For technology sales and business development people, LinkedIn is quickly replacing conventional tactics – offline networking, email and cold calling – as the most effective prospecting method. It’s especially powerful when used hand-in-hand with those other methods.

But most sales and business development people are accidentally shooting themselves in the foot by failing to understand two critical truths about how relationships are started and developed on LinkedIn. 1) Your personal profile is your introduction and 2) a connection is not an open invitation to schedule a demo.

Here are two things you can do to put yourself heads and shoulders above other sales and business development people on LinkedIn right now.

Step One: Fix your profile

Nearly every good technology sales rep by now is using LinkedIn to identify and learn as much as possible about prospects before attempting to contact them. What you probably haven’t thought about is that those same prospects are using LinkedIn to research you in return. They’re taking a look at your profile before they decide whether or not to talk to you.

The Problem

LinkedIn profiles tend to fall into one of two categories: 1) those that are sadly incomplete or 2) those that are basically an online resume. The more “complete” your profile is, the more likely it is to be an online resume. This goes back to the days of LinkedIn being primarily a job-hunting site.

But think about it. A potential customer receives a connection request from you (or an email or a phone call) and goes to your profile to see who you are.  The first thing this potential customer sees is that you’re a sales person and that selling them something is your top priority!

Unless you’ve accidentally found someone who has great need for what you’re selling right this minute, they’re not interested.

What you can do

To be a good marketing and sales tool, your resume need to emphasize why a prospect would want to give you the time of day. What can you do to help them solve their problems or do their job better? What results have you delivered to people like them in the past?

Find out more about creating an effective profile here.

Step Two: Work the prospect before you ask for the appointment.

In my experience, both from working with our clients’ sales/prospecting teams and from being approached online by sales people, the typical approach looks like this: 1) identify a potential buyer. 2) Send an invitation to connect. 3) When the connection is made, ask to schedule a phone call. 4) Wonder why you don’t hear back from them.

Why this approach doesn’t work

Buyers are open to connecting with vendors on LinkedIn and getting them to accept a connection invitation is not terribly difficult to do. But these buyers are very busy people who are not going to commit to a phone call with out being solidly convinced it’s in their best interest to do so.

What you can do

Unlike with cold calling, your first communication after a connection is not your only chance to get an appointment. Show your value first. Ask questions. Point the prospect to content (yours and others) that may help them solve a problem. Work your way to the appointment over a series of messages. The prospect knows you have a solution to sell. If they want to move more quickly toward a call, they’ll tell you.

Want some help?

The Conversion Company works with technology sales and prospecting teams to turn connections into high quality leads. Click here to find out more about our Social Selling program.