How to Find and Nurture B2B Leads Leveraging LinkedIn and Other Tools
Probably you see people talking how they use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get followers and eventually to get leads. But what about LinkedIn?
Well, if you are looking to get B2B leads, then you should pay special attention to LinkedIn. They just surpassed 500 million members this month. LinkedIn is, in fact, the world’s largest professional network.
Here are some cool facts:
- LinkedIn has members in 200 countries and territories.
- They add 2 new members per second
- Users post more than 50,000 articles per week on their publishing platform.
- The core users are 30 to 49 years old and well educated (50% are colleges graduates and 22% have some college education).
- 44% earn more than $75,000/year.
- 1 out of 3 professionals on the planet is on LinkedIn.
- There are more than 1 billion endorsements on the LinkedIn
- The average CEO has 930 connections
- 80% of all B2B social media come from LinkedIn
In short, the decision makers are on LinkedIn.
Prospecting is hard. Thus, being a member of LinkedIn is not enough. You need a complete strategy and additional tools to use it effectively and efficiently.
Prospecting and Lead Generation Process
A very simplified view of the workflow looks like:
Now, the key part of this process is the engage part. You cannot connect with people and start selling right away. If you do so, most of your potential leads will ignore you or block you altogether.
Think about how you react when someone that you don’t know try to sell you something just as you are introduced.
Exactly. You hate when that happens!
Thus, you have to use a tactic called Social Giving to build relationships.
OK. I hear you. You may think, what can I give to my audience that will allow me to create a positive relationship that will increase or create trust from them?
The easiest gift is the gift of education. Teach them something useful for their jobs or for their interests. According to Robert CialdinI, author of the best seller book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, the power of giving lays on what he (and other social psychologists) calls the law of reciprocity.
The law of reciprocity basically says that when someone does something nice for you, you will have a deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice in return. As a matter of fact, you may even reciprocate with a gesture far more generous than their original good deed.
A more granular view of the Prospecting and Lead Generation Process looks like:
Before I describe the process in more detail, you may want to estimate how many leads you need to engage daily or monthly. The Lead Roi Calculator can help you with that.
You need to plug in your numbers in the yellow fields.
In the example on the image above, you can see that if you reach out to 30 people per day and 12% agree to speak or meet with you, and 30% of those showing interest in receiving a proposal and 25% of them become clients, then you will have 67 new annual clients in your pipeline. Assuming that the average annual revenue per client is $10,000, you will get $675,000 in annual revenue.
Of course, these numbers depend on the specific conditions of your business. Play with the calculator to make estimates that will make sense for your case.
As you can see in the process, before making connections at scale you need to position yourself adequately to be able:
- To attract the right kind of contacts (people looking to connect with other people that satisfy their search criteria, such as position, location, skills, etc), and
- To make a good impression when you invite others to connect with you.
Positioning for success
There are four main elements to make the position effective:
Have clarity on your business mission statement and goals. And no, your goals should not be to make money. That should be a bi-product when you succeed with your mission.
So, you need to answer:
What is your Why?
How do you do what you do?
What do you do?
This is known as the Golden Circle. Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action gave a TED presentation about the topic.
Optimize your profile
This is very important because you want your profile to stand out. As I said before, you want to be found in more searches and you want to attract more of your ideal customer.
I will not go into the details on how to optimize your profile in this document. There is plenty of information about this subject on the Internet.
Understand your audience
In order to build connections with your target audience, you first need to identify and understand who is/are your ideal customer(s).
In order to identify your ideal customer(s), you can create Buyer Persona(s).
I will not go too deep here into how to develop your buyer personas. There are complete books on the topic. However, a well defined buyer persona includes:
- Name of fictional character, with her job title, where she works and her role there
- Demographics information
- Goals and challenges
Before you create a persona, conduct research to make sure your personas accurately represent your users. After you gather an adequate amount of data, organize the information into persona groups that represent your ideal customers. Remember to focus on the major needs of the most important user groups—you can’t be everything to everyone, nor should you try to be!
While the name and image can be fictional, demographic details are factual and based on user research. The demographic profile includes four main sections: personal background, professional background, user environment, and psychographics.
Understanding your customer journey
Your customer journey is a scenario of your ideal customer interacting with your product or service. It should cover most, if not all, of the touch points between your product and the customer.
Once you have done your homework in regards to positioning yourself for success, you should be ready to search for your target audience on LinkedIn.
Most people make connections in LinkedIn the same way they do on Facebook. They connect with their friends and acquaintances. There is nothing wrong with that, but you should be more focused.
