Listen up sales compadres, we’re living in the golden age of information where what people are saying online matters.
Not only does it matter, it’s actually being listened to. It’s actually influencing the purchasing process. I’m talking about reviews.
While we know that every single review isn’t accurate, what most of us are doing when we study them is capture a general sense. Logic dictates that the overall and aggregate viewpoint that exists should assist us in making an informed buying decision.
Check out this video with some very good data on how the reviews engine of Yelp works. Be forewarned, it’s a little controversial but the data is compelling.
Making the Connection – Yelp to LinkedIn
One of the smartest things LinkedIn did was create the ability for us to give recommendations to others and collect them for ourselves.
If reviews by Yelp can help boost a business reputation, shouldn’t LinkedIn recommendations boost the reputation of the sales professional? I’d say yes.
A recent report by DemandGen found that LinkedIn has had “the biggest impact on the research process—by far—with 40% of [B2B] buyers describing it as ‘very important’ and another 41% describing it as ‘somewhat important.’”
But then why aren’t most sales people taking the time to convert their hard work in servicing clients into LinkedIn recommendations? Food for thought.
Think about the sheer amount of effort required to find, persuade and land an account. Then think about the deep levels of work needed to deliver the product or service and keep them happy. Shouldn’t this be captured?
Your customers today are no different than us. They use tools like Yelp to make informed buying decisions as well. So what if they used LinkedIn? This simple yet profound understanding can boost your sales numbers significantly.
What Should You Do with LinkedIn Recommendations?
Here are some tactical steps I recommend you take when it comes to your LinkedIn recommendations.
Step 1: Do your current recommendations do you any justice?
That is, does the recommendation from an old sales colleague painting you as a hard worker actually help a customer make an informed buying decision?
Because most of us still use LinkedIn as a way to store our professional resumes, there’s a disconnect about the type of information we should have there.
Take a moment to rejig the purpose of your LinkedIn profile and you’ll see an entirely new perspective. Think about your profile from a customer’s perspective.
Once you do this, we’ll begin to see how our customers, quite frankly, don’t really care about (many) of our accomplishments. They’re on your profile to learn something. Yes, they’re there to learn something about you but specifically about your abilities to help them solve their pressing and important business challenges.
If you’d agree with that, then it’s obvious that recommendations on your profile should serve your customers, not recruiters or any other person in sales.
Therefore, the case for a customer review is strong.
Step 2: Time to get customer recommendations
No matter which function of sales you’re in, it’s important to identify and request recommendations from existing customers. Especially if you’ve served them in some capacity (sometimes at the top of the funnel, sometimes the full cycle), it’s important to let them be your voice.
“But Amar, is it okay to ask customers for a recommendation?”
That’s a question I’m asked often. The answer is a simple yes. If you’ve mustered up the nerve to ask them to do business with you, then what’s a recommendation?
Explain to the customer that in the age of social proof, online reviews/recommendations matter. Once buyers are at a set of evaluating a set list of solution providers, for example, 55% said reviews were a "very important" consideration.
If customers truly support and see value in you (which I’m inclined to believe they do if they’re doing business with you), then this shouldn’t be a major issue.
Step 3: Should you delete any existing recommendations you have?
This is an entirely personal choice. It really depends on how many you have and if they’re distracting to would-be customers finding information about you in your recommendations section.
The Bottom Line
The recommendations feature in LinkedIn is powerful – it is viewed by many and taken into consideration when making a judgement call about doing business with you. I don’t mean just as a brand/company, but as an individual.
Frequently, many of the smartest and most sophisticated sales professionals tell me that when they’ve made the change to recommendations, their prospects tell them that they had no idea they had extensive credibility.
What are your thoughts on recommendations? Worth caring about or is it an overblown and hyped feature in LinkedIn?