In part one of this series I want to talk about what I call the LinkedIn Short Game.  This is identifying potential clients and engaging them in your sales process.

Next week, we’ll look at the LinkedIn Long Game, which is more about engagement thru social media and content.

I started out using LinkedIn strictly as a lead generator.  I would spend my time searching for clients and making a list based on criteria that made sense to my industry and my sales process.  I did nothing to optimize my profile to make it more buyer-centric, I just wanted to find leads.

Little did I know that ‘lead generation’ on LinkedIn would turn into a thing.  I don’t know about you, but I receive at least 5-10 offers per week on LinkedIn by “Lead Generation Experts” offering me and others “20+ high-quality business and sales opportunities directly in their calendars, every month…” Yes, that’s an actual quote from an InMail I received this week.

I won’t get into specifics of why I have a problem with this type of approach to LinkedIn but here’s just a few things to think about:

  • They don’t know how to build relationships with your prospective clients like you do.
  • They are, in many cases, using automation which violates LinkedIn’s Terms of Use.
  • They often lead with a blanket statement that’s not all together true: “I just came across (your company name) and I’m impressed with your work” or, “I was just on your profile and…”
  • You can find quality leads for yourself …. Which is why I wrote this article! 

To find quality leads on LinkedIn you need to know a few things:

  • Who is your ideal client?
  • How much time are you willing to commit to finding them?
  • How will you engage your prospects once you’ve identified them

IDEAL CLIENTS

No matter what industry you’re in, there is probably some kind of ideal client or client avatar worksheet out there- Google is your friend! 

If you’re not able to find one, look no further than your own active client list.  What clients, that you are currently doing business with, are ideal?  Some of the reasons they are ideal could be that they are good customers: profitable, good with payment, easy to work with, understanding and not too demanding, just to name a few qualities.  Think about your current clients and ask yourself, “What customers do I currently have that I’d like to have 5, 10 or 15 more of?”  That’s a good place to start.

You can also look at emerging markets you’re trying to break into whether that is in a specific business sector, geography or company size. 

Brynne Tillman says, “Once you’ve identified your ideal clients, record the titles of all the stakeholders involved in the account as well as other key attributes including industry and geography so that you can leverage that data to find more prospects like your favorite clients. (How to Build LinkedIn Boolean Search Strings That Deliver an Ideal Prospecting List)

 In addition, my short game is often around leveraging this search string and 2nd degree connections. By searching your ideal buyers and who you already know that knows these buyers, you can leverage your relationships to gain access to prospects on a consistent basis.” (Name Dropping Your Client on LinkedIn)

TIME COMMITMENT

Once you’ve decided the who, now it’s time to decide how much time you’ll commit to prospecting.  I know, you’re busy.  I am too, but don’t be so busy working IN your business that you don’t have time to work ON your business.

Working in your business is today’s money, working on your business is your tomorrow money.  In other words, if you want to grow, you must continually be looking for new business.

The key to this is consistency and time management.  There are two blogs I wrote recently that address consistency (The Four Acts of LinkedIn) and time management (How LinkedIn is Like a Gym Membership).  The key is that you need to have a system in place that you work regularly to produce regular results.

Brynne says,  “Schedule recurring time on your calendar and treat it like a client meeting. You would would never respond to emails or take breaks during a client meeting or simply not show up to that meeting at all, so be sure to treat your prospecting time with the same respect. If you treat that prospecting time as the most important part of your day, you will be have many more client phone calls and meetings, which is ultimately goal of social selling.”

ENGAGING PROSPECTS

What’s interesting about this process for me is that I don’t connect with prospects on LinkedIn, at least not right away.  I tend to engage in conversation and connect with them once we have established rapport. Your sales process will determine how and where you engage your prospects.  Here’s the million-dollar question: What’s your sales process?  The follow-up?  Do you even have a sales process?

You do, whether you know it or not. 

Right down how you conduct a sale?  Once you’ve identified a person or company you want as a client, how do you go about converting them from a name on a list or spreadsheet to an entry in your CRM under ‘Client’?  That is your sales process.

For me, in my promotional products company, once I identify them, I want to show them the value I can provide them.  That means I drop off items we’ve done for our own company.  I make sure they are innovative- when we meet, I want to hear them say they’ve never seen products like mine before. 

Now for you, it might make sense to engage your prospects on LinkedIn.  But let me warn you, DON’T engage them by trying to sell to them.

Here’s a few don’ts:

  • Don’t connect with them unless you can find a genuine reason- selling to them is NOT a genuine reason.
  • Don’t spam them with sales pitches- you need to earn the right to mention your product and/or service only AFTER you’ve provided them with value.

Here’s a few do’s:

  • Do follow them on LinkedIn- this will allow you to see their posts and posts that they’ve liked and engaged on.
  • Do engage with their posts and comments, making sure you add value to the conversation at hand.
  • Do send a connection request once, through your engagement with them, you’ve found a GENUINE reason to connect.

Once you’re connected with your prospect on LinkedIn, then the Long Game comes into play.  We’ll talk about that next week, but here’s a few things to think about:

  • Do you know what challenge your clients face?
  • Do you know 203 vendor agnostic (fancy term, eh? We’ll define it next week) statistics from your industry you can provide that shows how you can help those challenges.
  • Can you surmise in a couple of sentences how you specifically help you clients?

That’s your homework, join me here next week for the LinkedIn Long Game- Engagement and Top of Mind.