Why LinkedIn Connection Requests Aren’t Working for Sellers

“Hold on, Molander. I request LinkedIn connections when regularly approaching buyers cold — and they accept.” But then? Usually crickets. Right?

“Hold on, Molander. I request LinkedIn connections when regularly approaching buyers cold — and they accept.”

But then?

Usually crickets. Right?

True: Connections may earn sellers the ability to message (for free) in the near-term. But it’s a matter of time before my students see erosion in post-connection response rates.

Prospects (in all categories) are burning out on sellers’ LinkedIn pitches. Some industry segments experience fatigue faster than others. How about yours?

Why Are They Connecting and (then) Ignoring Me?

It’s easy to have a positive impression when a prospect accepts LinkedIn connection request. In fact, it’s logical to think, “aah, great!” But what, exactly, is on buyers’ minds when they accept? Why did they accept?

Curiosity?

Out of an urge to grow their networks by increasing their connection numbers?

Because they’re in the market for what you’re selling and waiting for you?

Until you’re on speaking terms, there’s no way of knowing.

Thus, many of my students are confused: “Why am I being invited to connect — only to be ignored?”

3 Factors You’re Forced to Consider

Most sellers’ post-connection messages fail to start conversations. Here’s what I’ve learned is causing this:

  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn’s system is (over time) discouraging personalized invitations from being read. Thus, sending “false positives” to sellers.
  2. Saturation: Most sellers use Connection requests as their first “cold” touch. But requesting a Connection (by itself) is increasingly signaling “I’m a sales person looking to spam your inbox.”
  3. Context: Being connected on LinkedIn is (over time) becoming a highly personal thing. It’s increasingly being seen as a privilege.

In essence, LinkedIn is combining with sellers’ behavior for a one-two punch.

False Positives

You may interpret acceptance of a Connection request as an invitation to start a discussion — but the other side doesn’t. Why is that?

Short answer: The personal message within your invitation is often not seen.

Remember all the agonizing over the personalized content inside your Connection request? It’s squandered.

LinkedIn has, over time, updated its user interface. These changes are great for LinkedIn’s network growth but not helpful for the quality of your communications.

LinkedIn continues to make it:

  • easier for any connection request to be blindly accepted (in general);
  • more difficult to see who sent a personalized request and read it.

In many cases, your request to start a conversation has, actually, never been seen. Worse, it’s not your fault.

You’re Just Part of the Spammers

Most sellers using LinkedIn at the free or paid level use Connection requests as their first “cold” touch when approaching prospects. Problem is, sending a Connection request is increasingly (as time marches on) signaling, “I’m a salesy spammer.”

As sellers rush into social selling most are taking the lazy route: Spamming marketing messages. I’m talking about sending mass marketing, non-personalized messages to prospects via LinkedIn.

This has trained prospects to accept fewer Connection requests in general! If this practice hasn’t trained them (past tense) in your business sector yet, it will.

Bet on it.

Because this is how a majority of sellers use LinkedIn. They’re sending poorly-written, unsolicited sales pitches. Even if you know better, you risk getting caught-up in that crowd when requesting a Connection as your first point of contact.

Beware.

Against my advice, most sellers still ask for Connections first for a number of reasons.

  1. Cost: You want to message the prospect directly at no cost. You don’t want to pay for InMail.
  2. Saving InMail credits: If you hold a Premium/Navigator account, you would rather not risk losing the InMail credit. InMail messages cost money and are subject to monthly use limits.
  3. Connecting seems like the most logical thing to do on LinkedIn. That said, LinkedIn’s policy tends to confuse users: Connect only if you know the other person yet use it for sales prospecting.

Bottom line: Asking to connect with a prospect is becoming less-and-less effective because it is a tactic used by low-quality sales practitioners.

Stranger Danger: Customers Are Camouflaged

Being connected on LinkedIn is, increasingly, becoming a highly personal thing. Perhaps for you too. But especially among decision-makers who are being bombarded by social sellers. We are trying to help customers … but we are strangers no less.

5 LinkedIn Best Practices That Don’t Work

Prediction: 95 percent of sales reps and distributors will invest time in LinkedIn best practices that fail to generate leads in 2015. Be sure you’re not one of them.

Prediction: 95 percent of sales reps and distributors will invest time in LinkedIn best practices that fail to generate leads in 2015. Be sure you’re not one of them.

Most LinkedIn best practices for sales reps are not, in fact, best practices. They’re time-wasters. This is one of the most important insights I gleaned in 2014. That’s why I’m offering you five commonly recommended LinkedIn best practices to avoid in 2015.

