[332] How to make sales on LinkedIn with Sam Rathling

how to make sales on linkedin with sam rathling

Are you on LinkedIn but struggling to makes enough sales?  Find out how you can start making the connections you need, from ensuring your profile leaves a great first impression to how to create engaging content that attracts (and converts) the right customers with LinkedIn expert, Sam Rathling.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}.

Sam Rathling is one of the UK’s leading LinkedIn experts. Over the past eight years, she’s been training people on how to use LinkedIn and now specialises in inbound lead generation.

For Sam, this is all about attracting your ideal clients towards you, rather than having to go out and look for them. “It really allows you to attract and pull the right kind of clients towards you, where they’re actually coming to you, saying, ‘I want to work with you.’ Imagine how cool that would be if you had that happening to you on a day-to-day basis?”

Sam receives up to ten messages a day from prospective clients wanting to know more about her LinkedIn training, consultancy and her Fast Track service – an outsourced service for generating leads on LinkedIn.

Getting started with LinkedIn

If you’re new to LinkedIn or haven’t been on the platform for a while, Sam recommends starting by updating your profile. If you don’t have a photograph, get one. It’s also worth looking at the banner that sits behind your photograph to see if it’s in line with the branding across your website and other social media networks. Sam recommends looking at Janet’s LinkedIn Profile for inspiration.

Next, look at your professional headline – the 120 character description that sits underneath your name.

“Using the name of your company – or your job title, in the first part of your professional headline is a big mistake.  This is because it won’t necessarily mean anything to people who are checking you out on LinkedIn. Instead, pick out keywords that describe what you do and how you can help your ideal clients,” says Sam.

“It’s important to focus on who you help as well as how you help”, she adds, pointing out that, “Janet has recently tweaked her bio to specify that she works with ‘coaches, consultants and experts’” (Janet’s target client on LinkedIn). If you’re serving a specific geographical area, it’s a good idea to include that in your professional headline too.

The next section to focus on is your professional summary which sits below your professional headline.  Here you get around 2000 characters (five or six paragraphs) to address your target market. “Imagine that your best client or your dream client is reading that profile,” says Sam. “What do they need to hear? And, what do they need to see on that profile for them to have confidence that (a) they want to connect with you and (b) they would actually want to do business with you.”

Only the top three lines of your summary are visible when people first visit your profile, so if you want to encourage them to click to see more, those first three lines need to be strong. Sam suggests looking at Janet’s to get an idea of what to include and how to structure your LinkedIn professional summary.


Why you shouldn’t ‘oversell’ on LinkedIn

Sam believes the biggest mistake people make when it comes to LinkedIn sales is doing too much selling. Making sales on LinkedIn is more about starting conversations, building great relationships and adding value to your network.

If you’re not already familiar with it, Sam suggests checking out LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index which will give you a score as to how good you are at ‘social selling’. It rates four different key areas that focus on how ‘visible’ you are, how good you are at connecting with the right people in your target market, how much people are engaging with you plus how much you are engaging with them. Janet’s score is currently 87 – which puts her in the top 1% of her network and industry.


Who to connect with on LinkedIn (and why it’s important)

Before you even think about selling though, you need to think about building your LinkedIn network. It is helpful to split your connections down into the people who want to connect with you and those you want to connect with.

People often think they shouldn’t connect with anyone who isn’t obviously relevant to their business or industry, but Sam believes this is a big mistake. You never know who might be connected to who.

Sam also points out that when you add a new first connection on Linkedin (someone you are directly connected with) you’re also, effectively adding their first and second degree connections (their connections’ connections). “So, when somebody adds me as a brand new connection, they’re not just adding Sam Rathling. They’re adding Sam Rathling, plus my 13,000 first degree connections, plus all of those people’s first degree connections. So, suddenly you’re not just adding one person into your network. You’re expanding your network exponentially every time you add somebody new.”

Sam suggests using LinkedIn’s search function (the bar at the top of your profile) to find your ideal customers/clients (focusing on geography, industry, job title, etc).  But once you’ve found them, the worst thing you can do is “just go connect, connect, connect”. If you want to build a powerful network, you need to personalise your message.

