging into the comments and having discussions.”
Your Network Is Your Net Worth
It can sure feel like that sometimes when you’re in sales. It’s important to put yourself and your thoughts out there to forge meaningful connections. But, make sure that your house is in order before doing so with a profile that’s optimized for sales success.
Ready to seriously up your LinkedIn game? Sales Navigator could be the tool you’re looking for when building out your social selling strategy.
Bridget Poetker is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2, a B2B software marketplace fueled by verified user reviews. In her free time, you’ll find Bridget in the bleachers at Wrigley Field or posted up at the nearest rooftop patio.