The 5 Worst LinkedIn Best Practices

  1. Using “Who’s viewed my profile” to drive profile views.
  2. Requesting connections from new prospects.
  3. Sending InMails that ask for appointments and referrals.
  4. Sharing valuable content with your connections.
  5. Adding value in LinkedIn Groups by giving away your best advice.

Instead, follow these five steps to avoid falling down the LinkedIn “best practices” rabbit hole that truly don’t work for sales:

1. Beware of ‘Who’s Viewed Your Profile’
We all like candy and LinkedIn is handing it out. The experience is becoming increasingly Facebookesque. Case-in-point: The “who’s viewed my profile” feature. Beware: for most of us it’s a trap.

I’m not suggesting this feature isn’t handy. It’s just not what we (as sellers) want it to be. It can be a time-suck.

Our instincts to find buyers can overpower rational thought—especially when we’re pressed for time. Mix in some “online candy” and it’s a productivity risk.

Is it good to know who’s viewing your profile? Yes. Can you tell why someone outside of your immediate network is viewing your profile? Not with certainty. You cannot qualify a lead based on them looking at your profile.

A lot of experts claim you can. You cannot. Deep down, you know you cannot. Using software or other techniques to increase your views is not a smart strategy, especially when:

  • LinkedIn encourages random, casual viewing of “people you may know”
  • Many views aren’t views at all (they are momentary, fleeting arrivals at your profile)

LinkedIn wants you to know who’s looking at your profile. I’m cool with that. But when you believe people are viewing your profile for reasons you’re creating from thin air? You’re in trouble.

Spend time making sure arrivals at your profile spark curiosity in you. Invest less time in hope. And please don’t ask visitors you do not know (who view your profile) to connect with you!

2. Don’t Ask for Connections as a First Step
The most deadly—and common—mistake sales reps make on LinkedIn is asking prospects they don’t know to connect.

Be warned: It is against LinkedIn’s terms and conditions to send connection requests to prospects you don’t know. I know, I know. The “experts” all offer invitation personalization tips to earn connections from strangers. Ignore them!

Being banned by LinkedIn for inviting too many people who don’t know you is common. If your connection requests are not accepted often enough, LinkedIn will remove your ability to make requests.

Please don’t try to make first contact with prospects on LinkedIn—unless you use InMail or Groups messages. You may get connections accepted sometimes, but:

  1. You’ll rarely spark conversations after the connection is accepted;
  2. you’re taking a risk you don’t need to take; and
  3. the risk isn’t worth it; being connected is better for nurturing (not creating) leads.

3. Don’t Ask for Appointments in InMails, Attract Them
We all want appointments. But trying to get an appointment from “go” is a failing tactic. You will be rejected by 90 percent to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects according to Sharon Drew Morgen. She would know. She invented the Buying Facilitation method, and she has 20 years of experience to back up the statement.

Here’s why: A majority of buyers don’t know what they need when you email them. Or they are aware of their need, but aren’t ready to buy yet.

Use the first InMail or email like a good cold call: Earn permission for a discussion that can lead to an eventual meeting. Don’t jump the gun. Once you have permission, execute the email conversation in a way that sparks an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment.

Get the prospect so curious about what you have to say they cannot resist acting—asking you for a call.

Just like on a hot date, would you rather ask the other person out—or be asked? Don’t say too much too fast. Attract your prospect. This is one of my most mind-bending (yet effective) LinkedIn InMail tips. It also works on regular email messages.

4. Stop Sharing Valuable Content, Start Provoking Behavior
Sharing valuable content in groups and via LinkedIn updates rarely creates leads for most sellers; mostly because of “expert” tips that don’t work. There is way too little focus placed on how and when to share knowledge in groups.

Most “expert” tips focus on:

  1. gathering (curating) content quickly,
  2. defining what is valuable to buyers and
  3. deciding how often to post.

Instead, focus on how you post. Focus on structure. The design of words. Copywriting.

Defining what’s valuable to your target buyer is vital to know. But it’s worthless unless you know how to provoke customers to call or email you. (Not just comment on your update or share it with others.)

Likewise, knowing how to gather content quickly is important. But if what you share does not intersect with a lead capture system, you’ve squandered the engagement.

We’ve been told “share and they will come.” But the top 5 percent of LinkedIn sellers know an important fact. Sharing valuable content on LinkedIn won’t help you find clients. It takes solid social media copywriting.

Instead, start shockingly truthful discussions in LinkedIn Groups. Post updates on issues that competitors don’t dare go near. Tell the truths your competitors don’t want told. Then connect what you say to an action your prospect can take (begin the lead nurturing journey).

