LinkedIn is now an essential tool for B2B marketing and sales – and can also help B2C

September 2016

I’ve been pressing two of my clients to invest in training on how to get the most from the LinkedIn social network platform for their sales teams. One of these clients operates in purely B2B markets, with the other both B2B and B2C. But in both cases the clients are seriously underusing LinkedIn, and instead have put too much emphasis on Facebook and Twitter – which do of course have a role but it’s typically a very different one to LinkedIn. (For clarity, LinkedIn is technically classed as a ‘social network’ whereas Facebook and Twitter are, obviously, ‘social media’.)

Part of the problem is that although there can be some value in a company having a LinkedIn page, the real value is in individuals of a company having their own LinkedIn account. Compare this to, say, Facebook, where a company would have a page but individuals working for that company would only have their own personal page – so not representing the company they work for. This then means that there could be hundreds – or even thousands in a big company – of folk using LinkedIn for one company, whereas just one individual will do so for Facebook. So relatively easy to get that one person doing a great job on Facebook and talking about your products, services or both, but countless individuals – and often including less-than-smart sales people – doing the same on LinkedIn’s very sophisticated platform? Tricky.

I know senior sales people in both the clients I’m talking about here who do not use LinkedIn. They also – and not by coincidence – don’t use social media platforms such as Facebook either. I think, in most cases at least, the common factor being that they have a mental barrier to using technology in a way that makes them, as an individual, viewable to the world. Perhaps there are more complex psychological reasons, but either way you’ll no doubt get my general drift here. Of course whether or not an individual has a Facebook page is entirely their own business, but if they work in any sort of role which has a bearing on marketing and sales – and even very indirectly – in B2B markets, then a LinkedIn account should be mandatory.

The value of LinkedIn to B2B marketing and sales is simply immense, and not something I’m going to cover here. But if you need convincing then simply Google the subject – you’ll soon be won-over.

LinkedIn can also be useful for B2C marketing and sales, and typically for higher value, infrequent and relatively discretionary purchases. For example, if I were a car salesman I’d have a LinkedIn network as long as your arm of managers in relatively local businesses who didn’t have a company car.

So my message here is a simple one: If your company, and be it an SME or giant, operates in B2B markets or the sort of B2C market I’ve just outlined, then any employee that is even remotely involved in marketing and sales – including you if you’re the business owner – should be actively using LinkedIn. And to get the most from it and given its level of sophistication, then invest in proper training.

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