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What Salespeople Are Doing Wrong on LinkedIn and How to Fix It, with Chris Hamilton [Episode 345]

Joining me on this episode is Chris Hamilton, Founder of SalesTipADay.com. Among the many topics that Chris and I discuss are Chris’s lifelong love of sales and marketing, how he decided to use LinkedIn as his sales platform, his upcoming book filled with LinkedIn advice for sales professionals, and tips to improve your sales results using LinkedIn.

Key Takeaways

  • Chris started in sales with a paper route and then sold surf shorts at a mall in Canada.
  • After reading Content Inc., by Joe Pulizzi, Chris decided to focus on using LinkedIn for publishing his content.
  • Chris finished writing a book about the 11 things people do wrong on LinkedIn, and 40 tips to fix them.
  • Your LinkedIn headline shouldn’t be the title of your current position. Use it to talk about the market you serve and what you do, and have a strong call-to-action.
  • Chris discusses specific things to do to your LinkedIn profile to generate up to 15 times more views.
  • 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a sourcing mechanism for the product or service they want.
  • Why you need a professional profile picture on LinkedIn.
  • A LinkedIn premium account will get around 15 times more views.
  • LinkedIn offers a free trial of a premium account to get you started.
  • Chris talks about the five key LinkedIn search tactics to find qualified leads. (One is always to use the advanced search functionality, with the Boolean modifiers, AND, OR, and NOT._
  • Chris explains how searches can be sorted by various parameters and how to save searches.
  • Chris reveals the top action sales professionals can take to generate sales on LinkedIn!

More About Chris Hamilton

What’s your most powerful sales attribute?

Exposing the latent pain, and showing the solution.

Who is your sales role model?

Andy Paul, and Rick Rubin, record producer.

What’s one book that every salesperson should read?

Content Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses, by

Joe Pulizzi, and Andy Paul’s books.

What music is on your playlist right now?

Audiobooks (It’s So Easy: and other lies, by Duff McKagan,

and The Law of Success: The Master Wealth-Builder’s Complete and Original Lesson Plan for Achieving Your Dreams, by

Napoleon Hill), and Chill on SiriusXM.

Episode Transcript

ANDY PAUL: It’s time to accelerate. Hi, I’m your host, Andy. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership, management, training, coaching, and any other resource that I believe will help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you. Hello and welcome to Accelerate. I am excited to talk with my guest today. Joining me is my good friend Chris Hamilton, founder of salestoday.com. Chris, how you doing?

CHRIS HAMILTON: I’m doing awesome. Andy, how are you?

AP: Good. Good. Always a pleasure to talk with you.

CH: love talking to you too, sir.

AP: So take a minute and introduce yourself to the audience and tell us how you got your start in sales.

CH: I am Chris Hamilton. I am a sales and marketing person at heart living up in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where it’s winter already. It’s still nice and green outside, but you know what? That throws us for a loop because it could snow at any time. I got my start in sales when I was young. I came from a family where my dad was a salesperson. It started out with a paper route with my twin brother. When I was 18, I sewed surf shorts and sold them down in an outdoor mall in Calgary. I made lots of money and had a great time. I really got the bug for sales, and I have gone from multiple fortune 500 companies and startups and I’m lifelong student of sales and marketing, business development and all that good stuff. So there we go.

AP: Yeah. For years, you’ve been publishing great content on sales such as tip a day videos and so on. Over the last year, though, it seems like you’ve really specialized on LinkedIn.

CH: I have and that came about from an interview I did with Joe Pulizzi, whose book Content, Inc. is a fantastic book. In it, he lays out six steps that were found to created success if you have a website and/or a blog. One of the major ones was a content slant – pick something and put a little bit of an angle on it. I decided to pick LinkedIn because I’ve been on LinkedIn for over 10 years. I’ve learned so much from it and how to use it and I had so many people coming to me asking me how to use it. Since then, almost every post has been on LinkedIn except for a couple here and there when I have good buddies like Dave Kirpan reaching out and asking me to promote his new book and stuff like that.

AP: So talk about books. My understanding is now you’ve written a book about this.