5. Adding Value in Groups Is Often a Win-Lose
Giving away your best advice in Groups can be a win-lose. The prospects win, you lose. Success depends on your prospects’ curiosity in you. And that depends on how and when you give away specifics. Just like effective InMail/email message writing and sequencing.

You’ll experience more success (requests for appointments, calls, emails) by giving away “just enough” information to be credible … yet not quite complete. The idea is to create an urge and the curiosity to know more.

For example, do you give answers and advice away in ways that create more questions in the mind of your reader? Do you give away just enough to create more curiosity about you that can be connected to what you sell? If not, you’re struggling.

You’re probably giving away too much too fast—smothering the prospect.

Are your posts grabbing customers? Are potential buyers responding—hungry to talk with you about issues, short-cuts or better ways you know about?

If not you’re probably over-focusing on what you are saying. Instead, focus on how you structure words and when you release key bits of information. Are you saying too much too fast?

Again, think of it like a great date. The most attraction occurs when you get “just enough” information about the other person that you become curious. Too much information overwhelms—leaves nothing to the imagination and is often flat out boring.

Once again, relevant content is elementary. The difference between wasting time with LinkedIn prospecting—and generating leads—is sparking buyers’ curiosity in what you can do for them.

Getting them to respond.

Remember, most LinkedIn best practices we read about online are not. They’re time-wasters. They’re edicts written by people who know about LinkedIn but who don’t know enough about sales prospecting. What do you think about my five commonly recommended LinkedIn best practices to avoid in 2015? Are you having any success with these? I’m open to hearing your rebuttals!

Why You Aren’t Getting Appointments on LinkedIn

Ninety-five percent of sales reps using LinkedIn are getting few—if any—appointments. They’re using premium services, Sales Navigator, sending InMail, joining groups, spiffing up their profiles. And yet they’re chronically underperforming. All because they’re making three easily correctable mistakes when firing up their Web browsers each day.

Ninety-five percent of sales reps using LinkedIn are getting few—if any—appointments. They’re using premium services, Sales Navigator, sending InMail, joining groups, spiffing up their profiles. And yet they’re chronically underperforming. All because they’re making three easily correctable mistakes when firing up their Web browsers each day.

Mistake No. 1: Asking for Connections First
The most deadly—and common—mistake most reps make comes right at the beginning: asking prospects for connection requests. Being connected is useful for nurturing leads—not effective for earning near-term meetings or starting discussions.

Stop asking for connections as a first step.

Outside of InMail or Group messages, don’t try to make initial contact with prospects on LinkedIn. You may get connections accepted sometimes, but you’ll rarely spark conversations after the connection is accepted.

Connecting first is not an effective practice. It’s also against LinkedIn’s terms of use and is punishable. You can be banned. Wait until the prospect knows you, and they will be more likely to accept your connection request.

Initiate contact first—then connect on LinkedIn to nurture the conversation forward. This takes full advantage of what connections give you (and avoids the risk of being restricted).

Mistake No. 2: Forgetting to Slow Prospects Down
Customers are busy and getting busier. So our first job is to help them take a breath for a second. Literally. That’s where your first couple of email or InMail messages come into play.

These very brief, blunt and basic messages should disarm the customer—not ask them for an appointment. Don’t ask them to direct you to the right decision makers. Don’t ask them to have a demo with you. These are all extremely common mistakes. Don’t ask them for anything other than a reply!

Get out of the ninety-five percent of underperformers and into the top 5 percent of LinkedIn users.

Yes, you must grab a prospect’s attention and hold it. But your first message must shock the prospect by putting them in control of the contact with you. Because once prospects feel control the good ones will in a better position to discover something:

They want to talk to you. Or, they want to take action on making a change.

Mistake No. 3: Not Letting Them Ask You for the Meeting
Most likely, you are asking for the meeting too often and too early. Instead, let them ask you.

“When do we succeed? When we don’t need the sale,” says sales trainer Mia Doucet of CrackTheSalesCode.com. She would know. She’s helped her clients generate hundreds of millions in new customer sales.

Doucet says our instinctual need for validation (as humans) often causes confusion. We often let our weak, selfish need to get the deal sabotage our own effort.

For example, we sometimes ask for a meeting too soon. Instead, we should be more confident: “attracting” the meeting to us.

Let’s assume you can grab a prospect’s attention and hold it with your first email or InMail message. Reality is, you have a chance to earn their request for a meeting. Sure, you can ask them for the meeting. But what you really want is for them to ask you for it.

