Most of us have heard the worst kept secret in social networking by now – that LinkedIn is the most effective marketing technique, especially for Business-To-Business (B2B). LinkedIn’s effectiveness statistics speak for themselves. Being a LinkedIn Lead Generation specialist, I would say that you are definitely missing out on more business if you are not doing LinkedIn marketing for your business.
Despite being a great advocate for LinkedIn marketing, I get frustrated by how many people I come across, including some of my favourite clients, who do not seem to understand how to get the best results of LinkedIn marketing for their business. I am going to turn the spotlight on the 6 top ways that LinkedIn has improved my business and those of my more enlightened clients. My hope is that should we happen to meet on LinkedIn, I will get some of your valuable time that may help to build both our businesses.
LinkedIn marketing background
As a marketing agency, we specialise in LinkedIn lead generation and use it as our go-to method of generating prospective clients for our business. We have also used LinkedIn marketing for many clients in a wide range of industries including construction, accountancy, catering and hospitality, architecture, estate agency, financial services, furniture manufacturing, insurance companies and many more.
We aim for high numbers of targeted connections that could become prospects using LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator ‘Search For Leads’ functionality. Our target is to send 300 connection requests per client per week. Our follow up messages, and subsequent interaction with new connections ultimately enables us to schedule phone calls and meetings for our clients to make the sale.
We explicitly measure LinkedIn marketing success by the number of meetings clients have with prospects because meeting people is by far the best way to make personal connections with potential customers that leads to trust. Trust in turn leads to sales and loyal clients.
My best clients have come from LinkedIn. Similarly, many clients have done their biggest quotations for LinkedIn connections. These potential clients who we are unlikely to meet in our usual circles, make me a LinkedIn marketing evangelist.
Getting to grips with LinkedIn
We all want to connect with and engage people who are interested in our products and services, including LinkedIn connections. But guess what? Everyone you meet on LinkedIn is trying to do precisely the same thing – sell his or her products and services. So it is a mistake to refuse to talk to people you connect with unless they have their chequebook in their hands. The error results from not accepting that connecting with the people and building your network bring many more benefits to your business besides getting clients.
First and foremost, LinkedIn is a social network. Yet we find that very few business owners understand or display the qualities of good networkers, which are required to get the best results from LinkedIn marketing. Let’s look at these personal and business requirements that you should have in place before embarking on this highly effective marketing strategy – LinkedIn marketing demands all of these elements for optimal results for your business and putting them in place will ultimately give you a better company that can make sales today and in future.
Know your target clients – there is a saying that ‘everyone’ is not your customer’. The risk is that unless you know who your ideal clients are, you may well end up talking to no-one. LinkedIn marketing forces you to be specific about your ideal clients regarding their industry /sector, role, location and company size as a minimum. Even if you have a broad target audience, you will benefit from targeting different segments so that you do not get too many people who are not going to be interested in your business. Once you develop your client profile, LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to reach them effectively.
Refine your Elevator pitch – We get more connections when we add a note to connection requests, fact! We also get more interest when we follow up every new link with a message about our clients’ services and how they help people. These two messages require clients to be clear about why someone should want to connect with them and how they may be able to work together. Vague words only fall on deaf ears while an overly convoluted message confuses new connections into paralysis.
Have a sales process – marketing is a process of bringing interested people (prospects) to a business. In any industry regardless of size, a sales team typically closes the deal, turning the prospect into paying clients. That said you’d be surprised how many clients we get who do not have the personnel or a sales strategy for making calls or having meetings with the fantastic people we connect them with on LinkedIn. Several clients have misbelieved that their website should be sufficient as the sales vehicle. Failing to make scheduled calls with interested people could mean missing out on significant deals for your business or worse still, on a valuable connection. Perhaps more than that, failing to follow up with leads that we work so hard to develop makes marketers like ourselves lose belief that a client appreciates our hard work. When that happens any reasonable person, no matter how passionate about what they do, puts in less effort on your behalf.
Having spent years at many networking events, I know that it takes a significant amount of time before some people even consider becoming my clients and vice versa. In the preceding period to talking about working together, I never once have the ludicrous thought that I don’t want to speak with someone because they are not ready to buy! Instead, I have worked to build relationships with anyone and everyone through one-to-one meetings and being a good friend. I have long understood that people will only buy from you or recommend you to their contacts if they know what you do, how you work and trust you. With LinkedIn being a social network, the same principles apply as Shama Hyder author of one of the first books on social media (The Zen Of Social Media Marketing – and Easier Way to Build Credibility, Generate Buzz and Increase Revenue) makes the same point superbly.
