This is part 7 of a 16 part series, “Mastering LinkedIn For Business“
Once you’ve connected with a few hundred fellow LinkedIn users, salespeople will soon face two related challenges: organizing contacts to ensure appropriate follow up and helping your contacts remember you and the reason you’re connected. Two tools from LinkedIn can help you master these challenges: the Contacts and Mobile apps.
LinkedIn for Sales: Managing Prospects with Contacts and Mobile Apps
You’re off to a great start: You’ve connected with a few hundred fellow LinkedIn users who seem like good sales prospects. But any salesperson soon faces two related challenges: organizing these contacts to ensure appropriate follow up, and helping your contacts remember who you are and why you’re connected. Without the right tools to meet these challenges, once-promising leads quickly grow cold.
Two tools from LinkedIn can help you manage prospects and connect in person: the Contacts and Mobile apps.
1) Managing and nurturing connections with LinkedIn Contacts: Most sales organizations use some form of customer relationship management (CRM) software. With Contacts, launched in early 2013, users now have access to similar CRM functionalities from a browser or mobile app, making it easier to stay in touch and know who you’re talking to.
In a nutshell, Contacts integrates your connections from LinkedIn with your various address books, email accounts and calendars, and automatically keeps them up to date. The tool can also compile the details of your conversations and meetings and connect them with each contact profile. This way, salespeople can keep their prospects organized and stay in touch without having to copy and paste email addresses from one program to another.
Perhaps more importantly, Contacts allows you to create alerts, notes and reminders as you cultivate business relationships. For example, let’s say you have a conversation with a prospect, and he or she asks you to follow up in six weeks. If you have over 500 connections, it can be difficult to keep them all straight in your head, especially if your address book, calendar and email aren’t seamlessly connected. With LinkedIn Contacts, you can quickly save your notes from the conversation and set a follow-up reminder. Six weeks later, you’ll be reminded to follow up, and have the relevant details at your fingertips instead of buried in your email.
Extra tip: When you consider using LinkedIn extensions for Outlook and third-party applications, it’s important to secure your data. Make sure you review the reputation of the developer and the app, and ask technical support staff at your company before giving access to your LinkedIn account.
2) Using LinkedIn Mobile apps to share information and connect in person: An effective LinkedIn network needs to reflect your real environment if you want real-world sales. A detached island of “Internet friends” isn’t the goal. Using LinkedIn on your mobile device can help integrate your online and real-life networking. If you’re at a networking event, such as a tradeshow or meet-up, it’s a good idea to use the LinkedIn Mobile app to exchange contact information right there, while you have that person’s full attention. While you will still want to follow up with prospects soon, you’re taking care of the LinkedIn connection right away, instead of having to remind them.
LinkedIn Mobile is available for iPhone and iPad, as well as Blackberry, Android and Microsoft devices. One useful feature: If two people both have the app running, they can bump phones to instantly exchange contact information.
Extra tip: While you’re making the LinkedIn connection, you can also ask the other person if they would like to subscribe to your blog or email newsletter. By asking people if you can add them to your newsletter when you meet them, they’ve opted in and you won’t run the risk of spamming them.
LinkedIn is a great way for salespeople to connect with prospects, but these connections can be useless without a good way to organize contacts for follow-up and other relationship building. Learning to use LinkedIn’s Contacts and Mobile tools can help you manage these customer relationships and make connections at networking events.