Would you like to generate more leads and sales without the awkwardness of cold calls or uncomfortable sales tactics?
What if I told you there was a way to get more leads and sales quickly and naturally using LinkedIn? And it doesn’t involve a complicated or expensive sales funnel.
I hope you are not thinking, “How can I generate more sales using a platform built to find a job?”
While LinkedIn may have started out (and is still currently used) as a great place to find or be found by your ideal employers, it is much more.
LinkedIn is the ultimate B2B relationship-building platform. It’s designed to help you create your professional brand and then find, connect and build relationships with others in a professional setting.
LinkedIn is no Facebook. No one wants to know what you had for lunch or see funny pics of your cat or dog. What they do want to see, however, is how you can help them solve their unique challenges and problems (more on that later).
You might also doubt that your target market, or ideal clients, actively use the LinkedIn platform or belong to it at all.
If you serve a B2B market, there is an excellent chance that LinkedIn is full of your ideal clients. LinkedIn is widely used not only by business owners, professional service providers, marketers, sales reps and executives but also by C-Suite leaders. This makes LinkedIn the best social network to connect directly with decision-makers of all kinds.
- for B2B businesses, LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than any other social media platform (Source: Hubspot)
- more than 80% of all B2B leads generated from social media come from LinkedIn (Source: LinkedIn)
- there are 8.2 million C-level executives on LinkedIn (Source: LinkedIn)
- LinkedIn’s membership has nearly quadrupled to exceed over half a billion members (and is growing daily).
There is compelling evidence to suggest that if you serve a B2B market, you will benefit from using LinkedIn for lead generation and social selling.
What is social selling?
Perhaps you think this sounds like just another pushy sales tactic.
This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Simply put, social selling is the art of building and leveraging relationships.
Social Selling = Relationship Building
Before I dive into the why and how of successful social selling on LinkedIn, I want to talk to you about the importance of your LinkedIn network.
Grow your LinkedIn network
While it might seem evident that growing an extensive LinkedIn network is essential, it may not be entirely for the reasons you think.
Firstly, it’s important because it shows people you didn’t just throw up a profile yesterday. A profile with fewer than 500+ connections may raise some red flags and questions such as:
- Is this a real person or a fake or spam account?
- Why does this person have so few connections?
Alternatively, if someone sees someone with a vast network, the perception is often that this person must be credible to be connected to so many people.
The second reason, which is even more important, is that when you search for your ideal clients on LinkedIn, you can only find people who are your 1st-, 2nd– or 3rd-degree connections or those with whom you share a group.
This is also the case when someone searches for people who do what you do. If you are not their 1st-, 2nd– or 3rd-degree connection or share a group with them, you won’t show up in their search results. That means you lose an opportunity to connect with a prospect.
If you have a small network, this will severely restrict your ability to find your ideal clients, should you want to use LinkedIn for social selling.
That being said, having a high-quality network is far more critical than having a large network.
While you want to build an extensive network, focus on filling it with your ideal clients, partners, colleagues and industry peers.
LinkedIn permits you to join up to 100 groups, which allows you to expand the size of your network significantly (potentially by thousands or even millions of people). This makes joining LinkedIn Groups worthwhile, even if you never visit them.
The secret to capitalizing on LinkedIn Groups is joining groups your ideal clients belong to – NOT your own industry groups, which are filled only with your competitors.
Now that you understand the importance of your network, let’s dive into the five steps to leverage social selling on LinkedIn to generate more leads, clients and sales.
Master the 5-Step B2B Social Selling Funnel
Step 1: Find & connect with prospects
To find and connect with prospects on LinkedIn as part of the social selling process, it is essential to know as much about your ideal clients as possible.
To begin, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is your ideal client (and, more specifically, who are they on LinkedIn)?
- What is the typical language of their business, industry, or organization?
- What kinds of challenges do they face?
Next, think of titles of the decision makers you are looking for (i.e., Digital Marketing Manager, VP of Marketing, CMO).
To get even more targeted, what industries are they in? Where are they located (city, country)?
Once you have this information, you can easily find them using LinkedIn’s Advanced Search.
LinkedIn Advanced Search
LinkedIn Advanced Search is an excellent tool for finding prospects.
The Advanced Search uses what is known as Boolean search, giving you the ability to filter your data by specific parameters to find your target market.
Let’s say your ideal clients are VPs of Sales. Type VP Sales into the search bar. Then click on the People option.
Next, improve your results by choosing only your 2nd– and 3rd-degree connections to eliminate the people you are already connected with from your search results.
Further improve your results by using the additional LinkedIn Advanced Search filters, such as Location, Current companies, and several others that apply.
If a search produces good results, you might want to save your search. To do this, click on Create a search alert in the Saved searches box, located on the right side of the search results.
