Today’s post is by Case Allin, director, business development, Park Place Technologies.
In an age of instant communication and real-time updates, picking up the phone and introducing yourself to prospective customers – “cold calling” – may seem antiquated. However, it is the longstanding approach to building a business and is still the backbone of many organizations’ sales models.
Social networks such as LinkedIn haven’t eliminated the cold calling model; instead, they have allowed sales professionals to become smarter and more efficient at driving organic growth. International Data Corporation has reported:
- 91 percent of B2B buyers are active on social media
- 84 percent of senior executives use social media to support purchase decisions
- 75 percent of B2B buyers are significantly influenced by social media
An Inside Sales Team Learns to Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
My company, Park Place Technologies is a leading post-warranty data center maintenance provider, and in 2015, converted to LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which enabled the inside-sales force to leverage the enhanced search options within the platform. One of the simplest and most effective searches is the ability to view customers and prospects who have changed jobs. This makes for an easier and more meaningful first interaction as you share some mutual connections and experiences.
Our team has seen several first-hand examples of this that paid dividends almost immediately. Within a month or two of using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, the team found a Fortune 250 firm in Chicago’s suburbs with a new IT infrastructure manager who was coming from a longtime Park Place client. After reaching out to this individual on LinkedIn, the sales team learned he had first-hand experience with Park Place’s offering and was excited to implement quickly.
Arguably more valuable than the initial connection is the ability for employees and prospects to communicate with each other through the platform, gain an understanding of what interests you share, and grow business relationships. LinkedIn allows for more personal and engaging conversations. As business relationships grow, communication over LinkedIn becomes more prevalent. When clients move into new roles, they will typically reach out through the LinkedIn messaging feature. According to Gartner, 15 percent of IT employees change jobs each year. Leaning on LinkedIn to notify Park Place account managers of job changes is a primary driver of new customer growth.
Leveraging Relationships and Getting Rich Insights about Customers
Leveraging relationships within LinkedIn Sales Navigator has helped grow Park Place’s business – specifically, within the legal vertical. Legal IT is a close-knit community with many of the stakeholders knowing each other. Park Place has leaned on Sales Navigator to connect with legal IT stakeholders and leverage referenceable clients within the local markets. When you have a happy client who has a working relationship with a prospect, this reference for service is much stronger than a reference the prospect does not know. It is a simple, yet effective concept.
Eighteen months ago, Microsoft outbid Salesforce for the acquisition of LinkedIn and has integrated the platform into its Microsoft Dynamics Sales and CRM applications. Park Place is embracing this revamped relationship sales platform and the data, productivity, and AI it instantaneously delivers. LinkedIn provides rich insight about customers and introduces potential connections who share relationships or interests. This will allow account managers to communicate better and work more efficiently, without having to leave the CRM workflow.
As an organization, Park Place has utilized our more than 47,000 LinkedIn connections to share new and relevant information with our clients. With the debut of ParkView™, a remote platform that enables proactive detection and identification of hardware faults within a data center, LinkedIn was leveraged as a conduit for the news releases and updates. It has helped drive attendance to speaking sessions and product launches in Las Vegas, London, and Toronto.
“Cold calling” may sound and feel like the vestige of an older era, but, like other longtime commercial activities (from buying music to food ordering and delivery), this sales practice is evolving and getting great results.