Lead Generation on Steroids: Using LinkedIn to Accelerate Your Sales Cycle
We all know that LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for connecting. But what does that mean for bottom-line value? Are you actually getting leads from LinkedIn? Leads that pay off? Or are you just making connections?
Just like participating in networking groups and/or attend networking events you should use LinkedIn – to get introduced to your target customers.
1. Define your specialty
Before we talk about LinkedIn further, we have to define YOU. What’s your business?
- Let’s Assume: You own a small to medium sized business or you are a B2B professional service provider (attorney, accountant, commercial insurance or real estate broker or a business consultant).
You need to define what your unique specialty is and who are the decision makers who most likely would have a need for your product or service.
2. Define your target customers
- Case Instance 1, Bob: Your small business sells widgets and your ideal existing customer is a Manufacturer or Distributor with sales between $10 – $25MM, located within 20 miles of your zip code.
Your Target Customer = COOs of these specific businesses.
- Case Instance 2, Mary: You are a commercial attorney specializing in succession planning for companies with sales between $2 – $20MM located within 10 miles of your zip code.
Your Target Customer = CEOs / Owners of these specific businesses.
For any B2B networker, you would like to be introduced to all those COOs or CEOs so you can have the opportunity to tell them about your product or service and see if they have a need.
3. Define your connection path (who knows these people)
This is where the power of LinkedIn comes into play. LinkedIn is not only everyone’s online, public list of who they know but is also an expression of their desire to further their careers by virtually connecting with people.
People on LinkedIn generally (1) want to connect with other people, if they think it will benefit them and (2) want to share their connections if they see a benefit and don’t see a detriment in doing so.
The answer to the question, “Who can introduce me to my target customers?” is other local B2B networkers on LinkedIn who you are connected to on LinkedIn either as a 1st connection or as a fellow LinkedIn group member.
4. Build Your Network.
a. Start with Your Existing Contacts.
Add to the number of 1st connections you have by inviting your existing contacts. On the top right of your LinkedIn page, click the “+ person” icon, to invite your contacts. You already know these people, so connecting with them will allow you to see who they know on LinkedIn.
Keep in mind, what you are really building is a network of local 2nd connections. There is generally a 1000X multiple from 1st to 2nd connections. This means if you have 500 1st connections that are located in your local metro area, that will translate into about 500,000 2nd connections in your local metro area!
b. Join LinkedIn Groups.
You should join LinkedIn Groups your target customers may belong to or groups with members of people who may know your target customers.
- Case Instance 1, Bob (small business owner): Join a local or regional Manufacturer or Distributor group.
- Case Instance 2, Mary (commercial attorney): Join a local or regional group that has to do with family owned businesses.
c. Voila – I think the steroids are starting to kick in.
What you’ve done so far is build an online network of hundreds of thousands of local business people. Many of these people will be your target customers !
5. Reach out.
a. Find 2nd degree connections through 1st degree connections.
Now you want to identify the specific names of the COOs and CEOs you want to meet. Then ask your 1st connections to introduce you.
b. Use Google to get the name and LinkedIn to make the introduction.
- Case Instance 1, Bob: Let’s say you found out that Joseph Smith is the COO of ABC Corp., a manufacturer and distributor 15 miles away from Bob’s office. So now all you have to do is type Joseph Smith into the search box at the top of your LinkedIn profile. Then on the left side of the search results, just check off “2nd connections” and “group members” and limit the search to your local metro area. Now you’ll see if Joseph Smith is a 2nd connection to you or a member of one of your groups.
c. Search directly through LinkedIn.
- Case Instance 2, Mary: Let’s say you are targeting DEF Corp. a family owned business 10 miles from Mary’s office. You can enter “DEF Corp.” into the search box at the top of your LinkedIn profile. Then on the left side of the search results, just check off 2nd connections and group members. This will now tell you everyone you are connected to that has DEF Corp. in their profile. From there Mary can see if the CEO is listed on LinkedIn.
d. Reach out Effectively.
Now that you’ve found your target customer on LinkedIn, you now need to see who of your 1st connections knows them. Under their name it will say “shared connections.” Click on that to see who you know in common. Then ask your 1st connection to introduce you. Remember, this introduction will be based on mutual benefit. Both your 1st connection and the 2nd connection (target customer) must perceive they will get a benefit from making the introduction and from being introduced to you. So put yourself in their shoes and make sure it’s exceptionally clear how you can help them.
By defining your targets and using LinkedIn to find the right people who can introduce you to those targets, you will be able to accelerate your sales cycle in an extremely efficient manner. LinkedIn is the steroids of lead generation, so until it’s banned, it’s a tool you must use.