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Selling on LinkedIn: A Coveted Year Experience

The first thing I remember about the quarantine was the outburst of interest in “selling through LinkedIN”. The service, not very popular in peacetime, began to fly away like hot cakes. The reason is obvious: everyone rushed to look for new remote lead generation and sales channels.

During the quarantine period, we made about five cases for our own business (management consulting and consulting in the field of strategic marketing and communications), one case for a joint project with partners (HR branding), two cases for full cycle advertising agencies, one – for recruiting and several cases for complex industrial and IT products with their introduction to foreign markets.

And also (what an irony☺), even before the quarantine, we managed to make a project to promote corporate events in Singapore. Despite the fact that for us, promotion on LinkedIn is the systematization and optimization of sales for companies in the b2b segment.

What do all these cases have in common:

  • A large line of products and services with decision makers (DM), who are often completely different people in the customer company or a group of people.
  • Complex products, with varying degrees of clarity and relevance for the target audience.
  • Products with different transaction cycles and different logic of the decision-making process.

Let’s just say that these are products that are not sold easily and not quickly, no matter what channels the sales go through.

Before we move on to the analysis of approaches and cases, let me tell you the main idea: in the phrase “selling through LinkedIn”, the key is the first word. 90% of what affects the result is directly related to sales. All aspects related purely to LinkedIn (audience search, formation of a contact zone, content marketing and direct direct sales using any tool – from letters to a personal account manually or using various automation devices to paid advertising) have an order of magnitude less impact. / p>

So where do you start?

  • Detailed breakdown of target audience segments.

Each segment should be described in parameters: industry, type of company, position, basic need, motivation to buy.

Specifically in our case, we use segmentation for ourselves on 20+ (!) client clusters, based only on the positions of decision makers.

Separately, we single out the cluster of “big business tops”. These people are exclusive, and you need the same exclusive approach to them.

  • The product / target audience matrix: which customer segment do we offer?

Beat yourself mercilessly in the hands if you want to do “everything for everyone.” After one of the clients had we replaced the tactic “We take all the top of the required industry and send them our presentation of all services” to the tactics based on the matrix “Clear service / several services – clear and narrow target audience”, they work from the first attempt in a new way received a conversion 4 times higher than it was. And immediately high-quality leads, and not unsubscribing “thanks, we’ll see.”

Anyone who does not believe in completely cold contacts and sales, through LinkedIn or not through it, is doing the right thing 🙂 LinkedIn shows this very clearly: the majority of the inhabitants of Ukraine and any post-Soviet country prefers to start communicating with those of whom they have heard or who knows☺

As an exception, I have encountered the following points:

  • Specific technological products aimed at a very narrow audience and solving its actual problem.

    Last year we had a case with the developer of a complex software product for a certain segment of construction, which we brought to the European market. Conversion of cold contacts was excellent (15-20%).

  • Very simple and understandable products for the audience that are often bought (design services, for example). But be prepared for good conversions and poor sales. Our people in such a situation expect you to offer prices lower than those of their current contractors or the market.

In our own cases (promoting our business), the conversion is greatly influenced by the warmth of the audience. From 40 to 70% of responses to a Welcomin Letter or a letter with a commercial offer come at the expense of people who already know us, have seen a performance somewhere, read an article, etc.

The source of information from which people know about us is most often not LinkedIn itself, but other platforms – media, Facebook. In general, situations when you write, as it seems to you, to a stranger who has never appeared anywhere and in any way in your information field, and he replies, “And I regularly read you on Facebook,” it is with us that they are very frequent. I would like, of course, to ask: “Why don’t you give at least a like?”, But this is a topic for another conversation.

And of course, such a response from the respondent helps a lot to start an easy and casual dialogue. To recap: personal brand is everything ☺ Content is king ☺

How does the product affect LinkedIn sales?

What product to “enter” with sales, if you have a wide range: we look at the example of our client cases, and then draw conclusions.

First product (our own): anti-crisis solutions in marketing and sales.

Audience: business leaders (CEO and owners), medium-sized businesses.
What they did : they just sent out a commercial offer to the selected target audience (however, our contact zone has been warm for a long time).
How many : 300 contacts.
Responses received : 30.
Among them are the leads that we identified as high-quality: 4.
Sales immediately (within a month): 0.
Sales : 1 for another product from our lineup three months later.
ROI : cosmic, as all the work (excluding product development) took 8-10 hours of a moderately paid specialist.

Second product (service design: printing and packaging).

Audience: CMOs, marketers (medium, medium + business).
How many: 460.
Responses received: 150.
Among them, the leads, which we identified as high-quality: about 50.
Sales immediately: 0.
What else did we do: warmed up with additional touches two more times.
Sales in general: 5, with an average check of UAH 50,000-70,000.

The very first thing about the product – forget that you have a unique one, unless you have made a serious technological invention ☺

In all other cases, what seems to us to be the uniqueness of our product, in the perception of the client looks like this:

  • The client sees a bunch of substitutes around, which in his head perfectly replace your product.
  • Many additional options, which competitors seem to lack, often look to the client like: “Well, well, what are you selling?” He simply cannot grasp the main benefits of the product due to improvements and options. Or he doesn’t care about all these small improvements. Or too lazy to delve into them at all ☺
  • Uniqueness often means that there is no / no longer / there is no demand for a product in the market yet, or it has not yet been formed. If you are ready for a long, difficult, often unprofitable, methodical work on the launch of a product that is really new to the market – ok, come in with it, if not – make another decision.

So, which product should you use to connect to LinkedIn?

