Prospecting on LinkedIn, even before the Pandemic of 2020, is now all the rage.
But as I recently noted in this post I wrote about LinkedIn earlier in 2020, I can’t help feeling like the platform itself is becoming the “New Spam.”
KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE
As with any tactic and technique that shows some success, people naturally gravitate towards it, use it excessively and then proceed to beat it into the ground. Just look at META keywords, press release links, Google Authorship, email marketing and link wheels to name a few tactics that used to work great before being used excessively and then rendered worthless.
In fact, as I was actually writing this article, I got this very message which is typical of exactly the type of inauthentic spray and pray approach I detest:
First and foremost, congrats with everything you’ve done with Self-Employed! I came across Self-Employed on LinkedIn and thought I’d reach out. Very impressive!
“Self-employed” was just the most obvious giveaway since I have those words in my profile description. It’s basically a mass blast that targeted the keyword “self-employed” and I got caught in the net. Definitely not connecting with this one!
I will be frank when I say that I am not pleased by the huge increases in people reaching out to connect with me one minute and then turning around and trying to sell me something the next. And I guarantee you that the second I connected with Mr. Self Employed I would have gotten a sales pitch within hours.
Whatever happened to doing business with people you know, like and trust?
To find the answers to that question and more, I reached out to several LinkedIn experts because I am curious: is this working for most people? I really want to overcome my own prejudices and preconceived notions about the power of LinkedIn and the techniques used and to try and learn what is and what is not working. I also want to know what you should and should not be doing on the platform. Please note: all the participating expert bios are included at the end. I hope you find this information useful. -Gene Sower
The LinkedIn Interview
Have you used Sales Navigator for prospecting on LinkedIn and has it generated solid leads and/or sales?
Julbert Abraham: Yes, I used Sales Navigator daily. I received at least 3-5 new quality leads a day. In addition, I have helped some of my clients acquire some of their largest clients from LinkedIn (i.e. Verizon, three of the largest Hospitals in NJ).
I’ve been very pleased with the results on Sales Navigator. A lot of people buy the Sales Navigator license however they don’t have a plan and a strategy on how to use it effectively. How to identify the right people and engage with them at the right time, hence why a lot of people don’t generate any results with Sales Navigator.
[bctt tweet=”A lot of people buy the Sales Navigator license however they don’t have a plan and a strategy on how to use it effectively.”]
Kim Pearlstein: Yes, I have a Sales Navigator account and I do use it for prospecting. I have generated business using LinkedIn, though not necessarily using Sales Navigator.
I use my LinkedIn account to connect with people I have met in person or online on other platforms. I search for people in my target market and send personalized connection requests. Once they accept the request, I generally share a free report or other article I think would be of value to them. I do my best to keep up with nurturing the relationship and offer a free phone consultation.
I am pleased with my results as well as the ability to search with more filters using Sales Navigator.
If you are thinking of upgrading to a paid LinkedIn account, I suggest you have a strategy and plan in place for consistent use, to make it worth the investment.
Beth Granger: I use Sales Navigator, but not necessarily how LinkedIn thinks most people use it. I use it in concert with regular LinkedIn because of its advanced search and list management features. Yes, activity on SN has turned into clients.
Some of my clients use Navigator and others do not. If you use it strategically, especially if your prospect is active on LinkedIn, it can be an excellent tool.
I use Navigator to search for 2nd connections and then ask first connections for referrals, combining it with my off-LinkedIn networking. Sometimes I essentially introduce myself as well.
What is your philosophy about connecting with people on LinkedIn that you don’t know?
AJ Wilcox: I don’t connect to anyone that I don’t know unless they let me know why they want to connect. Those who are just trying to sell to me won’t be able to justify the connection so I enjoy a relatively spam-free experience on the platform.
Michael DiLillo: I accept any connection unless the company in question is overly aggressive with their sales tactics. This usually results in me reading but not responding to 90% of all of the personal messages I get since they are sales pitches.
Kim Pearlstein: I believe it is ok to connect with people you don’t know. If I am requesting the connection, I always personalize the request. It’s very important to tell people why you want to connect. If I receive a request from someone I don’t know, I am more likely to accept if they have sent me a personal message (like you did). I also look at the person’s profile before deciding whether or not I want to accept the request.
[bctt tweet=”If I receive a request from someone (on LinkedIn) I don’t know, I am more likely to accept if they have sent me a personal message.”]