CH: I have, actually I just finished it. It’ll be a smaller book, probably about 60 pages, and it’ll show up on Kindle. I still don’t even have a title for it. As I go out and I consult with people on LinkedIn or I work with organizations on getting their people ramped up using LinkedIn, I found 11 things that people were doing with their LinkedIn profiles. The book talks about the 11 things that people do wrong. I also put in 42 different tips and tricks for LinkedIn.

AP: Okay, so let’s run through those 11 problems.

CH: I don’t even know the 11 off the top of my head. How about one or two?

AP: One or two is okay. It’s always the fear when you’re an author, and I get this. So you get the book published and then you start doing interviews. Quite frankly, you’ve moved on to something else. Even though you want to promote the book, your mind is focused on the next project you’re working on. So, they start asking you questions about your book, and I got to the point where I had to have my book with me when I when I did interviews.

CH: While you were chatting, I managed to actually pull up some of the tips so I could talk about some of the problems. So, people go to www.salestipaday.com and they just look up 11 LinkedIn profile tips, and it’s there for financial advisors but it’s a problem for most people in sales. One of the main things that I look at is the headlines that people have. So when you’re on LinkedIn and you’re in your profile, you’ve got your name and just below it is your headline, right? Oftentimes what LinkedIn does is it takes your most recent position and it puts that in the headline. Quite honestly, most people don’t really care if you’re a sales rep at XYZ company or you’re a business person at ABC company or whatever. Instead, talk about what the market you serve is, what do you do, and have a strong call to action. For example, mine is your small, medium, business sales and marketing go to person who can generate up to 10 times more sales leads. Then I’ve got my dash and I say, “Hey, here’s what I do.” It intrigues them. It makes them want to contact me and I make sure they’re able to do that. That’s one of the tips that I think a lot of people miss on LinkedIn. So one of the things that you’re sort of saying in

AP: So,  don’t give your fate over to the system. Tell your story. Don’t let somebody else tell the story for you.

CH: Exactly. I should have prefaced this because in I do a ton of research, and part of the stuff that I found on LinkedIn is if you go through LinkedIn, they make some great white papers and put some great information out. Just by doing specific things to your profile, you can generate up to 15 times more views of your profile. The reason why this is important is that according to LinkedIn, 50% of b2b buyers go and use LinkedIn as a sourcing mechanism for a product or service that they’re looking for. First of all, if you can generate up to 15 times more views from these people compared to your compared to your competition, you’re miles ahead of that stuff. Also, if you have an incomplete profile, 50% of those buyers won’t even look at your profile.

AP: What’s incomplete?

CH: The first one is no profile picture. In fact, actually having a profile picture – I can’t remember the stat off the top of my head, but you’ll get like 10 or 11 times greater views than people that don’t have a profile picture according to LinkedIn.

AP: So think about this,: If you’re trying to reach out to somebody and connect with them proactively using LinkedIn, if you don’t have a profile picture, it’s just not going to happen. I don’t accept connection requests from people that don’t have profile pictures. Absolutely.

CH: I mean, it’s tough. I usually accept but now I’m shying away from that. If they don’t have a profile picture, typically I find them suspicious. One of the other tips I find fascinating is that people don’t pay for a premium account on LinkedIn. There are numerous benefits behind this and I write about this all over my blog. To give you an example, a premium account typically will get 15 times more views than someone who has what is basically an incomplete profile on LinkedIn. I think there’s a couple reasons behind that. I think one is if you’re paying LinkedIn for a membership, they might give preferential treatment to you. The other thing is that I think that people that are actually paying for the service are probably the kind of people that are interested in investing in themselves and making themselves better. I’m sure people that are listening to this are going to realize that when you do a search on LinkedIn, if you have a free account, at some point in the month, LinkedIn cuts you off and says you can no longer look at any more profiles. If you want to, you have to go to a premium account. The other thing too, is it will only limit you to 100 profiles in a search sometimes it’s way more than that.

AP: So which level premium account do you recommend for people then?

CH: LinkedIn has been changing quite a bit lately, but the first level is the business account. In your upper right-hand corner where your profile picture is on your LinkedIn account, click on there and it says manage subscriptions. Then you just go in there and it will help you decide. Business Plus, is the one I’ve got. I would recommend the Business Plus account. Invest in yourself for $60 a month. I’ll tell you what, I get that back in spades. I make way more money off of LinkedIn by reaching out and connecting and generating sales. It’s well worth the investment.

