There was once a time when winning new corporate clients required an entire team of people. Much of their time was spent doing nothing more than simply trying to get a prospect’s attention and, often, their efforts ended in abject failure.
Sadly, this doesn’t seem to have changed much.
Sadder still, it doesn’t have to be this way – at all.
Since 2002, businesspeople have had an unprecedented tool at their fingertips: LinkedIn. This business-oriented social network currently has more than 500 million users and while that doesn’t mean you can simply click on a name and begin a promising business relationship, it doesn’t have to be that hard, either.
If you’re one of the many people who have struggled with or maybe even given up on LinkedIn, this eBook is for you. I’m going to show you how to turn this powerful social media platform into your ultimate tool for landing meetings with the clients you want.
Positioning Your LinkedIn Profile for Success
The biggest problem I see as a LinkedIn consultant is that my clients haven’t put much thought into their profiles. Usually, they’ve just pasted their old resume into this space.
This is a huge mistake. On LinkedIn, all a potential client can judge you by is your profile. Does yours win interest? Does it make someone excited to hear from you? Does it get them thinking about what you could do for their business?
Creating Your Impact Statement
The first thing I tell my clients to do is to come up with an impact statement. Simply put, an impact statement succinctly summarizes the impact you have had on a past client’s business. When a potential client sees your profile, you want that impact statement to have them thinking, “Wow. This is definitely someone who could help me.”
Fortunately, as important as they are, impact statements are also incredibly easy to create:
- What – What is a major accomplishment that would interest your clients?
- How – How did you accomplish this feat?
- Why – Why was this accomplishment of value to your client?
For example, you might say:
“Created a lead generation funnel using Facebook Ads to target younger clients that earned $10,000 in revenue.”
Then you want to reduce the entire statement to just seven words. This will ensure it gets read. So you would change the above to:
“Created $10,000 in revenue through Facebook Ads.”
You can always elaborate on this accomplishment after you’ve earned someone’s attention.
Always begin your impact statement with a strong action verb (e.g. created, planned, established, grew, etc.) Make sure you quantify your accomplishments, as well. Saying you increased profits is nice, but saying you “improved profits by 5%” is far more powerful.
Defining Your Unique Selling Proposition
Your unique selling proposition (USP) is what sets you apart from your competitors. You can think of this as a far more specific version of your actual job title.
So perhaps your business card says, “Sales Consultant.”
That may be accurate, but it’s not nearly accurate enough for a USP. There are millions of sales consultants in this country. Why should a potential client decide to take time out of their busy day to sit down and talk with you? Why do you deserve their time more than the other millions of people who share your title?
You’ve probably heard some version of the old sales adage, “If you’re trying to sell to everyone, you won’t sell to anyone.”
That advice may be cliché, but it’s 100% true and is completely relevant to your LinkedIn profile’s USP.
So to whom are you trying to sell? Where is your expertise? Where have you had the greatest impacts?
Let’s say your current title is “Sales Consultant.”
Whom do you consult?
Okay. What kind of IT companies? Small businesses? Startups? Fortune 500s?
“SME IT companies.”
Any in particular? What kinds of services do these clients specialize in?
“SME IT companies that specialize in cloud hosting.”
We could continue this exercise, but you probably see the point. Your USP needs to be as specific as possible when it comes to what you do. This will greatly reduce your pool of competitors. After all, the more you zero in on a certain skill set, the smaller the list of people who share it.
Furthermore, hyper-specific USPs do a better job of speaking to the unique qualities of a prospective client. Sure, you begin to limit the list of people who will fall into your niche, but the result will be that you position yourself as extremely qualified to those whom you are qualified to help.
You want potential clients saying, “This person is exactly what my company needs. They understand what we do.”
Consider Your Current “Resume”
As I mentioned earlier, most people just use their old resume to create a LinkedIn profile. This isn’t necessarily a terrible idea. It’s just that it’s only a good idea for people who are currently looking to land a job.
You’re not currently looking to land a job.
You’re currently looking to land new clients.
The oldest advice about resumes is that you need to tailor yours to each employer you’re sending it to.
The advice still holds when it comes to attracting new clients. Your LinkedIn profile should now feature a resume that speaks to them. Developing an impact statement and USP are two very big steps in the right direction.
Now, go through the rest of your profile and ask yourself, “Does it sound like I’m someone who needs a job or someone who can make a big difference for a client?”
Three of the easiest ways to do this are:
- Hard Numbers – As I mentioned with your impact statement, you want to quantify what you can do. Don’t be vague. Give the client hard numbers or it might look like your statements are really just wishful thinking.
