Using LinkedIn for sales lead generation doesn’t mean monitoring vanity metrics such as how many likes or shares your articles and updates receive. It isn’t even about how many people are in your LinkedIn group. Effective sales lead generation requires you to be able to measure and track how your LinkedIn profile successfully converts conversations into sales.
In order to do that you need to look at your LinkedIn efforts as a sales funnel. Once you understand that you can take targeted prospects from awareness to action with key strategies, you will be able to develop a more effective lead generation campaign.
Adapting the Sales Funnel for Social
The first step you need to take when adapting your LinkedIn B2B lead generation strategy is to understand that the sales funnel has changed. People can use the Internet and social media platforms to learn about different companies and the services they offer. Now it becomes a matter of attracting your prospects in the early stages of the funnel. This allows you to guide them on their journey and help them understand your service is the best answer to their problem.
According to HootSuite, this is an example of a new, social media sales funnel:
Using LinkedIn for Sales Lead Generation at Each Stage of the Funnel
There are different tactics you can use to leverage your LinkedIn and your profile at each stage of the sales funnel.
There are many different ways to attract your ideal prospect on LinkedIn. Many of those methods are organic, but you can add paid methods to help magnify your B2B lead generation efforts.
First and foremost is your LinkedIn profile itself. The objective for your LinkedIn profile should be making sure your target prospects can find you, understand what you do, and know that your services address their specific pain points.
But your efforts shouldn’t stop there. Creating LinkedIn articles, participating in LinkedIn groups and creating LinkedIn ads are additional methods you should use to help decision makers find you on LinkedIn.
Many B2B companies start with awareness but then stop there. Or they attract prospects to their LinkedIn profile and try to push people right into the Acquisition phase of the funnel. Every stage of the funnel is important and you need to give decision makers the opportunity to compare you to your competitors.
LinkedIn allows you to attach documents and add links to online content, including videos. You can add media to both the Summary and Experience sections of your profile. Use this feature to include case studies, white papers, explainer videos, or links to guest posts. Examine all of the content your company has and select the ones that you think best represent your expertise, background on your company, and the benefits of the services you offer.
Testimonials are a great way for you to leverage the trust you have earned by supplying excellent customer service. You have the ability to receive testimonials from your clients who are also LinkedIn connections. These testimonials are featured on your profile, under the Skills & Endorsements section.
What if you want your social proof to be more visible or you have a customer that isn’t on LinkedIn? Video testimonials can be added to the media section of your profile to include compelling evidence of your company’s expertise. You can also add a quote from a satisfied customer as a part of the Summary section to encourage prospects to connect and engage with you.
Mastering the art of nurturing prospects through direct messages also helps in the evaluation phase. During this phase of the funnel, decision makers are evaluating you as much as they are appraising your business. Becoming a valuable part of their network helps prospects see your value and expertise. After that becoming a client seems like a natural next step.
A B2B lead generation strategy has a longer sales cycle than many consumer products. This means you can’t just add a “buy now” button on a LinkedIn ad and expect high conversion rates. LinkedIn B2B lead generation requires a more long-term nurturing strategy.
When a decision maker has come to the acquisition phase of the social media sales funnel they are ready to have an initial conversation with a salesperson.
You want your prospects to understand they can schedule a call with you at any time. Every person is in different stages of the sales funnel when they become aware of you on LinkedIn. Make sure your contact information is in the Summary section of your profile, the content you link to, and the signature line of the direct messages you send. This way people can reach out to you when they are ready.
And while you want to nurture connections before you try to convert them to a lead, your direct messaging strategy does need to include a schedule a call type call to action message. Otherwise, you are not leveraging the full benefit of your LinkedIn lead generation strategy.
When you are creating the “let’s schedule a call” message, give them a good reason why now is the optimum time in your relationship to have a phone call. Be transparent with your offering and make sure you clearly state the benefit to them of having a call.
If they don’t accept the offer right away, don’t panic. As long as your message isn’t a high pressured sales tactic, you can always ask them again at a later part of your relationship.
If they do accept your invitation, understand that the individual won’t be ready to “sign on the dotted line” right away. You will have to have several conversations with your prospect before they will be ready to buy.
Once your prospect becomes a customer your relationship on LinkedIn doesn’t come to a close. Using LinkedIn for sales lead generation includes nurturing your connections after the sale and encouraging them to recommend you to others.
Engagement and Advocacy
LinkedIn is a B2B networking platform so it is designed to help you engage with and advocate people in your network. Customers who are LinkedIn first degree connections can introduce you and recommend you to others in their network. They can become micro-influencers and their social proof will help you with brand recognition and develop a stronger social media sales funnel.
But before advocacy comes engagement. Engaging with your customers on LinkedIn helps to improve their brand experience, gives them a way to reach out to you with customer service issues, and gives you a way to inform them of additional services.
Creating a direct messaging strategy is one way you can engage with existing customers on LinkedIn. A more intimate way would be to create a customer-only LinkedIn Group where you encourage members to ask questions, learn how to get the most from your service, and talk to you about future offerings they would like to see.
You should make sure that you are offering excellent customer service and actively engaging with customers on LinkedIn for several months before asking them to become a brand advocate. This will give them the time they need to properly evaluate your company so that they will feel more comfortable introducing you to others in their network.
When you embrace the concept of a social media sale funnel, you understand the true potential of your LinkedIn network. Using LinkedIn for sales lead generation then becomes an effective part of your overall customer acquisition process.
[cta]If you want to learn more about why LinkedIn is the place for B2B lead generation, click here to watch our video Why You Need A B2B LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategy and download our free infographic.[/cta]