AP: What about Navigator?

CH: Um, I get asked this all the time. I’m not a big fan of Navigator. I used it for roughly 10 months with an organization that I was working with. It’s good in certain aspects. There’s usually five plus people that are part of decision-making processes. If you find one, it shows you four or five other people who might be associated with it. I think that’s cool. The other thing that was cool about Navigator is that they used to have this feature that would tell me, “Andy wrote something, and he was in the news.” I could always reach out and say, “Hey, Andy, this is a great article. I love it.” If you start reaching out to a person, the stat on LinkedIn is that that person is five times more open to accepting a connection request or a meeting request than someone who just reaches out blindly.

AP: From a cost perspective, it’s not that much more than the business plus.

CH: No, it’s really not. I’m a solopreneur and regular LinkedIn Plus works just fine for me. And I think for a lot of people, that will work fine. One of the areas where I think Navigator works is in larger corporations. I think it works better if you’re in a more complex sale. There are more people involved a bunch of stuff like that. It’s really just how you use it. Then again, I haven’t used it in about a year and a half so I may be a little rusty on it.

AP: I think the key point is that you don’t necessarily need to take that step to navigator to get all the benefit out of it that you can with LinkedIn.

CH: No, but the nice thing about LinkedIn is they’ll let you try trials of the stuff. If the people here don’t have a premium account, you can go and get a 30 day free trial. I believe it’s the same for navigator as well so you could try them and see which works for you.

AP: So at a minimum, if you have a free account, go get a free trial with a paid account. A premium account definitely has benefits. If you’re a power LinkedIn user, Navigator could potentially be the answer. Again, doesn’t cost a whole lot more than the Business Plus. Alright, so we’ve been talking about the key benefits of Navigator being search. You talk about five key LinkedIn search tactics to help you find better qualified sales prospects. I really think that’s the holy grail for people when they’re using LinkedIn. What are the ways I can search to find the people I need to find?

CH: Absolutely. You’ve done your homework. I call it the LinkedIn ninja search tactics. To start, I always tell people to use the advanced search functionality. At the very top of LinkedIn, there’s a search bar and right beside it a very small word says advanced. Click on that. That’ll be the first thing that will change your life on LinkedIn and bring back way better qualified sales prospects. When you click on that, you’ve got a bunch of different search parameters you can use. There are search terms, and then there’s what they call the modifier. I’ll just go to the search terms for a start. Put quotations around two or more words. For example, I was using the example of vice president. If you put in “Vice President,” when you hit enter, it’s going to bring back anywhere where it finds that “vice” or “president.” It will bring back vice presidents, it will bring back vice chairman, vice counsel, it’ll bring back presidents, and a whole bunch of results that really don’t fit within your realm. So what you do is you just put quotation marks around that and it will bring back only instances where it sees that that name. Now I’ll talk about modifiers. There are three modifiers that LinkedIn uses. It’s AND, OR and NOT and when you use these, you have to have it capitalized for it to work. Now, what you would do in this case, you could go “vice president sales AND marketing.” When you put brackets around that, it’s going to bring back examples of vice presidents sales and marketing. If you want to find vice presidents of sales or marketing, then just put capital “OR” in between that. If you’re only strictly looking for vice presidents of sales, then what you do is you put a “NOT” in there, so it’ll go “vice presidents sales NOT marketing.” Someone that’s got a free account gets 100 results coming back, right? Maybe there’s 20-25 that are good in there that they could take a look at. Once you start putting these modifiers into place, of those hundred results that come back maybe you’ve got 50, maybe you’ve got 75, you might even be lucky and get 100 100 results. You’re just getting way more results coming back that are better and specific to those search terms.

AP: Now, is there a way then to be able to sort that by company size or industry type?

CH: There is. When you use the advanced search there’s a left column, a middle column, and a right hand column. The left column and the middle column have different parameters that free accounts can use while the right hand column has premium features. You can search by industry and on the right hand side, one of the ones that I use a lot of times is company size. So that’s where you can go through and find that kind of information and kind of narrow your searches down as well. So once again, another key feature of having a premium account is you can actually get better results coming back through that advanced search functionality.

