How to build your sales network and pipeline
LinkedIn is a business professionals’ platform highly focused on the individual. For c-suite executives, company leaders, and team managers, this means conducting prospecting from your own profiles, and not the business you represent.
Once marketers know who to pursue, they can automate personalized drip campaigns to their prospect list.
Many executives prospect from their LinkedIn profiles because they know the value of generating leads for their company’s sales pipeline. These executives must commit a lot of their time if they want to be successful and develop a marketing strategy that maximizes leads. But that approach doesn’t work for most executives.
Executives who are a bit more resourceful find a way to automate their prospecting. But that approach doesn’t typically work either, as we all know the feeling when you receive a message in your LinkedIn inbox asking you to connect with a random stranger with a message that reads something like, “Hey, I have a nice shiny object to sell you. Let’s connect!”
That’s not a good way to start a conversation, online or off. Imagine yourself sitting at a bar and someone walks up to you and immediately starts to sell you something. I’m pretty sure you aren’t going to give them the time of day. Similarly, when someone takes this approach online, you’re not typically going to respond and probably won’t even establish a connection with them. The bridge is burned.
But digital marketing experts are starting to flip the script on that narrative, as some skilled professionals automate highly engaging LinkedIn prospecting campaigns.
Innovative ways for lead generation
Over the past five years, automated emails and phone calls have experienced lower levels of engagement than ever before, as recipients have grown tired of poor messaging. Many recipients now partially or completely ignore these very noisy channels. This trend has forced marketers to think through new, innovative ways to connect with prospects and drive leads. One of the solutions they came up with is lead generation through automated LinkedIn prospecting.
LinkedIn is the de facto standard to identify potential leads. The tool provides literally dozens of filters that marketers can use to build laser-targeted prospect lists, such as the industry a prospect is in, the type of company they work for, their job title, who they are connected to, and a lot more .
Once marketers know who to pursue, they can automate personalized drip campaigns to their prospect list. They can personalize by dynamically using the data that the prospects have provided on their LinkeIn profile and their connections. For example, marketers can automate an invite with a message that reads “Hey Tom, I see we both know Jennifer over at XYZ Distribution. How do you know her?”
But just being “personal” isn’t the holy grail. Savvy marketers set up a series of drips to touch their prospects on LinkedIn repeatedly in order to get a response. With every touch, the LinkedIn user receives a notification, encouraging them to pay attention to the “ask.”
Typical — and more aggressive — LinkedIn drip sequences
A typical drip sequence will include a profile view, profile follow, invite, dynamic message and continue with the marketer liking the prospect’s content. The most aggressive marketers will share and even comment on the prospect’s content.
Once a prospect accepts the connection with the executive’s account, the marketer can send additional dynamic messages until the prospect responds. Upon the connection, the prospect’s contact info can be automatically pulled into a CRM or email marketing automation platform. From there, the best practice is to automate an email drip sequence to inform the lead and gather more information from them with a clear call-to-action.
This process is also effective in “outreach” campaigns that aim to keep in touch with existing connections. For many B2B companies, maintaining clients is as important as finding new ones. And because “outreach” campaigns target people that you probably already know to some degree, the message needs to be personalized.
Identifying targeted audiences by dozens of traits
Since LinkedIn is so highly focused on professional individuals, the process for prospecting starts with optimizing, refining, and building out one’s own LinkedIn profile. From there, C-suite executives, leaders, and managers can use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.
Sales Navigator is a tool designed to enable users to identify their target audience or prospects by considering dozens of traits, such as title, industry, company size, geography, etc. Sales Navigator users can use this information to build lists of targeted prospects.
Perhaps best of all is that LinkedIn users can automate processes such as “liking” a post, or “following” a new lead. Sales Navigator users can take up to 250 actions per day. Imagine all the outreach you could do with 250 messages, follows, invites, endorsements, or likes every day!
Maximizing marketing outreach via automation
But in order to maximize this outreach, business leaders may find it more time-saving and cost-effective to use automation software to manage the workflow.
Drip campaigns created by marketing automation software still take time and commitment from c-suite executives and leaders. Because LinkedIn lead generation is all about crafting messages that create a conversation towards conversion, someone will have to respond to personal messages that you receive. Marketers have found that their clients don’t mind this too much, as they’re quick to remind them that these personalized messages are leads.
Marketing automation software can be used for a variety of campaigns, but with LinkedIn, marketers have a huge advantage in the amount of data available. While you can automate email campaigns, for example, you cannot tell much about your client when all you have is their name and email address.
With personalization, messages remove the cringe-worthy language and give potential customers something that speaks to them. Within that message is what your company can do to meet their needs. That kind of personalized message sounds like something worth reading.
About the author:
Mike Mayer is the founder and CEO of Main Event Digital, a digital marketing agency for manufacturers and distributors. Prior to Main Event Digital, he worked as a B2B ecommerce executive at companies including US Electrical Services, Crescent Electric Supply and Thermo Fisher Scientific.
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