Don’t act like you need the sale so badly. You want the prospect to be attracted to you. They already know you are attracted to them. You just sent them an email, after all!

It’s Like a Date
At one time, you were probably on a hot date. Maybe you had one last night. Either way, when you’ve decided “I want to attract this person to me” you can go about getting what you want (the next step, the next date or phone call) in one of two ways: Asking for it or being asked.

Which do you like better? We all like being asked for the next step; it signals attraction on the other side.

Do you have prospects who are not yet aware that your solution exists? If so, they are probably happy with what they have in place. Or maybe your prospects are too scared to abandon or switch from what they have in place.

Or they may just plain not care about making any change whatsoever. It’s not worth the risk. In these cases you’re forced to attract customers in a “pull” manner.

Plan for What You Want: Curiosity
Attracting clients to you is mostly about deciding in advance what details to hold back (that the other side wants the most). Then, alluding to it in a seductive or provocative (yet credible) way. It’s this structuring of how you “say what you say” that sparks customers’ curiosity.

Often times clients want “the how.” So by letting out just a little of your very best stuff each time it’s your turn to speak you create more questions about yourself … or your thing (what you sell).

This keeps the other side asking you rather than the other way around. This ultimately creates a moment in time where the potential buyer realizes, hey, you are worth a larger time investment.

Just like that first date: You’ll get asked for your phone number or to meet again. But none of this happens without having a plan.

What do you think? What’s your plan?

How to Avoid Being Banned by LinkedIn When Connecting

“Your LinkedIn account temporarily restricted.” It’s a common message for sellers these days. It’s easy to be restricted or even banned by LinkedIn—simply for requesting connections with prospects you don’t know.

“Your LinkedIn account temporarily restricted.” This is a fairly common message for sellers these days. It’s easy to be restricted or even banned by LinkedIn—simply for requesting connections with prospects you don’t know.

If your connection requests are not accepted by prospects often enough LinkedIn will remove your ability to make connection requests. Being restricted from sending connection requests (phase I) and being totally banned (phase II) by LinkedIn is common. Ask around. You’ll be surprised.

Stop Asking for Connections
Being connected is more useful for nurturing leads—less effective for earning near-term meetings or starting relationships. Want to avoid being restricted or banned? Want more appointments from LinkedIn?

Stop sending out connection requests. Sound crazy? Hear me out. Today I’ll tackle:

  • Why you don’t need a connection on the approach,
  • When you should ask for the connection and
  • How LinkedIn fits in (best) with your prospecting process.

Why You Don’t Need a Connection
Connecting with a newly targeted prospect on LinkedIn is a terrible idea. Yet I still see social selling “experts” recommending sales reps make connections—as a means to introduce themselves to prospects! But what if you didn’t need the connection?

What if connecting was preventing you from getting more response & appointments?

“Ok, Molander. So why isn’t it a good idea?”

Well, it’s against LinkedIn’s rules. Plus, you probably don’t need it anyway.

Yes, it seems like a logical first step but it’s blind, cold. You don’t know the other person and LinkedIn’s goal is to protect people from un-solicited correspondence. Yours!

So what is the best way to make your approach on LinkedIn?

What’s Your Process—and How Does LinkedIn Fit in?
When I first meet students I pop the question: How does LinkedIn fit into your prospecting process. Ninety-five percent of the time I get the same response.

“I need to figure that part out.”

Well enough. I know it feels right to use connection requests as a way to make contact—once you’ve identified a potential buyer’s profile. After all, there’s a big CONNECT button staring you in the face!

But connecting makes no sense from a process and relationship perspective. It can also get you banned.

For example, LinkedIn connection requests are:

  • Restricted to 300 characters
  • Impersonal (automated requests are forced on mobile devices)
  • Against the rules if you don’t know the prospect!

LinkedIn connections can be accepted, ignored or declined—just like your calls or emails. They offer nothing better. In fact, they come with restrictions, are often impersonal by default and are not permitted. They’re risky!

Connect With Prospects Later
Let’s shift to process. It is best to “connect” off of LinkedIn first—then connect on LinkedIn to further (nurture) the conversation.

This takes full advantage of what connections give you (and avoids the risk of being restricted).

Think of it this way. Outside of LinkedIn, what’s the difference between a successful sales rep and one who struggles at prospecting new business? Getting connected on LinkedIn? Nope!

It often boils down to your ability to give prospects an irresistible reason to talk with you.

This is what all the social selling gurus don’t like to talk about. It makes me crazy. They’re never telling us what we need to do to experience success—only what we’d prefer to hear (to experience momentary satisfaction in having taking action).