AP: Or if you have Navigator, you can go to Navigator and do all that.

CH: Yeah. Are you using Navigator?

AP: Just starting to look at it. Yeah.

CH: I shouldn’t diss it, but I found that I just liked the regular LinkedIn better.

AP: Can you save those searches? What do you do with the results once you get them?

CH: Certainly. Once you create a search and the results come back, in the upper right hand corner you have the ability to save a search. If you have a free account, you can save three save searches. With a Business Plus account and higher you get seven saved searches. The other thing you can do is you can save it on a weekly or monthly basis. I would set it to weekly and here’s why. When someone goes into a new position or changes anything on their profile, LinkedIn will send you those results on a weekly basis. So, say for example you’re looking at these VPS of sales in San Diego over 50. LinkedIn will send you an email it says, Hey, here’s 15 new people for San Diego VP sales. You go through and you start looking, and some of them will be in the same position and they’ve just changed something on their profile, but other people will be in a brand new position. Our buddy Craig Elias taught me this, and it’s that people that are starting in a new position are upwards of 10 times more likely to make a purchase decision or a new purchase decision within the first three months of starting a job than at any other time in their career. Now, LinkedIn is taking these and they’re sending them to you. They’re basically sending you potential sales leads to get in the door with people that are 10 times more likely to buy in a three month period.

AP: Yeah, yeah. That makes sense. Craig’s been evangelizing that statistic for a while. If we assume that it’s true then it’s very powerful. So I wanted to run through just a couple questions because you’ve had people asking questions, and you have some of those questions on your site.

CH: Do want me to tell you the number one thing that people should do on LinkedIn to generate sales?

AP: Sure, go ahead.

CH: I teach about this all the time. I have a course that I do called The Digital Referral. This is the easiest thing and once you realize the power of this, it’s incredible. I’m going to give a couple of stats first to talk about this. 11% of sales salespeople have a formalized referral process, which means 89% don’t. 65% of all sales are driven by word of mouth or referrals. Think about it this way: 11% of salespeople are potentially accessing 65% of all sales are out there, whereas 89% are going after 35% of sales. When you do the math against this thing, people that have a formalized referral process are typically generating 15 times more sales leads than those that don’t. On top of it, when you do the percentage wise, it comes out to like 93.6% more sales opportunities for people to come in the door. Not only that, though, they also close at typically double the rate. On top of it, they close it up to a quarter of the time that it would normally take because you’re leveraging someone else’s trust factor with an individual that’s referred you in, so now it wraps back around to the fact that LinkedIn will show me who you are connected to. So let’s say for example that I’ve got my accounts payable software platform. I’m trying to find someone that’s a CFO. I see that Andy Paul is connected to this CFO at this company that I want to get into. I simply send Andy a note and say, “Hey, Andy, hoping you can help me out. Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s the benefits to the companies that I work with or help out. I see that you know this person from this company on LinkedIn, would you be able to facilitate an introduction for me? If so, down below is something you can cut and paste and put into an email to send to this person.” Then you write an email that says, “I’ve got a friend named Chris Hamilton, I’ve known for a long time. He does this and it is a benefit of your company. He asked me if I could introduce you to him, so do you mind if I make that introduction? On the first time I do that, I get about 37% to 42% of the people that I reach out to to actually make that introduction. About 50% of the time, I end up talking with that person, emailing them or getting into a face to face meeting. If anyone’s cold calling, quit beating your head against the wall, just start leveraging or building out your relationships on LinkedIn and start fostering better relationships with your number one connections and you will see a dramatic impact in the amount of sales that you get, just by doing that.

AP: Alright, so a question on that, because that’s the number one question that comes back on that one. What if I don’t really know that person even though they’re a first level connection?

CH: Let’s pretend that I’m connected to you but I don’t know you. If I see that you’re connected to someone but I don’t really know you, I’m not going to ask you to do that. We don’t know each other. The flipside is, you don’t know that person but you and I know each other. We’ve known each other for a few years, so I reach out to you and say, “Hey, can you introduce me to this person?” You come back to me and say, “Hey, I really don’t know them.” Well, I’ve got to find another way to get into it. It’s trial and error. That’s just the way it is.

