Since its boom in popularity in the late 2000s, LinkedIn has been used by millions of professionals for over a decade to connect with colleagues, network with potential employers, and recruit new candidates.
LinkedIn now has over 90 million senior-level influencers and 63 million decision-makers using the platform, according to 99firms. With all of these people in one place, it's a feeding ground for sales reps.
But there's a problem with how sales pitches are being made: Accept connection, receive generic sales pitch... Does that sound familiar?
As a CMO, I am more than happy to connect with anyone who sends me a request, but that does not necessarily mean I'm going to buy from you. That's not how decision-makers buy; they rely on tactful marketing and trusted colleagues' recommendations. So immediately sending me a message with your pitch is the fastest way for me to avoid your company, because it demonstrates that your connection was disingenuous and self-serving from the outset.
Still, there is no denying that LinkedIn is a fantastic sales tool. But in a world where everyone else is sending disingenuous InMails, it's imperative for salespeople to craft unique, value-filled messages that cut through the clutter and make a genuine impression.
Here are four recommendations for rising above ingenuine selling and being more personal on LinkedIn.
1. Teach me something
I asked one salesperson to record himself while discussing my company's website. The result was 30 minutes long. He shared a lot of great tips and areas for improvement that I hadn't thought of on my own. Meeting accepted.
Another salesperson shared specific conversion metrics with me, based on his best guess of the size of our company and comparisons to other B2B tech companies. Meeting accepted.
I'm sure your company has awesome press hits and big customers, but I care about mine. Tell me specifically how you will grow our bookings. If you can do that—meeting accepted.
2. Demonstrate your value by sharing content
Of the 610 million members on LinkedIn, only 3 million LinkedIn users share content every week, according to 99firms. That's shocking.
Everyone, regardless of role or function, should share industry content relevant to their prospects. Doing so boosts their credibility on the platform. Put unpersonalized information about how well your company is doing into your feed, not people's inboxes. Although it's latent, you can "put it out there" more naturally via posting instead of immediately souring a connection with a spammy message.
Consistently sharing content on your own profile that reflects the interests and needs of your prospects will better position you when it does come time to send an InMail, and it's a reason for me to accept the connection when you reach out.
3. Make yourself visible
If you're serious about being genuine, follow your prospect companies on LinkedIn. I encourage salespeople to comment or interact with a prospect company's output as long as they have something insightful to say. By adding to the conversation your prospect companies are having on LinkedIn, you'll make yourself visible and you will lay the foundation for a more genuine interaction later.
When salespeople make that small amount of extra effort and can reference a specific post as common ground, I'm far more likely to accept their connection request if I haven't already—or even engage in a conversation.
4. Personalize your communication
Building on the previous point, salespeople need to make sure their communication is about me and my company, not them. I can't tell you how many InMails I receive that are clearly just a copy and paste from the same script salespeople barrage everyone with.
Instead, look at what I've shared about my industry or company. Look at where I went to school, my interests, my likes. It's all out there and ripe for salespeople to reference when reaching out.
If, however, I don't use LinkedIn frequently enough for you to mine my page for common ground, then an InMail probably isn't the best place for your cold outreach in the first place.
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