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Sales Relationships – how to use LinkedIn to help you close deals

Wurlwind Social Selling - Sales Relationships

Congratulations if you’re reading this because you have a real live sales opportunity.

You may be wondering how you can use LinkedIn to improve your sales conversions and win rate.

If you’re responsible for winning sales – as a quota carrying sales leader, a business owner or in another sales role, there are several ways you can use LinkedIn to support your sales efforts and increase your success.

LinkedIn and Social Selling is not just about prospecting and lead generation. For larger more complex sales it’s a valuable resource to use during sales campaigns.

Quick start tips

Pick your best prospect, one that you’re currently bidding or proposing to, and apply the tips and steps below to increase your probability of winning and to develop effective Social Selling habits.

  • Connect with your main contacts in your prospect, if you haven’t already done so.
  • See who you are both connected with – your shared contacts – and identify someone who could give you insight into what’s going on.
  • Write down 5 actions you’ll take that will build those relationships – Like, Share, Comment, Connect, Talk to… etc.

Now repeat for your second best prospect, then the third, and fourth. I’m sure you’ll be getting quicker at this by now, and building a positive habit.

LinkedIn Tips for developing sales relationships and winning sales

1. Qualify the opportunity

Use LinkedIn as one of your research sources to find out more about the company and the prime contact. If it’s an enquiry that’s come in via your website, a phone call or even from a lead nurture sequence, LinkedIn can be a good source of information.

  • From their LinkedIn Company Page, does the company meet your criteria, based on size, sector, location, and any other criteria you may use?
  • From the LinkedIn Profile of the person contacting you, are they in a role that you typically deal with, as decision-maker or as recommender?
  • How closely connected are you to the person contacting you, and again LinkedIn can identify who you have as shared connections.

With this information you’re much better prepared for that initial phone call, and you can show that you have done your homework, or ask for missing information on the call.

2. Who else is likely to be involved in the decision?

If there are typically several people involved in deciding to purchase what you offer then some additional research will put you in a stronger position.

  • From the employees listed on the Company Page, can you identify the people with the job titles you’d expect to be involved in the decision.
  • Can you identify shared connections with any of them, and identify someone (a trusted third party) who could provide insight about the business.
  • Have those key people shared Articles and Status Updates on LinkedIn that would give you a chance to reach out and maybe connect with them?

Quickly identifying and making contact with the right people will provide a firm foundation for your sales campaign

3. Keeping in touch during the campaign and after the proposal

Some purchases can take a long time to close, and keeping in touch with key people can be tricky, without seeming to chase the deal.

  • Share relevant articles, either from your company like case studies or from reliable third parties, via LinkedIn Message to individuals
  • Share news and articles to groups of buyers as a LinkedIn Email/Message Broadcast to a small TAG group of people.
  • Comment on Status Updates and Articles posted by decision-makers on LinkedIn

Building relationships, becoming a trusted advisor and guiding prospects through the buying process is a route to sales success. This will happen through many channels including face to face meetings, phone calls, emails and other activities. LinkedIn can be a great source of insight and also an additional communications channel to use.

And if you’ve established your personal brand at a senior level you may well be able to gain access to the project sponsor early on, and steal a march on your competitors if they only have access at a junior level.

Download our Pocket Guide to Social Selling

If you haven’t already done so get a copy of our guide, which covers more LinkedIn Tips and introduces the Social Selling Matrix.

Sales Relationships win deals

Wurlwind Social Selling - Sales RelationshipsQuick Tips:

1. Use LinkedIn as a research tool to find out about prospects at milestones in the buying process: especially before you have the first meeting, and before you start writing a significant bid or sales proposal. In particular look at who you have in common, as that could give you an inside track to gems that will improve your chances of winning the deal. This is one area where having a strong foundation network pays dividends.

2. Use LinkedIn as an additional way to keep in touch with customers and prospects. Even if they don’t give much away about themselves you can use LinkedIn as a channel through which to share news and insight with them, and pick up signals from various sources to inform your sales approach.


1. Buyers expect us to have done our homework before meetings and it allows us to be more professional, with the questions we ask and the insights that we share. When assessing whether to mount a significant sales activity such as a proposal or bid there is valuable insight to be gained by researching the company, department and key people through Social Media.

Recommended Actions:

For your next prospect meeting and quote/bid, take a few minutes to research the person/company on LinkedIn. You may be very surprised by what you find!

Additional Sales Relationship Tips

To be added



Inside Sales – the new Sales Performance Heroes

Every business that sells to other businesses has some form of Inside Sales going on.

