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Optimizing your LinkedIn profile - a guide for Sales Reps

Expanding your career in sales means you get a lot of chances to leave a first impression. To a lot of different kinds of people. And the likelihood that these people are going to base their opinion around you off that first impression is almost certain.

Sadly, sales reps are also not given a lot of second chances to make good that first impression. Selling can be a ruthless business, as any rep who has done cold calling can testify.

Luckily though, as an SDR, you are already using LinkedIn for social selling (if not, start as soon as possible – yep, that’s an order), which means that potential leads will likely be looking at your LinkedIn profile.

The signals that you choose to provide here are directly under your control.

And with seven out of 10 professionals describing LinkedIn as a trustworthy source of professional content, having a relevant, up-to-date LinkedIn profile is a no-brainer.

So, let’s get optimized.

The 4 most crucial LinkedIn profile sections reps should care about

Profile picture

Your LinkedIn profile photo can make a huge impact on whether prospects decide to accept your connection request or not. And we don’t have to tell you that’s the first obstacle you need to tackle when it comes to social selling on LinkedIn.

It may seem shallow, but did you know that LinkedIn’s research shows that by simply just adding a picture makes a profile 14 times more likely to be viewed by others? It can be inferred from there what having a quality, welcoming picture can do.

It comes as no surprise then, that the profile picture is the first thing that catches your prospective connections’ eye. And yes, it often is one of the main factors in whether they’ll decide to accept your connection request: LinkedIn members with a photo receive far more engagement: 21 times more profile views and 9 times more connection requests.

So what can you do to make the most of your profile picture?

The objective here is to go for something that is open and authentic. It should focus on your face, be well lit, and have a solid background, not one that will divert people’s attention away from your welcoming smile (be natural!).

If you/your company has the resources, hiring a professional photographer to take your headshot is always a good idea.. Chances are, if you invest in a professional headshot, you’ll be rewarded with better acceptance and response rates from prospects.

Calling in a favor from a friend who’s good with a camera phone is just as good though. And once you have the winning photo in your hands, don’t shy away from asking your manager, peers, or colleagues to look and tell you their thoughts. What kind of impression does your photo leave? Do you give off a friendly and open vibe? Or maybe you look a tad unprofessional? Getting this feedback will help you decide if your picture is helping or hurting your social selling efforts.


LinkedIn profile banner

Background cover photo

The second visual element on your LinkedIn profile is the background photo. The purpose here is to reinforce who you are and the company you represent, visually supporting the written portions of your profile.

This image should communicate your value, skills and professional identity. As you already know, LinkedIn is all about branding. But success on social is all about authenticity. And those two always make a good combo. With the right messaging, both visual and textual, you can create a better impression. And don’t forget to consider the available space.

LinkedIn’s recommended cover photo size is 1,584 x 396 pixels.

Headline

Your headline is your statement and one of the first two things’ people see when they receive your connection request, alongside your profile picture. So it goes without saying that it should be one of your strongest self-promotional weapons. A clear statement of what you are all about. Being one of the first touchpoints with your prospects, the headline field can be used to say a bit more about how you see your role, why you do what you do, or what makes you tick.

But exercise caution if you are eager to experiment with this type of creativity in a headline. Social selling on LinkedIn is getting more popular, which is great. But that also means that its members are increasingly savvy and putting their guards up. They are, after all, constantly receiving sales pitches. Being an SDR can put you in an awkward position in this context, given the fact that selling is your goal.

don’t make your headline a sales pitch

So, take our advice, and don’t make your headline a sales pitch, but a mission statement that will boost your authenticity and present you as a people-focused person rather than just a sales person.

There is always the option of playing safe by simply putting your current role and the company you work at. Just be sure to update it as you progress up the company ladder. The higher the position, the bigger your credibility, and the bigger your chances of getting accepted by potential customers.

About

This section is your story, your stage to shine.

It is not a resume, nor your biography (if your objective is social selling and not job hunting, that is).

It is also not your sales pitch. Yes, try not to treat this as your sales pitch even though you are a sales rep.

There is no formula for how to get it right but aim to provide a narrative hook for your prospects, don’t try too hard sell yourself. And once you’ve grabbed their attention, try simply emphasizing what makes you different, what is your USP.

Even though you might be tempted, don’t pitch yourself. Practice your storytelling skills instead. Storytelling is one of the most captivating techniques to convey messages and information. Tap into the psychological superpowers that make it such a compelling marketing and selling tool.

With this concept in mind and by successfully sharing your story, you’ll have a better chance of getting your prospects emotionally invested and ready for action.

That means they are more ready to hear your offer. And this is where you shine, right? Finish with a clear call to action (CTA) on what they should do next. Send an invitation to connect, register to an event, download a piece of content, or even provide a meeting schedule link.

Additional LinkedIn credibility boosters that every SDR should take advantage of

Experience

Your unique career path is a big part of who you are today. That's why being able to showcase your individual professional journey on LinkedIn is a great way to help you stand out to potential prospects.

If you are an experienced sales professional, your experience section should be rich and comprehensive. It should highlight your professional experiences, responsibilities, and accomplishments from your most recent 10 to 15 years.

What happens if you are at the beginning of your career, as are the majority of SDRs? You will not leave this section blank, of course.

