Almost daily, you get this e-mail:
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.” –Some Guy You’ve Never Heard Of
So you hit “accept” because the guy looks legit. You want to fill your network with high quality connections. The next day, you get a sales pitch. Here are two I received recently:
Or how about this one:
Even aside from the poor grammar and lack of customization, I’m already turned off. I don’t know you and you obviously don’t know me. You’re blasting out e-mails asking to visit with me about your products. Meanwhile, what do you know about my problems? I immediately remove you from my network.
The CEO of a multi-billion dollar company implementing Social Selling asked me this question:
“I get connection requests all the time. I don’t know the person or what they want. It’s annoying. How can I make sure our team isn’t annoying our prospects with LinkedIn?”
His question made me realize something. We as sellers must learn how to engage on LinkedIn in a meaningful way. Or we’re going to ruin it for everyone. Buyers will erect privacy barriers that make it hard to reach them. They’ll ignore us. No one will connect. In short, it will become just another clogged channel, like e-mail.
If you’re a sales leader, start by downloading the LinkedIn Connection Request Builder. It will guide your team to write powerful subject lines for InMails. It will show you how to write connection requests that get accepted. It will tell you which subject lines work best. You will set your team apart from your competition because they’ll build powerful networks. These networks will be full of your ideal customers.
There’s a whole methodology around effective Social Selling. You can go here to read more. This blog focuses tightly on one piece of the puzzle: how to grow your Reach. For example, let’s say you’ve identified a persona you want to connect with. They look like a decision maker inside a large prospect. This prospect looks, smells, and feels like they’d be a great customer. Based on your industry knowledge, you really think you could help. So you ask to connect. Do you send this?
“I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”
This is like saying “I’m boring, unimaginative, and lazy. And I don’t really care about you. Can we connect?” How unimpressive. This is the equivalent of the “interest-creating statement” from old cold calling days. Except now, your prospects won’t even say they aren’t interested. They’ll simply ignore you.
To increase the chance it’s accepted, your request needs to be customized. A customized request contains 3 elements:
- Point out how you are relevant to each other. For example: “I notice we both belong to the LinkedIn Sales Leadership Group.”
- Why it would benefit the person you’re inviting to connect with you. “I create customized solutions for Sales Leaders like you.”
- Some sort of offer for the person. “Let’s connect here and exchange best practices.”
And please, don’t follow up an accepted request with a sales pitch. How about a brief “Thank you”? Then, over time, add value to your new contact. Nurture him with content that positions you as an expert in your field. You are playing the long game. This is not the same as blasting them with product offerings from your company. Your goal is to be top-of-mind and appear credible. There’s even a “recipe” for this. You can use the “4-1-1” rule:
- For every 4 pieces of industry-specific content you share
- Share 1 piece of content specific to your company’s solution
- And 1 “soft” general interest piece (to humanize yourself)
Social Selling works in most industries. We’ve proven this to clients again and again. To make it work for you, you need a system. The SBI system consists of 3 parts: Profile, Reach, and Referral. To learn more, read this. Meanwhile, teach your team not to annoy the ones they’re trying to connect with. Download the LinkedIn Connection Request Builder. You can’t make your number if you can’t reach your decision makers. This tool will help.