Sharon Gillenwater, Founder of Boardroom Insiders and their CXO Engagement Strategy Expert posted an article today on the Saleforce blog making the point that LinkedIn should just be a starting point for sales people selling to CXOs. You can make the case that her article is self promotional since what she says to do, learn more about the CXOs you are selling to, is exactly what her company Boardroom Insiders brings to the table, but her point is spot on and should be written big and bold on posters of all sales team offices.
"If you are an enterprise sales or marketing pro focused on C-suite selling, LinkedIn is not a silver bullet," said Gillenwater. "It simply does not provide the insight required to engage a Fortune 500 key decision maker. In fact, LinkedIn can give you a false sense of security going into important meetings. You think you have done your due diligence by looking at a few LinkedIn profiles, but halfway through the meeting it can become painfully apparent that you don’t know what you don’t know."
The idea is simple enough, don't put your foot in your mouth by NOT KNOWING what is easily knowable. Has the company recently been acquired? Did the Chief Marketing Officer that you are meeting with write a company blog post last week where she blasted a competitor that you were going to reference as similar to them? Did the Germany based IT Manager that you were planning to lunch with to discuss your company's tech solution post a YouTube conference presentation where he mocked the unprofessional state of tieless tech guys?
You might just wear a tie to that lunch meeting! It's important to know your potential customer before you speak to them and even before you email them. The more you know, the more likely you will be to sell them. As Gillenwater says, "An executive is not going to write in her LinkedIn profile: “I hate jargon, so don’t use it when you meet with me.”"
"You’ll need everything available publicly online, from media interviews and Twitter posts to the latest quarterly earnings call transcripts, industry news, and corporate press releases," says Gillenwater. "Selling to CXOs requires a commitment to knowing what’s on their minds and guiding their decisions—and keeping up with that as it changes."