This is an excerpt from the upcoming book/online course “You Don’t Need A CMO; Teaching Startup Founders to Sell and Market Their Own Products”.
In this lesson, we address the world’s most popular B2B social network, LinkedIn – the only place where you should be focusing your efforts in a client-based service business in 2018.
LinkedIn is an interesting fusion to consider where Sales meets Marketing; these days, advertisements blend into sales messages, which blend into networking, that which turns into content marketing. Really, you can use LinkedIn for all different kinds of marketing – organic, PPC, and outreach.
For my marketing agency, LinkedIn has always been our primary and highest ROI acquisition channel. When we talk about marketing on LinkedIn there are two major benefits for client based business:
B. Social Proof
Let’s discuss the former, first. Targeted-Access means the narrowing of search criteria such that in a relatively rapid period of time, you can “access” your desired audience, and pitch them on your product service. LinkedIn Sales Navigator, LinkedIn’s premium business product has dozens of filters and boolean search options for both companies (labeled “accounts”) and contacts.
My Sales Starting Point
Like the Yellow-pages of the professional world, I can almost guarantee that no matter your industry you can with a few clicks and some genius quickly find leads that have some degree of interest in what you are selling.
Advertising is just a form of sales. This is no more clear than on LinkedIn’s advertising platform, a platform that allows you to show ads to the exact same people you are selling directly too. In fact, you may have noticed that in your LinkedIn inbox, ads are blended in right alongside messages with your contacts.
Nope, that’s not your college roommate looking for a job intro – that’s an ad.
Now given, “Sponsored InMail“, as its called, is just one type of ad on LinkedIn- we will address the others in a minute. The point is that functionally with our unconscious minds, we can’t tell the difference between what’s an ad and what’s not. That has both positive and negative implications-if your targets are in a highly desirable market (CEOs and business owners) they likely will respond to nothing and ignore their LinkedIn messages. I certainly fall into that camp. I have companies that I closed five years ago that I’m still being sold on “growth” consulting for.
So if you can’t use LinkedIn for actual sales, why am I talking about it? Because even if your targets don’t respond to your messages, they are being influenced by them. Think about telemarketers for police unions or the like who call your house at inopportune times – likely, after a couple times, you may just give them the chance – especially if your seeing emotional ads on TV or in person for the same cause. It’s the aptly described and well researched foot-in-the-door effect – by simply seeing, the lead is accepting your messaging into their minds.
What I like to do is use the other ad types to “ease” the customer into the sale – this is a process that works especially well if you are in a content-rich industry like marketing where you leads do research before the buy.
If you follow this rough process, on the right targets, you should be able to hit a cost-per-conversion that is comfortable AND scalable. But how do you optimize and make things…better?
Social Proof on LinkedIn
LinkedIn Ads, despite the similarities, is nowhere near equivalent to Facebook Ads in terms of its extensibility and the depth of the platform. Because of the nature of the “sales process” being outreach focused, the standard laws (extensive a/b testing, creatives etc) don’t apply to the same degree. Your personal reputation (or your company’s) does.
Let me break that down further. If you are running ads on sponsored content, or doing InMail the message is going to be coming from you. Your profile is a click a way. The viewer or target, if they’re interested in your service, is going to be assessing how reliable you are – and how much of a fit you are – based on your profile.
This is where targeting is absolutely essential. I’m someone who has five companies I’m active with – at any one time, so I have to “pivot” and select one as my current “job” (never had one of those!) with the description, one liner and everything else written around that centerpiece.
Sales, at its core, is personal.
As an aside, I would not focus any efforts on your company page – that’s another misconception. The only real times your company pages is important are with respect to recruitment – your applicants probably want details on department head-counts and the like.
But in any other “sales” situation, your background is most important. Here’s a quick guide to the three areas to pay attention to:
Your headline is the first thing (besides your pretty face!) that a lead is going to see. It’s important that it sticks out, and isn’t just “Founder of X” or “Marketing Consultant (that stuff is displayed alongside anyway. In my case I’m promoting something very specific, my course – and the title of it quite adequately explains to my audience (you) what I offer in terms of expertise.
Some people like to put “I help businesses with x y z” but in my opinion, this is overdone – everybody and their mother has that tagline. I’d stick to something less “salesy” and let your credentials speak for themselves – you can make your “pitch” in your sales messages. Here are some good examples:
- SaaS: Founder of the world’s first ___
- B2B: Skill1|Skill 2| Skill 3
- E-Commerce: I’ve sold ___ (KPI) in under ____
If the headline is meant to be professional and descriptive, you have a lot more leverage with your bio. I like to keep my bio entirely consistent with my sales messages – almost the same pitch. In a connection request your characters are pretty limited, so you don’t get the chance to direct customers to various parts of your proposal – in my opinion a “bullet” based bio works best, where the bullets are actually references to accomplishments of your’s personally or your company.
Quite obviously, the job positions section of your profile is generally the most lengthy. This is where you will tend to lose leads..i.e if you are selling people on your e-commerce fulfillment integration product, they aren’t going to be too happy when they see the details of your high school math project or your volunteer work at McDonalds. Contrary to popular belief, I would keep the total list relatively short – if you need to occupy more room, I would simply extend your job positions by labeling them differently for different phases i.e: Founder ->Seed CEO ->Series A Executive.
As far as the content for each position, again, repetition is king. You want your prospect to feel like the service you are selling them is the only thing you do – to the exclusion of everything else. Trust is everything.
Recommendations really should be titled testimonials. Although they are on the bottom of the profile page, a seasoned CEO who gets sold to all the time scrolls straight there, as this is the section that differentiates the winners from the losers.
I would try to get at least 5 key recommendations from clients for whatever service you’re selling – your profile visitors will not go to their individual company profiles, so you need to make sure your clients leave their name and industry in the recommendation as such:
Just like with testimonials on your site, I would not exceed 10-15 recommendations – it can become overwhelming and ultimately your leads won’t look at anything.
As an aside -> Job skills are not important and everyone on this platform knows they are BS.
LinkedIn is a powerful network and will likely dominate the B2B sales and advertising space for some considerable time to come. Do your best to master and internalize what I’ve discussed above, and you will quickly be able to create your own searches and sales sequences that convert regularly. I myself have saved search alerts I get in my mailbox each week, and execute on. Like with my blog, I make sure to post regularly.
Feel free to check out my profile, and InMail me with “Lesson 2” in the subject line with your thoughts and questions so I know you’ve read!
I’ll be doing a webinar this Thursday where we go through all the actual sales messages I’ve been receiving on LinkedIn, and what distinguishes the trash from the killers.
About Chris: Im a four-time startup founder and PPC Aficionado; I have had companies in multiple industries including E-commerce, SaaS, and advertising, and the one unifying factor is my love for insights and optimization. Now, I apply my knowledge and experience to helping market other high growth companies.
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