Customer relationship management (CRM) applications offers industrial weigh and measure companies a depth of valuable information on clients and prospects to better meet their needs. You can collect, organize and manage data and interactions throughout the customer lifecycle to drive sales growth. This can lead to improved client relationships, less client attrition and increased revenue. However, most cloud-based CRM software such as Salesforce are expensive—as much as $125 per user, per month.
“In the complex world that we live in simplification is important,” says Bill Corbett, Jr., president of Corbett Public Relations, Inc. in Floral Park, NY. “For people who are active in the LinkedIn world and use the platform, this is a good tool. The tracking of email conversations and the reminders alone are good features that should be used.”
You can find LinkedIn’s CRM field in the Relationship tab (marked by a star) under each of your connection’s profile summary. This is a space where you can store details—visible only to you—that will help you manage your relationships and stay top of mind with your network. You can add notes, set reminders, jog your memory about how you met someone, and tag contacts with various keywords.
“This is the most underutilized portion of LinkedIn, because so many people focus on just sending connection requests as if they are the new business cards,” says Philip Blackett, founder and CEO of Boston, Mass.-based Magnetic Interviewing. “With consistency, you can be leaps ahead of everyone else, which can significantly benefit your business and career.”
If you’re looking for new prospects or want to connect with current customers on LinkedIn, here are the four features under the Relationship tab you should become familiar with—plus a few tips on how to make it work for you.
• Add a note: A note could be anything you want to write about your connection, from the name of your contact’s spouse to the best time to reach him or her during the week. If it’s a client or a prospect, you can include notes from a recent phone call. This feature provides you with a date and time stamp along with a scrollable history. The first default note for each of your contacts is when you and this contact first connected on LinkedIn.
• Create reminders: With this feature, you can set a reminder to send a thank-you email to a prospect for next week. You can also ask LinkedIn to notify you about an upcoming appointment or a conference you plan to attend.
• Remember how you met: Details about how and where you met someone could come in handy if you ever connect with that person face-to-face and need an ice-breaker. Not only can you record how you met a particular contact, but you can include who introduced you as well.
• Organize your contacts: A tag categorizes the connection. By adding a tag to each profile, you can group your contacts into various categories, such as clients, prospects, business partners, vendors, friends, work colleagues, and family. After adding tags to your connections, you can email everyone who has that tag within your LinkedIn network. You can create up to 200 tags on LinkedIn.
• Share educational, useful information: So what happens next? How do you pull all of this data together so you can interact with your contacts to get some referrals and hot sales leads?
First, get in the habit of filling out relationship data immediately after connecting with someone on LinkedIn. Make notes on where you met, what you discussed, what their interests were, their spouse’s name, and any other pertinent information.
Then, take some time to sift through your connections and tag your network. Yes, this is a menial and time-consuming task, especially if you have several hundred contacts. While it can seem daunting, devote just 20 minutes a day to work on your contact list. Take 10 minutes at the beginning of the day and 10 minutes at the end if that accommodates your schedule better.
Once your entire network has been tagged, you can now send group messages. Under your Connections tab, select “Filter by All Contacts” and then go to where it says “Tag.” This is how you can locate your tagged individuals. When sending a message, don’t try to sell your services or pitch your products. Instead, share helpful, useful content. Be educational instead of promotional. Remember to uncheck “Allow recipients to see each other’s names and email addresses,” before sending any group messages.
Set a reminder alert to send articles of interest at least once a month. In fact, you can leverage LinkedIn’s Pulse feature—its blogging platform that allows you to write an article or a long-form blog post. Under your profile, select “Publish a Post.” When you publish an article or post, it becomes part of your professional profile and is displayed on the Posts section of your profile.
As soon as the post is published, it automatically appears in your network’s feed, and depending on how your connections’ email features are set, some may even receive an email alert. LinkedIn members who are not in your network can follow you just from your long-form posts to receive updates when you publish next. Best of all, your post is searchable both on and off of LinkedIn—greatly improving your search engine optimization efforts.
Here’s how you can send your connections a link to your Pulse content. Find an article anywhere online and write, “Here’s a great article on 3D printing from Industrial Weigh & Measure that I thought you might be interested in. By the way, I also wrote a similar article about my company’s experience with 3D printing.” Then add the two links to each of these articles. If you do this once or twice a month, it helps cultivate top of mind awareness with your network.
Stay in touch with your connections
LinkedIn has a feature under the Connections tab called “Keep in Touch.” This is where LinkedIn includes information on people’s birthdays, promotions, new job, and work anniversaries. It just takes a few seconds to say congratulations to a connection or wish someone a happy birthday.
“Most people don’t take on this daily task of checking to see whose work anniversaries and birthdays are that day,” says Blackett.
Blackett recommends going beyond just “liking” someone’s work anniversary and instead write a short personalized comment. “The extra effort goes a longer distance towards you being more unique from everyone else and more top of mind. Also, send people a LinkedIn message to wish them a happy birthday. With daily consistency, you’ll differentiate yourself from the crowd.”
Become a business matchmaker
Finally, help other people in your network to introduce (via a personal message) to your connections. When you discover one of your connections has a need for a certain skillset, specialty or even a potential partnership with someone that you may know, help them make that connection.
“Whether he or she explicitly asks for an introduction, be proactive and seek each day to find one introduction to make for someone within your LinkedIn network,” adds Blackett. “This will bring in reciprocity and good karma, as some of those connections will seek to return the favor and help you out when you’re in need later on.”
There are more robust CRM tools available online. Some, such as Nimble, work flawlessly with LinkedIn as an add-on. But for a free alternative, LinkedIn can suffice as an effective bare-bones CRM.
“In business, it is critical to save time,” says Corbett. “This CRM application saves time and helps people to be better organized. LinkedIn is also a great way to get people’s attention and it is separate from regular email and other noise. People need to invest time to secure the attention of others. Doing this through LinkedIn accomplishes several goals. For those who need a robust system, they can sign up or purchase other CRM software. But for most people, this system is adequate.”
LinkedIn can be a great tool for managing your lead nurturing. It’s a simple yet functional CRM to help you keep track of leads and stay connected with your customers. If you’re already using a CRM application you’re pleased with, consider using LinkedIn as a backup.
To make LinkedIn work better for you, get in the daily habit of logging into LinkedIn every day. If you spend 10 minutes a day tagging contacts, reaching out, sharing relevant articles, sending messages, congratulating someone, or simply saying happy birthday, the return can be incredible.
About the Author
Daniel Casciato is a freelance writer and social media marketing consultant from Pittsburgh, PA. For more information, visit www. danielcasciato.com or reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org