If you aren’t taking advantage of LinkedIn’s feature that attaches recommendations from real people to your profile, you are missing out on a golden opportunity to produce greater sales results.
The mantra in today’s sales world is creating relationships. Unless your product or service is so distinctive, so much better than all the rest, you have to sell yourself as well as your company’s offering. Testimonials that address your character, integrity, and ability to achieve returns for your customers become a key differentiator.
What makes recommendations on the popular professional networking site so valuable is the difficulty in rigging the system. Testimonials on other Web sites could come from anyone, real or otherwise. On LinkedIn, the recommendations are submitted by real live members of the LinkedIn community. Wonder about the credentials of the business owner who recommends a vendor? Just click the name for that person’s detailed profile. You also cannot write a testimonial for yourself and put someone else’s name on it.
References always have been an essential component of the business world, in hiring and in sales. LinkedIn’s excellent system has raised the bar. Here’s how to ask someone in your LinkedIn network to recommend you:
- Sign into LinkedIn and click “Edit My Profile.”
- Click “Manage Recommendations” at the lower right side of the page.
- Click “Ask for a Recommendation” at the top right of the page.
- Follow the simple three-step process on that page.
When you receive a recommendation from a person in your network, either unsolicited or as a follow-up to your request, you have an opportunity to publish it directly to your profile as is or send it back with any suggested changes.
The best recommendations are those that come from the heart, with true thought and feeling. They don’t read like a collection of business clichés but rather are clear and specific about what you do for other people and companies. The best recommendations provide deeper understanding about a person. In the sales world, they deliver insight into how you interact with your customers.
Many LinkedIn users feel compelled to reciprocate by writing a recommendation for someone who recommends them. This can be interpreted as a “scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” maneuver that devalues the testimonials.
One vice president of sales development commented within a LinkedIn group that upon receiving requests from people he didn’t know, he called several of them to ask why. They told him they send recommendation requests to all their LinkedIn connections. Such stunts are fairly obvious. The real telling point is quality; does a recommendation clearly, substantively, and specifically testify to someone’s talents and abilities?
LinkedIn recommendations are an integral part of the sales referral process as well. Satisfied customers usually are delighted to spread the word about what you’ve done for them, if only you would ask. LinkedIn provides a clean and simple process to do just that.
Paul Simon is contributing sales editor for AllBusiness.com and communications director for TopSalesExperts.com. He owns SharperContent, a communication business that refines written messages in blogs, newsletters, books, and Web sites and hosts Web seminars for sales authors and entrepreneurs.