This is a powerful tool because you will get search alerts directly from LinkedIn when new LinkedIn members match those criteria. You can come back to these search results any time to check for new leads and prospects. You can then go through each profile and reach out to anyone who fits your criteria of an ideal client.
Send a personalized connection request
Once you’ve found some prospects you wish to connect with, send them a personalized connection request.
People receive generic connection requests regularly. Often, when receiving a generic request, they ask themselves: “Why is this person trying to connect with me?”
Your connection request should answer that question and compel your prospect to accept your request. Frame your messages from their perspective, not yours.
Let me show you examples of connection requests I would and would not accept.
Would not accept: Melonie, I have a lead generation company and wanted to find out if you were interested in our services.
No, I am not interested! It’s a quick and easy IGNORE.
Here is one I would accept: Melonie, I love your book LinkedIn Unlocked. I have been applying what I learned, and I have already got 3 new clients from it. I’d like to connect so I can receive your updates. Thank you for all that you do.
Notice both of them told me why they wanted to connect, but only one of them got it right.
The other risk you take by not personalizing your request is that after your prospect clicks Ignore, they will also have the option to click I don’t know this person. When you receive too many of these, you land yourself in LinkedIn jail with a LinkedIn Account Restriction.
Step 2: Engage & build rapport
After someone accepts your connection request, think about the process you would use to build a relationship with that person face to face. To start, you would want to get to know that person and leave a positive impression on them.
You wouldn’t go up to them, shake their hand and say, “Do you want to buy my stuff?” Or at least I hope you wouldn’t!
If a prospect accepts your connection request, thank them first.
Also, show some interest in them by asking them a question to start a dialogue – if relevant or appropriate, of course.
Most people just collect connections and never have conversations with them. These same people complain they don’t generate any business from LinkedIn.
It’s the same as going to a networking event, collecting a bunch of business cards and then throwing them in the garbage when you get home. You might as well not bother going to the event in the first place.
Step 3: Provide value & build trust
The process of building relationships doesn’t stop at one follow-up message. You need to send additional messages to continue the conversation, adding value to your new connection and their business where you can.
In this step of the B2B Social Selling Funnel, you need to build trust with your new contact by providing them with value.
You can do this in many ways. You can post insightful, educational and otherwise interesting information that will help them with their job or business.
You can also share information with them via private messages.
The content you share could be your own or content created by someone else.
Whatever content you choose to share, it should specifically relate to helping your new connection overcome their challenge or problem.
Again, do NOT pitch anything. Your only goal is to build the relationship to increase trust. You do it by positioning yourself as someone who provides value and is an authority on your topic.
When deciding what content to share, you must consider these questions in regards to your prospects:
- What are they interested in?
- What is important to them?
- What problems do they face?
Step 4: Build relationships
There are many ways to build relationships. You can do it by showing interest in someone, helping them in some way, educating them and, of course, having conversations to get to know them better.
What are some ways you could build relationships with your new connections? Here are a few ideas:
- pay attention to their posts, and like and comment on them
- introduce them to someone in your network from whom they could benefit
- share quality content with them that is related to their industry or current challenges
- ask them questions to get to know them better
- follow them on other social networks and engage with them there as well (Twitter is excellent for this because of the relaxed engagement style of the platform)
- monitor trigger events for natural conversation starters.
Remember this: People won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
The goal in this step is to stay on their radar, provide value and build trust.
Step 5: Move to an offline conversation
The final step in the B2B Social Selling Funnel is to move the conversation offline.
This is because for the most part, in the B2B world, the only way to convert a prospect to a client is to move the conversation offline. This doesn’t apply 100% of the time.
For example, I will have a phone call with someone interested in my services. But if a person is interested in my online training, a phone call is not necessary because I offer a free masterclass they can take online.
That being said, generally in the B2B sphere, you cannot build a relationship with a prospect without eventually moving the conversation offline.
If you have established rapport, built some trust and provided value to your prospect, you have earned the right to ask for an offline conversation. Many of your prospects will be willing to have an offline conversation with you – be it through a phone call, video call or an in-person meeting.
You get to know your prospect, understand their challenges and, when appropriate, offer your solution – offline. And it’s offline that you convert a prospect to a client.
The B2B Social Selling Funnel made easy
Done right, this B2B Social Selling Funnel will provide you with a predictable and consistent stream of new leads and sales.
It shifts the sales dialogue from “What can I sell you?” to “How can I help you?”
This powerful shift in thinking – and prospecting – will help you generate more leads and sales, without the awkwardness of cold calls or ineffective sales tactics.
Want to learn more about these five critical steps to generating prospects and clients on LinkedIn? I share it all in a free advanced online training, where you’ll learn exactly how to turn LinkedIn connections into offline sales conversations. The masterclass is called How to Turn Cold LinkedIn Connections into Clients. Inside the training, I reveal the highly effective rapport-building process that has been perfected through years of testing and refining. Register here.