Using LinkedIn to Grow Your Dealership’s Sales and Learn the Digital Language of Your Buyers

Let’s explore practical tips you can implement right now to engage prospects and convert them into highly qualified leads. What do you do once you’re on LinkedIn? Evolving from a copier dealer to a managed IT services dealer is no small feat. The industry as a whole is in transition. That transition makes sense to those of us inside the industry; however, to the outside prospect, there is a perception and stigma that comes with a copier dealer. What does that mean for you as a dealer owner? It means that you need to quickly make that transition from a company that has traditionally sold a box to one that provides valuable IT services that, oh by the way, offers copiers as well. Copiers may be the dealer’s bread and butter, but IT services are the future.

Aside from your website, which is a vital piece to update, how can you make a strong positioning statement that you are the high-level technology company your clients need to aid in the security of documents and management of their IT needs? It’s one thing to know these things to be true as an individual owner; it is quite another to bring the prospects and clients along with you in this belief.

Enter LinkedIn

What can you do to make the transition to an industry expert in the managed IT services field? For an outline of the basics of getting set up on LinkedIn, see “The Prospects in Our Industry Have Learned A New Language — Do You Speak It?” in the October issue of The Imaging Channel.

Once you’ve accomplished the basic setup, you’ll need to begin to wrap your mind around the consumers and think like them. Place yourself in their shoes. What do you do to find a solution for your organization to manage all the cumbersome IT issues you face every day? One thing you do is turn to trusted B2B businesses. Where are these other businesses? They’re on LinkedIn. When I first began my career in the copier industry, I began by researching the organizations my company thought of as competition. I first turned to their websites, and then turned to their social channels.

Now, place yourself in the position of a buyer. I visit your LinkedIn page because someone told me of the legends of your impeccable service and outstanding quality. I want to know you. I want to understand who you are and feel the essence of what it means to be a member of that elite family. So, I visit your LinkedIn company page. What am I met with? A sea of posts begging prospects to “give me a call if you need a copier today! I have great deals for you!” Seriously, I wish I had saved screen shots of this stuff — you just can’t make it up. My faith as a prospect has been deflated. I’m met with a sales pitch instead of the warm fuzzy feeling this referrer portrayed to me. Since I’m an evolved buyer, I take online interactions as my “first impression” and I am sorely disappointed.

What can be done about this catastrophic situation?

Here are the ways you can stand out among a sea of other providers who don’t understand the damage being done by pushing product online.

1. Share relevant content. What’s important to your customer? Think of their IT services challenges and when you find an article from another trusted resource or your own personal blog, share it with your network. It helps you in multiple ways: 1) as they cruise through LinkedIn, they may see your shared article. The fact that it speaks to a challenge they have gives you credibility just for sharing it. 2) It gives your followers and connections something to comment on and share, expanding the reach of your network to their network. Pretty powerful stuff.

2. Research prospects (met at events, read about in a business journal). In a recent blog post, I wrote about successful tips to make networking events worthwhile and profitable. When you want to get into a company that seems iron clad, LinkedIn can be quite a powerful ally. You can view second-degree connections who can offer an introduction to you or find common groups you share.

3. Create searches. There are 187 million monthly active users on LinkedIn. That’s not users, that’s active users. There are 300 million users. Use these registered folks to your advantage. Log into LinkedIn, look at the search bar at the top, find “Advanced” to the right of the search box and click. It’s a new world of possibilities for finding potential clients for managed IT dealers in your area. This screen allows you to segment by keyword, title, geography, seniority level and company size to name a few. Once you’ve created this list targeted to the ideal buyer in your geographic location, you can save the search and receive notifications for when new profiles fall into that category. I like to call LinkedIn the most up-to-date CRM in the business. Your contacts are going in and updating their information each time something in their professional lives happens to change. Why not track and follow these folks? In essence, you don’t even have to track them. LinkedIn does it for you by sending a message to you via email when one or your connections has a new title or company. Does your current CRM do that for you?

This new digital and social language is what your prospects and customers are speaking. Get fluent.

Lindsay Kelley is the chief marketing strategist with Dealer Marketing, a full service marketing agency focused on copier and managed IT services dealers. She has served in a marketing function for over 17 years including working with the marketing lead for a large copier dealer.

This article originally appeared in the January 2015 issue of The Imaging Channel.