Whether it’s taking an order over the phone, qualifying leads, nurturing opportunities, servicing existing clients, running webinars or a range of other activities where actual contact with a prospect or customer takes place, there will be an element of office based selling going on.

  • People running and working in smaller businesses are unlikely to even call it Inside Sales, it may be sales administration.
  • Medium sized sales focused businesses may have an informal set-up, perhaps under the title of client services or account management.
  • Larger businesses may have a dedicated team of office based people performing sales tasks, such as a tele-sales unit.

There may be a significant opportunity to improve the performance of your business, by reviewing and updating your approach to Inside Sales.

Inside Sales – the forgotten heroes

Let me ask you, ‘Who are the heroes in your business?

If that’s difficult to answer, consider previous companies you’ve worked in or other companies you work with.

  • Are the heroes the people and departments with the biggest budgets?
  • It is the field sales people, (or the business owner) who bring in the mega deals?
  • Is it the marketing people who come up with award-winning campaigns?
  • Or is it the engineers who create the wonderful products and services?

Office-based sales people, or people in sales support roles, can be overlooked, and under-valued.

  • They don’t control big budgets, and mostly it’s their time and expertise that’s contributed
  • They don’t bring in the mega deals, because these opportunities are handed over to field sales people
  • They don’t do much (or aren’t allowed to) that is particularly creative, in an award-winning sense
  • They’re probably not the creators of great products or services.

The inside sales role and responsibility tends to be to perform a fairly prescribed process with great efficiency.

  • Inside sales people may be managing a large number of installed customers
  • There may be a sales support element, for example helping to write bids
  • Marketing support may be part of the role, such as helping  to run lead generation campaigns
  • In a small business the marketing executive may be doing some inside sales tasks.

The people in Inside Sales may not be the high-fliers, or the people flying high – see above re heroes.

  • Inside sales may be a training ground for people before they become field or outside sales
  • Inside sales may be a career move chosen by experienced salespeople who are tired of endless traveling
  • Pay and remuneration and responsibility of the inside sales role may not be very high, and therefore not attracting ambitious people.

Unfortunately, in business, the role of inside sales may be a bit of a no-mans land. Which may create a revolving door situation.

It may be hard to recruit good people, and then to hold on to them in that role for a reasonable length of time, before they want ‘promotion’ to a different sales role, or they leave the company.

Inside Sales – the Meat in the Sales Sandwich

However, for all the reasons that Inside Sales may be a no-mans-land, it could also be the pivotal area of the company for future success and sales performance improvement.

Consider for example:

  • How many leads generated by marketing campaigns are not followed up promptly or thoroughly be field sales people?
  • How many leads passed to field sales people are genuinely not well qualified, and actually don’t meet the profile of your ‘ideal customer‘?
  • How many leads are passed to field sales people where the prospect is not ready to buy just yet and there is no genuine opportunity for a sale?
  • How much time does it take for field sales people to follow-up leads on a one-by-one basis, when it could be done in a batch process?
  • How much value can a field sales person add to a lead at the early stages, compared to adding value to sales ready opportunities?
  • Who is monitoring Social Media and in a position to engage in a dialogue with a customer or prospect?
  • Who is best placed to run regular webinars and online demonstrations, as a resource for marketing and field sales to leverage?
  • Who is in regular direct contact with many customers and prospects, and able to provide market feedback to others in the organisation?
  • Who has a schedule that has a high ratio of productive time, without the downside of travel and waiting around for meetings?
  • Who has a low cost base, without the expense of travel, at peak or off-peak rates, or motoring costs?

Add these together and there’s a pretty big impact that a good Inside Sales person or team could make on your marketing and sales operational performance, and bottom-line sales and revenue results.

Upgrade Inside Sales and re-balance workload

Every business is having to think creatively to increase results and reduce costs, in order to remain competitive and profitable.

When you next consider your Marketing and Sales organisation structure, how about starting with a ‘What if…‘ approach?

  • What if Marketing focused on demand generation?
  • What if Lead Nurture was beefed up as a specific and dedicated operation?
  • What if Field Sales focused on sales ready opportunities only?

How would that effect your overall Marketing and Sales Operational Performance?

How would it change, and improve, measurement & tracking, resource allocation and utilisation, conversion ratios, revenue and profits?

Would it have a positive effect on customer service, and on staff morale?

To get a different result something needs to change

To paraphrase Einstein, ‘If you carry on doing what you’ve always done, you’re probably going to get the same result’.

Maybe upgrading Inside Sales is something that will create a positive change for your business.

If you’d like to comment on, share or discuss the points raised above, please get in touch.


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