Why and How Connecting Later Works
When prospecting, your goal is to create an urge in the prospect to talk to you. If you don’t create that urge you don’t get to talk with them. Period.

Social selling on LinkedIn is all about helping prospects feel honestly curious about how you can help them. How you can solve a problem, relieve a pain, avoid a risk or fast-track a goal for them.

Once you’ve attracted them, then you’re in a stronger position to:

  • Understand when (and if) they’ll transact;
  • Discover how many decision-makers are involved in choosing you;
  • Have your connection request accepted (avoid going to jail!);
  • Effectively nurture & close your lead!

This is why it is best to meet off of LinkedIn first—then connect on LinkedIn to further (nurture) the conversation.

Once connected, you can message freely, monitor prospects, allow them to monitor you and such. You don’t need to worry about any of that until you’ve been given a reason to—by the prospect. First, you need their permission.

You need them to want the connection.

But What if LinkedIn Is my Starting Point?
The most dangerous (yet common) LinkedIn mistake sales professionals make is connecting with new prospects as a starting point. Avoid this practice.

You are smart to use LinkedIn—to identify and pre-qualify buyers. Next, use InMail, email or the phone to make initial contact with them. Confirm your prospect is a viable near-term or future buyer.

Then connect.

Having connections serves you better by earning them. Being connected is more useful for nurturing leads—less effective for earning near-term meetings or starting relationships.

LinkedIn’s InMail (or standard email) is a better path toward earning a relevant discussion first—then the connection.

Keep connections in context of your selling process. Connections are a nice-to-have, not a must have! Do you have questions about making this technique “come alive” for you? Let me know!

3 Ways to Waste Time on LinkedIn, but Feel Good About It

Ever feel like beating down all those bad tips for LinkedIn that we’ve all had enough of? You know, the tips and tricks that give us a week’s worth of satisfaction—followed by that sinking feeling. “Ugh… why did I invest any time in that?!” Well, today is your day to call out those time-wasters and discover what to do instead.

Ever feel like beating down all those bad tips for LinkedIn that we’ve had enough of? You know, the tips and tricks that give us a week’s worth of satisfaction—followed by that sinking feeling. “Ugh … why did I invest any time in that?!” Well, today is your day to call out those time-wasters and discover what to do instead.

No. 1: Share Quality Content Focused on Providing Value
“I have seen little (okay, I’m exaggerating) to no success using LinkedIn,” John Reeb of the Colorado Leadership Institute told me.

“I have tried to add value to anyone who reads what I post … so that they gain some kind of expertise or learning that helps them in their day-to-day work… yet I’ve receive virtually no feedback nor any sales from it,” Mr. Reeb told me in a candid LinkedIn exchange.

LinkedIn gurus claim being seen as an expert in your field is the killer strategy. But it’s not. It’s the reward for having an effective approach.

We’ve been told “share and they will come.” But merely sharing valuable content on LinkedIn won’t help you find clients. Instead, start bold, truthful discussions in LinkedIn Groups. Post updates on issues that competitors wouldn’t dare go near.

Give potential buyers a reason to listen to you, to care about your words-to pay attention to you. Tell the truths your competitors don’t want told. Tell the truths you’re a little scared to tell!

Ask yourself what shocking truth can you reveal that:

  • Gives insight on an idea customers never heard before.
  • Busts a myth your clients have been told is true—that isn’t!
  • Confirms their suspicion that some sellers are telling “white lies.”

Successful social selling often means helping prospects believe in a new, more useful point-of-view-in a way they can act on. That’s where your lead generation offer plugs in. In fact, what to post on LinkedIn updates isn’t nearly as important as how you post.

No. 2: Comment Frequently on Group Discussions and Prospects’ Updates
You can’t throw a cat without hitting an expert espousing this time-wasting tip. Let the truth finally be told. Participation on LinkedIn is the cost of entry. Learning how to apply social media copywriting is the force multiplier.

Success depends less on how frequently you update your profile status, how often you participate in Group discussions or what you say. You’ll get more responses (and leads) by investing time in structuring words to be provocative.

Instead of wasting time patting people on the back, disagree once in a while. Invent ways to make potential buyers curious about your ability to solve a problem, remedy a pain or fast-track a goal.

Don’t get caught up in the popular nonsense: show you’re human, give-give-give before you get and (my personal favorite) tell a good story. As with any relationship in life, having personality and being interesting is the entry fee. It’s essential. Makes sure you know how to write social media posts so they provoke a response.

The key to turning LinkedIn interactions into business leads is following a social media copywriting process.

