Author: Houston Golden — founder and CEO of BAMF Media
I know it’s tempting.
It really is.
Getting your automations together, writing that perfect piece of copy, then ending that message with a CTA for someone to buy from you.
But, here’s the sad news.
It won’t work.
In this guest guide, I want to talk to you about the LinkedIn selling process, on what works and what doesn’t based on my professional experience with LinkedIn optimization and running a growth hacking agency, and I’ll even discuss how you can employ an active targeted lead generation strategy.
What Do I Do Exactly?
I specialize in growth.
To put it more formally, I’m the founder and CEO of BAMF Media, a startup that I took from zero to over four million dollars in revenue by helping startups develop their sales flows, creating funnels on LinkedIn, and hacking their virality on social media.
Digital growth, to me, is as much as a science as it is an art. I speak with experience, and I don’t give advice that hasn’t been tested (and proven.)
But, enough about me, let’s get down to business.
So, Why Shouldn’t I Sell On My First Message?
Let’s get one thing straight.
If you’re promoting, prospecting or selling on LinkedIn, I’ll assume that you have a business model that could appeal to the 250 million active monthly users on the platform.
We’re talking about educated professionals that are interested in solutions that will help add value either to themselves or their organizations.
These are the types who wouldn’t even buy a toaster for 5 bucks, even if you threw in shipping for free.
So, why would they click on the first business solution that they comes their way?
Here’s why selling on the first LinkedIn message doesn’t work:
· It lacks personalization — we’re not talking about using Linked Helper 2 and auto-populating the first name fields here, we mean actually getting a message that resonates with the person that you’re prospecting.
It’s already extremely difficult to add personalization if you send generic marketing copy, and it becomes even harder if you want that to appeal to a specific crowd.
· You might sell them the wrong solution — I’ve seen this happen so many times. In the hurry to make a sale, you end up selling them the wrong product in your portfolio, your goal is solving problems.
· Nobody likes a hard sell — you can’t expect people to transact with if you’re actively pushing products.
· It taints your reputation — LinkedIn was built for users to build professional connections with each other. If a prospect finds that you’re abusing the platform for a quick sale, you risk wrecking your other selling chances in the future.
· They don’t know you — chances are you won’t readily buy products from a friend, so what makes you so certain that a prospect will be ready to pounce on the offer that you have.
· It’s a waste of opportunity — you could have used that message to make a connection with a prospect and get to know them better, then build off of that relationship.
If you had only one shot to impress a potential prospect, you wouldn’t try to sell to them in the first try; you would build a relationship, nurture your connection, and gradually push them through your funnel until they make a purchase decision.
The LinkedIn Selling Process
LinkedIn isn’t magic.
At the end of the day, it’s just another medium that you can use to communicate with your prospects.
The key to B2B — or even B2C — sales on the platform is how you plan out your communication.
If you’re first starting out, put away your automation tool for a second, and let’s strategize. We can break down lead generation on the platform into two strategies: active, and passive-active
Active Lead Generation
LinkedIn active lead generation is straightforward, but it requires a lot of ground work for you to get right.
It’s almost similar to account-based marketing (ABM) which is one of the most widely used and accepted forms of strategy in B2B sales processes.
1. Defining Your Ideal Customer and Consumers
There’s a fine line between your consumer and customer, for B2B most of the companies you’re prospecting have different DMUs (decision-making units) compared to the final user of your product.
Before you even get to prospecting you have to figure out who your consumers are and who’s buying your products for them. There are also times where they could be the same person, but often for B2B you’re selling to an organization.
Make sure that you come to terms with their needs, budget, expectations, pain points, alternatives, and any other particular industry quirks that they have.
Here’s an excerpt from my book on defining customer profiles.
2. Proper Prospecting
Prospecting isn’t simply inputting the industry that they’re in, you need to be more thorough.
The more you can qualify your ideal target audience for your outreach, the easier it is to craft messages that resonate with them. Using tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator and smart ways of qualifying, like based on technology-stacks being used, are great ways to look for the right people.
Once you start building out your list, it’s time to look for similarities between groups of people on that list. Things like geography, income, similar needs, all come into play here.
Once you’re done segmenting, you can do more research on the segments that you have. This gives you a better idea of what makes these people tick and what their pain points are.
Additionally, you can do research on individuals at this point, but if you’re running a campaign en masse, you can do this during a further point in the pipeline.
