Because LinkedIn gives sales professionals direct access to targeted decision makers and influencers, it can be and should be one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal.
However, many sales professionals complain that they are not getting a return on investment from their LinkedIn efforts. They are making many connections but they are generating very few leads and sales.
There are many reasons for why this is happening including:
- Poor targeting – they are connecting with anyone that comes their way.
- Having a CV-based LinkedIn profile that does not pique their interest further since it’s not case study driven.
- Only spending 15 to 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn – this does not give you time to make meaningful connections, build a community of key decision makers who have an interest in your area of expertise, nourish relationships and engage in conversations.
- Taking the five actions listed below.
1. Email scraping
Inside one of my LinkedIn groups that I belong to, the CEO of a high tech industry business development firm mentioned he’s using software that scrolls through LinkedIn and extracts the contact information of people who represent his ideal target market. He’s then transporting the information with one click of the mouse to his Salesforce CRM where his sales team can then send personal emails introducing his services. Sounds good in theory right?
However, he is “cold emailing” out of the blue. Instead of taking the time to build and maintain relationships with key decision-makers by providing value where they want to opt-in for more information and enter his CRM, the CEO is forcing prospects into their funnel. These prospects he has entering into his database are not even marketing qualified as they have not shown any interest or need.
2. Trying to sell too soon
Once a connection is made on LinkedIn, or once a prospect joins a LinkedIn community, many sales executives try messaging them with a quick description of their products and/or solutions. They then suggest a phone call to discuss how their company can help their new connection. Most of the time, these messages are ignored. In fact, one sales executive I recently spoke to mentioned that he may get two responses for every 100 to 150 emails he sends.
Prospects on LinkedIn don’t want to be sold to overtly. In fact a recent, LinkedIn report for the technology industry shows that 75% of IT buyers would be willing to connect with a vendor but they are hesitant because they don’t want to be inundated with marketing and sales pitches. They want to be educated. They want relevant content that will help them with their challenges so they can make smarter business decisions. Focus first on establishing a relationship and demonstrating your thought leadership and relevance. Then on moving prospects down your sales funnel.
3. Using LinkedIn groups as a place to distribute your newsfeed
Many sales executives are taking advantage of LinkedIn groups. They’re using it for prospecting but also as a place to get wide exposure with targeted audiences as you can easily share content. But, they’re sharing content in an ineffective manner.
Before working with my LinkedIn marketing firm, a CEO of a software firm for the recruiting industry had his sales team post content at least three to four times a week – sometimes more. But they were generating very little traffic and leads from LinkedIn.
The sales team was not creating relevant, thought provoking discussions that had context and standalone value. They were simply sharing the first couple lines of the blog post and a link, so there was no engagement. Their links were getting lost in the deluge of wall-to-wall newsfeed-like posts, press releases and promotional content.
By creating real conversations and earning the right to get their prospect’s attention and blog visit by sharing valuable insights before linking to his blog, we increased traffic by 3,620% in six weeks.
4. Becoming too much of a resource
Many social media experts tell you to share other people’s content 80% of the time and your content 20%. On LinkedIn, I think it should be reversed. Most sales executives are so focused on curating and sharing other people’s content that they are becoming known as a resource but prospects invest in thought leaders. You’re able to put content directly in front of key decision-makers, yet you are sharing industry news and other people’s content. Our clients are sharing their case studies and thought leadership information and getting 11.5 times more engagement
5. Focusing too much on gated content
As I mentioned before, your prospects on LinkedIn want a value- added relationship with potential vendors. But they don’t want to jump through hoops and break down gates to get the information that can help them with their business decision. They want you to act like the rest of their network – their peers and established experts – by having a point of view and freely sharing valuable content.
As a marketer myself, I know the importance of landing pages and getting prospects to sign up for white papers, webinars and other offerings. But you need to prove to decision-makers that they’ll want to enter the next stage of the relationship.
Now, that you know what’s not working on LinkedIn – fix your actions. Then, let me know if you start generating more leads and sales using LinkedIn.
By Kristina Jaramillo, New York Times-recognised social media expert and founder of Get LinkedIn Help, Kristina Jaramillo helps sales executives within technology companies, professional service firms and SMBs generate more leads and sales using LinkedIn. Learn how you can influence more B2B buying decisions with her free LinkedIn training.