  1. If you want more conversion / feedback – come with something that your audience will definitely understand (see the design case above). For example: two familiar audiences of the product, with a detailed breakdown of each component.
    Если хотите больше конверсии/фидбека Prepare for a lot of feedback in the spirit of “thank you, but not now” or “thank you, we have it.” Or that you will have to knock out existing contractors at a price, because clients who have a work front and budgets usually have contractors as well. There will be a lot of feedback, sales – not a fact. However, if you have a good salesperson who knows how to be friends with everyone and everyone, build long-term communication and sell in the process of this communication – this can be an effective way of first contact.
  2. If you want to immediately have both good feedback and high chances of real sales – look for and make a narrow product for a narrow audience. For example, in our case, one of the most successful was the management product – customer relations. In fact, it consists of complex analytical and predictive work with a client base and recommendations based on the results. Target audience – managers / directors for customer service of large companies. In this combination of product / target audience, the feedback turned out to be 2 times higher than in the combination of the same product for target audience – marketing directors. For them it was too specific and “out of level”.
  3. Worst thing to do is a “we do everything” sentence. Almost everyone starts with such attempts and after that they usually say “LinkedIn doesn’t work.”

    Frankly speaking, everyone is too lazy, and there is no time to look for what in your package of proposals may suit a particular company. It might be good for a wellcomen letter to note that we are doing this without going into details, but definitely not for “selling” touches.

    Let’s go back to the case of an advertising agency: the guys had presentation of 50+ slides, which described a dozen services. Who will watch it at the height of the crisis, when budgets are being cut?

    Therefore, the first thing we did together: we selected, according to certain criteria, those products that can be sold during the crisis. No – boards and souvenirs, yes – for internet marketing.

    Then again we chose two (only two!) Products that showed the company advantageously – SMM and work with opinion leaders.

    Then they described the target audience according to the criteria:

    • The industry where we have expertise and cases.
    • The size of the ordering company (weed out too large and too small).
    • decision makers: in those companies that are of interest to us, they turned out to be the leaders of Internet / digital marketing. The hypothesis that we don’t need to “rush” to marketing directors turned out to be correct.
  4. For the most tempting and large clients – from my experience, it is better to enter not with a unique, but with some fashionable and industry-leading product, or with a product that requires narrow and specialized expertise. Just make sure that the demand for this expertise is not too low, as for example, for marketing research :). Or dig up all the details and make an offer that exactly matches the pains and situation of a particular company.
  5. Sometimes a survey / request for feedback works well. Mastery in asking these questions is important. Just as in any other “corrupt” dialogues, no one will answer the questions “What are you interested in?” There is no time to tell everyone, especially when this one is trying to sell you something.

It is better to write a clear, kind letter with a request to answer several clearly formulated, understandable questions, the answers to which cannot be found on the Internet with one click. Then such a request does not look like a desire to shift your work to a potential client, and you can start a completely productive dialogue.

Difficult, huh? But aren’t the same principles used in active sales through any other channel? 90% of the sale is not done at the moment you write a sales pitch or advertise. It is done either BEFORE – when you determine the target audience and develop the product, or AFTER – when you warm up the lead or engage in a dialogue after the first contact.

Product presentation chips

What information, besides the direct selling letter, should be given to the client additionally? How does product packaging affect conversions?

I will not say the obvious that you should have a high-quality LinkedIN profile and a normal company website. It is not even discussed. We covered this in more detail in another article.

I’ll point out the less obvious things:

  • For the service that you offer “here and now”, there should be a separate page on the site or a presentation, say on a slider – this is a minimum of additional information to any selling message in any form.

Forget about “just links to the site” – no one has the time and motivation to look for something there on your site.

Everything should be laconic, no need to try to “dump all the best about us at once.” Size guide: 3 paragraphs of text in any selling material and 10-15 slides in the product presentation. And … talk less about yourself and your service, and more about the client’s pain that she can solve.

I am a categorical opponent of searching for chips that will definitely give sales. I believe that conversion and sales are provided by the understanding of the client and the sales system, and not by magic buttons. However, I will hand over a couple of subtleties that increase feedback:

  • Mentioning cases / work for competitors – almost always after that a person is almost ready to make an appointment for you. Of course, his motivation may not be at all to conclude a contract with you, but to find out something from you about your competitors. But the task is to turn the situation to your advantage.
  • Mention some personal achievement of the person you are referring to. And more praise: “I read your article, saw your speech.”

Why is there feedback, but no sales? (works for LinkedIn and any other site)

  1. Something not interesting, not satisfied with the product / price . We return to this stage and refine it.
  2. One-touch sales are becoming increasingly rare and shouldn’t be counted on on LinkedIn . I advise you to immediately build a sales funnel and a chain of at least three touches, some of which should go through other channels. Example: Pay attention to the date the commercial proposal was sent and the date of the transition to substantive discussion of the opportunity. And this is in the case of working with an already warmed-up audience. Продажи «с одного касания» становятся все большей редкостью, не стоит на них рассчитывать и в LinkedInСоветую сразу выстраивать воронку продаж и цепочку минимум из трех касаний

To recap what drives LinkedIN to sell:

  1. The right product for the right target audience.
  2. The sales system and constant testing of hypotheses – “this has not gone, we are trying another”.
  3. Sufficient target audience coverage. The statistics are inexorable: for the simplest test, you need to take at least 300 contacts.
  4. Warm up and sell: the less specific and more complex a product you have, the more effort it takes to sell it.

The “SMM specialist” course is designed for those who want to master a new profession of an SMM specialist. You will be able to independently create a plan for publishing content, learn how to launch advertising campaigns and analyze their results. Bring leads and sales from social networks to customers.

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