LinkedIn has more than half a billion members worldwide, with professionals signing up at the rate of two new accounts every second. Members are fairly evenly spread, with 138+ million in the USA, 158+ million in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and 118+ million in Asia Pacific. So why isn’t more said about LinkedIn and its usefulness as a lead generation tool?
With Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook stealing the headlines, it’s fair to say your social media consciousness may already be saturated with tactics to gain more followers, grow your profile and use your social presence to drive traffic to your website. LinkedIn can be used differently though. As a professional network, it’s incredibly valuable as a lead generation tool.
According to LinkedIn’s 2014 Insight Survey, a massive 77% of B2B buyers use social networks like LinkedIn to find information about the products and services they need. Its 2016 State of Sales survey takes this a step further – it recognizes that salespeople are using a wider range of technology to close deals and build revenue and relationships. Chief among them, LinkedIn’s research shows that more than 70 percent of sales professionals use social selling tools including LinkedIn and most say relationship building tools have the biggest impact on revenue. Ninety percent of top salespeople use social selling tools, compared with 71 percent of overall sales professionals.
The bottom line? Even if you’re posting updates to your LinkedIn company or personal page regularly, you may not be using it to its full potential when it comes to tapping into the network to find your next customer. Try these four ways to use LinkedIn to generate sales leads…
Start by making sure your LinkedIn profile is top notch
If you’re going to be connecting with prospects and building relationships on LinkedIn to drive sales, it makes sense that the people you connect with will check out your LinkedIn profile before they take the discussion any further and certainly before the relationship moves on to a place where you can classify them as a warm or hot lead.
Professionals on LinkedIn do their due diligence (see the earlier stat about 77% of B2B buyers using LinkedIn to find info on products and services they’re interested in). This makes consolidating your own profile a critical first step if your lead generation efforts are to be successful further down the line.
- Have a professional headshot and cover image
- Craft a succinct, snappy bio. Use your elevator pitch if you have one to ensure your profile is compelling, engaging and entices the prospect to connect.
- 18% of LinkedIn users log in daily and 31% weekly according to Pew Internet Research figures so update your profile and company pages regularly with targeted, appropriate posts, news articles, relevant curated content, imagery and links. You want to give the impression of being up to date with your industry so investing time regularly to showcase that is an important part of standing out and instilling trust for future sales leads.
- Share reviews and case studies from current clients regularly on your profile and company pages – this is an important piece of content for your mid-funnel activity when nurturing B2B leads as it helps those considering your brand to evaluate your company. Having this instantly available via your LinkedIn profile completes that part of the puzzle as you nurture relationships on the network.
Join relevant groups
LinkedIn groups are a lead generation goldmine. A group is a community of likeminded LinkedIn professionals, who connect in a dedicated space to share news, information and opinion. There are thousands of groups on LinkedIn covering a whole range of subjects. Think of groups as pre-sorted pools of prospects, where potential leads are categorised by interest.
You can find groups under Work > Groups from your LinkedIn profile. Use the Discover tab to find groups aligned with your interests and expertise. Using groups to generate leads has to be done with finesse. Just as you wouldn’t walk up to a group already chatting at a conference and speak over everyone or dominate the conversation, you need to insert yourself into the discussion with finesse. Take time to make a meaningful contribution to your groups, sharing insight and knowledge to add value to the conversation. Make recommendations where appropriate, not just for your own services but for those that you truly find useful where an opinion has been sought.
Groups are excellent for virtual networking and the more active you are, the more you’ll find your connections and relationships growing. As with any form of prospecting, it is time consuming so be wary of joining too many groups in the first flush of enthusiasm. Focus on a manageable number that you can realistically contribute to and maintain on a regular basis.
Connect with current clients
New leads are the lifeblood of any business but this often means overlooking an important source of revenue – repeat business. Make a point of connecting with all of your past and present clients on LinkedIn. This serves two purposes in your lead generation strategy; firstly it gives you access to multiple extended networks, generating second and third connections for every person your own connection is linked to. Secondly, it means you can include your previous and current clients in your lead generation efforts.
You are also more likely to garner recommendations (which show on your profile and play an important part in the mid-level conversion process) and referrals when you are connected with those already using your service. Those clients can act as advocates for your brand on LinkedIn, indirectly contributing to your lead generation efforts.
User smarter messaging
LinkedIn rolled out a new, smarter messaging experience as part of its network overall in April. This tool is one of the best ways to connect with new opportunities filtered through your network. This chat feature uses insights to help start conversations, meaning that current connections can introduce you to their own connections through chat where contextually appropriate.
LinkedIn says this is one of the very best ways to leverage the power of your connections: “One of the best ways to get connected to a new opportunity is through your network… Relevant suggestions within messaging on the Jobs and Company pages help you build your network and unlock new opportunities.”
As your LinkedIn network grows, there are lots of opportunities to use the platform to build meaningful relationships with new and potential customers. The important thing is to be consistent and put the same amount of time into lead gen on LinkedIn as you would via other methods. Remember to be reciprocal too and don’t use your presence purely for sales purposes. Recommend others, introduce connections to your wider network where relevant and be conscious of adding value and sharing knowledge.
What other ways do you use LinkedIn to generate leads for your business? Let us know in the comments.