Simply saying in your connection message that you have some shared connections/contacts can be enough to strike a rapport – it’s just about finding common ground, says Sam. This works particularly well with your second degree networks (your connections’ connections).

Once someone has accepted your LinkedIn connection request, you can send a follow-up message that is more closely linked to your products/services. For example, Sam asks her new connections what percentage of their sales are coming from LinkedIn at the moment.

“So I’m just asking a really simple question that some of them don’t respond to, and some of them do. But, once they’ve responded to my simple question, I’m in a conversation. And, I’ve picked up some of their pain points. This allows me to get into a conversation which I normally then lead into a 15 minute conversation,” explains Sam.

Once a new connection has replied (and many won’t – so don’t take it personally if this happens,) Sam’s advice is to take the conversation offline as soon as possible – to a phone call or Zoom meeting, for example.

How to use content to attract inbound leads on LinkedIn

First off, it’s important to understand the difference between posts and articles.

Posts are the short (up to 1300 characters) status updates shown in the LinkedIn home feed.

Articles are long-form pieces of writing (up to 100K characters) that are LinkedIn’s equivalent of blog posts.

Both Sam and Janet believe you should be publishing posts AND articles. This is because LinkedIn counts views differently for posts and articles.

With posts, a view is counted every time a post is presented in someone’s home feed. This means the content might not have been read – it was just shown to them.

Article views are counted only when someone actually clicks through to an article. So although your views might be lower for articles than posts, the fact someone has taken the trouble to click through to your article (from a link you’ve provided in a LinkedIn post, email, Google search or other social media platform, for example) means they are probably a hotter lead than someone who simply just sees your post in their home feed.

Read about how to get more views on your LinkedIn content.

Sam recommends posting an article around once a month and to create mini posts to drive traffic to your articles.

LinkedIn posts or articles. Which is better?

When it comes to attracting inbound leads, both Sam and Janet have found posts to be the most effective.  And while you should aim to attract likes, comments, and shares, comments drive the biggest weight at the moment with the LinkedIn algorithm.

The comments posted in the first hour of a new post being published are also the most valuable. So being available to respond to comments during that time will help drive engagement. Sam recalls a recent post – made in the evening – about a new client she’d landed which got a huge amount of traction in the first hour.  Sam then made the time to respond – even though it was the evening, and the post now has over 200,00 views.

Asking questions is also important. Instead of just telling people about her business ‘win’, Sam asked her audience how their first day back at work after Christmas went – a question that was easy for her followers to respond to.

As this example shows, the more you can make your content about your audience (even if it’s actually about you), the more engagement you will get. Before she posts on LinkedIn, Janet always asks herself: ‘how can I make this about my audience?”

Video content generally gets more engagement on LinkedIn too, so it’s definitely worth creating video content when you can – and do add captions, as most people will be watching with the sound down. And you don’t need fancy equipment either – a smartphone will do just fine.

For example, Janet recently published a video showing people around her 2019 media diary using her iPhone which got great engagement.

Behind-the-scenes content, where you show people what you’ve been up to is another great way to get engagement – something Sam does very successfully when she is speaking or running training events.

The last time she was delivering her two-day Linkedin strategy workshop, Sam got 27 inbound leads – messages from people who had seen her post and wanted to know when her next masterclass was.

And Janet’s recent How To Speak On Big Stages masterclass was mainly attended by people who’d been following Janet’s posts about speaking on LinkedIn – none of which were directly selling the masterclass.

Read about how to get more engagement on LinkedIn.

Podcast show notes:

  • Sam’s business story (4:04)
  • How to ensure your LinkedIn profile creates a great first impression (6:20)
  • Why you need to add more content to your profile (including video) (11:55)
  • How to find out what your social selling index is – and how it will help you improve your content (13:53)
  • How to know who you should be connecting with on LinkedIn (16:57)
  • How to avoid pushback on Linkedin (25:03)
  • How to create engaging content on LinkedIn (26:04)
  • How to use LinkedIn groups effectively (38:20)
  • Is it worth having a company page on LinkedIn? (42:02)
  • Is it still worth posting articles? (43:30)


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