When I am hired to work with building materials companies they want me to help them find million dollar customers. The companies that work with me are in the business of big results. Their goals is to sell 1,000 windows, doors or faucets at a time instead of 10 at a time.
The problem is they frequently focus their social media marketing in the wrong channels. Social media channels like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Houzz, Vimeo, and others are primarily aimed at consumers.
For building material companies that means homeowners and homebuyers who are looking to replace a roof or choose a product for their new home.
YouTube and Twitter are two channels that reach both consumers and pros. When utilized correctly these two platforms engage the level of customer that gets big results.
Social media is more and more one of the most important marketing tools you can use. For most companies the more you post and the more channels you use the better.
One platform most building material companies and their sales people miss out on is LinkedIn. It is a professional platform that can help your business and sales people gain new customers, make big sales and keep current customers loyal. Here’s how.
How Building Materials Companies and Their Sales People Can Use LinkedIn to Grow Their Sales
People think of LinkedIn as where you go when you’ve lost your job or as a free place to find new employees. It is much more than that.
When used correctly you’ll find Linkedin is the best social media for growing sales to architects, builders, contractors, dealers, and distributors. Remember these are the customers you want. These are the people who buy big quantities on a regular basis.
What Salespeople Need To Know
You won’t reach everyone. Just like some customers prefer phone calls or texts or meetings or email or even faxes, there is a group of your customers who are regular users of LinkedIn and prefer to use it as a way to learn, build relationships and communicate. Ignore LinkedIn and you will miss a core group of buyers who can use your product.
I have clients and prospects who won’t return an email or a phone call but will be back to me the same day when I send them a message on LinkedIn. Why? Some people use LinkedIn as a way to prioritize communications.
Your options to find buyers on Linkedin are limitless. There are multiple groups for builders, architects, contractors, and facilities managers on LinkedIn. You can easily find a group or a customer type specific to your goals.
Pro-Tip: Companies cannot join groups but individuals can. When you contact or add a person, you are speaking to them directly. That means you can skip the gate keeper and start a relationship with the exact person you want right away.
Here are some examples of groups you can join and their size.
- Architects – 142,000
- Building Owners – 69,000
- Distributors – 22,000
- Commercial Construction Pros – 17,000
- Kitchen & Bath Dealers – 25,000
- Homebuilders – 23,000
- Plumbers – 16,000
- Glazers – 20,000
- Lumber Dealers – 12,000
- Roofing Contractors – 12,000
- Concrete Polishing Contractors – 6,000
- Tile and Flooring Contractors – 8,000
- Flooring Professionals – 21,000
When you join your goal is two fold. First, you want to share information on groups. This lets you establish yourself as an expert and make it easier for you to approach people later. Second, you can see who belongs to the groups. This makes it natural when you connect with a prospect you want to meet.
Here’s the best part: Most building materials companies and their people do not use LinkedIn and those that do use it poorly. That means it’s easy for you to stand out!
Why I Promote LinkedIn
It’s FREE – unlike trade shows, paid advertising and sales call travel expenses, the only cost is your time. Not only that It can also make a sales person more efficient by leading to more warm calls with leads more likely to buy because you have an established relationships with the buyer on Linkedin!
When you are on LinkedIn on a regular basis, you will stay in front of that prospect who isn’t ready to buy now. This is called ‘Top Of Mind Marketing’ and is a powerful strategy to position yourself at the Forefront of your customer’s mind.
I’m not counseling stopping everything and living on LinkedIn. You can generate real results with as little as 30 minutes a week. Your goal should be to spend a few minutes a day, if you have time, commenting and connecting with new prospects. I have found that it’s like a habit, the more you do it, the more efficient you become and more results you will see.
You should also think about LinkedIn as job security. You have heard about how companies look at you on Facebook to see if there is anything embarrassing. They also look at you on LinkedIn to see how many contacts you have and if you are a respected expert by how often and what you share. You will also get noticed by others who may put you on their list of people they’d like to hire.