At the highest level, this process involves:

  • Getting to the point immediately.
  • Having something honestly new (and useful) to say.
  • Not saying too much too fast. Being a little mysterious.

No. 3: Connect With Prospects
Perhaps the most dangerous tip is connecting with prospects you don’t know. Again, self-appointed gurus are the problem, not the good people (you) using LinkedIn.

Have you ever been banned by LinkedIn for requesting connections with prospects you don’t know? Know anyone who has?

Being temporarily banned by LinkedIn for this practice is very common. Yet we never read anything about it or hear anyone talking about this problem at conferences.

Fact: If your connection requests are not accepted often enough, LinkedIn will remove your ability to make requests.

LinkedIn prohibits contacting distant prospects. LinkedIn is not a good place to contact people whom you don’t have (at least) a second degree connection with, and whom you don’t have specific knowledge about.

If you have a new prospect—who you’ve never spoken to-it’s probably not a good idea to request a connection on LinkedIn (outside of an InMail message). That is, until you have better proximity to the prospect … better ability to approach once they know you or have a high probability of accepting the connection request.

From a practical view, here’s why: Because this is not what LinkedIn is intended for. It’s not what the founders built LinkedIn to do for sellers.

In fact, LinkedIn wasn’t originally built with “social selling” in mind. Just like Facebook wasn’t built for marketing.

That said, LinkedIn and social selling are evolving into a great match. In fact it’s the bedrock of their growth plan as a business. But be careful. Connecting with prospects is where a lot of sellers go wrong and pay the price!

Questions about any of my tips? Disagree with my perspective? Let me know. Good luck to you!

LinkedIn Premium Is Worth It IF …

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it for sales pros? Yes, but only if you have an effective, repeatable way to get conversations going once connected. Getting buyers talking about their pains and your solution is tough. So here is a three-step process to make sure LinkedIn’s Premium or Sales Navigator is worth the cost.

Is LinkedIn Premium worth it for sales pros? Yes, but only if you have an effective, repeatable way to get conversations going once connected. Getting buyers talking about their pains and your solution is tough. So here is a three-step process to make sure LinkedIn’s Premium or Sales Navigator is worth the cost.

Make sure you/your sellers systematically:

  1. Spark prospects’ curiosity;
  2. provoke buyers to act (become a lead);
  3. connect that curiosity to what you sell.

Why Most LinkedIn Premium Investments Don’t Pay Off
We forget to give the other side a distinct, compelling reason to connect beyond, “my network.” Fact is, 95 percent of sellers asking for connections are promising access to their network.

But nobody cares about your network unless you give them a reason to.

Increase your connections and conversations by stating a specific reason the other side will benefit. What is the:

  • Pain you’ll remedy?
  • Hurdle you’ll help them clear?
  • Risk you’ll help them avoid?
  • Short-cut to more success you’ll give the prospect?

How to Spark a Sales-Focused Conversation
Want to start discussion with a potential buyer? State a reason in your connection request or shortly afterward. But remember, it must be mutually beneficial, worthwhile and crystal clear.

What you “put into” LinkedIn Premium, InMail or the Sales Navigator makes the difference.

Also, state the reason and set expectation for the other side. Promise access to a specific benefit. Tell the buyer how and when they’ll benefit. Make your promise something worthwhile.

Distinct. Unusually useful. Credible. Then, follow through on your promise.

How to Connect: An Example Template
Here’s how you can get started right away with this concept, even if you don’t know your prospects’ pain.

The following connection request example can be used as a template. It was written for a student of mine in the sales training business.

Greetings, [First name]. I’d like to decide if connecting on LinkedIn will benefit both of us. Are you seeking effective ways to boost sales managers’ productivity? This is my specialty. Based on what I’m reading on your profile, connecting may open the door to mutual opportunity. Would you like to quickly explore? Thanks for considering, [First name].

All the best,
Sam Smith, Sales Manager Productivity Coach

Of course, you may not want to reveal a specific benefit (to connecting) up front. Or you may not (yet) know their pain. Thus, you might not know what benefit to promise.

So you’ll hold back a bit and provoke the prospect to tell you their pain.

Why and How Provocation Works
Let’s quickly dissect why the above approach is so effective at earning connections and conversations about what you’re selling. It’s all about creating curiosity in the prospect—fast.

Line 1 gets right to the point: Let’s decide if there’s benefit here or not.

Line 2 gets to the point of pain/goals.

Line 3 signals, “This is why I’m relevant to you” and “I’m bold.”

Line 4 says, “I did my homework” and “This is why you are now considering talking to me” plus it creates curiosity (“What does he/she see?”).

