In our 2013 “Sales & LinkedIn Survey,” we found out lots of great info on how top sellers are leveraging the power of LinkedIn. One statistic that really stood out was how many more LinkedIn connections top sellers have with their customers.

Top sellers were connected to almost three times as many customers as other survey respondents. But here’s an even starker statistic: The 55 percent of sellers who’d never generated an opportunity via LinkedIn were connected to an average of only 9.8 percent of their customers. 

So, does connecting to customers via this social-networking site really impact your sales results? Here are some comments from our respondents to give you a fresh perspective:

  • Going deep and wide. “After a phone sales presentation, I go to LinkedIn and send that person a request to connect. Since I am fresh in their mind, 99 percent of the time they accept the connection. This then gives me access to their network. My goal is to go deep and wide in each company. Using their LinkedIn connections helps me to expand my network in each company.”—Kathy J.
  • Expanding your footprint. “I’ve guided my reps to locate other contacts within an organization. Say we’re doing business with Company A in the marketing department. I work with my reps to see who else their customers have as contacts within Company A. We then ask for a referral within the organization to expand our footprint. I also look to see what other groups our customers belong to. That way we can stay ahead of the conversation with them.”—Stacie W.
  • £1 million in pipeline in two months. “When I find a relevant contact I’ll first mine the ‘Viewers of this profile also viewed’ list. As I have a highly targeted market, this is a great way to source other related contacts within the firm or contacts at other relevant firms. I’ve finally persuaded my boss to pay for a premium license as it has enabled me to build an active engaged pipeline of over £1million in just two months.”—Darrell M.
  • Expanding contact base. “I’ve had good success expanding my contact base across one of the largest food service companies in the USA. This list of corporate contacts and their affiliates is difficult at best to obtain. LinkedIn has provided me valuable opportunities to network throughout their organization across multiple demographics and channels to obtain key contacts to open discussion and garner business.”—Joe W.
  • Finding more names. “Once I find someone that is a key prospect for me, I often look to the bottom right to see who they are connected to that recently viewed or connected with them. I often find additional contacts I can try to prospect if no luck with the prospect I found, and I even find colleagues of theirs in the same field so I have a name of someone else that I can prospect as well. It works great if you are already speaking with someone that likes your product and company for they are probably telling their peers about you.”—Kristine A.

Having more contacts within an account increases the likelihood that you will get in and get to the right person. It gives you a chance to gather valuable information that you can use to drive sales. It protects you from losing your relationship if you only have one contact. And, it leads to more business.

So if you haven’t done so already, connect with your customers. It makes all the sense in the world. And, it’s easy.

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Jill Konrath is the author of SNAP Selling and Selling to Big Companies. If you’re struggling to set up meetings, click here to get a free Prospecting Tool Kit.