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When I started PropelGrowth in 2007, I was able to leverage a network and reputation I had built in financial services over the past 10 years with my two prior startups. I also published thought leadership content in industry publications every few months. My network and that content brought in enough sales that I didn’t need to make an outbound sales call for 9 years.
But in 2018, I pivoted my business to a new industry where I wasn’t known. That meant that I had to build a new network from scratch. I had no budget for travel, events or advertising. And I REALLY don’t like cold calling (truthfully, cold calling isn’t all that effective anyway).
But if I don’t sell, my family won’t eat. So I had to find a way to attract clients and make sales in this new target industry.
LinkedIn Lead Generation Services
I had been hearing about lead generation techniques using LinkedIn, so I started looking into this approach. I talked to about a dozen different lead generation service providers and read a LOT of content that explained the approaches these “done-for-you” services used. After a few months researching the best practices, I started trying the methods myself.
Don’t Burn Leads in a Limited Target Market
I first tried to use the techniques taught by these services. I quickly learned that those services assume that they’re targeting a limitless market. Most of them brag about a 20-30% connection acceptance rate, and they get very low conversion rates from connection to sales meeting. So they make up for it in volume, sending 1000’s of connection requests per week.
But my target market is pretty limited. There are only 500 or so companies to target. So I couldn’t afford to burn through thousands of contacts in order to get a few to respond. I quickly realized that the “best practices” taught by the experts were not working.
Starting Conversations on LinkedIn
After some trial and error, I landed on a technique to send VERY personalized connection requests to my target audience. When I did that, I found that most of the people (76% to be precise) accepted my connection requests.
Then, once they accepted, I’d try to get a conversation started on LinkedIn. I didn’t try to sell them. I didn’t spam them with content. I tried to actually communicate human-to-human, using what I could learn from their profile, their company’s website, and any news I found about their company to start a conversation.
This worked pretty well. The majority (71%) of the people who connected responded to my messages on LinkedIn. If I could get a conversation going, I’d ask if they’d like to get acquainted by Zoom. Many said yes, and I was able to book 125 calls with my best prospects over the course of 6 months. Honestly, I don’t know of any other way that I could have booked that many sales calls in that short a time in a target market where my company and I are unknown. Those calls resulted in several opportunities and enough deals to meet my sales goals that year.
LinkedIn Lead Conversion Ratios
At the end of those first 6 months, I found that I had added 500 new connections on LinkedIn of people in my target market (76% conversion from invitation to acceptance). Of those, 355 actually engaged in a conversation with me over LinkedIn’s messenger app (71% replied to at least one message from me). I was able to book initial calls to get acquainted with 125 of them (35% booked meeting ratio). About 27 of those calls turned into sales opportunities. I spent an average of 5-8 hours per week in prospecting efforts.
I’ve never seen conversion ratios like that in any inbound or outbound sales or marketing campaign. And I did not invest in any advertising or other promotional efforts. All I invested was my time. That means that anyone can do what I did. You don’t need a big marketing budget, you don’t even need a bunch of marketing content. You just need to be persistent.
What Generated the Qualified Leads
Since then, I’ve reviewed my efforts to figure out what worked and what didn’t to further refine my process. I’ve analyzed the content of invitations and chat messages, evaluated different approaches, and thought about the strategy behind each. There’s no magic in what I’ve been doing. The real secret is finding a way to connect at a personal and professional level and offer insight that the other person will value.
Now, I’m ready to teach others what I’ve learned.
Master Class – Prospecting Using LinkedIn
I’ve launched a program with live virtual master classes paired with an online course to help you learn what I did and put it to work to meet your own sales goals. What you’ll learn here is not theory. It’s a tested strategy that I personally continue to use every week to generate new business.
Our live master class begins on January 13. After that first session, you can access our library and find recorded materials and templates so you can review what we covered in the live course.
Each week, I’ll add more modules and downloads here to support your prospecting efforts. You can comment in each module to share your thoughts with me and the other participants in the course.
The master class is only $300 per person. It includes 4 live sessions (delivered weekly), the online course, several templates and worksheets to help you implement your own strategy, a calculator to help you determine the level of effort needed to hit your goals, and a scorecard to help you track your progress.
If you’re ready to fill your pipeline with well-qualified leads, join the class. I’m excited to help you supercharge your prospecting using LinkedIn!
If you’d like to learn more before signing up, visit this page to get all the details.
This article originally appeared at the PropelGrowth Learning Website.
Supercharge Your Account Prospecting Using LinkedIn
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