LinkedIn is ideal for business consultants, coaches, advisors, speakers or other B2B professionals to connect with their ideal customers
LinkedIn remains the #1 social network for professionals looking to connect and generate B2B leads and yet, there are many companies along with the sales and marketing professionals that continue to ignore the power of LinkedIn for lead generation.
As LinkedIn has previously reported, “information is power, and as access to information increases, the buyer’s ability to control the sales process also increases.
Gone are the days when, upon discovering a need, buyers pick up the phone and reach out to a handful of companies to get info, advice, pricing, etc. And gone, too, are the days when sales reps can pick up the phone, reach decision makers and help them uncover a need they did not previously know existed.”
As a business owner selling professional services, or a sales manager for a company selling professional services, you are most likely using LinkedIn for reputation management, prospecting, building awareness and professional authority. This article will help you focus on how to ‘Increase Your Skills & lead generation results.’
How service professionals use LinkedIn for lead generation in a strategic way.
We have used the term B2B (or Business to Business) in sales for as long as I can remember to define a market niche. With that said, business has changed in terms of how we prospect. Buyers are now two-thirds of the way through the buying process before contacting a sales person. That means they most often let their fingers do the walking online.
Today, we need a shift our thinking from B2B to P2P – People to People!
Develop a client-centric LinkedIn Profile
Sorry to keep beating this LinkedIn profile topic to death, but I work with professionals every week updating their profiles because they simply don’t know how to attract their ideal clients. A well-written LinkedIn profile makes the difference in gaining a connection or being ignored!
A client-centric profile is written so it speaks to your ideal client. Tips for creating that profile include:
• Make the shift from resume to resource
• Create a headline that includes a typical keyword of your title plus a few words that describe how you help or a few words that make you interesting.
• Summary should include details of: your ideal client – their problem – your solution.
• Experience sections should include: What you do, who you serve, your key skills or expertise, results you produce and key accomplishments.
• Be seen as a thought leader and subject matter expert resulting in positioning you as the vendor of choice through your accomplishments, posts and articles.
Bottom line, you have about 6-8 seconds to make a great first impression, don’t leave this step to chance.
Know How to Search for the Ideal Connections
You should be able to easily define who your ideal clients and referral partners are. Connecting strategically rather than randomly ensures you are using your time and LinkedIn as a tool effectively to produce opportunities.
• Know who the decision-makers are.
• Map out your buyers by title, keywords and geographic region.
• Develop a search string using Boolean terms to make finding them on LinkedIn simple.
• Identify who your influencers know – ask for introductions. I suggest you provide them a prewritten brief note they can use to make an introduction easy for them.
• Make sure you’re connected with those that already know, like and trust you, to maximize your reach.
At the same time as you connect with those you know and have worked with, I encourage you to get curious about developing a more open network of people outside your comfort zone versus a closed network where you are connected by the same people.
I write about how to develop a strategic network which is a step by step guide, free to download
7 Ways to Transform your LinkedIn Network from a Data Base to Valuable Business Connections.(Click the title to download)
Obtain the Right Recommendations
These days we are conditioned to not make a purchase without reading the reviews first. We do this with books and products on Amazon to hotel rooms on Trivago to restaurant reviews on Yelp and Google. So, it should come as no surprise that prospects will be reading your LinkedIn recommendations.
The goal of your LinkedIn recommendation is to influence prospects to engage with you – right?
Before you ask for your next recommendation, ask these questions to frame your request:
– What does my ideal buyer care about?
– What are their challenges?
– What would success look like to them?
– What results have I delivered that will solve another ideal client’s challenge?
I suggest you obtain new recommendations every year because you will stand out and be more relevant than your competition. Think of it this way, will someone want to do business with the person whose last recommendation was 5 years ago, or the person who has a recommendation from a few months ago?
Build Engagement Strategy
When using LinkedIn for lead generation along with building top of mind awareness, it is imperative that you engage with those in your network. In other words, don’t start building a data base of people you never intend to communicate with.
Building an engagement strategy should be part of your overall marketing strategy – LinkedIn is a tool that will simply help you to build off these steps:
• Getting found
• Build trust and influence
• Educate and Inform your target audience
• Nurture Relationships
• Convert leads to sales
Engagement is the process of building relationships and shouldn’t end at the invitation. You want to send additional messages to continue the conversation and add value to your new connections.
Engagement also includes commenting on posts and articles your new connections are posting. It requires you to take some time everyday to scan the newsfeed and look at your targeted connections profiles to see where there is an opportunity for you to get involved.
Other tactics to engage can include;
– Endorse your key connections’ profiles for 2-3 of their skills
– Make an unsolicited introduction to someone else that would add value to them
– Pay attention to causes they care about and may volunteer for and ask questions
– If you share a prospect’s alma mater, engage with some commonalities
Develop & Share Relevant Content
Content marketing is what builds trust, educates and influences your defined target market. Your goal is to drive interaction and sales opportunities. There are many forms of content you can create and share on LinkedIn including:
• Writing articles on the publishing platform inside LinkedIn
• Sharing your company blog posts
• Video in the newsfeed
• Visuals – custom images, original photos, charts, infographics
Remember your goal with content is to educate your target market on solutions that solve their challenges. To be successful, the quality of your content must be top-notch, high-value while not coming across as promotional. Hiring out content writers, graphic artists could be worth the investment considering the results you are looking for.
Resources are plentiful online, but here are a few:
“LinkedIn has reported that B2B buyers are five times more likely to engage with a sales professional who provides content with new insights about their business or industry”, so being helpful and sharing valued information IS the high-value that will set you apart.
Pay attention to what your competitors are doing, it could be you might easily dominate your niche simply by stepping up a solid content strategy.
If you are a business consultant, coach, advisor, speaker or other B2B professional and looking for strategies to connect with your ideal customer you probably already know LinkedIn is the tool to use, and you probably have been using LinkedIn for years maybe even with some success.
As modern-day buyers have changed, we need to update and change too. My colleague Dan Janal who is a well-known book writing coach, developmental editor and ghostwriter, came to me recently wanting to know how to better use his time and how to stand out on LinkedIn these days with so much noise online. He has been on LinkedIn for about 10 years and had thousands of connections that weren’t really working for him. With the tips outlined in this article along with some specific updates to his profile, Dan’s profile views have increased, he is now attracting and engaging with his target audience resulting in inquiries and appointments.