Line 5 says, “I’m looking for an answer and you have the power to give it to me” as well as “I’m not out to waste your time.”

Line 6 says, “Again, I know this is your decision … and I also know your name. You are not part of a mass emailing.” (You become distinct)

The Post-Connection Email
Once connected to the prospect, your next email (thanking them for the Connection) must:

  1. Provoke the buyer to tell you his/her near or far-term goal or pain.
  2. Tempt the buyer to talk on the phone or in a short, but more detailed, email conversation

Thus, be sure to communicate:

  • “If you need a better, faster way to increase success—now or in the future—we should talk more.
  • If not, no worries.
  • But if so, I’m the person for you because ________ (insert your point of distinction).”

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions.

How to Convince Trade Show Contacts to Engage and Buy on LinkedIn

You’re attending conferences, coming back to the office and requesting prospects connect with you via LinkedIn. You’re getting connections, but are you getting any action? Are you generating leads and nurturing them to transact? You will, and more often, if you follow this simple template:

You’re attending conferences, coming back to the office and requesting prospects connect with you via LinkedIn. You’re getting connections, but are you getting any action? Are you generating leads and nurturing them to transact? You will, and more often, if you follow this simple template:

  1. Remove all focus on you—dramatically.
  2. State a benefit to connecting they cannot resist.
  3. Nurture the lead to fruition using provocative tips.

For example, one of my students used this message to approach prospects … and failed.

Hi, Juile,

Nice meeting you at _______ [conference]. If it’s ok, I’d like to invite you to become a member of my professional network of prospective buyers on LinkedInmade up of high-level executives worldwide. Check them out. I don’t sell to them, but they do buy from me. It’s up to you.

Sincerely,
Charles

Let’s examine the mistakes made and an approach that increased his connection ratio and sparked discussions about what he sells.

Remove All Focus on You
It sounds obvious. But are you doing it—and doing it dramatically? If you’re like most sellers using LinkedIn, you’re letting what you need (leads) get in the way of what your prospect needs to act on (a problem or goal).

The solution is to put what your buyers want to hear up front in the first sentence. Clobber them with it. Tell them how you can remedy their pains or increase their success rates.

“Nice meeting you at the conference,” is an effective way to set context. However, asking someone to become a member of your professional network:

  • is not distinct—it sounds like one of countless other requests
  • is not clearly beneficial to the recipient

Using descriptors like “high-level” and “worldwide” is noise. It’s not important to the prospect. Period. The general rule is to remove all descriptors (adjectives and adverbs). If you do, you’ll sound bold and create an attraction.

Keep the focus on the other side.

State the Benefit in Dramatic Terms
Set the bar high. You don’t want a connection or discussion. You want the prospect to act—to see you as relevant to a pain or goal and irresistible. You want them to act, now.

Specifically, let’s get your prospect to take action—connect and, in near or far term, identify as a warm lead. However, be careful: don’t let your need cloud your ability to focus on the prospects’ point of view.

In my example with Charles, he uses an occasional newsletter to nurture leads. He aims it at his LinkedIn contacts tagged as “long-term leads.” These are buyers who are qualified to buy, but have not yet identified themselves as needy.

Charles’ newsletter is sparking discussions—helping him nurture and identify buyers. People are reading the newsletter and hitting reply, reacting to what he says. With this valuable tool in mind, we can improve Charles’ success rate when approaching conference leads to join his list.

For example:

Hi, Julie. Nice meeting you at _______ (conference). Connecting on LinkedIn will benefit both of us. For example, I send out a newsletter to a privileged group of colleagues on occasion. It provides useful tips to my most valuable relationships … in a way that often sparks reactions. This keeps us in touch … so we increase chances of helping each other whenever possible. What do you think? Thanks for considering.

Charles

Notice how confident and useful Charles sounds, right up-front. He sounds certain: this is a good idea. Plus he states why by focusing on what the other side wants—useful tips that creates benefits.

Also notice the use of the word privileged and how it implies exclusive benefit to the prospect.

Bottom line: If Charles has an asset (a newsletter that sparks reactions with potential buyers) he should leverage it. Also, instead of positioning his LinkedIn network as being valuable (sounding like 98% of LinkedIn users) he positions what his prospects want as what he has for them.

All his future buyer need do is act.

Your Turn
Can what you sell solve a problem? Can it give customers a life-altering experience or bring them closer to reaching a goal?

Let them know you’ve got a sample of it waiting for them.

All they need to do is respond.

Politely tease them a little. Dangle a carrot. When you’re writing the goal is to help them think, “I wonder what, exactly, he/she means by that?”

