SiriusDecisions just released some interesting findings at their 2015 Summit. The conclusion here is that B2B salespeople still play a critical role in the buyer’s decision, especially with larger deals. This is obvious to most people in sales, but SiriusDecisions is also credited with one of the most misused stats out there, which is that “67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally.”

For some reason, “digitally” is commonly replaced with “before salespeople are involved,” and many companies have designed flawed strategies which don’t include enough proactive human contact.

That being said, I would argue that social media in particular is actually underused by individual salespeople. LinkedIn is your best tool, and is commonly mistaken for a job site only. LinkedIn is really a networking and market research tool that has significant applications in sales.

1) Research

LinkedIn is by far the best B2B research tool out there, but it’s not a level playing field! It’s crucial to constantly build your network. More information and names become visible as you add connections. 1st and 2nd level connections display more information than distant profiles.

  • For sales leaders in particular, upgraded versions of LinkedIn also increase visibility, and can be a great investment compared with more traditional research options like D&B, etc…

Use Boolean search to greatly increase reach and efficiency

  • This allows you to search for multiple keywords/titles at once, while eliminating others. It’s a great way to quickly find hidden buyers in a given industry, location, etc…

2) Find Connections to Buyers

This is one of the most valuable aspects of LinkedIn, and possibly the most underused.

  • Even if you aren’t connected to a prospect, LinkedIn will always display common connections. This is a great way to get referrals, and you might be surprised at who you both know.
  • Another potential inroad is to find out who else you know might know at a prospect’s company.

3) Contact Buyers – Start Outside of Social Media!

Getting a referral is obviously ideal. Whether or not you have that luxury, there are several ways to get in touch once you have a first and last name. LinkedIn and other social sites are not usually the best place to make first contact. Instead;

  • Call – still the best balance of efficiency and personal touch!
  • Email – being referred and cc’d is ideal, but if you’re going in cold, I’ve found that about 70% of corporate emails are in the format or This can be a great way to get noticed, but keep it brief and tailored.
  • Stop by or attend industry events – some amount of this is always worth the time, especially for certain relationships or deals.
  • Request an intro via social media (if applicable).
  • Be creative, and repeat as needed!

4) Nurture Buyers and Customers

Once you have a conversation of any kind, LinkedIn is a great way to stay top of mind. The key is that this is much more effective as a supplement to real conversations, which is where many social strategies miss.

  • Educate your prospects with company news and your own articles
  • Request introductions to other buyers
  • Know when a buyer changes jobs/companies
  • Request endorsements
  • Find additional contact info
  • Keep track of your contacts when you change jobs

Those are just a few of the current applications, and this will continue to evolve. I’ve found that when done correctly and consistently, devoting a small amount of time to LinkedIn and other social media can make a big impact on your number!