- Testimonials – LinkedIn lets people endorse you for certain skills, which is great. However, testimonials are a lot more powerful. They are immediately relatable and can provide important details that will help convince potential clients of your talents.
- Case Studies – These are basically longer testimonials, but that also makes them a lot more compelling. You can show potential clients the “Before and After” of what other companies have experienced by working with you.
If you don’t have all of these things right now, that’s fine. Tailor your resume and include an impact statement and USP. But keep these in mind in the future and look for opportunities to add them.
How to Connect with People on LinkedIn (The Right Way)
Connecting with people on LinkedIn couldn’t be easier.
All you need to do is search for the name of the person you want to add to your network and hit “Connect.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t how you should connect with people on LinkedIn. It’s what most people do and it’s because of this – and lackluster profiles – that so many give up on LinkedIn and claim it isn’t good for finding prospects.
Connect with the Right People
For the purposes of finding new corporate clients, you don’t want to use the “spray-and-pray” method. This is when people basically hit the “connect” button on just about anyone LinkedIn puts in front of them.
Sure, this can greatly increase the size of your network, but you won’t be connecting with qualified individuals who stand a good chance of actually becoming clients.
Instead, look for people who match your “ideal client” profile. These are the people who should see themselves in your USP.
You can do this one of two ways:
- Search a Company – You probably already have a good idea of some of the companies you’d love to work with. Search for the company on LinkedIn. The organization will most likely have its own page. When you click on it, you’ll see any connections you have with current employees, which may prove helpful. However, you can also go through an entire list of their staff. If there is a large number, you’ll probably want to filter the list by “Keywords”, which will give you the option to search for specific job titles.
- Search by Job Title – You can also search all of LinkedIn by job title. Perhaps you want to speak to purchasing managers because you have software that will make their lives a lot easier. In that case, all you have to do is type the position into the search bar and then select, “People with this title” from the dropdown menu. Again, you have numerous options for filtering this list (e.g. Locations, Current Companies, etc.)
Leverage Your Current Connections
Another important step to take when attempting to connect with others on LinkedIn is to make the most of the connections you already have.
Whenever you see someone’s profile, LinkedIn will tell you if they’re a 1st, 2nd, or 3rd+ connection. The first designation means you’re already connected, so I won’t focus on that here.
If you’re a 2nd connection with someone, that means you have an acquaintance in common. See if you can speak to that person about making an introduction on your behalf. That will go a long way toward getting the other person to accept your connection. Ideally, the connection you share will be someone who can put in a good word about your abilities, too.
If the person is a 3rd+ connection, it’s still worth trying to add them to your network, but your odds are going to suffer a bit. Again, the kind of profile I described above will make a huge difference, but some people outright reject any invite if they don’t already know the person.
Create Personalized Invites
When you send someone an invite on LinkedIn, they receive a default message. If you don’t know it already, it’s:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
That doesn’t exactly leave one breathless to accept, does it?
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it screams, “I didn’t put any effort whatsoever into earning your connection.”
Is that what you want potential corporate clients to think?
Of course not! Just like with your profile, you want to tailor these invitations so they make the absolute best first impression possible on your prospects.
Otherwise, it’s not worth sending the invite. It might actually be counterproductive to do so because of how it will look to the recipient.
This is one of those, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right” tasks.
To personalize your message, you’ll need to be on the person’s profile and on your computer – not your smartphone or tablet. If you try to connect with them through these devices or the “Your Network” page, you’ll automatically send out that default message.
Next, when possible, mention a mutual acquaintance. You can simply say something like, “Ben thought we should connect because…” Obviously, you’ll want to talk to Ben about this first. As long as you do, this is a great introduction assuming that your recipient doesn’t want to let down Ben.
If you don’t have an acquaintance in common, I recommend referencing your shared industry or some other commonality and hint at why the connection would be of value to them. Someone who can’t see the point in accepting your invitation – much less someone who sees it as a potential burden – is not going to accept it.
While your new profile should help, let them know in your message that you “help salespeople use social media to earn more leads” or something along those lines.
What I don’t recommend you do is come right out with your sales pitch. I’m going to go into much more depth about how you develop these prospects through LinkedIn in just a moment. For now, the important thing – all that really matters – is getting the person to accept your invitation.
Only after they do that can you really begin nurturing them as a prospective client.
Treat Connecting with Others as a Serious Priority
I recommend to my clients that they send out at least 30 invites every single day.
