I like LinkedIn. It is still the best place to promote your professional self and find a new job. It has landed me more than one job during my career. However, even as it excels as an online resume and job board, it is failing and will most likely continue to fail as a truly productive sales tool to increase your company’s revenue. Why?
Their business graph is a victim of their own success
When’s the last time you successfully used LinkedIn for an intro to a sales prospect? Has anyone really gained access to a target contact by a “3rd-degree” connection? Most often, my requests go something like this.
“Hey Mark, LinkedIn says you know Reid Hoffman, can you introduce me?”
“Sorry Chris, I met him about 8 years ago, really don’t know him all that well to make any sort of connection.”
The same exchange is repeated each and every time from all the supposed “connections” I have to Reid Hoffman. The problem is LinkedIn is a victim of its own success. It has successfully built the world’s largest business graph, but now people are realizing that the majority of those connections are shallow, out-of-date, and just unimportant. And, all of your connections are presented in the same manner — so you can’t tell how well a person really knows anyone! Problem.
Because of that, LinkedIn has become a bit of a tease as a referral network. More often than not your connections result in false positives rather than actual results. In support of successful selling, your sales reps need quality not quantity. They need to discover, connect and act with the “best” person they can access to introduce them to the target prospect. A laundry list of everyone they have ever met, received a business card or made an online connection with will just not work.
Your company is not interconnected
How many of your work colleagues are you connected to on LinkedIn? How many of the executives or board members have shared their connections with you? For most sales reps they rarely have access to the meaningful business relationships inside the company. How many warm introductions are you missing because you can’t easily access who your execs and colleagues know?
Unless every single colleague and executive connects with you LinkedIn, you’ll never know. Shouldn’t the rest of your company be helping you sell with their professional relationships? What an advantage. Can you imagine how much more successful your sales team would be if everyone in the organization had access to a database of warm, qualified connections.
LinkedIn was originally built for professionals to find new jobs
LinkedIn’s original and still primary purpose is to help professionals connect to find new jobs. Their roots are as a consumer oriented network, so any future push to becoming an enterprise solution is fraught with difficulty and challenges. But until today they have to be considered the only game in town. As a result, they really are the only ones to that know all about your company’s business relationships and contacts. Strikes me as a bit scary. They know more about your company’s professional connections and employee expertise than your company does. It doesn’t have to be that way.
It doesn’t have to be that painful
There is a better solution. One that lets companies take control back about who knows the most about their employees from LinkedIn — who know who and what (for real) and how best to connect with them. With this new solution, management can really help their sales team get better introductions and faster answers. Does your company deserve it’s own private, enterprise-ready LinkedIn?