5 Ways for Sales Pros to Complete “I Learned ___, so I ____.”

Discover 5 lessons you can learn to become a more successful social seller, and how to use your knowledge to get results.

October 13, 2015


In a recent blog post titled An Unexpected Trait of the Truly Successful, A Sales Guy CEO Jim Keenan told the story of meeting a young entrepreneur who was achieving amazing things. Here's Jim:

"As we were talking, I couldn’t help but notice a very common theme in her dialog. She kept saying, 'I learned.'

As she was describing what she was doing each sentence was predicated with, 'I learned that . . . ' It was then followed by, 'So I . . .' She was very specific in describing what she learned and how it affected what she did. It was impressive."

Every day at work is part of our ongoing education at Sales University. Some reps are sitting in the back of the class letting the lessons pass them by. But the most effective salespeople internalize what they learn and take action.

If you’re ready to go to the head of the class, here are five ways to complete the phrase, "I learned... So I..."

  1. I learned that…buyers are five times more likely to engage if the outreach is through a mutual connection.

One of the key components of successful social selling is establishing trust. Use the social proof of a warm introduction to begin building a mutually beneficial relationship with your buyer.

So I … grew my professional network and used the "Get Introduced" feature on LinkedIn.

Grow your network by connecting on LinkedIn with people you already know:

  • Your sales team and other co-workers
  • Connections you made at events
  • Contacts in your address book (sync LinkedIn with your email to find people in your address book’s LinkedIn Profiles)
  • Current and past clients

As your network expands, you will see the Get Introduced option appear on 2nd-degree connections—that is, people who are in one of your connections’ networks. Ask respectfully and ask often; a warm introduction is much more likely to be effective than cold outreach.

  1. I learned that…the average B2B opportunity involves more than five decision makers.

A great deal of salespeople’s attention gets focused on specific C-suite contacts. The final decision often depends on the recommendations of an informal (or formal) buying committee.

So Ileveraged current connections to connect with more members of the buying committee at my key accounts.

Multi-threading an account not only gives you more influence on the buying process, it helps make sure the deal can survive job changes and other shake-ups in the buyers’ organization. It’s a good idea to connect with each member of the buying committee, using your extended network to map the buying structure of the account.

  1. I learned that… salespeople who exceed quota perform 52% more people searches each month.

It makes sense that the more you look for prospects on LinkedIn, the more you find. It’s a bit like the old “numbers game” school of selling, only far more efficient. With the power of social media, you can focus on the most promising prospects, make connections to expand your network, and stay on top of trigger events with potential buyers.

So I…maximized my searches with advanced filters, saved my best searches, and set up automatic alerts.

LinkedIn Advanced Search enables you to zero in on the most promising prospects. You can filter your search by company, location, job title, industry, and more. Then you can save searches and create alerts to get a steady stream of new potentials.

If you have Sales Navigator, search is even smarter. You can save leads and accounts and you will see their trigger events right in your Sales Navigator feed. As you save leads, Sales Navigator will search LinkedIn’s database to find other potential leads you may not have seen.

  1. I learned that… buyers are more likely to engage with a strong, professional brand.

Your professional brand is the face that you present to buyers online. Just as you wouldn’t go to a client meeting in ripped jean shorts, it’s important for your LinkedIn Profile to inspire confidence and trust in your potential buyers.

So I…dedicate time each month to updating my LinkedIn Profile.

To make sure your LinkedIn Profile makes a good first impression, start with the basics:

  • Complete it to at least 90%
  • Add a professional-quality photo
  • Add marketing materials and other rich media for visual appeal
  • Make your summary and headline customer-focused and keyword-optimized

Once you have the basics down, spend some time each month making your profile a destination for prospects.

  1. I learned that77% of B2B purchasers said they would not even speak to a salesperson until they had done their own research.

The days of the sales professional as the information gatekeeper are over. Buyers are more likely to consult trusted resources and social connections before they reach out to a sales professional.

So I… focused on educating prospects during the early stages of their decision-making journey.

To get buyers’ attention during their research phase, dial down the sales approach and focus on becoming the trusted advisor they’re looking for. You can share content that helps them do the research, share and comment on what they’re discussing in their feed, and establish thought leadership by writing your own content. When the buyer is ready to make a decision, you will already be top-of-mind.

The most effective sales professionals never stop learning. Keep your mind open to the lessons around you, stay willing to act on what you learn, and you can continually take your career to the next level. And the level after that, and the one after that.

Check out LinkedIn’s new SSI dashboard to find more opportunities to learn and improve.