It’s no secret that a trusting relationship is a key part of any sales process. Building rapport is a great way to show your prospects that you’re knowledgeable about your product or service without coming off as a pushy salesperson.
The problem most salespeople take with building a relationship, however, is that they wait until they are actually talking to the prospect to do it. They are missing crucial opportunities to build a relationship with their prospects digitally before they ever talk to them.
Before social media, it was nearly impossible to build a relationship with someone without taking out personal ads. Potential clients could be aware of a company name, but the actual people working for that company would be relatively unknown to them.
This would mean no matter how well known your product or service was to a prospect, you would still have to build rapport with them from scratch. Nothing is initially wrong with this, but it can be time consuming and disingenuous. You can only talk about the weather and music for so long before it gets tedious.
With the creation of LinkedIn and advanced targeting, there are more ways than ever to reach the right kind of prospects without having to spend an overboard amount of money on advertising.
I have used these techniques personally and it has generated qualified leads and sales not only for myself but also for the clients that I work with. While this isn’t a complete list of what I do to leverage LinkedIn, this in-depth analysis should give you a valid foundation for securing leads and sales on the platform.
Step 1: Target Locally and Then Expand Out.
Whenever you want to get your foot in the door online, nothing beats being able to talk to someone that is in the same location as you. Millennials now make up 1/4 of the US population, surpassing baby boomers as the largest demographic in the United States.
So, it is more than likely that they will be your biggest initial target market. This is important because statics show that millennials like to buy from small local companies. Even if you aren’t targeting millennials, people like working with local companies in general. This is why it’s important to start locally for any targeting purposes because this will be your warmest market.
Now you might be wondering how to get in front of these targets? Well, you could spend money on ads like mentioned before, or you could use LinkedIn’s advanced targeting to get in front of them in a more natural and welcoming way, just like these big brands.
Step 2: Think of Your Target Industries and Start Searching for Decision Makers Online.
LinkedIn’s search feature is a powerful tool. I highly recommend getting the Sales Navigator feature for more advanced targeting. Not only does it give you more parameters to work with than LinkedIn’s standard search engine, but you get your first month free! Assuming you want to stay away from paying for anything, let’s stick with the standard LinkedIn search bar for now.
Think of the exact kind of decision maker that you want to go after. Let’s say you sell accounting software and you usually go after CFO’s. Type in CFO in the LinkedIn search bar to get an initial count of how many connections you have in your network that have the phrase CFO somewhere on their page.
From here, you want to go to the filters tab and see the complete list of parameters that LinkedIn gives you to narrow down your search. Here’s what you can filter out by:
● First/last name.
● Job title.
● Company name.
● Connection type.
● If they are connected to the first connection of yours.
● Current or past companies they’ve worked for.
● The language on their profile.
● Some non-profit interests.
The first thing you want to do is apply the title, in this case, it’s CFO. From there, I recommend targeting your second connections (second connections are more likely to respond than thirds based on campaigns I have personally run). Finally, fill in your target industry and location. These parameters are critical for developing your lead generation system. There are many other parameters you can use to narrow down your search, but for the most part, these are going to be enough. After you input these, your search volume should look something like this:
Now you might be thinking “I went from over 400,000 searches to less than a thousand? How am I supposed to work with that?” While I understand the concern, you need to get that mindset out of your brain. Chances are you’re thinking more contacts is better. While that is true for a lot of things, it’s not the case for a LinkedIn lead generation. Quality is better than Quantity when it comes to this strategy. Do you really want to go through 400,000 people if fewer than 1000 are your exact hottest market? I would hope not.
Step 3: Look at Their Profiles and Gather Some Information About Them.
Looking at them does two awesome things. First off, it gives you as much information about your prospect as you need to really get to know them on a business level. This will help you to determine if they actually are a good fit for you or if they are not worth pursuing after all.
Secondly, they get a push back notification whenever you look at them. This sends an alert to their email or mobile device if they have the app installed, that shows them you looked at them. Because we are naturally curious, chances are they will look back at you to see who you are. This is where the inbound lead generation can come into play. Make sure your headline and banner image is compelling and legible on both desktop and mobile.
This is what grabs attention and is one of the first things they notice about you. I have had people reach out to me about my service simply because I looked at them and they liked my profile when they looked back at me. This is why it’s important to be compelling. Here is what my profile looks like that has gotten people to reach out to me directly:
Right off the bat, you notice both the desktop version and mobile version banner clearly state what I do. “B2B Lead Generation.” I was able to have the text not be covered by my profile image on the desktop version. On mobile I had it positioned so it would say what I did over my head, this way it’s an effective tool no matter where they look at my profile.
I also used my headline to state the exact markets I target, technology and consulting, while also stating what I do. This way, when they get a notification about my services, they can see the exact industry, that just so happens to match their industry, right on the notification tab.
On the mobile version, I also made sure that the first lines were a compelling statement that also didn’t get cut off. “Would 1-3 additional appointments a week benefit you…” The tagline is compelling, and if they are interested they can read my bio. Or better yet, reach out to me directly.
All of this happens for me without me ever having to send out a message.
Prospects understand what I am offering right away and now they have a full arsenal of tools to start a conversation with me (articles I’ve written, skills I have, clients I’ve worked with etc.) I myself can then use information on their profile to do this as well. Which brings me to step 4.
Step 4: Connect With Your Prospects and the People They are Following or are Connected to.
This is important. It’s not enough to just connect with your prospect. How many connections do you have that you don’t pay attention to? What matters is getting in your prospects feed. You can accomplish this by just liking and commenting on a bunch of their posts, but that could be considered obnoxious by them. And nobody wants to work with someone they think is obnoxious.
While it’s OK to like and comment on things by your prospects every once in a while, It’s always OK to like and comment on things that your prospect follows as much as you want. Public pages and influencers are used to getting a bunch of comments from people they don’t know. Just make sure what you are liking and commenting contributes to the conversation.
This will not only give you credibility, but it can generate likes on the post. The more likes you have, the more likely your comment is going to be noticed by people that follow that person, aka your prospects.
Now you are basically everywhere for that prospect. They got a notification about you and they see that you are in their feed consistently. If they haven’t reached out to you yet, then it is time for step 5.
Step 5: Reach out With a Light ask to Connect Using the Information you Know About Them.
Sending a message is easy. By this point, your prospect should already be aware of who you are, so an ask to connect won’t seem like a random ask out of nowhere. If anything, they should be wondering why you didn’t connect already in the first place.
I like to use a simple template that consists of a few lines that mention what I do as well as what they do. This has worked really well for me both on LinkedIn and through email:
“Hi ___. I saw you on LinkedIn and noticed we know some of the same people. I thought we might have some similar business interests.
I took a closer look at your profile and noticed you’ve been a CFO at Big Tech for 10 years. That’s quite an accomplishment.
My company TRO specializes in lead generation for tech companies just like Big Tech using a relationship based marketing and both inbound and outbound techniques.
Do you think Big Tech could benefit from TRO? If so, would you have time for a quick chat next week?”
I have used this format on a consistent basis to set up appointments that eventually convert to real sales. Not only is it effective, but it’s easy to implement right away. This isn’t specific to any kind of industry either. If they don’t follow up right away, there are some additional steps you can take to follow up with your digital leads. Here are a few.
I recommend experimenting and seeing which industry and headlines work best for you. I’m very confident that, if you follow this system, you will start to see results from your LinkedIn efforts.
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