In the end, it’s easy to end up feeling like a zombie—dumping contacts into LinkedIn, hoping prospects will connect. After that? This is where the strategy tends to fall apart. Don’t let it happen to you.

Remember to avoid:

  • losing focus on benefits you bring to the other side (state them up-front!)
  • asking prospects to do what they likely don’t want to do or have time to do … or see immediate benefit in (explore your LinkedIn connections / network)
  • using descriptors like “high level executives worldwide” (don’t try to convince prospects of something they may already understand—your value!)

Good luck and let me know how this works for you!

How to Write a LinkedIn InMail (Or Any Email) That Gets Clients Talking

Are you using LinkedIn for sales prospecting and not getting enough discussion going? You’re not alone. The problem with most LinkedIn InMail templates is they don’t work. Worse, templates I see being passed around the Web actually sabotage B-to-B sellers needing to get from connection to conversation! Here is a fast, painless way to go beyond connecting to prospects—to get more sales-focused conversations going when using InMail, Group email or regular, prospecting focused email messages.

Are you using LinkedIn for sales prospecting and not getting enough discussion going? You’re not alone. The problem with most LinkedIn InMail templates is they don’t work. Worse, templates I see being passed around the Web actually sabotage B-to-B sellers needing to get from connection to conversation!

Here is a fast, painless way to go beyond connecting to prospects—to get more sales-focused conversations going when using InMail, Group email or regular, prospecting focused email messages.

Why Your Current Templates Are Underperforming
The problem with most LinkedIn InMail templates is they subconsciously communicate “me-me-me” to the recipient. Your templates may also fail to give prospects a compelling reason to talk with you after clicking “accept.”

Some email templates I’m seeing “out there online” accidentally help prospects decide to ignore the message. Ouch!

Quick Fix: Nix the “I”s
“I” this and “I” that. It’s such a turn-off when dating. It’s even more so with email.

Using a bunch of “I”s seems like an obvious no-no. Yet, you’ll find “I”s all over the place—in LinkedIn templates that struggle to (or claim to be) successful.

Be sure to:

  • Avoid starting your message with the word “I” … and …
  • when done crafting an email or LinkedIn InMail template go back and see if you can pluck “I”s out of it.

You can do this right now with your underperforming message templates.

How to Improve Your Templates
The below connection request InMail example is being passed around the Web as a “best practice,” but it’s a sure-fire way to get ignored. Watch out!

Hi _________ (first name),

As a member of the _________ (LinkedIn group) group, I wanted to introduce myself. I’m _______________(title or background) with _______________ (company) and wanted to connect with area professionals. If you are not open to connecting, please ignore this invite. Thanks!

This template is terribly self-centered. Topping-it-off, it invites the prospect to ignore us! Woah.

Being polite is a great idea. But do yourself a favor. Be polite without inviting someone to ignore you!

Let’s apply our new habit: Tallying-up the “I”s before we press send. Then, decreasing the “I”s to increase response and generate focused conversations more effectively.

Let’s rewrite the above LinkedIn InMail example as:

Hi _________ (first name),

We both participate in the ____________ group and should know each other because ____________ (insert specific, mutual benefit). How can my network of colleagues help advance your ambitions or bring you closer to goals? Thanks for considering the connection. I look forward to helping and hearing from you.

This improved version serves you better by:

  1. Emphasizing the other person by removing most of the “I”s.
  2. Giving the recipient a reason to act. You’re clearly stating “the WHY.”
  3. “Bringing to life” an appealing idea: making your LinkedIn network available to advance their agenda.
  4. Creating interest. By asking a question we compel the recipient to consider answering. By asking the question we encourage the thought, “gee, how can this person’s network serve me right now?”
  5. Being polite without inviting deletion and increasing response.

Would you like to see more effective LinkedIn InMail examples like this? Shoot me an email or get in touch in comments and I’ll be happy to share more.

Exploit What You Already Know Works
Believe it or not, your chances of clients responding increases when saying, “thanks for considering.” Because this affirms the prospect’s right to choose.

This technique is a B-to-B copywriter’s secret weapon.

It’s highly successful because it disarms the other person. You are no longer a pushy person; instead, a breath of fresh air!

Figuring out how to use LinkedIn to find clients can be a real chore. That’s why successful social sellers use a proven, effective system. Remember, keep the faith. Your success will increase. Start by removing all those “I”s, ask for a decision to be made and work at creating irresistible curiosity in your words.

Now you have a better way to get prospects so curious they cannot resist accepting your connection request and asking deeper, probing questions. Let me know how it’s working for you ok?