Jamie Shanks Sales4Life

By Jamie Shanks

Tim Peters, a Social Selling evangelist for IntelliResponse approached Jill Rowley and me last week with great questions:

1. “Should you let your employees publish on LinkedIn?”

2. “How should sales and marketing empower employees to use LinkedIn Publishing?”

Tim’s questions are so spot on. 

As Tim points out:

“I think we are entering new territory with LinkedIn publishing. It is very clear what organization you work for on LinkedIn, the questions that arise are: is what you publish is the official point of view of your organization, or is it your independent thoughts? Should the marketing departments at organizations be monitoring and setting rules up for LinkedIn publishing?  Should only senior leadership at organizations be publishing on LinkedIn? Or is this the next big social sales tool? 

There was ‘distance’ when an individual would publish to their personal blog, or even tweet. But, with LinkedIn publishing, I think it is a new beast all together because your profile associates you directly with your employer in this closed ecosystem.”

Tim gave us some serious questions to answer, and I’ll be the first to admit that there are no right or wrong answers.  However, I do have opinions, which I’ll share below, and then I want your opinion!

1. Should my sales reps be on LinkedIn Publishing?

I think if you answer yes to these questions:

–        Does our target audience use LinkedIn?

–        Do you believe that content at the top of the sales funnel drives inbound lead opportunities?

Then absolutely yes!  I’m a believer that in every market or industry, there are thought-leaders, and influencers that define a space.  For example, at Sales for Life, we chose social selling as our expertise focus.

There is a void of industry expertise on many topics on the LinkedIn platform, which boasts 300,000,000 users (SOOOOO much bigger than your email marketing list).  Would it not make sense to own that topic space?

2. What should be marketing’s role be, and should marketing police the sales reps?

Marketing is critical to social selling, and can play a dramatic role in the success of LinkedIn Publishing.  If marketing can help develop truly interesting and informative content for their buyers, they will have a loyal following for every sales rep using the tool.  Think of the amplification potential of 100 sales reps; each sales rep is connected to 50+ decision-makers, and each sales rep will help potential buyers by sharing your company’s content and being a resource to buyers.

As for policing LinkedIn Publishing, my opinion is very simple.  Do you have IT monitor sales reps phone calls and emails? When I hear middle managers say, “I’m afraid of what my sales reps will say, it could be permanent,” I ask, “Really, do you think that your reps will be malicious?  Do you really think it’s going to destroy your 100 year old company?”  I don’t get the fear that middle managers have on this topic!

My overall advice is to trust your sales reps to help you, your company’s brand and themselves.  After training 40,000 sales reps, the 80/20 rule still amazes me.  Only 20% of sales reps want to really, really turn themselves into rock stars, and would embrace new tools (like LinkedIn Publisher) to help do this.  Even if you encourage every sales rep to use LinkedIn Publishing, expect only your rock stars sales reps to actually do it!

Do you think LinkedIn Publishing will help sales reps connect with prospects? I can’t wait to hear everyone’s opinion!

For more help with getting your sales team trained on using LinkedIn for social selling, contact me at jamie@salesforlife.com or connect with me on LinkedIn.

About Our Guest Blogger

Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is the Managing Partner at Sales for Life, the world’s definitive social selling training and coaching company. Jamie has built social selling solutions in nearly every industry, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 corporations. Prior to being the Managing Partner at Sales for Life, Jamie was the Director of Sales at two SaaS software companies, Captive Channel Corp. and Firmex Inc., building their businesses from infancy to profitability. Jamie is also the Toronto chapter President of the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals and holds an MBA from the University of South Australia.