It's no secret that LinkedIn has become one of the primary tools for companies looking to expand into new markets, boost brand awareness, and attract partners and clients.
However, many companies are hesitant to use it due to several challenges:
The channel is heavily spammed in certain markets.
Getting a response can be difficult.
Building customer trust can be a challenge.
The dealing cycle can be lengthy.
So, how can you effectively leverage this tool to achieve a connection rate of 40% or higher and secure 20 appointments per month with potential clients?
When launching any sales channel, it is crucial to ask yourself the question, "What do I sell, and what hypothesis do I want to check?" This means you need to focus on your positioning and create assumptions you make about your customers and their behavior, based on the value you bring to them.
In terms of positioning, this refers to the external signals that will identify you and the reason people will remember you as an expert in your field. This can include your business's specialization, the added value you provide, and the problems you solve for your customers.
For example, if you are a B2B software company that specializes in project management, your hypothesis might be that your ideal customer is a project manager at a mid-sized company who is struggling to keep track of multiple projects and deadlines. Your added value is that your software simplifies the process and saves time.
With exact hypotheses in mind, you can start creating content that speaks directly to your customer segments. You can create blog posts, videos, and social media posts that address the pain points of your clients and offer solutions. You can also create personalized messages that speak directly to their needs. By focusing on a specific customer segment and addressing their needs, you can increase your connection rate and secure more appointments with potential clients.
But before creating content, you need to define your customer segment and create criteria for your Ideal Customer Profile and Buyer Persona.
For B2B companies, the client will always be another business. Determine which company is your target customer, which business will value your proposition, and who is more likely to buy from you. Besides standard criteria for searching companies (industry, number of employees, revenue, region) it is very important to pay attention to triggers -what do these companies have in common, and what can you use as a basis for future contact?
Now that the competition has increased tremendously and many companies get dozens of the same messages a day, it's very important to do this preliminary work, work through these triggers, and then use them as leads to build a dialogue with the customer.
Let's say you're an AI startup offering on-shelf product recognition, and your target audience consists of product manufacturers and retail auditors. In this scenario, potential triggers could include attending industry conferences where you can meet representatives from these companies. Another trigger can be the product representation in the exact store chain.
Once you've found the necessary companies, work out the Buyer Persona portrait - who is the person in the company who will buy from you? What position do they hold? What are their responsibilities, problems, and resources?
The answers to these questions will help you form a communication strategy with these clients. It's better to combine positions into different groups and prescribe different strategies for each group. What hooks the HR director may not solve the funder's problem.
LinkedIn is about personal relationships and trust. If your product allows, you can go directly to people rather than through a company. This may be suitable for audiences like bloggers, investors, business angels, or serial entrepreneurs.
Now that we have our hypotheses worked out and a portrait of our target audience, we begin collecting our outreach base. While I won't go into detail about the technical aspects and tools of gathering the base, I'll share my experience and the difficulties I've encountered.
Last year I was responsible for developing an IT startup for the US market. When I faced a task to collect a list of companies I wanted to save time and delegated the base gathering process to a freelancer on Upwork. Some people, as I know, just buy ready-made bases. But that doesn't work. Your connection rate is unlikely to be higher than 10%, and probably even less. Here are some problems I see:
Outsourcers do not dive deep into your product and the specifics of your business
Requests from incoming companies often overlap and therefore your base sold not only to you, which means the risk that these leads receive dozens of similar messages is quite high
Often the base is not validated properly
So it's important to constantly check the data and give feedback. The second option is to collect the data within your team. Usually, the Data Researcher is in charge of collecting the database in the team. He should be given detailed ICPs to search for leads. If he's on your staff, over time, he'll begin to understand who fits and who doesn't, but strict criteria should be set at the start.
