I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
As LinkedIn gives sales professionals direct access to targeted decision makers and influencers, it can be and should be one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal. However, many sales professionals complain they are not getting an ROI from their LinkedIn efforts. They are making a number of connections, but generating few leads and sales.
There are many reasons why this happens, including:
Ineffective LinkedIn Action #1: Email Scraping
Inside one of my LinkedIn groups that I belong to, the CEO of a high-tech industry business development firm mentioned he’s using software that scrolls through LinkedIn and extracts the contact information of people who represent his ideal target market. He’s then transporting the information with one click of the mouse to his Salesforce CRM where his sales team can then send personal emails introducing his services. Sounds good in theory right?
However, he is “cold emailing” out of the blue.
Instead of taking the time to build and maintain relationships with key decision makers by providing value where they want to opt-in for more information and enter his CRM, the CEO is forcing prospects into their funnel. These prospects he’s entering into his database are not even marketing qualified as they have not shown any interest or need.
Ineffective LinkedIn Action #2 – Trying to Sell Too Soon
Once a connection is made on LinkedIn – or once a prospect joins a LinkedIn community, many sales executives tries messaging them with a quick description of their products and/or solutions. They then suggest a phone call to discuss how their company can help their new connection. Most of the time, these messages are ignored. In fact, one sales executive I recently spoke to mentioned that he may get two responses for every 100 to 150 emails he sends.
Prospects on LinkedIn don’t want to be sold to overtly. In fact a recent, LinkedIn report for the technology industry shows that 75 percent of IT buyers would be willing to connect with a vendor – but they are hesitant because they don’t want to be inundated with marketing and sales pitches. They want to be educated. They want relevant content that will help them with their challenges so they can make smarter business decisions. Focus first on establishing a relationship and demonstrating your thought leadership and relevance.
Ineffective LinkedIn Action #3: Using LinkedIn Groups As a Place to Distribute Your Newsfeed
Many sales executives are taking advantage of LinkedIn groups. They’re using for prospecting – but also a place to get wide exposure with targeted audiences as you can easily share content. But, they’re sharing content in an ineffective manner.
Before working with my LinkedIn marketing firm, a CEO of a software firm for the recruiting industry had his sales team post content at least three to four times a week – sometimes more. But they were generating very little traffic and leads from LinkedIn.
The sales team was not creating relevant, thought provoking discussions that had context and standalone value. They were simply sharing the first couple lines of the blog post and a link – so there was no engagement. Their links were getting lost in the deluge of wall-to-wall newsfeed-like posts, press releases and promotional content.
By creating real conversations and earning the right to get their prospect’s attention and blog visit by sharing valuable insights before linking to his blog, we increased traffic by 3620% in six weeks.
Ineffective LinkedIn Action #4 - Becoming Too Much of a Resource
Many social media experts tell you to share other people’s content 80 percent of the time and your content 20 percent. On LinkedIn, I think it should be reversed. Most sales executives are so focused on curating and sharing other people’s content that they are becoming known as a resource. But, prospects invest in thought leaders. You’re able to put content directly in front of key decision makers, yet you are sharing industry news and other people’s content. Our clients are sharing their case studies and thought leadership information and getting 11.5 times more engagement
Ineffective LinkedIn Action #5 – Focusing Too Much on Gated Content
As I have already mentioned, your prospects on LinkedIn want a value-added relationship with potential vendors, but they don’t want to jump through hoops and break down gates to get the information that can help them with their business decision. They want you to act like the rest of their network – their peers and established experts – by having a point of view and freely share valuable content.
As a marketer myself, I know the importance of landing pages and getting prospects to sign up for white papers, webinars and other offerings. But you need to prove to decision makers that they’ll want to enter the next stage of the relationship.
Now, that you know what’s not working on LinkedIn – fix your actions. Then, let me know if you start generating more leads and sales using LinkedIn.
Kristina Jaramillo is founder of GetLinkedInHelp.com. She helps sales executives within technology companies, professional service firms and SMBs generate more leads and sales using LinkedIn. Learn how you can influence more B2B buying decisions with her free LinkedIn trainings at http://www.FreeLinkedInMarketingTraining.com