LinkedIn is beyond amazing. Those who remember what it was like before LinkedIn know that it has transformed so many aspects of business, especially recruiting and sales. When people complain about the shortcomings of LinkedIn, it brings to mind this hilarious Louis CK clip about people complaining about the miracle of in-flight wifi.
So yes, we love LinkedIn and believe it to be an essential business tool.
However, if you are an enterprise sales or marketing pro focused on C-suite selling, LinkedIn is not a silver bullet. It simply does not provide the insight required to engage a Fortune 500 key decision maker.
In fact, LinkedIn can give you a false sense of security going into important meetings. You think you have done your due diligence by looking at a few LinkedIn profiles, but halfway through the meeting it can become painfully apparent that you don’t know what you don’t know.
A few years ago a BYOD vendor met with a technology executive at a major bank, unaware that the executive had just proclaimed in an interview that the organization was adamantly opposed to BYOD. Ouch.
A SaaS vendor met with a banking operations head who said publicly that she hates jargon, especially the terms “cloud” and “big data.” The vendor’s sales lead proceeded to deliver a jargon-filled pitch that included both terms. Oops.
At an important executive briefing, an SVP watched in embarrassment as his ill-prepared sales team fumbled its way through a meeting with a customer CIO, asking basic questions that they should have researched before the meeting. He vowed never to support this team again. Yikes.
Consider this: LinkedIn would not have prevented any of these scenarios because you don’t find this stuff in LinkedIn profiles. An executive is not going to write in her LinkedIn profile: “I hate jargon, so don’t use it when you meet with me.”
Here are a few more important things that LinkedIn profiles don’t always tell you:
And here are a few things essential to C-suite selling that LinkedIn almost never tells you:
If you really want to make a favorable impression with deep insight into an executive’s priorities, challenges and interests, you’ll need more than LinkedIn. You’ll need everything available publicly online, from media interviews and Twitter posts to the latest quarterly earnings call transcripts, industry news, and corporate press releases. Selling to CXOs requires a commitment to knowing what’s on their minds and guiding their decisions—and keeping up with that as it changes. So, yes, we love LinkedIn. But it’s just a starting point.
Sharon Gillenwater is the founder and editor-in-chief of Boardroom Insiders, which maintains an extensive database of the most in-depth executive profiles on the market, from Fortune 500 companies to independent non-profits, to help sales and marketing professionals build deeper relationships and close more deals with clients. Gillenwater is a long-time marketing consultant with expertise in marketing strategy, account-based marketing, and CXO engagement programs.
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