Since you want to use LinkedIn for lead generation, or at least I believe you do so because you have read up to here, you want to connect mainly with your ideal customers. There are two reasons for that:
- Because they are the ones you want to cultivate to get business deals in the (near) future
- In order to understand them better. What they read, what they comment on, etc.
There is another group of people you want to connect with, though. That is people that do the same as you do. For example, if you are a marketer, you want to connect with other marketers, to see what they are publishing and how it resonates with their audiences. Are they effective? Can you replicate their tactics on your own markets? You get the idea.
Linkedin provides a powerful search engine, in which you can run detailed Boolean searches. With a basic LinkedIn account you have some limitations about the granularity of the searches, but you can still do a lot even with a free account.
The image above shows a search for CMO, 2nd-degree connections in Greater New York City Area.
With the free account I can select current or past companies, industries, and schools they attended. With a premium account you can include functions, skills and years of experience among other things.
In this case (in the image), I got 164 results for the selected criteria. The results for the same queries will be different for each person because it is based on each individual network. My second-degree connections are different to yours and to anyone else’s.
The more firstdegree connections (people directly connected with you), the more second and third-degree connections you will have. The LinkedIn search allows users to explore connections up to the third degree.
The following image shows the possible size of the network of a person with 500 direct connections (first degree). Assuming everyone has around 500 connections, but since they share with their network a lot of the same connections, this person can have a graph that looks like this:
Hence, your network size will increase exponentially the more first degree connections you have.
That’s why you want to have a large direct network. It will allow you to identify more potential ideal customers to connect with.
Once you identify people you want to connect, you should try to send a personalized invite:
Instead of the generic one that looks like:
This will increase the chance that the people you invite would like to connect with you.
You can do this manually, one by one, or do it at scale with the help of some web apps.
You can also look for potential connections on the LinkedIn publishing platform. When you see articles that get the attention of your target audience. You can see who likes, comments and/or share those articles and see their profiles and send an invite.
The same can be done on LinkedIn Groups. In this case, you know even more, because they are participating in group related to a topic, niche, industry, profession, etc that you have identified for your ideal persona(s)
Now that you have established some (or a lot) of targeted connections, it is time to engage with them.
Many people try to engage sending a welcome script through the LinkedIn InMail messaging system. I personally don’t like that except for sending a simple message to someone I know well. First, I can’t track who has read my messages and whether or not they have clicked on my links. Until recently it was not possible to include links in the messages.
So, what’s the alternative?
This is easy, you email them. You can download the emails of your contacts in a CSV (Comma Separated Values) file that you can open with a spreadsheet, such as Excel or Google Spreadsheet.
You want to send personalized email sequences to your leads from your personal company’s Gmail, Inbox or Outlook email account. If you use an e-mail marketing platform, such as MailChimp, Aweber, etc. it will be considered spam.
Notice that I said email sequences. This is because you want to start giving before you try to sell.
You want to create some drip campaigns in which you can control the flow of the sequences. For instance, if a person doesn’t open the email, send a second one 3 days later.
Or, if the person clicks on a certain link, send a new email with a specific message related to that link. OK. you get the idea.
Most people stop with one email, but studies have shown that people only take action after receiving several messages. Thus, structure your sequences to have between 5-9 emails. Make sure you provide a way for people to opt out of your sequences as well.
Probably you are wondering… How can I send these drip campaigns with personalized emails at scale? (I guess you don’t want to do them one by one, do you?).
Well, there are many (software) tools available to do that, with different capabilities and price ranges.
But wait, there is more (this sounds like an infomercial, doesn’t it?). But, the truth is you can have a more aggressive plan as well by following this accelerated process:
The difference here is that in some cases you want to engage with people you are not connected with. In these cases you find leads in LinkedIn, but you don’t connect with them. Instead, you add them to a spreadsheet and you find their email addresses elsewhere. By doing so, you can increase your prospecting by a lot.
Again, there are tools to automate the required tasks. There are tools to add leads to a list automatically and other tools to get the emails of those people. And since you need to make sure those emails will not bounce, you need other tools to verify the emails.
There is much more to cover to really go in depth into the full strategy, including how to use the LinkedIn Publishing platform as well as the LinkedIn Groups to increase engagement, and how to expand to other social networks to have multiple touch points with your target audience. However, for the time being, this will provide a lot of things you can do before you need to go more in depth on these other topics.
Have you done something similar? Please comment.
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