5. Crafting a Message
If you’re followed the first four steps, then crafting a personalized message for each one should be easy. You can employ Linked Helper 2 at this point to automate the process.
6. Optional: Pre-retargeting
If you managed to grab the emails of your prospects, you can attempt to pre-suade and target them passively. You can do this by running custom audiences with ads that are designed to raise brand awareness.
This way, they already know who you are before you’ve even reached out to them, making the process of introducing yourself easier.
Hit “send” on that message.
8. Retargeting and nurturing
If you find that they haven’t responded to that message yet, you can hit them up with ads or look for other mediums, such as Facebook or email, to send them a feeler message.
Nurturing is an essential part of our sales process and it differs from one organization to the next. What you need to keep in mind is that, nurturing involves subtly and slowly moving your prospect through your pipeline.
If they reply to you, then that’s great, but if they don’t a timely personalized message can make all the difference in their progression through the pipeline.
Whether they buy from you or not, you still have to close the account. This means marking if they’re open to a sale in the future, keeping them in your cold leads list, or removing them altogether.
Tracking your metrics is a critical component of your strategy, this way you can find out what worked and learn how to build better messages and better outreach the next time around.
Passive-Active Lead Generation
This method is a little more complex, but it’s the method that a lot of our clients have used to much success.
Selling for us starts with your profile and optimizing every inch of it. Now, I’ve dedicated entire books discussing this which you can check out here.
The thing to remember here is that your profile acts as a landing page to your product because people who are interested will most likely check out who you are and what you represent.
It’s basic marketing psychology.
If people are interested they want to know more, and on LinkedIn that means using your profile page not only as a repository of information for your organization, but also as a product page.
Here are a couple of things that you need to take account of:
· Your profile picture
· Header image
Again, were not just talking about putting in a photo of your best smile in your profile we’re talking about intentional optimizations such as building CTAs and LinkedIn SEO into whatever materials you have in your profile.
Activity is basically posting the right things in the right places.
At BAMF, I don’t encourage posting for the sake of activity but creating lead magnets that are integrated into posts that you have. For example, you could giveaways data or templates, but how are you going to integrate an interested party into your mailing list.
Furthermore, how are you going to strategically reach that prospect that you’re looking at?
This deals with making sure that people are talking about your post and getting people to talk to you on your post. Now we have an entire guide on calculating and creating virality on LinkedIn, but there are plenty of other things that you can do create engagement via LinkedIn posts.
4. The Actual Outreach
Our outreach selling process is a little different, we do a combination of the active outreach stated above and we also take advantage of the people who have interacted with our posts and have fallen into our passive funnels and lead magnets.
This makes it easier for you to get in touch with people and collaborate with them, and it’s easier to talk with someone you’ve already interacted with.
The aim is to start a conversation with a prospect and softly guide them through the sales pipeline by nurturing them and retargeting them.
The Different Ways to Approach a First Message
· Truly connect with a prospect — why not start the message off with a simple “hello” and an introduction? This might not apply to fully automated interactions, but there are plenty of ways that you can go about this. You can ask them how they’re doing or compliment them for their post.
This technique works because it’s more organic than a generic templated message that marketers often send off without thinking twice.
· Ask them a question — pay attention to their industry or their posts; you can always start a message off with a question that is relevant to what they’ve been talking about in their previous posts, or their experience in the industry. If you find multiple people in the same industry, you can send an automated message.
· Invite them to join you — this is highly applicable to people who have been interacting with your pages or have engaged with the posts that you have, grab their names and send them invites to your Facebook group, LinkedIn company page, Facebook Messenger group chat and the like.
People that have been enjoying your voice won’t mind following you on other sites. It also allows that site to sell to them instead of you doing it actively. This is great if you want a softer approach to selling.
· Point out something in their organization — remember free SEO audits? This follows the same tract, and they work because you automatically give them something of value before asking them for anything in return.
You can always ask to get on a meeting with them after a couple of messages have been successfully exchanged between the both of you.
These are just a few points that you can use to start off a first message, but please, don’t try to pitch them in the beginning.
Sales is more than just a plain exchange of goods.
It’s all about value.
You have to be able to add value to the lives of the people that you are selling to even before they buy from the product.
Remember, when they eventually buy from you, they add value to your company and that in turn drives growth for you to go further with what you do.
Also, aim to build real connections.