When collecting contacts for LinkedIn, pay attention to the following points that can increase your connection rate:
The number of contacts the lead has. It's desirable to have at least 500. If less, the person probably goes online rarely. The completeness of the profile. If there's no avatar and almost all blocks are empty with only 1-2 jobs, the lead probably doesn't go online. Dates in the job section. If a client joined 10-20 years ago and hasn't updated their page with fresh recommendations or content, you may not get a response. Social activity. Leads who like, comment, or post is 90% likely to accept your request if it's relevant.
What to do with leads that are out of these criteria? If there's no point in writing to them on LinkedIn, don't waste connections. With LinkedIn's limits, it's better to use them on the active audience. A non-active audience is better for an email newsletter or to find through Facebook. Cold calls still work in some industries.
Are we writing messages now?
At this point, you can begin forming a chain of messages using the problem-solution-benefit framework, which is based on three questions:
What is the client's problem? How can my product/service solve it? How will the customer benefit from using my solution?
The whole communication chain should be based on this framework. Here is how to implement it into the message chain:
The first message is an invite. The invite should be short and creates commonalities with the client. Avoid using standard phrases like "Hello, let's connect." Instead, mention common pains or problems, or common realities like being in the same community or attending the same conference. In some markets, sending a blank invite may have a higher conversion rate. Test both hypotheses and see which works better.
The second message should be sent immediately after the invitation. Introduce yourself briefly and ask the client questions about their problem. Use problem questions from the "problem" block, which we described in the problem-solution-benefit framework. For example: "Hi, I'm a founder at company N, helping to solve problem Z in industry Y, and you're in charge of the X department, right? How are you solving A problem right now? / Are you using N solution for X problem?")
The third message - follow up, 3-5 days later. Here it is better not to ask anything, just send an article or link to something useful in their industry.
The fourth message should be a follow-up in 5-7 days. Use a CTA like offering to call, conducting a demo or consultation, or suggesting a product.
The fifth message should be a follow-up after 7-10 days. If the client hasn't responded, offer to switch to a convenient messenger like WhatsApp.
Always test different hypotheses and chains, and measure the conversion rate after each message. Analyze your audience, proposal, and message text if you have a low conversion rate after a week. Make changes to the chain accordingly. With constant analysis and changes, you can achieve high conversions within a month.
What more can you do to increase conversions?
In the previous section, I outlined the scheme for using LinkedIn as a sales channel. However, there are other important factors that can affect your connection rate:
Your LinkedIn profile. Before you start any mailing list, it's crucial to optimize your profile. While each region has its own trends, some general rules apply:
A professional photo that clearly shows your face, preferably with a smile
A complete profile (headline, about, jobs, references, languages, skills, portfolio). It's crucial to ensure that your description aligns with the industry you're targeting. If your target audience is in retail, for example, make sure to highlight that you offer solutions for retail.
Featured. It's essential to showcase relevant information in your featured section: marketing materials, links to your articles and mentions in blogs. This way, visitors can immediately understand who you are and what you offer.
Content Before starting your newsletter, share a few posts about your product and one personal post (e.g., how you grew your business, photos from events, challenges). This helps humanize your profile and build trust with potential connections.
Job title It's preferable to have a senior role since people tend to prefer communicating with decision-makers. A salesperson's page may generate fewer leads than a page with a higher job title.
Warming up your audience before sending an invite. You can also warm up your audience by running targeted ads on Facebook, visiting their profile, liking and commenting on their posts, liking their Facebook page, subscribing to their Instagram/Twitter accounts, confirming their skills, and subscribing to their blog. By doing so, they will remember your logo and be more likely to accept your invitation.
Availability of information about your company on related resources. Sometimes, before deciding to communicate with you, a person may look for additional information about your company, such as your website, Facebook page, or employee profiles. Ensure that relevant information is available everywhere and that employee profiles are active with regular posts.
By using these tools and tips, you can achieve a high connection rate of 60% or more. However, the key is to continue building the right communication with your leads so that they become your customers.
Founder of B2B lead generation agency UpSales, business development manager at MVP Lab