It is estimated that LinkedIn has seen “record levels of engagement” for the last five quarters. As economic activity begins to pick up again in the wake of the pandemic, those usage rates are only going to rise as professionals seek new opportunities and brands look to connect with new talent to meet the growing demand for their products and services.

However, with many important decision-makers actively using the app, LinkedIn may also be a very effective marketing tool. If you’re a B2B company, LinkedIn, in particular, has a lot of promise in this area – but it can also be difficult to contact users in the correct manner and sell your goods and services to the relevant individuals inside the application.

LinkedIn offers solutions like its Sales Navigator platform to assist with this, but it does cost money, and it can be difficult to know whether it’s worth the investment for your business, and what sort of value salespeople can glean from the platform in this respect.

So how should salespeople be using LinkedIn, and should you be signing up to a Sales Navigator subscription to optimize your approach?

We recently put these questions to Mitali Pattnaik, the Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, to get her insights to help inform your on-platform strategies.

Q: LinkedIn is seeing engagement numbers go up across the platform, but what are the best ways for salespeople to tap into that activity and reach target buyers?

MP:Buyers are researching products and solutions well before they consider making a purchase, and they are frequently turning to salespeople they trust for guidance on their purchasing decisions, even if the product in question is not part of the salesperson’s current portfolio of products and services.

To avoid sending an impersonal email or getting ready to contact someone who has no background information, put the phone down and rethink your strategy instead. To reach today’s customers, you must first understand their priorities, then get to know them and their difficulties. Finally, before you begin selling anything, you must begin assisting them in solving their problems.

This is one area where LinkedIn is currently providing great value to sales professionals. As the world’s biggest B2B marketplace, we assist millions of buyers and sellers in meaningful interactions with one another, not just to sell a product or service, but also to solve genuine business issues.

And, we know it’s working, as sales professionals are some of the most highly engaged people out of our 774+ million members, and they’re often turning to us for guidance on how to continue adapting to this virtual selling environment.

Q: It seems like sales professionals could achieve everything they need to by just having a free LinkedIn account – or maybe investing in Premium – why should they consider investing in Sales Navigator?

MP: LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for salespeople to analyze important customers and prospects, create customized outreach, and establish and sustain connections over time, according to a recent study. When sales teams want to better understand their top accounts and provide greater value, Sales Navigator delivers data-driven insights to assist them in making educated choices, according to the company.

Powered by the most up-to-date information on the world’s largest professional graph – information that members and companies are sharing and updating regularly – Sales Navigator provides customers with the ability to target the right decision-makers at the right time. And just today we launched a new Sales Navigator feature, ‘Account Buyer Interest’, which determines an account’s aggregate interest in the selling company’s products or services, which will help sales professionals prioritize the highest intent accounts and contact customers when their outreach is most likely to be well received.

LinkedIn Account Buyer Interest

In order for sales companies to remain competitive in the future of work, LinkedIn and Sales Navigator will become more essential tools. Employers and workers alike are reconsidering how and why they work as we enter “The Great Reshuffle,” a period of unparalleled upheaval in which both are rethinking how and why they work.

Buyers may be on the move more than ever before, and accurate data will become increasingly important to the success of sales organizations as a result. We believe that sellers will increasingly rely on our platform to maintain close relationships with their accounts as buyers may be on the move more than ever before, seeking new career opportunities.

Q: What are some key tips for salespeople looking to leverage LinkedIn and/or Sales Navigator to engage with buyers?

MP: As part of our 2020 study, we looked at how salespeople were using the platform in order to find the most successful methods to connect with buyers. Out of all the activities examined, we discovered that having a full LinkedIn profile is the most important factor determining salesperson performance.

The data indicated that having a complete LinkedIn profile could increase a salesperson’s chances of meeting or exceeding their sales targets by more than 2X, and it could increase InMail acceptance rates by as much as 87%.

LinkedIn State of Sales report

All sales professionals should spend time listening to and understanding their customers’ problems before presenting a solution. They should also use social media platforms like LinkedIn to get a better understanding of their important clients and trends in the sectors that they represent.

This preliminary research is also necessary for prospecting and establishing one’s initial connection on LinkedIn, among other things. Through the use of Sales Navigator, clients can view all of the relationships across their companies, allowing them to better understand how they may be linked to a prospect and work with their colleagues to create an introduction. Aside from that, important features such as CRM integration make Sales Navigator an essential component of our clients’ sales technology stacks.

Q: Personal branding is another key element for salespeople – what are some key tips for how salespeople can enhance their personal brands on LinkedIn?

MP: One way salespeople can build their brands is to develop and share their own thought leadership content on industry trends.

Our Global State of Sales data underscores the importance of trust, with 89% of buyers describing their sales representatives as “trusted advisors.” To help buyers solve problems and derive value from their solutions, sellers need to increasingly prioritize their role as a consultant, and have a pulse on their industry.

As a place where buyers and sellers connect, our platform offers many ways for sales professionals to share their unique perspectives and spark meaningful conversations.

Q: What are some key buying trends that you’re seeing via LinkedIn?

MP: Virtual selling, which will evolve into hybrid selling as in-person engagements return, is here to stay.

71% of buyers say that they would like to work remotely half or more of the time in the future, and 55% of buyers have said that working remotely has made the purchasing process easier. As a significant shift from the ways sellers traditionally engaged with buyers, virtual selling requires a new set of skills with adaptability as one of the top skills.

Additionally, relationships have never been more important in B2B sales, and at its core, our platform is about connecting with others and growing your network. Sales Navigator dives even deeper, building on the platform’s extensive ecosystem, to provide people-powered data and insights that enable sales organizations to focus on the accounts with the most opportunity, so that sellers can develop and grow relationships with buyers at scale.

You can check out the latest updates for LinkedIn Sales Navigator here.