Now more than ever, social selling has become a must have strategy to generate leads. Because of COVID-19 and the acceleration of work from home norms, contacting prospects via LinkedIn is a mandatory right of passage since phone outreach is becoming more and more difficult.
In any outbound lead generation initiative (regardless of channel whether that be through email, phone or social selling), the most frustrating part is when prospects don’t respond. So what can you do when your engagement conversion is low? Here are some tips to help you move things forward:
Build Your Network
It takes time to build a network of prospects so it’s important to research the companies you want to target before you outreach to your buyer personas. If the company is not the right fit from the start, you won’t get anywhere, no matter how many people you contact within that account. I cannot tell you how many times I have received messages from social sellers pitching me things that are not at all interesting for my business — from medical equipment (nothing to do with our business!) to lead generation services (what we provide!) — it’s amazing that those sales reps did not take 5 minutes to know that we are not the right fit. Creating an ABM list of highly valuable accounts is a good starting point because your efforts will only be spent contacting accounts that you are sure hold value for you. Once you have your focus list, start to build your network by connecting with relevant prospects; keep in mind that the more contacts you have, the more likely it is that people will accept your connection request. Looking at (and connecting with) the contacts of your contacts will help you build a viable pipeline of prospects over time.
Tailor Your Messages
There is nothing worse than generic, copy/pasted messages. By taking a little extra time to get to know your prospect and tweak your messages so that your value proposition resonates with your audience, you should increase your response rate. Keep in mind that the point of an InMail exchange is to create a dialogue, not to sell product. By finding points in common with your prospects, you can lead by highlighting an interest you share. This can be the starting point to open the door to more in-depth exchanges. It’s always good to end each message with a question, since that will encourage your reader to respond. When the time is right, see if you can take the discussion to the next level — a phone conversation, or a sales meeting for example. Exchanging messages can be a lengthy process; by moving the discussion to a phone call, you will be able to get much more information from your prospect faster.
Write More / Send More
Spending time to tailor your messages is great, but if you are only sending one a day, you’ll never get anywhere. Having a high volume cadence of valuables messages is a sure-fire way to improve your conversion rates. It’s a good idea to use InMail credits (with a Sales Navigator account) wisely since LinkedIn limits the number you can send each month. Make sure to see if you prospect is active on LinkedIn by getting an idea of how often they connect before you go sending messages to people who have not connected to the platform in months.
Don’t Give Up, Follow-Up
It’s really important to be vigilant and continue to follow-up with people even when they are non-responsive. We have found that some prospects respond after the fourth or fifth message, while many social sellers give up after three. It’s important to be direct and transparent so that your prospect understands the purpose of your outreach and feels compelled to reply.
You can never have too much content, so making sure you have a consistent stream of new case studies, e-books, videos, infographics or other assets that you can use to nurture prospects will drastically help your outreach. Use such content to get back in touch with prospects you have not heard from to see if that will inspire them to respond. Sometimes sharing new content as an FYI can work to get “wake up” a dormant prospect.
Paid advertising is not a magic solution but it can be a nice way to complement an organic social selling outreach initiative. Sponsored ads on LinkedIn can target your exact target audience and widens your net with a one-to-many approach. LinkedIn allows you to choose different types of messages — sponsored InMail messages, or ads that directly appear in the feed of your target audience. We recommend creating at least 3 different ads to see which one performs the best; your ad spend can then be redirected to the one that has the best ROI so that you maximize your budget.
There is no one right way to go about getting prospects to engage, but it’s important to continually reinvent yourself if what you are doing is not working. By changing your messages, changing your target accounts list, experimenting with LinkedIn ads, and never giving up, you are sure to improve your outreach in time.