AP: In the real world, that’s true. Okay, well, great. We’re going to get into the last segment of the show. I’ve got standard questions I ask all my guests. You’re familiar with these because you said you’re a loyal listener of the show. So the first one is a hypothetical scenario in which you’ve just been hired as vice president of sales for a company whose sales have hit a rough patch and the CEO is anxious to get things back on track. You’re in charge of doing the sales turnaround. So, what two steps would you take during your first week on the job that could have the biggest impact?

CH: When I listen to the podcast, a lot of people say the same thing and I’m going to probably reiterate what a lot of people say. The first thing I would do is understand how the team is working each day. To do that I would go in and we’d start talking to the salesforce and understand what it is they’re doing on a daily basis. That way we could see where the problems lie. If someone says, “I don’t have enough leads coming through. I don’t have enough opportunities.” I would ask “Are you actually, you know, are you prospecting? Are you actually setting time aside and creating opportunities for yourself?” If they say yes, then it’s like, “Okay, well, let’s look at it. Let’s watch, let’s track this, let’s see what you’re doing.” Well, chances are if sales have stalled then instead of 10 calls an hour or 20 calls an hour, they’re doing one then running off to the washroom or grabbing a coffee or they’re going outside and having a smoke. I would look for those little things that are creating the problems of that organization. Then I would say, “Let’s break these kind of bad habits. Let’s start reinforcing what we can do to get wins. Let’s high five you for the accomplishments that you do achieve and show the impact that it has on the organization. I think it’s just little problems and then finding the corrections to those problems is really what it comes down to. That’s what I’d do.

AP: Okay. Good answer. Now for some rapid fire questions. They can be one word or you can elaborate on them. When you’re out selling your services, what’s your most powerful sales attribute?

CH: I let people look at things in a completely different view. You know, it really what it comes down to is exposing the latent pain that these people have and showing that there’s a solution to that latent pain.

AP: Who’s your sales role model?

CH: You know what, I haven’t really thought about it. It’s not really sales role model. Let me tell you who my kind of entrepreneurial sales model is: Rick Rubin. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Rick Rubin. He’s a record producer. I’m absolutely fascinated by that guy. He started in a dorm room working with the Beastie Boys, then also worked with Slayer, the heavy metal band. He’s just so down to earth. I mean, he’s just a super successful guy and I think he’s a master at his craft, which is phenomenal.

AP: Yeah. The fact is, everybody wants to work with him. Great answer. First time I’ve heard Rick Rubin. So other than anything you’ve written, what’s one book every salesperson should read?

Ch: I’m going to default to Content, Inc. by Joe Pulizzi. It’s coming from my background with content and creating stuff and it’s just an absolute eye opener to where you can go.

AP: It is, and for people listening to the show, if you go back into the archives of this podcast on andypaul.com you’ll find my interview with Joe Pulizzi from earlier this year. Lastly, speaking of Rick Rubin, what music’s on your playlist these days.

CH: I listen to a ton of audiobooks. I’m going to answer this kind of two ways. I listen to a ton of audiobooks but I listen to chill music just because it’s so relaxing. That’s what I have in my car all the time apart for the fact when I get my nine year old daughter in the car, I have to listen to the hit station. I listen to chill because it just mellows me out and just relaxes me. Audio book side I’m listening to It Ain’t Easy by Duff McKagan from Guns and Roses. I just started listening to that because I’m fascinated by him too. He owns a private equity firm. The other one I’m listening to is Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill.

AP: Always good to brush up on your Napoleon Hill. Well, Chris, as always great to talk to you. So tell folks how they can connect with you.

CH: Sure, feel free to reach out to me at chris@salestipaday.com. Feel free to go to my website salestipaday.com. I always love to hear from people. If you ever have any questions about links I’d be more than happy to answer and just, you know, send me an email and we can go from there.

AP: Excellent. Well, good. Well, Chris, thanks again. And remember friends, thank you for listening to the show and make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. One easy way to do that is to make this podcast Accelerate part of your daily routine, whether you’re listening during your commute, in the gym, or make it part of the morning sales meeting. That way you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Chris Hamilton, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling everyone. Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guests, visit my website at andypaul.com