Monday, December 5, 2016

Five Ineffective Actions Most Sales Executives are Taking on LinkedIn

 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn gives sales professionals direct access to targeted decision makers and influencers, which means it can be and should be one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal. However, many sales professionals complain they are not getting an ROI from their LinkedIn efforts. They are making many connections – but they are generating very little leads and sales.

There are many reasons for why this is happening including:
  • Poor targeting — They are connecting with anyone that comes their way.
  • Having a resumé-based LinkedIn profile that does not pique their interest further since it’s not case study driven.
  • Only spending 15 to 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn – This does not give you time to make meaningful connections, build a community of key decision makers who have an interest in your area of expertise, nourish relationships and take part in conversations.
  • Taking the five actions listed below.

Ineffective LinkedIn Action No. 1: E-mail Scraping
Inside one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to, the CEO of a high-tech industry business development firm mentioned he’s using software that scrolls through LinkedIn and extracts the contact information of people who represent his ideal target market. He’s then transporting the information with one click of the mouse to his Salesforce CRM where his sales team can then send personal e-mails introducing his services. Sounds good in theory right?

However, he is “cold e-mailing” out of the blue.

Instead of taking the time to build and maintain relationships with key decision makers by providing value where they want to opt-in for more information and enter his CRM, the CEO is forcing prospects into their funnel. These prospects he’s entering into his database are not even marketing qualified as they have not shown any interest or need.


Ineffective LinkedIn Action No. 2 — Trying to Sell Too Soon
Once a connection is made on LinkedIn — or once a prospect joins a LinkedIn community — many sales executives message them with a quick description of their products and/or solutions. They then suggest a phone call to discuss how their company can help their new connection. Most of the time, these messages are ignored. In fact, one sales executive I recently spoke to mentioned that he may get two responses for every 100 to 150 e-mails he sends.

Prospects on LinkedIn don’t want to be sold to overtly. In fact a recent, LinkedIn report for the technology industry shows that 75 percent of IT buyers would be willing to connect with a vendor, but they are hesitant because they don’t want to be inundated with marketing and sales pitches. They want to be educated. They want relevant content that will help them with their challenges so they can make smarter business decisions. Focus first on establishing a relationship and demonstrating your thought leadership and relevance. Then on moving prospects down your sales funnel.


Ineffective LinkedIn Action No. 3: Using LinkedIn Groups As a Place to Distribute Your News feed
Many sales executives are taking advantage of LinkedIn groups. They’re using them for prospecting – but also as a place to get wide exposure with targeted audiences because you can easily share content. But, they’re sharing content in an ineffective manner.

Before working with my LinkedIn marketing firm, a CEO of a software firm for the recruiting industry had his sales team post content at least three to four times a week — sometimes more. But the company was generating very little traffic and leads from LinkedIn.

The sales team was not creating relevant, thought-provoking discussions that had context and standalone value. They were simply sharing the first couple lines of the blog post and a link, so there was no engagement. Their links were getting lost in the deluge of wall-to-wall newsfeed-like posts, press releases and promotional content.

By creating real conversations and earning the right to get their prospect’s attention and blog visit by sharing valuable insights before linking to his blog, we increased traffic by 3,620 percent in six weeks.


Ineffective LinkedIn Action No. 4 — Becoming Too Much of a Resource
Many social media experts tell you to share other people’s content 80 percent of the time and your content 20 percent. On LinkedIn, I think it should be reversed. Most sales executives are so focused on curating and sharing other people’s content that they are becoming known as a resource. But, prospects invest in thought leaders. You’re able to put content directly in front of key decision makers — yet you are sharing industry news and other people’s content. Our clients are sharing their case studies and thought leadership information and getting 11.5 times more engagement


Ineffective LinkedIn Action No. 5 — Focusing Too Much on Gated Content
As I mentioned several times throughout this article, your prospects on LinkedIn want a value-added relationship with potential vendors. But they don’t want to jump through hoops and break down gates to get the information that can help them with their business decision. They want you to act like the rest of their network — their peers and established experts — by having a point of view and freely share valuable content.

As a marketer myself, I know the importance of landing pages and getting prospects to sign up for white papers, webinars and other offerings. But you need to prove to decision makers they’ll want to enter the next stage of the relationship.

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Now, that you know what’s not working on LinkedIn, fix your actions. Then, comment below if you start generating more leads and sales using LinkedIn.