First, you need to link your current job to the company's LinkedIn profile. Once you've done this, LinkedIn will link your job to that company and show the company's logo on your profile. Then, you'll show up as an employee, and your profile will look more credible.

Next, you should add a couple of sentences to describe your role there. Don’t go into too much detail here. Just enter what your job entails and keep it clear and concise.

Even if this is your first job, don't fret. Include everything that you perceive as important. Volunteering and internships are valuable experiences that are worth including in this section. You can also include freelance work that you've been doing even if it does not fit in your day job.

LinkedIn experience

Skills & Endorsements

Even though you may not be on the job hunt, it can be really beneficial for SDRs to add specific skills on their LinkedIn profile.

They are a great way to showcase your abilities to other members and future prospects. Adding skills is also a simple and effective way of building up your professional brand and boosting engagement.

Searching for and adding to your list of skills is simple and provides opportunities for others to endorse you and further highlight your credibility.

Try identifying relevant skills and asking ex-colleagues and managers to endorse you for them. Remember to return the favor, endorsing others can help you maintain strong connections with the people in your network.

LinkedIn skills and endorsements

Licenses & Certifications

If you have them, certifications are another great way to showcase your knowledge and professional achievements on your LinkedIn profile and provide an additional credibility booster.

Even if you don’t yet have any sales certifications, remember that we live in an increasingly digital world. Regardless of your niche, software knowledge is and will be greatly valuable for any salesperson. Do some research to figure out what platforms and tools are typically used by sales teams in your industry. Google, Hubspot and Salesforce all have a variety of online courses, many of them you can take for free.

Education

Listing your education may not determine your success rate, but it surely won’t do any harm. Depending on your niche and your prospect, there may also be a shared connection or credibility boost to benefit from.

So add your degrees and your diplomas. Plus, according to Blair Decembrel, users who list their education appear in searches up to 17 times more often than those who don’t.

Recommendations

Third-party ‘Recommendations’ are a high-quality trust signal. It would be a major turn-off if you were to write a recommendation for yourself, but what you can do for sure is to ask for one. That’s a game-changer.

Nevertheless, as a rule of thumb avoid requesting a recommendation unless you’ve worked with someone for at least six months. Aim for at least two for each of your most important former positions. Whilst recommendations from co-workers are great, recommendations from former customers are even better as they may help bring in more business in the form of referrals.

And there’s no need to limit yourselves to only former employers or clients either. You can also enrich your recommendation section by adding a few nice words said by your peers, current colleagues, collaborators, or even friends.


LinkedIn recommendations

Accomplishments

Your ‘Accomplishments’ section is another credibility booster for you as a sales professional. You can add accomplishments to showcase your expertise in a particular field and professional achievements from the introduction section on your LinkedIn profile.

The accomplishment section on LinkedIn consists of:

  • Publications

  • Patents

  • Courses

  • Projects

  • Honors & awards

  • Test scores

  • Languages

  • Organizations

Even if you don’t tick-off all of the boxes above, that’s not a reason not to fill in at least one. Let’s take languages, for instance. Being multilingual is a great sales asset that has the potential to skyrocket your sales rates. Make sure you include them on your profile.

LinkedIn accomplishments

Two extra LinkedIn optimization tips

Be active

We cannot stress enough how important your activity is on LinkedIn, especially in the SDR role. By being active and engaging with your network, you present yourself as a thought leader in your field of expertise, framing your future prospect on how to perceive you.

Engage with your network by liking, commenting on, and re-sharing content. You can also extend the engagement beyond your network: save prospects as contacts (or leads, if you have Sales Navigator) and follow them for opportunities to engage with their posts.

Showing engagement on LinkedIn will show your prospects that you are a real person with specific interests and opinions. Being active on LinkedIn increases your visibility which in turn has the potential to increase outreach results and your chances of booking a meeting significantly.

Let’ take a look at what the numbers have to say. Salespeople who regularly share content are 45% more likely to exceed quota. And if that hasn’t convinced you yet, leads developed through this activity convert more frequently than others. Meaning socially engaged companies are 57% more likely to see increased sales leads.

LinkedIn activity

Customize your URL

Often overlooked, it’s a good idea to take a look at your LinkedIn profile URL. LinkedIn allows you to customize this to an SEO-friendly version following the format: www.linkedIn.com/in/namesurname. If your name is taken, try something else that resembles it closely.

It is also a good idea to zero in on a relevant long-tail keyword for your professional headline. Optimizing this along with your job title, job description, and About section around a variety of secondary keywords can improve your profile’s visibility.

By adding your LinkedIn URL to your email signature, other social channels and any other web pages, you enhance the chances of generating leads. And the neater the URL, the better.

LinkedIn customized URL

Is it worth it?

The inevitable question.

SDRs are super busy. We get it.

You are constantly racing against time and always seem to have more than you would prefer to chew on your plate.

Anything that might steer you away from your daily activities is a no-go.

But spending time optimizing your LinkedIn profile can bring real value to your lead-gen efforts. Time invested in building your personal brand and presenting yourself as an authority in your field is never time wasted.

Social selling is the modern ,powerful driver of success.

But no one becomes a social selling superstar overnight. It takes a lot of commitment to improve aspects of your sales approach every day.

If you’re not sure yet how to move the needle today in terms of finding the right people, building relationships, and ultimately driving revenue, just follow the tips we gave you.

They will surely make your sales ride less bumpy.