Gene Bohensky: The primary purpose of LinkedIn is to reach out to people in your industry or target customer base, Sales Navigator promotes this as a primary reason for its very existence. If you have a product / service / idea that can help or is targeted at a specific audience, in the ideal world your audience should be interested to start a conversation with you about it. I would even argue that it is their job to review your message or proposal as it might be beneficial to them. There is no other platform that is so efficient.
Have you ever advertised on LinkedIn? If so, please describe the campaign and discuss whether you were happy with the results or not and why?
Julbert Abraham: Yes, I advertise on LinkedIn every month. Very happy with the results. One of the campaigns that I ran on LinkedIn was a Webinar Registration campaign using the conversational ads approach.
Here are the steps:
- Develop your offer (i.e. Webinar Registration)
- Develop the messaging (Copy, Creative, etc.)
- Create the LinkedIn Ads funnel
- Develop the success metrics (this is how you know if your ads are working)
- Choose your target audience
- Choose your Ad format (i.e. Conversational ads)
- Set up the campaign on LinkedIn
- Test the campaign for 3 days with your allocated budget
- Review the result
- Optimize the campaign
- Launch the campaign
- Monitor the activities and results
Michael DiLillo: Yes, I’ve done multiple lead generation campaigns over four different companies.
I find with the correct targeting and content that LinkedIn can be a very successful and effective lead generation tool.
I’ve managed to bring in hundreds of leads for under $300 per lead, which in the B2B industry is a great CPL.
I’ve been very happy and plan on advertising on the platform more in the future.
AJ Wilcox: YES! I’m absolutely in love with LinkedIn’s advertising platform. This quick 7-min video I created gives the basics of what’s successful and what’s not on LinkedIn Ads.
In general, LinkedIn Ads is successful when:
1. Your target audience can be defined by who they are professionally
2. They’re worth $10k+ to you in lifetime value when they become a customer
3. You have an offer that cold audiences are excited about
4. You have a budget that’s large enough to see the business impact and gather enough data to know whether or not it’s working (I recommend $5k+ per month).
Gene Bohensky: Yes, but the results have been poor when compared to direct, personalized messaging.
AJ Wilcox: The prevalence of agencies that use peoples’ profiles to do generic outreach and then seek to immediately prospect/sell them upon connection is a plague. The LinkedIn platform is valuable to everyone when we all use it more, but this spam is a deterrent to people wanting to spend time here, and should be extinguished. They will ruin the platform’s value for all of us.
[bctt tweet=”The prevalence of agencies that use peoples’ profiles (on LinkedIn) to do generic outreach and then seek to immediately prospect/sell them upon connection is a plague. “]
The way to business is, and always will be, about building know/like/trust with a prospect by providing value to them, and then using that relationship of trust to start a sales conversation.
Julbert Abraham: LinkedIn Works! It’s the strategy that most people use on LinkedIn that don’t work. If you are wondering if LinkedIn is the right platform for you or if you haven’t generated the result that you want from LinkedIn, go back and review your past results and your strategy. Then adjust it. It’s always about improvement. You don’t fail on LinkedIn; you learn something that hasn’t worked for you and you just got to optimize it.
Gene Bohensky: LinkedIn doesn’t work well for B to C businesses.
While I was hoping for a clear-cut assessment, it seems that Sales Navigator works for the users who know how to use it properly. For those who don’t, regular members of LinkedIn will continue to be collateral damage to more aggressive approaches . My advice: if you don’t want to fall victim to mass hit and sell approaches, don’t accept connection requests that are obviously automated connection requests. How will you know? They use some form of flattery (see example above) or mention you have many of the same connections without actually mentioning one, or talk about synergy, or other generic-sounding pitches. After looking at a few of these connection requests more closely you’ll start to see a pattern and you can decide whether to connect or not.
If you want to consider using Sales Navigator effectively yourself, establish the right offer to the right audience — of course. And hire a pro to get you started. Getting off to a good start, focused and non-spammy, is key.
Regarding linking with people you don’t know on the outreach side, personalize your messages, offer value and don’t sell! Plant seeds that can be harvested later.
But my biggest takeaway is that I need to give LinkedIn advertising another shot. As a B2B business myself, this is where my future clients reside. While Facebook ads are great for B2C, on LinkedIn I just have to do a better job of crafting an irresistible offer that people can’t refuse!
What are your LinkedIn experiences, good or bad? Leave your comments below.
Our LinkedIn Experts
I have been using LinkedIn for over 10 years. I help business owners learn how to effectively use LinkedIn, Email Marketing and other marketing tools to increase visibility, stay top-of-mind, and grow their business. I also help job seekers utilize LinkedIn to find their ideal job. I offer one-on-one and group coaching.