She wrote that she has “personally made incredible contacts through LinkedIn. And the platform has helped me grow my business and my network”. However, getting these benefits is a process of talking to lots of people including the wrong people and then building real relationships (usually offline) with people who may later become clients.
Shama goes on to advise that “The end goal should always be to develop inspiring, face-to-face relationships that enrich our work and lives”. The reason for relationship-building is simple: “A relationship can mean the difference between landing the big client for your firm — or losing out. Between growing your business — or falling behind.
As a business owner myself, I know that we are all incredibly busy and don’t want to waste time doing things that do not benefit us. Furthermore, I admit there are many charlatans on all social networks, and LinkedIn is no different. But how will you ever know if someone in your target client group will buy from you if you do not make time to build a relationship with them in the first place? You are some ways towards getting results from LinkedIn if you follow these words of advice: (1) engage in the networking process and at least have a brief conversation with people who want to speak with you about your services no matter who they are. (2) Show interest in what they do because they won’t be interested in your business if you don’t care about them. (3) The goal of the conversation is to explore if there is mutual ground for working together, then take the relationship to the next level either with another phone call, Skype call or a face to face meeting.
There is nothing wrong with ending calls with rogue connections by thanking them for their time then saying that you believe you have nothing in common, so you do not intend to contact the person in future. At the same time, there is no harm in leaving the door open for them to contact you if their situation changes or they have a contact who you can help in future – that could bring you more business so that your time in the conversation is beneficial after all!
Get your services in order –I have connected with over 4,500 people in the course of our LinkedIn marketing for our business. That has come with hundreds or phone calls and meetings. That said we have only got tens of work from all of those relationships so far. We persist with LinkedIn because the clients we have gained from LinkedIn are higher-value clients than we have met or hope to reach through any other marketing technique. It is worth commenting on the fact that it has typically taken many months to convert these connections into paying clients. The long lead-in time is by no means the same for every business, though. Many clients have got work overnight (Removals and Waste Clearance services are examples) while for most clients a request for more information about services such as a proposal is the typical start. It is, therefore, necessary to have efficient processes to begin service provision should you be lucky to get requests for immediate work.
Know your numbers– I don’t have a fancy Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) for some reasons. Instead, I go to great lengths to keep a record of my LinkedIn marketing using a spreadsheet. As any good business coach will tell you, a business owner or manager must know their numbers especially number of leads and the outcomes of their interactions (that is, conversion rate). While most clients will tend to judge the success of LinkedIn marketing based on the number of sales, worthwhile marketers like ourselves should also admit that we are essentially experimenters, trying different marketing strategies to get the best prospects for clients. We use an excel spreadsheet to record this information so that we can judge our performance and be able to identify changes to get better results. The same report enables us to establish whether we are targeting the right audience and work out if another group does more business with us and are therefore more financially beneficial and thus worth more focus going forward. Without recording LinkedIn marketing information, you could spend months and lots of money on the wrong targets. Keeping organised also helps to follow up with new connections and prospects as agreed, another prerequisite for effective LinkedIn marketing. For this, we use the trusted diary to record the date and time for every call that we commit to making in the future. Even after the follow-up call, be prepared to follow up and touch base periodically with potential clients – that is just right sales and relationship building.
As a keen LinkedIn Lead generation consultancy, we live to see businesses get maximum returns on their LinkedIn marketing investment. Following these six top strategies will help to escape the short-term thinking and traps so many small businesses fall victim to, and instead turn your attention toward the long game that allows you to grow and scale a business that could potentially change the world.
The strategies will also undoubtedly go some way to create a platform for your business to utilise LinkedIn’s particular power to build professional relationships that could change your personal and business life. I will finish with an extract from Shama Hyder’s brilliant post:
“In these days when we do so much business online, whether that be working on your brand or closing deals, it’s easy to forget that there are real live people behind every username. If we’re not careful, we can end up focusing on upping our follower counts at the expense of connecting authentically to the people we could be building real relationships with”.
LinkedIn rant over! I must admit that I feel a lighter weight on my shoulders having got these critical elements of successful LinkedIn marketing out there. I hope you find them helpful to your business
Global.Media provides expert online and offline advertising, and marketing on all digital platforms to help businesses generate qualified Leads. Check out our Services page to see how our advertising and marketing services can help your business to get more customers and sell more, faster. Why not sign up for our newsletter using the simple form on the right? You can also follow us on social networks. Finally, we’d love for you to share this post with your network using the share buttons below.
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