Rethinking the Résumé: How to Present Sales Experience on LinkedIn

April 18, 2018

Salespeople who treat their LinkedIn profiles strictly as résumés are missing out.

As any hiring manager who’s spent time poring over giant stacks of résumés can attest, it’s a dull exercise and after a while they all start to look the same.

When vying for a competitive job, if you can’t find a way to stand out, you’ll be hard-pressed to get a call back.

Most people view their LinkedIn profile as an online résumé, which it is. But for sales professionals who are comfortably employed, and using the platform mostly for networking and social selling, your audience is very different. More than half of all B2B buyers research sellers on LinkedIn. How are you presenting yourself to them?

If your profile reads like a dry résumé you’d send along with a job application, prospects aren’t likely to find much value. But if you take advantage of this opportunity by orienting the contents of your profile toward problem-solving and demonstrating expertise within your niche, you can gain a critical edge.

Turning Your LinkedIn Sales Profile from Résumé to a Personal Brand Booster

Much like a busy hiring manager inundated with résumés, B2B buyers look at plenty of LinkedIn profiles. How can you differentiate yours so it appeals to the people you want to engage? We recommend three specific shifts in approach.

From “About Me” to “About You”

A résumé is inherently self-promotional, by necessity. It’s a documentation of your work history, your competencies, your references. This is also true of your LinkedIn profile, and of course you want to talk about yourself in this space. But think about ways you can frame the information so it speaks to the buyers in your industry.

Instead of looking at your profile from the perspective of a potential employer (“Will this make someone want to hire me?”), look at it from the perspective of a potential buyer (“Will this make someone want to do business with me?”). Place the service and consultation you’ve provided to customers front-and-center.

Just as hiring managers want to see measurable achievements, so too do the folks in charge of B2B purchase decisions. But they’re not interested in revenue you generated or efficiencies you added for companies you worked at. They want to know how you’ve made life easier for organizations similar to theirs.

From “What I’ve Done” to “What I Can Do”

We’re all familiar with the standard template for presenting professional experience on a résumé: I worked at Company X from 20XX-through-20XX and accomplished X, X, and X.

Is this information helpful to a prospective buyer? In most cases, no. Instead, you could use the real estate beneath each previous position in the “Experience” section of your profile to delineate ways in which the gig made you better at what you do now. Which aspects of that job were formative toward making you a strong advocate in the buying process? What did you learn that improved your grasp of the space in which you currently operate?

For a good example of this approach in action, check out the profile of social selling guru Barbara Giamanco, who uses her Experience area to tell stories and solidify her personal brand. She even sometimes includes calls-to-action.

Bonus Tip: Don’t waste space by listing positions that are completely irrelevant to what you do now. If you wind up back on the job hunt in the future and feel those experiences could bolster your case, you can always add them in again.

From “General Capabilities” to “Applicable Skills”

The “Skills & Endorsements” section is often used to rattle off skills that will appeal to employers. In the profiles of sales pros, you will often find a collection of boilerplate sales skills: Solution Selling, Sales Strategy, Business Development, etc.

But today’s buyers aren’t looking for someone to sell them something; they’re looking for an advocate who can unlock new insights and deliver value. With this in mind, it might be more helpful to line your skills up with the industry your serve, reinforcing your expertise. If you sell a tech product or service, focus on skills pertinent to that vertical. Ditto for finance, security, and so forth.

Your First Step to Building Trust

In our current marketplace, building trust with prospects is absolutely essential. And in many cases, that process starts before any meaningful interaction takes place. First impressions matter, and with buyers becoming increasingly active in online research, your LinkedIn profile is a key opportunity to project yourself as a trustworthy partner.

Make sure yours sends the right signals:

  • I work for you, and I’m genuinely interested in helping resolve your business challenges
  • My past experience has shaped me into someone who can solve problems in your industry
  • My skills and specializations are acutely useful to people in your field

For more tips on optimizing your LinkedIn presence to maximize opportunities, download Read Me If You Want to Create an Effective Sales Profile on LinkedIn.