How a LinkedIn-Centric Sales Process Can Help You Close Deals Faster
January 23, 2020
When we as an industry talk about shortening the sales cycle, we generally accept it as a good thing and tout the following three advantages of doing so:
We earn revenue faster.
We achieve a higher ROI because we spend less time working the deal.
We have more time to fill the pipeline with new deals.
What we don’t talk about as often is what a shorter sales cycle might be telling us:
We’re finding the right people.
We’re engaging with prospects contextually, in a way they’re comfortable with.
Prospects are exhibiting more trust due to the campaign, the channel, or the individual sales pro’s credibility and expertise.
Like most things that can be measured, sales cycle length can be especially beneficial when we add perspective. Deal length alone tells us nothing. A 90-day deal may feel like forever at one company, while on the floor below, that figure might shatter the record for fastest close.
To see what’s really working and what isn’t, and determine whether we’re moving in the right direction, we need to compare sales cycle length both historically and against our other variables. This will help us ascertain why prospects always seem to “enjoy” the extended stay in certain reps’ pipelines. Do those reps need training? Or is it because leads from that source aren’t progressing for anyone? The answers lie in the analysis.
By breaking down the sales process, we can also pinpoint commonalities among customers who glide through our pipelines, shining light on opportunities to replicate success. LinkedSelling’s VP of Product Pat Henseler recently performed such an analysis and came away with the following unexpected observation: Leads generated via LinkedIn were closing in half the time.
An accelerated sales process is a common theme within our Sales Navigator success stories, suggesting you may be able to shorten your sales cycle simply by using LinkedIn. I realize that last sentence is about as helpful as a free-standing sales cycle length statistic, so here are three specific ways you can use LinkedIn to shorten the sales process.
Be More Selective with Lead Gen Criteria
Do your reps ever welcome prospects into their pipelines when their chances of closing are 50/50 at best? Month after month, pipeline report after pipeline report, your rep tries to explain why all that work with the prospect isn’t advancing the deal. By this point, entire days have been “invested,” and the sunk cost fallacy makes it darn-near impossible to just let it go.
Your reps should become more selective with the leads they choose to go after because a) time is a finite resource for all of us, and b) they can. One of the best ways to do this is by aligning your lead search filtering criteria with your ideal customer profile.
By starting with leads who look just like those who are proven to buy from you, your team can be more confident with how it invests its time.
Don’t Settle for Substandard Sales Outreach Timing
Just because a lead matches our criteria for quality doesn’t mean that now is a quality time to reach out. If we can’t yet come with a compelling angle, it’s not the right time. This gives us two options.
Perform additional research to find an angle with which to personalize our message.
Wait until the angle presents itself.
Often, choosing to wait is the result of research turning up nothing of note. For decades, waiting wasn’t a very good option – it basically became an ever-growing tickler file to manually check through during the most desperate of times.
Today though, this is a smart option because we can automate aspects of prospect monitoring. The best way to do this is by saving leads and accounts on LinkedIn. It takes about a second, and the result is real-time updates about your accounts and leads you can use to sync your sales outreach with trigger events on LinkedIn.
Also, we connect with new people all the time. As do our connections. Your rep may not have had a mutual connection with a sales prospect six months ago, but today, who knows? To find out, Sales Navigator users can save a search that uses the TeamLink filter. Then, simply run this search periodically to surface sales prospects with mutual connections.
By capitalizing on trigger events and mutual connections, your reps can focus their attention on deals that are primed for movement, rather than spend time trying to manufacture an impetus.
Make It Easier to Engage with You and Your Content During the Sales Process
If you’ve made the effort to find the right person, waited until the timing is just right, and then worked up a personalized message, why submit that message to what’s probably a cluttered inbox (the reward for slipping past the spam filter)?
The prospect’s LinkedIn inbox is likely far cleaner, making your InMail message much more apt to get noticed. Prospects will be notified of your message as well. Because your message doesn’t compete directly against more pressing matters from your prospect’s colleagues and bosses, the InMail message is more conducive to conversation. With email, it’s easier for a prospect to put one of those follow-up flags on your message, and we know how that usually goes.
In addition to the sales message, your team also counts on content to help move deals forward. Sharing content is tricky for a few reasons. First, previous experience (plus Glen from IT) tells sales prospects not to open attachments from strangers. Second, once you send the content via email, what happened with it is anyone’s guess. Typically, the only way to find out is to send an awkward follow-up message.
LinkedIn PointDrive takes guesswork out of the equation. In addition to packaging up content in a professionally branded way that looks good from any device, PointDrive also does away with the ship-it-and-forget-it aspect of sharing content. Your team will see not just whether the intended recipient engaged with the content, and which aspects of it they engaged with, but also who they shared the content with, and how those people engaged with the content.
With the typical B2B buying committee having grown to about seven members – a factor that contributes to longer sales cycles – knowing who’s involved and what they know is a contextual game-changer that helps assure every interaction is as productive as it should be.
For more ways to make the most of your limited sales time, subscribe to the LinkedIn Sales blog.