LinkedIn InMail Changes: What B-to-B Sellers Should Do Next

The new LinkedIn InMail changes are in effect—leaving sales reps and managers upset and confused. InMail just got much more expensive for average B-to-B sellers. However, you can now access a nearly unlimited supply of InMail credits under the new policy—by making one small change to how you craft InMail messages.

The new LinkedIn InMail changes are in effect—leaving sales reps and managers upset and confused. InMail just got much more expensive for average B-to-B sellers. However, you can now access a nearly unlimited supply of InMail credits under the new policy—by making one small change to how you craft InMail messages.

Yes, I said nearly unlimited. No, I’m not kidding, nor risking my integrity.

There is a way to send 100 InMail messages and get 193 credits back (for you to re-use again).

Briefly, What Changed and Why?
When InMail was introduced, LinkedIn’s “guaranteed response” policy rewarded spammy messages. Oops. So, as of January, LinkedIn gives InMail credits (that you buy) back—BUT only for InMails that earn a response in 90 days.

This is radically new.

Under the old system if you did not receive a response within a week, the InMail credit you purchased was given back. LinkedIn guaranteed a response. However, this rewards you for failing.

For example, let’s say you purchased 50 InMails and sent them. A (poor) 10 percent response rate allowed you to earn credits and send over 400 InMails per month. Thus, the policy increased the amount of spammy InMail messages being sent. The system rewarded it.

What the New Policy Means to You
Going forward, you will receive a credit (get your money back) for each InMail receiving a response within 90 days. You can re-use the money to invest again … and again and again. But if you earn no reply (or a poor response rate) your money is wasted.

LinkedIn’s old InMail policy rewarded sellers who weren’t successful with InMail.

LinkedIn’s new InMail policy rewards you (only) for writing messages that get good response. How good?

If you send 100 InMails per month, with a steady 20 percent response rate, you will end up with about 125 total InMails to send-based on InMails credited back to your account.

How to Send 100 InMails and Get 193 Credits Back
If you’re an average InMail user, you’re seeing credits vanish lately. But there is a way to send 100 InMail messages and get 98 returned to you. Or even 193 credits back (for you to re-use again).

How? Write effective InMail messages.

For example, let’s say you earn a 50 percent response rate on your first batch of 100 InMails sent. Over time (as you use the InMail credits returned to you) you earn a total of 98 credits. Not bad. You get nearly all of your investment back for re-use.

But what if you were really good? Let’s say you earned a 70 percent response rate to your InMail messages? Hey, it’s possible. I have students who earn 73 percent response rates.

With a 70 percent response rate, you would earn 193 InMail credits (of your original 100) to re-use for prospecting.

In actual practice the math is a bit messy, due to the delays between prospects responding and LinkedIn’s re-issuing credits. But you get the picture.

Should You Stop Using InMail?
As much as it may hurt, your never-ending stream of InMail credits were part of LinkedIn’s lack of foresight. If you are considering investing in InMail you’re in luck. Learn from this experience. Most B-to-B sellers who invested in LinkedIn Sales Navigator (and InMail) are complaining loudly. Many are resigning accounts.

And they should.

As Darwin said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

Change for the better.

What to Do Next
LinkedIn’s InMail policy change is another signal. Another warning. A reason to abandon fairy-tale beliefs like:

  • Email prospecting doesn’t cost anything when it fails-or under-performs
  • It’s mostly a numbers game
  • Getting response and appointments means sending more emails

Yes, it is a numbers game. Just like cold-calling. But what is the basis of an effective cold-call routine?

An effective communications process. More specifically: A systematic, repeatable, scalable way to turn calls in to leads. I recently described this technique—gave next steps and templates to help make it easy.

If you aren’t serious about learning an effective process, you won’t experience predictable success.

“Lazy individuals will still be able to send indifferent InMails, but they won’t be rewarded for it.” says Bruce Johnston of The Practical Social Media blog.

“The new InMail system will reward people with imagination that experiment to get optimal response rates,” says Johnston.

Whether you pay cash for LinkedIn InMail credits or send standard emails to prospects … if it doesn’t work, it costs you. Cash or wasted time-time you should have spent doing something productive!

How do you feel about LinkedIn’s new InMail policy? What do you intend to do about it, looking forward?

Making LinkedIn Sales Navigator Work for You

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be great investment. But recovering the money you invest means having an effective, repeatable way to get buyers asking about your product/service.

Having a reliable way to provoke response from buyers is the piece most sales reps and recruiting professionals are overlooking. Today, I’ll give you that piece and three templates to take action on—start improving your ROI with Sales Navigator.

“What Does Navigator (Alone) Give Me?”
Sales Navigator provides more access to the LinkedIn database.

Navigator also:

  • makes automated lead suggestions for you (however, my clients rarely get quality leads this way);
  • allows 700 search results (vs. 100) when querying the database;
  • lets you access prospects you don’t know—via InMail messages.

InMail Rules Totally Changed in 2015
Since Jan. 1, 2015 LinkedIn gives “credits” (you buy) back—but only for InMails that earn a response in 90 days.

This is NEW!

Remember the old system? If you did not receive a response within a week, it was credited back to you. You were rewarded for your success AND for failures. Whoops! This encouraged way too much spam.

Today you receive a credit (get your money back) for each InMail receiving a response within 90 days.

What the New InMail Rules Mean to You
Your money is wasted when your potential buyer:

  • hits the “Not interested” button this COUNTS as a response!
  • replies negatively or
  • ignores your message.

Hence, InMail is not guaranteed to be effective. Plus, if it’s not you’re punished by LinkedIn.

InMail also is monitored and rated by LinkedIn—and you must maintain an InMail reputation score in order to send messages. If enough prospects mark you as spam, you’re out of the game.

That’s another reason why you need a reliable communications process that sparks customers’ curiosity in InMails you’re sending.

Do This Right Now
When writing InMails, be sure to state a clear reason the other side will benefit from hitting reply. Make inviting you to speak an attractive idea. Sound crazy? It’s not. Give it a try. It works.

Here are simple guidelines to follow:

  • Be brief, blunt and basic: Write four to five sentences MAX.
  • After drafting, reduce the number of “I’s” and “my’s” in your message.
  • State a clear reason you want a reply in your InMail.
  • Conclude with the customer’s name again. (hyper-personalize)

This will help you put an insane amount of focus on the prospect.

A Few (Proven) Templates for You
For example:

Subject line: Let’s decide?

Hi, [prospect first name].

Are you looking for a better way to ________ [insert goal]? If so may propose a short email exchange—to decide if a deeper conversation is warranted? I __________________[insert description of you] who helps businesses like _______ [insert target business name]. If not, thanks for your time in considering. Please let me know your decision, [prospect first name]?

Sincerely,
[your name]

Why does this template work? For a handful of reasons. If you’re curious ask me in comments and I’ll explain.

When you write, make taking the next step:

  • rewarding to the prospect;
  • predictable and
  • crystal clear to them.

Want to learn this system now? Here are two more free templates to get you started.

Will You Waste Time and Money on LinkedIn?
LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a good investment, but you are only buying access. Knowing what you do now … having invested time in reading this … what will you do?

Will you rely on a systematic approach this year? Or will you struggle and risk failing?

Will you make quick work of prospecting—or will this feel like slave labor? It’s in your hands. Let me know if I can help.

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?

Writing Effective InMail and Sales Emails: Don’t Ask for the Appointment

Here’s my best tip on writing effective sales emails or LinkedIn InMail messages: Don’t ask for the appointment. Instead, earn permission for a discussion. