How to sell to large corporations using LinkedIn

 

 

DO YOU ever feel like the odds are stacked hopelessly against you when you’re trying to contact senior executives in large corporations and big SMEs?

It can be desperately frustrating searching for people who know someone who might know a person that could introduce you to the big boss and get you that vital phone call or meeting.

Without that introduction, it’s EXTREMELY unlikely you’ll get a chance to engage senior staff in large corporates.

So how do you find and make contacts with the key decision-makers who could give you the break or sales opportunity that you need?

Landing LARGE contracts through LinkedIn

In this week’s blog, we speak to Nick Howes, the UK’s leading authority on leadership and management development.

NICK HOWES:

NICK HOWES: leading authority on leadership and management development

Nick, from LMI UK in Coventry, helps the top managers and leaders in SMEs and large corporations perform more effectively on a day-to-day basis through better time management, goal-setting, decision-making, leadership and more.

In addition, he’ll explain how he gets regular leads for contracts worth tens of thousands of pounds using LinkedIn!

Selling without LinkedIn

Before he started using LinkedIn, Nick, like most people in B2B sales, relied on face-to-face networking and a little bit of direct mail to search for leads and sales opportunities.

“It was reasonably effective but not sensational,” said Nick.

Like more than 16 million other business people in the UK, Nick signed up with LinkedIn around 5 years ago.

“I was good at getting recommendations so I got a lot of online credibility but I wasn’t getting a lot of new business.”

That’s when – about 12 months ago – Nick took the decision to invest in some specialist LinkedIn training. “I was aware there was a lot more I could do with LinkedIn,” he continued.

Today, LinkedIn is one of Nick’s most effective tools for finding leads and starting conversations with potential customers.

These are Nick’s 6 steps to doing business with large companies on LinkedIn.

1. Define the characteristics of your ideal contacts

Ask yourself exactly what kind of senior decision-makers you want to speak to. Make a mental note of their characteristics, including their job titles and location.

2. Use the advanced search to find prospects

By using this function on LinkedIn you can search for prospects according to keywords in their profile, job title and their location.

ADVANCED SEARCH:

ADVANCED SEARCH: use to search for prospects

Don’t forget to use quotation marks if you want to search for a keyword, phrase of two words or more. For example, “supply chain” or “metallic coatings”.

SUPPLY CHAIN:

QUOTATION MARKS: use to search for keywords or phrases

3. Choose how to get in touch

Once you’ve run an advanced searched you should see a list of potential prospects. Look through this list and decide who your most likely prospects are.

Decide how you want to get in touch. You can either send a connection request directly or – by seeing who you are connected to on LinkedIn that already knows your prospect – you can approach them and ask for an introduction.

Nick uses targeted messages based around carefully worded – yet personalised – scripts to start conversations with potential customers and make them attractive offers to find out more about his development work.

“After the training, I started to specifically target the types of people I wanted to make contact with,” explained Nick. “My target was HR and learning and development managers at large corporations.”

Nick started consistently to search for and approach prospects online. He quickly made contact with 40 learning and development managers.

“I ended up doing business with about 6 of them,” said Nick. “I’m in a business where just one large new contract per year can mean we’re doing well.”

4. Develop a compelling offer with which to introduce yourself

When you send a message or connection request, it’s important to do two things says Nick:

• Build rapport
• Make a compelling offer

Nick takes the time to tweak and personalize his messages and has developed a compelling offer to attract interest – rather than just trying to sell immediately to his prospects.

In his case – subject to certain conditions – his offer involves a free place on one of his high-value leadership development workshops ( having been on one, I can personally say they are excellent!)

5. Build the communication and follow-up

Ultimately, no-one will send you their credit card details over LinkedIn so, at some stage, you have to take your conversation offline.

“I made contact with one HR manager and started a conversation before meeting up for coffee,” explains Nick.

“We now have a contract for training 90+ managers worth more than £100,000 over two years.

“I just need a few of the conversations I start to come through. I know that every 6 months they’ll be someone I establish a relationship with.

“LinkedIn is feeding my kids,” said Nick. “It’s enabled me to win business with the right size of customers.

6. Develop a routine

Sending one message to one potential customer will give you once chance at starting a conversations with a prospect.

Send 20 messages and you’ve got 20 chances. Send 20 messages a week and you’ve got 1,040 chances every year.

One of the keys to Nick’s success has been developing a habit of once a week searching and making contact with new prospects in a focused 30-minute burst of activity.
“It was no more than half an hour’s work per week. Now that it’s become a routine it’s almost a case of copy and pasting. It’s easy and very simple to do.

“I’ve been able to very effectively build relationships with people at the right level of a company and in a relatively small amount of time. I now have a system that I can keep repeating and I know will win me business,” added Nick.

Conclusion

We’ve now looked at the 5 key steps Nick takes to start conversations with senior managers in large corporations.

Nick believes these steps have been vital to him generating tens of thousands of pounds in new business through LinkedIn.

“For anybody in the world of B2B sales, LinkedIn is fantastic. It really lets you make contact with targeted people in a positive way.”

And he believes most people would benefit greatly from specialist training on how to use the platform effectively.

“Without doubt, go and learn more about how to use LinkedIn effectively,” says Nick.
“It’s about a lot more than just having a profile. It’s about strategically and effectively communicating with contacts.

“Having lots of connections is of no value per se. It’s about how you approach them and what you offer them.”

Key actions for contacting decision-makers in large corporations

If Nick’s success with LinkedIn has inspired you, here’s a quick summary of how you can start to get great results just like him:

1. Define the characteristics of your ideal contacts
2. Use the advanced search to find prospects
3. Build rapport in your message and decide a compelling offer
4. Build the communication and follow-up
5. Develop a routine for regularly reaching out to new prospects

Until the next time, happy selling!

Want to contact Nick?

You can find and connect with Nick Howes on LinkedIn at uk.LinkedIn.com/in/nhowes or subscribe to his blog. Nick’s company LMI UK works with organisations to help them improve the day-to-day effectiveness of their leaders and managers.

If you’d like to attend one of Nick’s courses and develop the day-to-day effectiveness of your organisation’s leaders and managers, give him a call on 0247 507 0107.

The social science secret to LinkedIn success revealed

IF ONE of your friends needed a favour, you’d do your best to try and help them, right?

Sure!  That’s what friends do. You help each other out in your personal lives and, if they ask, in business too.

In the workplace you might send them useful information; get them access to key people; connect them with valuable opportunities . . . the list goes on.

FRIENDS

FRIENDS TOGETHER: helping each other in their personsal and business lives

On the other hand, if a total stranger calls and asks for help in their career, most people are less likely to offer assistance.

You don’t know them. You don’t know why they’ve got in touch.  You’re unsure of their motives. The situation is unpredictable and your mind is full of concerns, worries and suspicions.

In most cases most people politely decline to help out people they’ve never met.

What about the in-betweeners?

But what about the people in between those two extremes. People that aren’t your friends and yet aren’t strangers either?

What about your acquaintances and people that know someone you know?

They could be colleagues from different departments or casual acquaintances from a sports club.  The kind of person you bump into once every couple of months, make small talk with and then carry on with your day.

Harvard, and later Stanford, University sociologist Mark Granovetter called these people ‘weak ties’ – as oppose to your good friends and close business contacts who are your ‘strong ties’.

MARK GRANOVETTER:

MARK GRANOVETTER: Harvard and Stanford University Sociologist

Here comes the science

During a seminal study of how 282 people got their current jobs, Granovetter proved what most people intuitively know; that people will gladly help their friends when they ask for help looking for a job and that people approached by strangers asking for help to get a new job will usually politely decline to assist.

However, Granovetter proved that when it comes to weak ties, people were actually just as – and in some cases MORE – likely to help them get ahead in the labour market by recommending them for interviews or some other type of assistance.

The reason why is extremely important to anyone who takes networking, social media or relationship building seriously as part of their work in making sales or finding new business leads and opportunities.

Weak ties give people access to social groups they don’t normally mix with or belong to.

In fact, most people hear about job or other business opportunities from weak ties.

We talk to our close friends all the time.  We work alongside them and read the same books, blogs and newspapers.

By the time they’ve heard of possible new opportunities, we probably know about them as well.

Weak ties on the other hand, tell us about opportunities we’d normally never otherwise hear about.

So the larger your pool of week ties, the bigger the stream of new ideas, opportunities and business possibilities that will start to flow your way.

The bigger your network of peripheral contacts – or people who know who you are and who you are in contact with every so often – the better.

As Granovetter himself explained,

“Individuals with few weak ties will be deprived of information from distant parts of the social system and will be confined to the provincial news and views of their close friends.

 “This deprivation will not only insulate them from the latest ideas and fashions but may put them at a disadvantaged position in the labour market where advancement can depend on knowing about openings at just the right time.”

How LinkedIn can help you build a community of weak ties

Social media – and LinkedIn in particular – is a fantastic place to build a huge community of weak ties; people who know you a bit and are in contact with you every so often.

One of the best reasons for this is because LinkedIn acts as a contacts map; telling you not only who you know but VERY importantly, who they also know.

LinkedIn calls these people ‘2nd connections’. Granovetter, who is currently the Joan Butler Ford Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford, would call them ‘weak ties’.

On average, most people have between 300 and 500 connections on LinkedIn.

So every time you bring a new ‘strong’ and trusted connection into your network, there are 300 to 500 new connections who are just one referral away in their 2nd line network.

BUILD YOUR AUDIENCE:

WEAK TIES: LinkedIn Second Connections

As shown in the picture, my LinkedIn network of 1,146 connections gives a 2nd line network of 509,333 connections.

That’s more than half a million people who are potentially just one introduction away.

Mentioning the fact that you have a connection in common is just one of the great ways to build rapport and bring new LinkedIn members into your network.

Alternatively, you can find people in your 2nd line network who you think are potential customers and ask for introductions to them from your best ‘strong tie’ connections.

The key thing to remember is that for weak ties to be useful, you still have to be in contact with them.

Not every day, every week or every month but OCCASSIONALLY!

There are four key ways you can stay in touch with your contacts to build those weak tie relationships. You can post or message information via:

  • The home newsfeed
  • Private messages
  • Groups
  • Tagged messages

Taking a moment to think about how often you’ll communicate with your network through the four main LinkedIn communication channels will help you keep in contact with your weak ties more easily.

And as Mark Granovetter proved, that’s a great thing for business.

Until next time, happy selling!

Content Marketing on LinkedIn

 

 

YOU KNOW how people are always shouting about the benefits of content marketing?

And why you should be doing it to grow your business and B2B sales activities.

CONTENT MARKETING:

CONTENT MARKETING: Why do people always talk about it?

I was delivering a training workshop recently when we had a great discussion about how LinkedIn could be used as a content marketing platform.

Content marketing involves the creating and sharing of media and publishing content that is valuable, likable and relevant to target prospects in order to acquire customers.

The most important three words in that sentence are ‘valuable’, ‘likeable’ and ‘relevant’.

Why?  Because they underline the point that the information doesn’t actually have to be about your products and services.

In that sense it’s fundamentally different from traditional outbound marketing.

While content marketing focuses on generating inbound enquiries, viral reach and word-of-mouth referrals, outbound marketing focuses on pushing out sales messages to potential customers.

The trouble is, people are increasingly wary of outbound marketing.

They are bored of brochures; they skip TV adverts; they fast-forward promo scripts.

FAST FORWARD:

FAST FORWARD: many people reach for the fast forward button to avoid TV ads

They know they are being sold to and, unless you get it just right, they’ll do anything they can to avoid it.

They’ve had decades of companies bombarding them with sales messages; wowing them with features and benefits and shoving a special offer in their face and a call-to-action urging them to buy.

Increasingly, they’re just not listening any more.

However, if you create information that prospects will find relevant, valuable and likable, the information will spread naturally as people share it among colleagues, friends and their business networks.

If you’re providing valuable, likeable and relevant content to your target audience then you are helping them; you are providing them with value.  Providing value is the basis on which all business transactions are done.

Even better, social media makes providing and sharing that valuable content MASSIVELY scalable.

Share great information with a few people close to you and if they like it, that information cascades via likes and shares to reach hundreds or thousands of new potential customers.

LIKE:

LIKE UPDATE: your content has been appreciated

LinkedIn gives a great platform for you to start content marketing quickly and time-efficiently.

Rather than being forced to set up websites, email auto-responders, and data capture forms, you can build an audience in exactly the same way you would do in a face-to-face environment; by socializing and networking.

Here are 4 quick ways to start content marketing via LinkedIn:

1) Build your Audience

Would it be fair to say that the more people know, like and trust you, the more opportunities you’ll have in business?

If you agree then, by extension, it makes sense that the more people you’re connected to on LinkedIn the easier it is for a larger number of people to see your information.

Which, by another leap of logic, is a good thing, right?

By constantly building your network you’re increasing the reach of your marketing, making it easier to target new potential customers, referral partners and influential and useful contacts.

The power of a large LinkedIn network is not just in your 1st line contacts (the people that have actively agreed to connect and keep in contact with you).

It’s in the size of your 2nd line network.  Your 2nd line network is made up of people that you don’t know (yet) but who know someone that you know.

BUILD AN AUDIENCE:

BUILD AN AUDIENCE: grow a network from your 2nd connections

These people are now just one introduction or referral away, and an introduction or referral to a new contact from someone they know and trust paves the way for a much better business relationship than approaching someone cold, right?

2) Create your Content

One of my favourite tools for creating content is good old fashioned Microsoft Word.

Sure, you could spend thousands on fancy videos, but you can also share information by simply writing it down in Word and creating a quick and simple piece of content.

To save yourself LOADS of time, why not create a template document?

Rather than re-inventing the wheel every time you want to create new content, simply work of the same template, changing the information but keeping (roughly) the same design format.

This is a HUGE time saver.

Then you can simply PDF your document and upload it to SlideShare.

SlideShare is a great free service that lets you upload and share content quickly and easily.

It’s been described as the YouTube of PowerPoint!

Focus on creating content that does one of three things to your audience:

  •          Informs
  •          Empowers
  •          Entertains

If you can do these things consistently over time you are providing value and building the foundations of a business relationship.

If you create content regularly you’re also building up a huge library of marketing material that can be re-purposed later.

You can turn a one-page document of informative tips into the script for a talk or a video.

Suddenly it becomes easy to create content regularly, quickly and time-efficiently.

3) Share your Content

Now that you’ve got a suitable audience and some content that they’ll find useful to share, it’s time to get that content in front of people.

There are 4 key parts of LinkedIn where you can share your content:-

  •          Homepage newsfeed – this is the page you first see when you log in.  It shows all the content your contacts have published, liked or shared.
  •          Private messages – One of the easiest ways to get content in front of people that you want to see it is to send it to them direct.
  •          Groups – These are simply discussion forums for people with shared interests.  Match the group to the type of content you want to share and you can be fairly sure it will go down well with your intended audience.
  •          Tagged messages – These are messages sent to targeted sub-sections of your network. You get to chose the sub-sections according to the criteria relevant to you.

4) Explain your Call to Action

Finally and importantly, make sure there’s a call to action on your content and you LinkedIn profile.

If people are looking at your content, what do you want them to do?

Typical options might include:

  • Visit your website
  • Send you an email
  • Give you a call
  • Share the information with their contacts.

Whatever the specifics of your call to action, remember that if you don’t ask people to do anything, they definitely won’t!

CALL TO ACTION:

CALL TO ACTION: give your readers instructions, such as “call me”

Key actions for Content Marketing via LinkedIn

1) Build your audience by consistently inviting the right types of people into your network.

2) Create your content – use templates to save time creating content and re-purpose your content afterwards to get more value from the same ideas.

3) Share you content in the home newsfeed, private messages, groups and tagged messages.

4) Explain your call to action on your marketing material to encourage prospects to get in touch.

So there’s a quick overview of four ways to start content marketing on LinkedIn.

Hope it’s useful. Until the next time, happy selling!

 

 

LinkedIn Myths that Cost Salespeople Money


 

I WAS delivering a training course in Leeds recently to a company specialising in equipment for maintaining drainage infrastructure.

Before we started, some people were already convinced LinkedIn could add value to their sales and marketing; others, less so.

That’s when someone mentioned what they called the ‘old’ way of doing sales business; picking up the phone and getting in front of people face-to-face.

This got me thinking about some of the other things I hear salespeople say about using LinkedIn.

In this week’s blog, I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most common misconceptions; the ones that cost people leads, business opportunities and money!

MONEY:

COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS: cost people leads, business opportunities and money

 

1)  You Don’t have Time to Use LinkedIn

Let’s get this one out of the way first. EVERYONE is busy these days and everyone thinks they don’t have time to do extra work (myself very often included).

The reason people think they don’t have time for LinkedIn is because they (incorrectly) see LinkedIn as extra work.

In their minds, it becomes an activity that’s separate from what they already do when they promote their products and services.

The truth is, if you use it correctly, LinkedIn is a powerful tool for attracting leads and generating new business.  It’s part of your marketing.

Of course, if you don’t spend any time doing any marketing, you have other problems to deal with.

So really, the question should be,

“Is LinkedIn a more effective tool for bringing in business than any of methods you’re already using?”

Could LinkedIn be an additional effective method in your marketing mix?

2)  Picking up the Phone is better than Using LinkedIn

In some ways this isn’t a misconception.  Speaking to potential customers on the phone is better than interacting with them through typed words on a computer screen.

The misconception is that it’s an either / or choice; that you can call potential customers OR you can send messages to them on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is not a replacement for face-to-face business or sales calls.  If used effectively it’s a massively powerful way to make both those things more effective AND generate additional leads and business opportunities in its own right.

If you use the right words when your start your phone conversation, the fact that you’ve engaged on LinkedIn before you speak to your prospects will help you build rapport and have more productive calls.

New potential customers of yours are on LinkedIn and when they are, it makes sense that you use a simple 3-step process to get more leads from them, right?

Instead of seeing it as an either / or choice, use LinkedIn to find valuable information that will help you make more productive phone calls.

You can also use it as a map of business connections to find out the best people you already know to approach for referrals and introductions to potential new contacts.

CONTACTS MAP:

CONTACTS MAP: use LinkedIn to map your connections

 

3)  You Connect with People on LinkedIn . . . and That’s It!

One of the most common things I hear fellow salespeople say is, “I’ve got hundreds of connections . . . I’ve never had any business from it though.”

In most cases this is because people wrongly believe that LinkedIn is only a place to build connections with useful contacts in business.

They’re only half right.  If you just connect with people on LinkedIn, you’ve done the equivalent of starting a sales meeting by introducing yourself . . . and that’s it!

No sales pitch; no asking the prospect questions; no small talk to build rapport; no asking how you can help.  Nothing.  Just your name, what do you do and nothing more.

SHUT UP:

DON’T JUST CONNECT: LinkedIn offers many more opportunities than just making connections

 

Connecting with people on LinkedIn is a start.  However, if that’s all you do you’re missing out on bucket loads of great functions to help you:

  •          Manage your network of contacts
  •          Market your business to key target markets
  •          Build rapport with potential customers
  •          Get more referrals from existing customers
  •          Spread word-of-mouth awareness of you and your products
  •          Build marketing collateral to use on and offline
  •          Find lists of new potential customers

·         And much more . . .

4)  You Can’t Measure the Return on your LinkedIn Time

One of the biggest myths about social media is that the return on investment isn’t measurable.

In fact, the exact opposite is true.

Every aspect of social media is fully measurable, from tracking which social networks delivered the most click-throughs to your website to how many leads you get from LinkedIn versus face-to-face networking in a given time-period.

All of this can be measured and analysed quickly and simply so you can see which parts of your marketing are working best.

5)  Getting your LinkedIn Profile Right is the most Important Element

Creating a good profile with a compelling statement about you, your products and services is important.

And most people even get this bit wrong.

But if that’s all you do on LinkedIn, you’re drastically limiting the opportunities you could be enjoying in terms of in-bound leads, referrals and recommendations.

People do business with people they know, like and trust, right?

In the same way, the key to getting more leads from LinkedIn is using it to become better known, liked and trusted by the people that matter to you in business.

There are simple functions you can use to achieve each of those aspects.

Next time you’re on LinkedIn, think about how you can use the advanced search and groups to become better known by potential customers.

ADVANCED SEARCH:

ADVANCED SEARCH: use it to search for potential connections

 

Ask yourself how you can create a likeable profile that gives people a clear sense of the value you offer with your products and services.

And how you can create likeable content you can share in the LinkedIn:

  •          Newsfeed
  •          Groups
  •          Tagged messages
  •          Private messages
LIKEABLE CONTENT:

LIKEABLE CONTENT: share good content via groups, your newsfeed and messages

 

Finally, think about how you can build trust through a consistent presence AND building rapport with potential customers before you pick up the phone and speak to them.

Get it right and they’ll know who you are and you’ll have loads of great pre-existing rapport to leverage during your sales call.

6)  Networking Face-to-Face is more Effective than using LinkedIn

I wouldn’t necessarily argue with this.  Getting on the phone to and in front of clients is, was and forever will be the best way to do business.

If you believe point 6, you may well be missing two important points about LinkedIn.

First, it is a fantastic way to make it easier to get on the phone to people.

Instead of it being an awkward cold call, it will be a warm call where the prospect knows who you are and is happy to speak to you.

Second, how do you keep in contact with people that you’ve met face-to-face?

If you have a drawer full of old business cards of people that you met out and about during your career, the chances are you’ve never kept in touch.

And now, it would be plain odd if you called months or years later to ask for a meeting or ask for a favour.

Using LinkedIn is a great way to manage your contacts.

Used in the right way, it can turn a mish-mash of contacts built up over years into a powerful network of segmented business allies and potential customers that all recognize you as the leader in your field at what you do.

If that sounds good, then give me a call on +44 (0)1926 678 920 to find out how you can achieve all that in 3 easy steps!

Until next time, happy selling!

 

 

 

How to be a Super-Connector

 

 

 

AS THE great salesman and motivational speaker Zig Ziglar explained, one of the best ways to get where you want to go is to help other people get where they want to go.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in helping you do just that.

You might be sitting there reading this and wondering how.  Let me explain . . .

You know how they say that, “It’s not what you know, but who you know that counts”?

So if you can put other people in touch with people that can help them in business, you can help them in a big way, right?

ZIG ZIGLAR:

ZIG ZIGLAR: help other people get what they want

 

Absolutely.  Passing on referrals and putting people in contact with each other is a great way to help people in your business network.

It helps other people out and positions you as a helpful and well-connected person who’s extremely useful to know.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool in helping you to help other people out more quickly, more easily and more often.

Becoming a Super-Connector

So-called ‘super-connectors’ are people who know LOTS of people and make useful and targeted introductions to people they want to help.

US businessman, Scott Gerber, is an expert on entrepreneurship and is frequently cited as an example of a professional super-connector.

He knows a LOT of people and practically makes a living out of putting other people in touch with the right people.

It’s this well-connectedness that fuels his entrepreneurship, investing, writing and speaking activities.

SCOTT GERBER:

SCOTT GERBER: considered to be a professional ‘super-connector’

 

He knows the right people and helps other people by putting them in touch with the people that are right for them.

One of the problems of being a super-connector is remembering all the people you know, understanding exactly what they do and who it would be helpful for them to speak to.

That’s where LinkedIn can help.

Helping Others with the LinkedIn Advanced Search

By using the advanced search function on LinkedIn you can quickly pinpoint people in your network who possess particular skills, experience or other key criteria that will help you make more useful connections.

The advanced search function allows you to search through the hundreds or perhaps thousands of people in your network and find the best people to introduce to a particular contact.

ADVANCED SEARCH:

ADVANCED SEARCH: enables targeted searches using keywords, job title & location


If you have hundreds – or perhaps thousands – of people in your network it soon becomes almost impossible to recall instantly who people in your network are at short notice.

The advanced search tool lets you search through your contacts according to the following criteria:

  •          Keywords
  •          First name
  •          Last name
  •          Job title
  •          Company
  •          School
  •          Location

 In truth, the keywords, job title and location options are by far the most useful options.

Don’t forget to tick the 1st connections option in the ‘Relationship’ section.  This means you’ll only search through people you’re already connected to.

For example, imagine you have a contact who wants to speak to lawyers specialising in human rights within 10 miles of Manchester.

You can search through your network for the keywords ‘human rights’, the job title ‘lawyer’ and the location postcode M1 to check if you know any suitable introductions.

You can then make an introduction via LinkedIn itself.  Making introductions via LinkedIn – rather than email – is great because it allows people to get a much stronger sense of who the person being introduced is.

For a start, there’s a picture of them.  There’s also a summary giving them a clear description of what that person does and a recommendation explaining what other people think of the service they offer.

You can either put people in touch on the basis that you are proactively recommending one or the others services, or on the basis that you think it might simply be useful for them to connect on LinkedIn – without explicitly endorsing either person’s services.

Examples in Practice

For example, if I have a contact who wants business connections in Ghana, I can run a search through my 1st line connections to see if I know anyone else who has links to the country.

The results of the advanced search tell me that I do!

ERROL LAWSON:

ERROL LAWSON: Using LinkedIn advanced search to find a business connection in Ghana

 

I can then make introductions to the relevant people in my network.  It’s a great way to help your contacts out and strengthen your relationship with them at the same time.

MAKING INTRODUCTIONS:

MAKING INTRODUCTIONS: helping your network by making introductions and building rapport


If you want to contact either of the people you’re introducing in the future, you can ask whether the connection was useful and build rapport on the back of your work to help out.

As you’ll find out, this is a really quick way to help people in your network and build rapport with them.

It quickly helps you become better known, liked and trusted by the people you want to do business with.

People prefer to do business with people they know, like and trust!

Top Tips for Becoming a Super-Connector

Here are some top tips for becoming a super-connector:

1) Make helping others through targeted introductions a key focus of your networking and community building.

2) When you meet people or welcome new people into your network, ask them how you could help them. It’s the quickest way to uncover their needs and get the information you need to propose a solution.

3) Build your LinkedIn network around an idea or theme; more people in your network will benefit from introductions.  For example, if you’re an accountant in Worcester, you can make it your mission to network and connect with as many pro-active owner-managed business people in your town as possible.  People in your network will therefore be more likely to have a shared interest in achieving entrepreneurial success.

4) Always be connecting.  Once a week, ask yourself who you’ve met recently who might benefit from an introduction to someone in your network.

By continually building your network and making introductions you rapidly increase the number of people who know, like and trust you.

Considering people like to do business with people they know, like and trust, you quickly increase the number of people you have as potential customers too.

Key Actions Points for Becoming a Super-Connector

1) Always ask how you can help others;

2) Always be building your LinkedIn network;

3) Use the advanced search facility to find useful introductions.

Until next time, happy selling!

What Do your Prospects Need to Believe in Order to Buy?

 

 

 

ONE of the key features of LinkedIn is that it lets you build a network of contacts and publish content that they can read.

That might not sound important.

However, it gives you some fantastic marketing opportunities that most people don’t take advantage of.

In addition, they miss out on all kinds of leads and business opportunities as a result.

To illustrate the point, let’s re-write and expand that first sentence in another way:

One of the key features of LinkedIn is that it lets you build a . . .  community of engaged followers and prospects and then explain the things they need to understand and believe in order to buy your products and services.

That’s a powerful proposition for your overall marketing and branding.

The Importance of Beliefs in Buying

Before anyone will consider buying your products and services, they need to feel that you can provide a solution to one of their problems.

In order to do that, they need to believe certain fundamental things about the products you offer.

Let’s use an example.  Imagine you sell a range of IT services that allow staff at large corporations around the world to collaborate quickly and easily on projects.

ONLINE COLLABORATION:

ONLINE COLLABORATION: teams are able to link up remotely and work on one project in real time

Your systems allow multi-national virtual teams to communicate in real-time and make live changes to complex databases.

In order to buy, your customers not only have to believe your particular systems are good and better than those of the competition.

They have to believe that remote collaborative working is a good idea in the first place; that it delivers huge benefits and cost-savings over other forms of collaborative working.

If they don’t believe this, they simply will not buy from you.  Ever.

If, for example, the boss at the company believes teams work better face-to-face and that any form of remote collaboration will lead to unacceptable miscommunication, problems, complexity and difficulties, she will not buy from you.

Your only chance is to change her underlying beliefs.

Changing her beliefs doesn’t mean she will buy, but it means you now have a chance to engage her and make a sale.

How LinkedIn can Help You

LinkedIn, therefore, is a great platform to build a community of followers and gradually explain to them the things they need to believe in order to potentially buy from you.

Why? Because it can act as a one-stop hub for both your offline and online networking activities – helping you manage your networking more easily than ever.

You can encourage people you’ve met in person to connect with you online and then maintain those relationships more easily.

In addition, you can forge new relationships with targeted people who are more likely to be potential customers and/or referral partners.

CONTACTS:

YOUR NETWORK: build a community of contacts and followers relevant to your business

Importantly, you can drip feed information that communicates the things people need to believe to buy from you to all these contacts over time.

Key Questions for your Network

So ask yourself, what are the fundamental things your prospects need to believe in order to buy from you?

What are the non-negotiable understandings your potential customers need to have in order to spend time listening to your broader pitch?

If you’re a virtual assistant, it’s no good showing testimonials from satisfied clients to a prospect who does not believe that they will be able to work more effectively on high-value tasks by out-sourcing their admin.

PAPERWORK:

ADMINISTRATIVE TASKS: could you outsource to a Virtual Assistant?

Perhaps they believe that outsourcing will simply be an added expense.

If you’re a recruitment consultant, you could have the best candidates in the world but you’ll be wasting your time pitching them to a hiring manager who thinks they could save money by interviewing candidates themselves.

Perhaps they don’t believe that a specialist will be able to find higher-performing candidates than they can themselves.

Either way, information that communicates the necessary beliefs to turn contacts into potential customers is important.

So make communicating these fundamental beliefs a key part of how you engage with your LinkedIn contacts.

You can communicate this information in several ways on LinkedIn. They key places you can do this are:

  •          The homepage newsfeed
  •          Groups containing potential customers
  •          Private messages to individuals
  •          Bulk tagged messages
  •          Company pages

By regularly communicating the right information to your network, you build up an online community of people who hold the underlying beliefs necessary to become your potential customers.

TAGGED MESSAGE:

TAGGED MESSAGES: allow you to send information relevant to particular groups in your network

Remember, that those underlying beliefs can be very different from understanding the features and benefits of your products.

Only people who believe that your products and services could potentially help them will be interested in hearing the specific features and benefits of your products/services versus those of the competition.

Listening for Leads

Once you’ve started publishing content that communicates the things your potential customers need to believe, you have a great platform for engagement.

You can then publish content that does one of 3 things to help your LinkedIn contacts:

  •          Informs
  •          Entertains
  •          Empowers

However, importantly, all this information should be aimed at people who believe the fundamental value of your product or service.

Here are key actions to make sure your contacts believe the necessary things in order to buy:-

1) Decide what the fundamental beliefs are that your potential customers need in order to buy;

2) Decide how you can most quickly and succinctly communicate this;

3) Decide how and when you’ll communicate this via home newsfeed.

Until the next time, happy selling!

How to Get More Referrals with a Perfect LinkedIn Professional Headline

ACCORDING to the latest figures from The Law Society, there are 159,524 solicitors in the UK.

There are thought to be more than 290,000 accountants and 20,453 independent financial advisors.

Add to this hundreds of thousands of marketing consultants and business coaches plus millions of B2B salespeople.

When it comes to being remembered by potential customers and people who could refer you business, you are NOT alone.

That’s why standing out from the crowd is important.

In fact, standing out is imperative if you want to get more referrals and introductions to potential customers.

In addition, it’s especially important if you want your word-of-mouth marketing to be effective.

Why People Don’t Refer you Business

One of the big reasons people don’t refer you business is because they simply don’t fully understand what you do well enough to feel confident that you can help the people they refer to you.

As a consequence, they don’t understand who they can best recommend to you as useful contacts, business partners or potential customers.

If you’re a lawyer, business coach, marketing consultant, web designer or accountant, people almost certainly don’t fully understand who you can best help. 

They might know the generic aspects of what you do, but they probably don’t totally understand the value of the service you offer.

They haven’t met anyone recently who has actually explicitly said, “I need a lawyer/business coach/web designer/accountant”.

As far as they’re concerned, they don’t know anyone they can refer to you.

However, the good news is that being more precise about what you do and who you help can make a big difference and can quickly get more referrals coming your way.

You can tell people about this niche specialism in your face-to-face meetings.

One of the best places to start spreading the word online is your LinkedIn profile, specifically in your so-called ‘professional headline’. That’s the text next to your photograph and underneath your name at the top of your profile.

It’s important because it’s one of the most visible parts of your profile.

It shows up in search results and acts as a hook to attract the interest of other B2B social networkers on Linkedin.  

PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE: shows up in search results and attracts interest

PROFESSIONAL HEADLINE: shows up in search results and attracts interest

Being a Generalist

If you help people with financial planning, your contacts may struggle to know which of the 20 people they know who could benefit from some financial planning they could pass your way.

As a result, most people will recommend no one. As far as they’re concerned you are a generalist. You know as much as the next person who does what you do.

However, if you’re a financial planner specialising in helping, for example:

  • Single mothers;
  • Sports professionals;
  • Actors;
  • Parents with disabled children;

It quickly becomes easy for people to pass you business.

In people’s minds, you have exclusive know-how beyond that of a generalist.  They know instantly if they know someone who matches your ideal customer profile.

Much more importantly, it gives you a foundation to stand out from the crowd and cement your reputation as someone with rare and specialist knowledge.

Rather than offering financial advice, you can become a leading authority on the specialist financial needs of authors, for example.

You can build your reputation, on- and off-line, as the go-to person for advice in your area; helping authors deal with the wildly fluctuating cash flow of book advances and publishing deals.

Potential customers will be reassured that they are dealing with someone who knows EXACTLY how to help them and UNDERSTANDS their special circumstances.

Let’s take a typical example. Imagine you’re an accountant. Your Linkedin profile might look like this:

EXAMPLE PROFILE: a general profile heading for an Accountant

EXAMPLE PROFILE: a general profile headline for an Accountant

It’s a great start. You’re on LinkedIn but, let’s be honest, no-one is going to see your profile (before or after meeting you) and even consider referring your business.

Why? Because they don’t know who to send your way and they don’t get the impression you have any useful or valuable knowledge beyond what every accountant knows.

Now how about they changed their profile to the following:

EXAMPLE PROFILE: more specific professional heading

EXAMPLE PROFILE: a more specific profile headline for Accountant specialised in assisting Mumpreneurs

Off the top of my head I can think of 3 so-called ‘mumpreneurs’ I know.

Estimates suggest there are more than 300,000 mothers running businesses from home while they also look after their children.

The market is massive and growing extremely rapidly as more and more mothers set-up businesses form home rather than returning to work.

If even a small fraction of these mothers recognise the value of choosing an accountant with specialist knowledge about their business needs, there is a huge market opportunity.

Faced with a choice between any old accountant and the go-to authority on accounting for mumpreneurs, most potential customers will opt for the latter.

In addition, it becomes much easier for word-of-mouth referrals and reputation to spread.

Then there’s the opportunity for powerful strategic alliances with people selling related services; marketing consultants, financial advisors, business coaches, all with specialist expertise in helping mumpreneurs.

Getting your LinkedIn Headline Right

To get your LinkedIn professional headline exactly right, ask yourself if people will understand the value you add to customers after reading it and have a strong impression of how you stand out from the crowd.

It’s a great place to be creative and leave an impression in people’s minds.

If you’re not sure where to start, make sure to include 3 things:

1) What you do – as opposed to your job title. You job title can be hopelessly meaningless. No-one knows what you do if you are ‘vice president of account management’. They do if you’re a ‘specialist in cash flow finance for Birmingham-based manufacturing businesses’.

2) Who you help and the problems you solve – as discussed, the more specific you can be, the better.

3) Relevant keywords your LinkedIn professional headline is highly rated for search engine optimization. So it’s a great place to include keywords that help you rank highly in Google.

Here’s an interesting example of a memorable professional headline from business mentor Mark Sephton.

Even though it doesn’t mention formal definitions of his ideal customers according to job type, it leaves you in no doubt the kind of person he’s looking to build relationships with.

He specialises in helping dynamic and entrepreneurial go-getters.  If you can’t think of referrals based on job type, you probably can based on the personalities of the people you know!

MARK SEPHTON: perfect

MARK SEPHTON: a perfect professional headline

So ask yourself if your LinkedIn profile headline is helping you stand out from the crowd and making it easy for people to refer you business.

Key actions for Improving your LinkedIn professional headline:

1) Be specific – does your LinkedIn headline communicate your ideal customers clearly?

2) Be different – does your headline help you stand out from the crowd and be remembered?

3) Add value – does your headline explain who you can help, the problems you solve and how you can add value?

4) Expand and explain – make sure the rest of your Linkedin profile builds on the value you explain in your summary.

Until the next time, happy selling!

Customer Case Study: Joan Goodger

I HAD some great news from a client yesterday who’s had fantastic results since coming on one of my LinkedIn workshops late last year.

Joan Goodger is a food safety specialist, training restaurant and catering staff in food hygiene practices.

Joan did a fantastic job of applying the training with real focus by:

  • Finding new potential customers using groups and advanced searches
  • Building rapport online using the correct wording in her messages
  • Taking conversation offline with phone calls and face-to-face meetings at the right time

Joan has now secured completely new business with food safety training workshops with a large regional association.

In the process, she’s built a lucrative new business relationship with an influential industry contact with huge potential for referrals, testimonials and repeat jobs.

Many people treat LinkedIn as a separate activity from their marketing, networking or cold calling activity.

Joan continues to get great results by:

  • Finding new potential clients she could otherwise not meet
  • Building rapport and engagement online
  • Turning this rapport into successful phone calls and face-to-face meetings
Joan Goodger LinkedIn

JOAN GOODGER: Profile on LinkedIn as Food Safety Trainer

Here’s the story in Joan’s own words,

“New to business, I hired Tom to help me use LinkedIn effectively to generate more business.

Being nearly 60, I had never used any social media before and was worried about using LinkedIn.

Tom was absolutely brilliant. He took away my fears immediately. His simple step-by-step approach helped me understand both the importance and significance of LinkedIn.

I decided to ‘take the plunge’ and searched for people on LinkedIn that I thought would need my services as a food safety trainer.

FOOD SAFETY: Joan used keywords to search for new connections on LinkedIn

FOOD SAFETY: Joan used keywords to search for new connections on LinkedIn

Using the wording advised by Tom, I quickly made contact with a man who I thought would welcome some training for his business.

This man not only organised large corporate events but in his private life he sat on the Board at a local sheltered housing scheme.

I was asked to deliver training at 3 of their West Midland centres, to both staff and tenants.

This would never have happened had I not used Tom’s LinkedIn training strategy to make the face-to-face appointment and have the confidence to carry it through.

As a direct result of that meeting, it became apparent that there was also a need for Nutrition and Hydration training for this client group.

So this opened up another opportunity for me and another string to my bow.

I was approached by another training company on LinkedIn who asked if I delivered nutrition and hydration training and now have regular work in Milton Keynes too.”

While many people connect indiscriminately with people on LinkedIn without a strategy or game-plan, Joan got great results by using the 3 easy steps I teach to get more rapport-filled phone calls and meetings more easily and more often.

Most importantly, she ensured she built up recognition and rapport online before picking up the phone and speaking to her prospects.

TELEPHONE FOLLOW-UP: build rapport with new connections over the telephone

TELEPHONE FOLLOW-UP: build rapport with new connections over the telephone

  “It does not happen overnight, you have to build up a relationship and trust with the other LinkedIn person,” says Joan.

“I can honestly say that Tom’s training has given me the professional edge on marketing my Food Safety Training business.

I still use Tom’s training to help grow my business. I wholeheartedly recommend Tom’s LinkedIn training; it really does generate more business and it did for me!”

To find out more about how you can get more leads from Linkedin in 3 easy steps just like Joan, contact Tom Mallens on LinkedIn, +44 (0)1926 678 920, tom@tommallens.com or @TomMallens.

4 Ways to Improve your Face-to-Face Networking

ARE YOU wondering how to improve your face-to-face networking using social media?

Most people in B2B sales rely, to a great or lesser extent, on being known, liked and trusted by other people in their industry.

These people could be potential customers but could also include a mix of referral partners, industry influencers, strategic allies and key decision-makers.

If more people know what you do, if they like you and your products, and trust that you’ll deliver on your promises, then you’ll have an easier time doing business, right?

Tom Mallens LinkedIn

VALUE STATEMENT: Make sure your LinkedIn profile contains details of the problems you solve and the implications of not solving them.

This is where social media can yield big benefits for the B2B sales person by enhancing the impact of their existing networking.

Linkedin has 184,000,000 (that’s right, million) unique visitors every month, with 172,000 new sign-ups every day.

Therefore, whatever industry you’re in, there will be potential customers, industry influencers, strategic allies and key decision-makers that you can stay in contact with.

If you focus on building your brand online within your B2B sales niche, you can bring big benefits to your face-to-face networking too.

So how do you do that? Here are 5 simple ways:

1) Follow-up Meetings by Connecting on LinkedIn

A chance meeting in business can throw up all kinds of opportunities. But one meeting isn’t always enough.

And sometimes, it can be difficult to arrange another meeting.

By connecting on LinkedIn, you bring contacts into your network where you can communicate with.

Remember always to send a personal message reminding people when and how you met.

You only get 300 characters for you message so keeping to the point is vital.

A good introductory message might include a few of the following details: 

  • Why and how you met
  • Who you know that they also know
  • How you might be able to help in the future
  • Something interesting you noticed you have in common from their profile
  • Why you want to keep in touch
  • Asking permission to connect (it just seems polite)
Tom Mallens LinkedIn

INVITATION TO CONNECT: sending a personalised email invitation

Once someone has joined your network, it becomes easy to keep in touch with them and be seen by them every time they log in.

  • Private messages
  • Posting to the home newsfeed
  • Tagged messages to specific sub-sections of your network

If you publish high quality information regularly across these channels, you make it easy for people to remember not only who you are, but what you do and why it’s of value.

You can build your personal brand so that every time someone logs into Linkedin, they have useful information from you.

NEWSFEED PUBLISHING: publish quality content across channels

NEWSFEED PUBLISHING: publish quality content across channels

This keeps you top of their minds.  If this presence is matched with a strong value statement that makes it easy to remember exactly what you do, then you’ll quickly become better know, liked and trusted by the people you want to develop business relationships with in your network.

 2) Drive People to your LinkedIn Profile

Next, encourage people to find you on Linkedin.

You can do this on your business cards, email footers, website, in brochures and beyond.

It can be as simple as printing your Linkedin URL on your marketing material.

MARKETING MATERIAL: add your LinkedIn details to business cards

MARKETING MATERIAL: add your LinkedIn details to business cards, email footers and in brochures

If that’s the case, make sure you customise your LinkedIn URL to get something that creates a professional brand image.

You can customise your URL via the ‘edit profile’ option, followed by clicking on the ‘edit’ link next to your existing URL.

EDIT URL: create a more professional brand image by customising the URL

EDIT URL: create a more professional brand image by customising the URL

 This takes you to a link where you can customise your URL.

CUSTOMISE URL: use your name or key words for SEO

CUSTOMISE URL: use your name or key words for Search Engine Optimisation

The default URL for your Linkedin profile page is a messy series of characters: www.linkedin.com/in/47gsd7erere9hgg, for example.

By customising the URL, you can create a neat and professional looking URL, in my case, it’s my name:

www.linkedin.com/in/tommallens

If you have a more common name, like John Smith, then you simply need to make sure it’s a unique URL by including a middle initial, number or other characters:

www.linkedin.com/in/johnmwsmith

If you want to get creative with SEO, you can include some keywords in your custom URL based on what you believe people that will be interested in your products or services would search for in Google. A Birmingham-based accountant might choose www.linkedin.com/in/midlandsaccountant as her URL.

LinkedIn profiles are highly optimised for SEO so if people search for your name (or your URL keywords), your profile is likely to appear on the first page of Google.

Check out this video for more details on how to customise your LinkedIn public profile URL:

 Most importantly, don’t forget to give them a reason.

Without a good reason to keep in touch, people have frankly got better things to do with their time.

However, if you have a compelling reason, people are more likely to seek you out actively online.

You could offer free tips or interesting information related to your niche.  Alternatively, offer to put people in touch with useful contacts from your network.

Whatever you do, give people a reason to connect with you online by either informing, empowering or entertaining them.

If you regularly share information based around one of those 3 areas, being a part of your network suddenly means something to your contacts.

You suddenly become someone useful to know; someone who is a central figure of influence.

You can also encourage website visitors to connect with you on Linkedin by embedding a Linkedin badge into a page.

Follow the menus as for editing your Linkedin URL and hit the button just below.

FOLLOW ME: Add your own LinkedIn profile badge to your website

FOLLOW ME: Add your own LinkedIn profile badge to your website

You can then choose from a range of button styles to include in your website, encouraging people to connect with you on Linkedin.

LINKEDIN BUTTONS: choose from a variety of styled buttons to suit your website

LINKEDIN BUTTONS: choose from a variety of styled buttons to suit your website

3) Call your LinkedIn Contacts

It’s very easy to have a lot of contacts and connections on Linkedin.

It’s much harder to have an engaged network of contacts that know, like and trust you.

One of the most direct ways to build trust is to actually speak to the people you’re connected to.

Lots of people have a phone number listed on their LinkedIn profile.  So why not give them a ring?

A great time to do this is shortly after connecting or after a series of other significant interactions online.

Get this right, and you’ll get rapport-filled phone conversations with potential customers more easily and more often.

Get it wrong and you may as well stick to cold calling as the person won’t remember who you are.

You don’t have to call purely with the intention of selling to them.

Linkedin will show you who you know that your contact also knows and give you whatever information they’ve chosen to share about themselves.

SHARED CONNECTIONS: see if you share any contacts with your current connections

SHARED CONNECTIONS: see if you share any contacts with your current connections

Suddenly you can call and talk about how you know your mutual contacts or a shared interest you both have.

The sales cold call has been transformed into a rapport-led discussion about networking and shared interests.

4) Make Introductions

Introducing contacts to each other is a great way to help people in your network and position yourself as a useful person to know.

One of the easiest ways to make introductions is to copy two of your contacts into the same message on Linkedin.

You might do this already with emails.

The benefit of doing this via Linkedin is that the people in copy can get a fuller sense of who the other person is by looking at their profiles.

INTRODUCE CONTACTS: help other people in your network by introducing contacts to each other by email

INTRODUCE CONTACTS: help other people in your network by introducing contacts to each other by email

It’s a much more powerful rapport-builder.

A good introductory message might include some of the following details:

  • How you met the person
  • Why you think they’re a useful introduction
  • How you think it might benefit your contact to get in touch

The point is that you’re not recommending the person concerned. Simply suggesting it might be useful for them to talk.

Do this regularly and it quickly positions you as someone who is useful and helpful to know.

Another useful aspect of Linkedin is that if you know a contact wants introductions to Operations Directors in logistics firms, you can search through your network to see who best fits the bill.

Simply use the advanced search function, type in the relevant keywords and job description, then check the ‘1st connections’ box.

So there you have 4 easy ways you can use Linkedin to improve your face-to-face networking.

So that you don’t forget, here are some recap points:

Key actions for improving your face-to-face networking

1) Connect with new contacts by finding them on LinkedIn, allowing you to communicate with them more easily.

2) Encourage your existing customers to find you on LinkedIn with a call-to-action on business cards and marketing material.

3) Call your Linkedin contacts! There’s no better way to build trust shortly after you’ve built up some rapport on Linkedin.

4) Introduce useful contacts to each other.  Use LinkedIn’s advanced search to find the best introductions for your contacts.

Until the next time, happy selling!

The 3 stages of Linkedin marketing

 

 

MOST people on Linkedin don’t get any business from it. Which is a shame really.

There’s a directory of millions of business people at your fingertips.

And you don’t just get their contact details. You get to proactively contact, talk and engage them.

Which helps you get more productive, rapport-filled phone calls and boosts word-of-mouth marketing.

It seems crazy not to spend a little time using Linkedin properly to become better know, liked and trusted by your potential customers, right?

According to the latest figures, more than 259 million people have a Linkedin account.

That’s 1 in every 27 people in the world.

What’s more, there are 172,000 new signups every day AND more than 184 million unique visitors every month.

That’s a lot of business opportunities!

STAY CONNECTED: According to the latest figures, 1 in 27 people in the world have a Linkedin account.

STAY CONNECTED: According to the latest figures, 1 in 27 people in the world have a Linkedin account.

Especially if you properly integrate Linkedin into you’re existing marketing channels so that it helps attract new leads AND maintains engagement with existing customers for repeat business and referrals.

With Linkedin, there are millions of business contacts to be made, problems to be solved, needs to be met and relationships to be built.

And they’re all waiting to be explored at the tap of a keyboard.

So how do you do it? To keep the process simple, it can be broken down into three key stages: Attract, Promote, Sell.

1) Attract
The first stage to building a relationship and making a sale is to start a conversation.

Whether you start it from cold, or your prospect comes to you because they liked something you published, it doesn’t really matter.

The key is to build engagement with the people you want to speak to in business and get them attracted to the product or service you’re selling.

If you’re talking, you’re learning what’s important to them and you’re in a position to propose solutions.

You can also start to explain the ideas that will form the foundation of the sale.

For example; what do you customers need to believe in order to make a purchase?

LEAD MAGNET: Your content should explain the ideas your potential customers need to believe in order to buy your products.

LEAD MAGNET: Your content should explain the ideas your potential customers need to believe in order to buy your products.

Perhaps – if you’re a graphic designer – they need to believe that branding and visual imagery is a key decision-making criteria for customers.

Of if you’re a car salesman with a new green eco-vehicle to promote, they need to understand and believe that green vehicles will result in cost-savings.

So how can you start this process on Linkedin? Here are the key areas:

Profile
Create a great profile with a strong value proposition. Remember to include details of what you do, the problems you overcome, the consequences of not solving the problems and your proposed solution.

Now, every time someone looks at your profile, they’ll be left with a strong sense of exactly what you do and how you can help them.

VALUE STATEMENT: Make sure your Linkedin profile contains details of the problems you solve and the implications of not solving them.

VALUE STATEMENT: Make sure your Linkedin profile contains details of the problems you solve and the implications of not solving them.

They’ll also have a better sense of whether they like and trust you. As discussed in a recent blog, Linkedin is a great place to increase the number of people that know, like and trust you.

Status updates
By regularly updating your Linkedin status, you can publish information to your connections.

Publishing content that they’ll find informative, entertaining or empowering is a great way to engage them.

It starts to attract likes and comments and encourages people to view your profile.

Groups
By joining and creating conversations in Linkedin groups, you start to build awareness of who you are and what you do with specific target groups of people.

Linkedin groups are segmentations of the Linkedin community according to mutual shared interests.

So if you find the right group, you quickly find a pool of potential customers and useful contacts that you can build relationships with.

Frequently updating your status and posting in Linkedin groups can seem time-consuming but there are plenty of ways to make it time-efficient.

Using HootSuite allows you to schedule content in advance and/or post to multiple Linkedin groups quickly.

2) Promote
Now you’ve engaged and attracted potential customers to your profile, you can start to promote your goods and services.

Rather than simply give away free information that convinces potential customers of the value of your proposition, you’re now aiming to promote your products’ value more extensively.

A great way to do this is to offer more detailed information in return for an email address, phone number or other contact information.

There are numerous ways to do this. A quick and simple way is using a landing page that combines an email capture form in return for a PDF or other download.

Great places to start are www.leadpages.net and www.unbounce.com.

LAND & DELIVER: Software like LeadPages.net makes it easy to create landing pages to capture email addresses.

LAND & DELIVER: Software like LeadPages.net makes it easy to create landing pages to capture email addresses.

You’re prospects have now actively bought-in to the ideas you expressed in the ‘attract’ phase.

And you can now promote to them both on Linkedin and by email or telemarketing – depending on what details you captured from them.

3) Sell
When it comes to Linkedin, one of the most important parts of making sales is taking the engagement and promotion outside of Linkedin.

In most cases, that means picking up the telephone.

Most people on Linkedin seem reluctant to do this, preferring instead to leave their connections as purely online contacts.

The truth is, they’re missing out on huge opportunities to leverage regular engagement on Linkedin and turn it into more productive, rapport-filled phone calls.

The key is calling at the right time and then saying the right things when you do.

If you connected on Linkedin 2 years ago and have not been in touch since, you will almost certainly not be known, liked or trusted by your prospect.

You may as well cold call – which is what, in effect, your approach will be.

However, if you connected with a personal message, sent them a personal message and/or a free guide shortly afterwards, like their status updates, mention them in comments and contribute to the same groups that they’re in, then you’re all set for a resistance-free phone call and – very likely – a similarly productive meeting.

GOOD TO TALK: Picking up the phone at the right time after building up rapport online is key to getting results from Linkedin.

GOOD TO TALK: Picking up the phone at the right time after building up rapport online is key to getting results from Linkedin.

Here are a few tips to remember before you call your Linkedin contacts:

  • ALWAYS send a personal message when you invite people into your network
  • Thank them when they accept and send them some useful information (a free guide, for example)
  • When connecting through Linkedin groups, send a message first, asking permission to connect – it’s extremely polite and almost always elicits a positive response
  • Keep an eye on their status updates and like and share the ones you like best
  • Use the Linkedin CRM system to remind you who they are and how you met
  • Set a reminder to get in touch with a personal message

Many people’s Linkedin profiles contain the mobile number, so once you’ve connected, you’ve got a great opportunity to get in touch and welcome them to your network.

To help the call progress well, remember to mention the following:

  • Who you know that they also know – Linkedin gives you the names of mutual ‘2nd line’ connections.
  • Interesting information from their profile – do you have shared interests or hobbies that will build rapport?

And finally, try this sentence!

“Hi. We recently connected on Linkedin. I always try to say hello to my connections and if we could help each other out. It doesn’t seem logical to connect if we don’t actually every speak to each other, that makes sense, doesn’t it?”

I’ve never once had anyone disagree with this logic.

So next time you’re on Linkedin, ask yourself how you can start to engage your contacts more productively.

Action points for Linkedin marketing in 3 easy steps

1) Attract
Use content that informs, entertains or empowers your target market AND explains the fundamental ideas they need to believe in order to want to do business with you.

2) Promote
Use landing pages to capture customer details in exchange for their email address or phone number. What information can you share that will help and be valued by your audience?

3) Sell
Now’s the time to start taking conversations off-line, which means picking up the phone. Call within a day or two of interactions and engagement online and use Linkedin to find out useful rapport building information.

Until the next time, happy selling!