By Jeff Mesnik, Managing Partner, ContentMX
What if you could have all of your sales leads in one room?
It turns out that LinkedIn groups put all of your customers and prospects in one place, making it the perfect networking and sales tool for business-to-business organizations. Help your channel partners harness the power of LinkedIn by creating groups that will host discussions and encourage customer engagement.
A Group About Your Industry Not Your Company
A LinkedIn group can be an open forum to share industry related content and have industry focused conversations. The intent should not be to sell, but rather to be a go-to source for your partners’ peers and customers to discuss the latest trends and solutions.
The key to success when creating a LinkedIn group is to create a group branded around a niche within your industry. Avoid creating a company LinkedIn page. Instead, create a group branded around your company’s values and interests. This will build trust and will help build your channel partners’ overall credibility.
A Destination For Engagement
Much like your company’s blog, the intent for any LinkedIn group should be to create a destination for engagement. If the goal of the group is to build organic engagement, generating new leads from the engagement will be a natural result. Encourage your partners to engage in conversations and share content that promotes your company’s interests, without promoting the company itself.
A Place To Listen, Influence And Build Your Pipeline
You can also use LinkedIn groups as a listening tool.
“The right social listening tools make sure you can hear what’s happening in real time and deliver content that drives the conversation forward”, explained LinkedIn’s Mike Weir to the Content Marketing Institute. Share content that is truly what the group members want to see and read. By doing so, the conversations will then naturally include qualifying questions, which will help bring prospects down the sales pipeline.
And as partners establish thought leadership and grow their LinkedIn presence, their LinkedIn audience will begin to see them as influencers.
Stephanie Sammons, a contributor to the Social Media Examiner noted: “I’ve always said you don’t have to be anointed as an influencer to build online influence. It’s up to you to contribute to your community, share valuable experience and create astute content that shows your thought leadership”.
The same rule applies with LinkedIn as it does with content marketing: Give first, then don’t be afraid to ask. The more engaging content your partner shares, the more people will listen and take notice of what they have to say. A great influencer shares engaging content often, and is consistently visible and valuable to their network.
Remind your partners that every little thing counts; any way a partner can create dialogue between them and another person matters. Every interaction between a partner and a prospect is an opportunity for the partner to learn something about the prospect. Encourage your partner to take note, and use this information when the time comes to engage them in the sales process.
Share Conversations And Encourage Participation
And don’t be afraid to leverage all the great content that has been shared in the LinkedIn group and distribute it to other outlets. By sharing the conversations from the LinkedIn group on Facebook and Twitter, your partners will validate your company’s services. Create a symbiotic relationship between the LinkedIn group and the entire channel, distribute the valuable content and conversations from the group and encourage all partners to reuse the content.
With the recent additions of Showcase Pages and Product Pages, LinkedIn has evolved into a publishing platform that is now a go-to marketing tool for B2B. LinkedIn is working hard to make big changes that make it easier for companies to interact with customers and peers, leverage their own thought leadership and use LinkedIn as a publishing and networking platform.
Make sure your channel is taking advantage of all the benefits and opportunities that come with engaging customers on LinkedIn. Your partners will be thankful for it.
Jeff Mesnik has more than 20 years of experience in high tech and marketing. Jeff leads ContentMX, which has a mission to increase engagement, multiply impressions, and expand a contact database to achieve tangible results, incorporating both email and social into a new age marketing platform.