To stay on top of your game, you need "deep reading"—the kind that engages your brain. Books are the key. 

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I'm frequently asked about which CRM system is best. The truth is, it depends what you're looking for. That's why I thought you'd be interested in this independent assessment from GetApp. Hopefully, it'll help.

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What would it take for you to double or even triple your win rates? According to LinkedIn research, you have a significantly better chance of closing sales when you have multiple connections within a single account.

Can it really be that simple?

Not exactly ... Winning isn't simply a function of having lots of LinkedIn connections. It requires a well-thought-out strategy. If you're only well connected to one or two people at a company, you're vulnerable if something happens to them.

Also, since most decisions today involve 4+ people, it's essential to establish relationships with all of them. That way you have a greater likelihood of getting buy-in, working through obstacles and keeping the decision process moving forward.

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I have a confession to make. I haven't updated my LinkedIn profile* for 18 months. I know. Shame on me. I'm supposed be a leader on things like that, but I'm human too.

If you looked at my profile, you'd probably think it's fine. It doesn't read like a boring resume or make me look like a hungry, job-hunting sales vulture. It doesn't sound like a self-serving company brochure.

It's customer focused, showcases my expertise and establishes my credibility. It's my professional presence online. Even LinkedIn says it's well done. 

But here's the truth. My LinkedIn profile doesn't reflect changes I've made in the past year and a half. Worse yet, it's no longer meeting my objectives.

(FYI: It still says that I have a new book coming out in May, 2014 when it's already a bestseller. I didn't change anything because I want you to see what's wrong with it.)

Time to get some help! So I called in Wayne Breitbarth, author of The Power Formula for LinkedIn Success to scour through it with a fine-tooth comb. He recommended the following 5 actions to help me leverage LinkedIn more effectively. Some really surprised me!

Before we dig in, here's a quick look at the top section of my profile:

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Every time I do a Sales Acceleration workshop with a new client, I go to LinkedIn to check out the profiles of people who will be attending. Invariably, I see Summary sections that read like this: 

  • Big Deal's innovative solutions are blah, blah, blah. Our extensive client list includes these marquis marquee organizations. We specialize in all this stuff. 
  • Quota-busting sales professional with 15 years experience in technology sales. Doggedly persistent, tough negotiator and fearless competitor. 

Yes, that's a bit of hyperbole. But I think you get what I mean. And, my guess is that 85% of you who are reading this have a way-too-similar profile. 

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Two weeks ago I spoke at LinkedIn's SalesConnect Conference in San Francisco. Over 500 sales leaders came to learn more about leveraging LinkedIn to drive revenue.

Mike Derezin, VP of Sales at LinkedIn, shared one statistic that was mind-boggling:

Sales professionals who use social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their quota.

Got your attention yet? I sure hope so. At this point, you're probably asking, "So what exactly is this 'social selling' thing?" According to LinkedIn, the primary components are in the graph below.

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You know what I hate? Not knowing if my prospect has opened my emails ... wondering if they disappeared into a black hole ... and never being able to catch them on the phone. I suspect you feel the same way.

That's why I wanted to let you know about Signals, a new, free and easy email prospecting tool that I'm loving. Here's why:

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What strategies do I recommend for using LinkedIn to connect with others? Here are three ways that can really help you out.

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If you’re not using video meetings to connect with prospects and clients, you’re wasting tons of time. There’s no reason to spend hours driving to and from sales meetings anymore.

Just open up a browser, log onto an online meeting site (ala GoToMeeting) and send the link info to who you want to talk with. Voila! You’re connected.

Using video makes it even better. You can quickly establish personal relationships with new people at a much deeper level. And, with ongoing relationships, it keeps the momentum going.

That’s the good news. But … there’s always a but … doing it well requires mastery of new skills. Believe me, I’ve made a ton of mistakes in the process. Here are a just a few:

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Connections matter. Big time. Recent research from Reachable.com shows just how much it impacts you're ability to get a callback from a "stranger." In fact, you're: 

  • 3x more likely if you contact a mutual acquaintance.
  • 4x more likely if the connection calls to make an introduction.
  • 11x more likely if they have an actual connection. 

See. It does make a difference. But most sellers don't know how to leverage their LinkedIn connections nearly as much as they could. 

To help you expand your thinking, here are some TRUE STORIES shared by people who took our 2013 Sales & LinkedIn Survey. By reading them, you'll discover numerous ways you can get in touch with someone even if you don't have a 1st level connection. 

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