Does that seem like a lot of work?
Well, it depends on how you look at it. When you follow the advice in this section, sending out 30 invites can easily take an hour or more – easily. At the end of a month, that’s half a workweek.
If that feels overwhelming, though, remind yourself why you’re reading this in the first place: because the way you’re currently trying to secure new business isn’t producing impressive results. The methods I’m recommending in this eBook are proven to work. They’re the ones I use with my clients who have turned LinkedIn into a nearly passive form of lead generation.
Also, keep in mind that this isn’t going to be permanent. You’re just doing this until you hit critical mass, at which point, you’ll have enough clients coming your way that you can significantly reduce your efforts.
If things ever begin to slow down, you can always begin sending out connections again.
How to Follow Up with Potential Clients
If you follow the instructions above, you should find that you’re cementing new connections on LinkedIn every single day. As I just touched on, because of all the hard work you’ve put into these methods, these connections represent real opportunities. You’re not just building your LinkedIn account around your coworkers and former classmates.
Usually, I find that the above steps create a 20% acceptance rate. Obviously, that’s huge. If you’re sending out 30 invites a day, you’re going to have 30 new connections every week.
That’s 120 prospects a month.
The next step is to begin nurturing these connections into actual clients.
Once again, your goal here is to make it clear that you can provide value to these people. If you earn the connection and then don’t have a single touch point with the person before trying to close a sale, you’re not looking at much better prospects than if you were going in cold.
That defeats the entire point of what we’re doing here.
Instead, send them a relevant article or video that you found online, one that you think could truly help them. Of course, you can send the same article or video to every one of your new connections for which it’s relevant.
Just be sure the message you include with it is personalized to some degree. Sending a message that has clearly been used on countless other people is a surefire way to ruin your chances of winning someone’s business down the road.
Send this initial message five days after your connection is received. Then, do the same thing after another five days and once again after five more. You want to stay top-of-mind with this person and continue to build on the idea that you are clearly someone who is an asset.
It might help to create an Excel sheet with your new connections, so you can keep track of whom you’ve sent these messages to, who has responded, and at what point in your campaign everyone is at. You can also keep a separate tab for all of the URLs you’re sending to people.
Schedule a Call
While LinkedIn is the best platform for businesspeople who want to connect with one another, you will eventually need to take things offline and have an actual phone call with your prospects.
So, after 15 days and 3 messages, you should now be confident asking your prospect to join you on a phone call.
You may find that this opportunity presents itself much sooner, too. If the videos or articles you send really connect with someone, a discussion might ensue that leads to a call. That’s great. You don’t need to keep sending messages before getting on the phone.
However, I usually find that it takes three messages before the person is ready for a phone call. Even then, your close rate is probably going to be around 20%.
Let’s quickly review the math again:
If you reach out to 30 people every business day for a month, that will be 600 invitations. If 20% accept your invites, you’ll have 120 new connections. If 20% of those new connections agree to phone calls, you’ll have 24 calls.
Best of all, those calls should begin getting scheduled within roughly 15 days.
Could your company benefit from an additional 24 prospect calls every month?
Preparing for the Phone Call
I don’t have enough time in this eBook to walk you through the best practices of a sales call, even one where the lead has been significantly warmed up beforehand.
Your company probably already has their own tried-and-true procedures, as well.
What I will tell you, though, is that you should, once again, quantify your company’s credentials early on in the call. Tell them what you’ve done for businesses just like theirs using hard numbers.
Also, before the call, write down these two very important things:
- Anything Discussed on LinkedIn – Maybe all you did was send the person three articles and they agreed to a call. If so, make sure you know which ones you sent them in case it’s referenced during your discussion. If you had a conversation with the person through the messaging feature, review it and take down some notes. Nothing will kill the call faster than if the prospect mentions something you both discussed and you don’t remember it.
- Your Sales Trigger – This is something that will position your company as the provider of the solution your prospect needs. Check out their website, your prospect’s LinkedIn page, and any news items that feature the company. Your trigger may be something like, “I read your blog post from last week and saw that you are expanding your business into XYZ…” followed by details about how your company can help with this.
Once you have communicated the potential benefits your prospect can expect by working with your company, set up that all-important in-person meeting. In my experience, 10% will agree to this. If we use those same numbers as before, that’s 2.4 in-person meetings a month. That would be almost 29 extra in-person meetings every single year.
No time to build your network? You can’t do it every day, 5-days a week?
We can get it done for you! Let’s chat for 15min.