LinkedIn for B2B Selling [Part 2]


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In our last post, we discussed how B2B sales professionals are increasingly applying social media techniques to generate sales activity and opportunities. Since LinkedIn has become a social media standard for sales, we decided to conducted original quantitative research on LinkedIn network activity. The objective was to highlight findings that would help reps use LinkedIn even more effectively.

To generate a dataset, we created a composite LinkedIn user by aggregating actual LinkedIn network activity across multiple, real-life LinkedIn users on a confidential and anonymous basis. This enabled us to analyze and identify insights from hundreds of network updates over a 34 day period.

These were some of our findings:

  • Sales reps can get a lot more value from LinkedIn as network updates have become more diverse.

The LinkedIn interface has evolved over recent years to make the creation and viewing of network updates more prominent (e.g., sharing an update box at the top left, more real estate for the Update feed) incorporating elements from other networks like Twitter and Facebook. You can see this evolution by taking a look at what LinkedIn looked like back in 2008. These changes have had real impact on how frequently users come back to LinkedIn and the range of network activities.

Our data indicated that the ‘Connection Update’ (i.e., Andrew is now connected to Peter) accounted for less than 50% of all updates for our composite user, and in some cases only 30-40% for individual users in our sample. This means that there is a broader range of updates in the feed, and as our research showed, a lot of the updates are proactive posting and sharing of content. The implication for the B2B sales person is that LinkedIn has become a lot more useful. Not only can it help identify new network connections for warm prospecting, but it can also reveal much more contextual insight into how customers and prospects are thinking.

Here’s a practical tip. If you want to view just your recent network connections, click on the More tab to the right of All Updates and choose Connections.

  • Your customers and prospects are a lot more likely to post content to the Update feed that reveals needs, goals and attitudes.

We used our data to evaluate what kinds of updates are being posted. Since the traditional ‘Connection Update’ is such a large share of the overall posts, we decided to strip it out of the analysis. For the remainder, we found that Twitter Tweets syndicated to LinkedIn accounted for 34% of the updates. This is important for sales reps because it’s a quick way to identify which of your contacts also have a Twitter handle and actually use it. The next biggest bucket – – at 30% – was adding content directly on LinkedIn (e.g., adding a new comment or link). Coming in at 18% was Group-related posts (e.g., Andrew joined a new group), which is a great way of identifying topics of interests to your prospects. The remaining 18% consisted of a variety of other update types including sharing content, liking content, etc. The bottom line is that the top two buckets — covering 64% of posts — are proactive content posts that reveal insight into what your network connection finds interesting and compelling. (After all, if they’re willing to share their comment with their entire network, they must feel strongly about it.)

  • Focus on the active posters in your network.

While proactive posting of content and comments is accounting for a larger share of overall network activity, a small share of your total network accounts for the lion’s share of posts (once again, excluding the generic Connection Update). Our data indicated that just 14% of the entire composite network posted anything over a 1-week timeframe. This means that there’s still a way to go before the majority of LinkedIn users feel comfortable and/or compelled to post updates. The upside for sales professionals is that this fact will enable you to identify and listen to the vocal minority in your network who are posting. In fact, you may want to consider reaching out to them proactively to help increase the reach of your own posts.

Looking forward to hearing about your experiences in using LinkedIn for B2B Social Selling.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Andrew Somosi
Andrew Somosi is the SVP of Marketing and Business Development at Lattice Engines. Prior to Lattice Engines, Andrew was an Associate Principal at McKinsey & Company. Andrew has a BA in Economics and Political Science from Columbia University and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.


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