The right (and wrong) ways to generate B2B leads on LinkedIn
High quality marketing is all you need to ensure a constant stream of high quality leads who will descend – without a single pause – through your sales funnel, right?
Not quite. Any B2B company knows that marketing only drives a fraction of sales leads. The rest, you have to go out and get on your own, often on professional social networking sites like LinkedIn.
It’s not enough, however, to spam prospects’ InMail boxes and plaster the site when you need a boost.
There’s a clear right – and a wrong – way to use LinkedIn to generate B2B leads.
Let’s take a look at both.
A basic overview of B2B lead generation on LinkedIn
For those of you not using LinkedIn to generate leads or who are simply floundering in your efforts, here’s an overview of what the whole process should look like.
First you establish exactly what it is you want your prospects to do. Clearly defined goals are a critical part of the lead gen process, but they’re commonly overlooked. A staggering 68 per cent of B2B organisations have not identified their sales funnel.
With that goal in mind, come up with your list of ideal prospects. Who are they? What do they do? Where do they work? Decide who is most worth your limited time and effort.
Now it’s time to make your moves. Initiate contact with your list of target prospects by connecting and sending a private message. Our top tip at this phase: resist the temptation to copy and paste. A stock message will be glaringly obvious and easy to ignore. Instead, personalise your note around details you pick up in the prospect’s profile.
Once you’re on your prospects’ radars, it’s time to take things off LinkedIn. That’s because social media is for connecting and prospecting – not sales.
LinkedIn is like a newsletter signup or a cold call conversation – you use it to get prospects’ permission to continue through your sales funnel. This might seem like an unnecessary, arduous step in an already tedious process, but it’s much more effective than targeting unqualified prospects.
LinkedIn – a lead generation platform you can’t afford to ignore
So, if LinkedIn isn’t good for making sales, is it worth being on at all? When done right, the answer is a resounding yes.
Here are just a few reasons you can’t afford to ignore LinkedIn:
- It’s by far the most popular platform – Over 80 per cent of B2B leads sourced from social media are from LinkedIn. Nearly half (46 per cent) of social media traffic to B2B sites comes from LinkedIn.
- Online sales are the way forward – Nearly three in four (74 per cent) B2B buyers conduct more than half of their purchase research online.
- Phone and in-person prospecting is the way of the past – A mere 12 per cent of buyers want to meet in person and just 16 per cent want to discuss sales options on the phone.
Ready to get started? Not so fast. If you don’t know the right way to use LinkedIn, you’ll end up chasing your tail – as well as a bunch of dead, unqualified leads. Here are a few pro tips.
An expert guide to generating high quality B2B leads on LinkedIn
Find the decision makers…
… and ignore everyone else!
When coming up with that prized list of target prospects, use LinkedIn filters to hone your search.
Select keywords, past and current companies, interest and education. This level of specificity might seem like overkill, but without it you’ll waste time.
Help buyers find you
You certainly don’t want to connect with and contact everyone, and there are other, less time consuming things you can do to put yourself in front of your prospects.
After all, connecting doesn’t always require reaching out. Sometimes, you’ll come across the right prospects by expanding your network in more subtle ways.
There are heaps of ways to boost your presence on LinkedIn. Some are as simple as sharing, liking and commenting on content. You can also go a long way by joining industry groups, responding to events and getting involved in the conversation.
Ensure your profile is in top form as well. Otherwise there’s little point in leading prospects to your page. What you do – and how well you do it – should be immediately clear to anyone who clicks on your profile.
Create and publish content
What do all optimised LinkedIn profiles have in common? They’re packed with content. A staggering 94 per cent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content.
Social media is ‘always-on’ so your prospecting efforts must be as well. Creating and sharing content on LinkedIn is a great way for B2B companies to grab prospects’ attention without explicitly reaching out.
Strong, engaging content is a quick and effective way to show off your expertise, immediately shortening your sales cycle. Further, you’ll get maximum ROI on content posted on LinkedIn because your audience is already a group of interested professionals, not users who stumbled across you in search.
Publish content directly on LinkedIn, share content from your company blog, or repurpose existing content for a second boost in engagement.
According to LinkedIn’s business blog, the average decision-maker reads 10 pieces of content before making a purchase decision. So make sure your LinkedIn profile is packed with enough high-value content to adequately convey your brand’s message.
— Neil Patel (@neilpatel) October 3, 2017
Mistakes you’re probably already making on LinkedIn
In case we haven’t made this point clear just yet, we’ll say it again: it’s not enough to simply ‘do’ lead generation on LinkedIn. Your B2B company needs a strategy that includes the best practices we’ve described above, and avoids the most common mistakes.
Here are some things to steer clear of when prospecting on LinkedIn:
- Constantly chasing new leads
One of the biggest lead generation time wasters is constantly starting again. After making that initial contact, 44 per cent of sales people will never reach out again.
Potential customers may miss your message or simply need that extra nudge, but you’ll never know unless you follow up with a subsequent message. If you’ve already gotten a lead’s email address, you can even automate your follow-up using email automation.
That said, you also don’t want to harvest dead leads. Fortunately, wasting effort on dead leads can largely be avoided by creating a super targeted prospect list and only engaging with decision makers.
- Connecting with everyone
We get it – everyone wants to be popular on social media. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should connect with hundreds of people you don’t know on LinkedIn.
You might say, ‘Wait a minute – you were just talking about the importance of constantly expanding your network’.
While connecting with professionals you don’t necessarily know personally can help generate leads, it can also backfire if you don’t practice tact.
To avoid spamming, ask yourself how likely a user is to convert before sending an invitation to connect. Do they meet your list of target prospects? Are they in need of your products and services?
As a general rule, B2B marketers should treat LinkedIn like real life. Don’t connect with those who you wouldn’t introduce yourself to at a conference or industry event and make sure to follow up connections with a personalised message. If you think the request might seem a bit odd to the recipient, you should also clearly explain why you thought they were worth e-meeting in the first place.
- Only giving when you want to receive
Here’s the unfortunate truth about how many B2B organisations approach lead generation on LinkedIn:
Step 1. Decide you need leads,
Step 2. Connect with piles of prospects,
Step 3. Send out heaps of InMail messages,
Step 4. Write a few recommendations,
Step 5. Endorse every skill in sight,
Step 6. Comment on everything your prospects publish,
Step 7. Stop because you’ve either reached your goals or moved on to something else.
What’s wrong with this model?
While it’s true that there’s no point nurturing dead leads or those who have converted, you risk looking tacky and ingenuine if you only ‘give’ on LinkedIn when you’re looking for something in return.
Instead, revisit that always-on mentality we mentioned earlier. Use LinkedIn every day, showing steady activity on the platform and engaging with those you genuinely care about connecting with – not just active prospects.