Remember what it was like to be the newbie on the first day of a new job and you didn’t know anyone in your office?
You have two choices: try to make friends with your colleagues, or sit by yourself at lunchtime every day.
Sales is a lot like that. You don’t know hardly anyone you try to sell to, and you can either make the effort to get to know them, or you can completely miss your sales targets. So, what’s it going to be?
When you’re starting in sales, most people know hardly anything about communicating with inbound leads. Let alone prospecting for outbound ones. But it doesn’t take long before they overcome their fears and realise that being a successful salesperson depends on initiating conversations. Just like making friends in a new office. If you want to generate interest from outbound leads, you need to put yourself out there.
Fortunately, you don’t just have to rely on cold calling anymore. One of the many tools used in social selling is LinkedIn. It’s particularly powerful because it allows you to connect one-on-one with potential customers in a way that you couldn’t before.
In the new data-driven age and the wake of GDPR, not everyone lists their information publicly on their company websites anymore. It can be hard to find contact information for everyone you want to reach out to.
This makes LinkedIn a great option when you’re running into a wall, trying to find a prospects email address or phone number. LinkedIn also features messaging and shows when your connections are online. Allowing you to have more personalised real-time conversations with your leads. It also allows for voice messaging and video messaging for those you’re connected to. Further increasing your ability to personalise your messages.
Before we start…
It’s always good to keep in mind that if you want to directly message people on LinkedIn that you’re not already connected with, you will need to be a LinkedIn premium user or purchase in Mail credits. Any LinkedIn member can message with a connexion request for free. Still, those messages are limited to 300 characters, and the recipient can decline your connection request without even seeing it. (Some people don’t like to be messaged by strangers; who knew!?)
So going on the basis you’re set up with LinkedIn premium and ready to go. Here are our top tips on nailing that first outreach:
Find that common ground.
The most significant advantage of using a LinkedIn message for outreach is the amount of information available relevant to your prospects job role, work history and interests. When you find a prospect on LinkedIn and want to connect with them, the first thing you should do is dig into their profile a little and find some common ground with the person you’re messaging.
If your prospect is active on LinkedIn, read what they are sharing and what they are interested in. Take note of their current position, how long have they been with their company and their past professional experience. You can also check which LinkedIn groups they belong to and find common areas between themselves and them. Are you working in the same area? Did you attend the same University, maybe? Do you know anything unique about their industry? Or it could be as simple as what do you find interesting in their profile?
The worst thing you can do is use the same message for every single prospect. Instead, use what you learned from LinkedIn to tailor your message to each individual. So that they know you paid attention to their profile and to who they are. By finding commonality between yourself and your prospect, you can ensure that when you’re crafting your first message that it’s targeted, personal and relevant.
Got any mutuals?
Another thing you can do is see if you have any connections in common with your prospect. It’s a lot easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger if there’s somebody else who can vouch for you. You can check if you have mutual friends or former coworkers in common and try asking one of your mutual connections to introduce you.
Another more traditional approach is to mention your mutual connection in your first message. You can start by writing something like ‘Hi [Prospect Name], I notice you and I are both connected to [Name of Mutual Connection], and thought I would reach out to connect to you as well.’ However, this approach has downfalls in that you don’t know the relationship that these people have and whether it is actually of value.
Keep it short & sweet.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking of LinkedIn messages as emails, not instant messaging. This means not sending paragraphs of text when a few concise sentences will do the job just fine.
Your goal in a cold LinkedIn message is to get the recipient to respond; that’s it. So keep your message short and to the point so that your recipient actually reads it.
It can be challenging to keep your LinkedIn messages brief while still conveying warmth. Don’t be blunt; instead, focus on how you discovered their profile, what you have in common or what about their experience interests you.
Don’t go for the sell.
The biggest deadly sin in cold outreach is asking for a sale in your first message. If you feel the need to beg a stranger to buy your product, it sends a message that you aren’t successfully attracting customers and that your product probably isn’t worthwhile.
So when you introduce yourself to your prospects on LinkedIn, keep reminding yourself that your goal isn’t to push your service. It’s to make a connection and start a conversation.
Give them a reason to reply.
If you think about it receiving a message from a stranger, you’re not going to be inclined to respond unless they give you a good reason, right? While your first message should focus on establishing a relationship instead of selling, you want to include an ask to keep the conversation flowing.
Include a question in your message that will give them a reason to respond. This could be about their experience, their interests, a mutual connection or even their current role. People love to be helpful. So asking a prospect for insight or expertise on a specific topic will make them more inclined to respond.
You’re probably not going to be reaching out one lead at a time on LinkedIn. So you need to keep track of those you reach out to and follow up on them if they don’t reply straight away.
We’ve created another excellent guide for tips on following up, which you can find the link for here.
Or if email marketing is what you’re after, we wrote about that last week too!
Now that we’ve covered the basics for connecting with your prospects using LinkedIn, it’s now up to you to put them into practise and begin forming meaningful value-adding relationships.