For Marketing People
LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other marketing people who work for other building material companies to share information and get your questions answered. You can pool experience and increase the speed at which your company realizes it’s results.
For Building Materials Companies
The best way to start is to review your company page on LinkedIn and update your copy. Most copy fails because it doesn’t share how you can help your customer.
Here’s the thing. No one cares how long you’ve been in business. Those awards you are excited about…No one cares. The copy that gets clients to act is copy that directly ties how your product can benefit them.
You need to make sure that your senior executives have a profile on LinkedIn. Make sure their profile has a photo and an up to date description. This is what we call ‘social proof.’ It is a type of visual confirmation people look for when they decide who to do business with.
Many CEO’s and founders, resist being on LinkedIn, having a photo, a description or any connections. You can’t do this. Part of leadership comes in being the face of the company. Promoting themselves is the same as promoting the company. Not having a presence on LinkedIn hurts the sales of the company.
To attract and retain good employees, the company feed on LinkedIn should not be managed by the HR department. Your list of job openings should be clean and simple to read. The less clutter in your feed the better. The feed can be used by your marketing department to grow sales and help HR with job listings. The feed should be updated at least once a week, ideally once a day.
Content should not just be about employee and company activities,. It should be used to recognize customers (this is ‘social proof’) and share industry information. This qualifies you as a business with experience which makes clients more likely to engage with you. Make sure there is a LinkedIn icon on your website that links visitors to your company’s Linkedin page.
Ph.D. Level LinkedIn for Companies
- Make sure all the leaders have good profile pages. If you only do one thing make it this.
- Appoint a company executive such as the head of sales as the face of your company on LinkedIn.
Whoever manages social media for your company should have access to this leaders LinkedIn account. They should be posting several times a day, connecting with people, sharing, liking and commenting on customers posts for the busy executives.
The posts should be a combination of industry and company news and blog posts. Comments can be as simple as “Congratulations to (name of customer) on this”
- Encourage anyone who comes in contact with customers to have a LinkedIn profile and to connect with customers. That means leaders, technical people, customer service, shipping, order placement, account receivable, anyone who is in contact with customers.
Guide them how to set up or improve their profile (feel free to share this article with them).
The guidance should explain why LinkedIn is important and how they should use it. Be sure to make the most of Linkedin.
Here’s an example of how a client of mine did just that.
Example: I had one client, who scheduled new head shots for everyone at their sales meeting for use on their LinkedIn profile.
Advice for Salespeople
- Make sure you have a good photo on your profile.
- Consider changing your description from your title and all that you have achieved to how you help customers. Remember you are selling solutions so make your solutions customer-centric. Customers don’t care about your title and achievement; they care about how you can help them.
- Connect with everyone you know in your company and the industry. Connect with every new person your meet.
- Join the groups that your customers belong to.
- You can then either dive right in and participate or just observe for a while until you see how you would like to participate. Watch how other uses LinkedIn and see what works for you.
You can also go all in with LinkedIn and use tools like Sales Navigator to enhance your prospecting and sales. The danger here is that it’s easy to become an obnoxious salesperson no one wants to deal with.
I prefer using social media and LinkedIn first as a way to meet more people and let them get comfortable with you. If you use it correctly you may be surprised how many prospects reach out to you.
Stop Ignoring LinkedIn
LinkedIn is a great place to connect and engage directly with some of the serious players in your industry. It’s a simple but effective way to build a reputation and a brand.
If you’re spending all your time trying to reach homebuyers and small contractors through Facebook, you’re missing out on the serious sales volume you could get with a solid presence on LinkedIn.
So sign up, polish up your profile, start engaging – and then watch your sales grow.
What Others Are Saying
“Great article Mark, but would you please stop giving away all the secrets:)” Gerard McCaughey – CEO – ENTEKRA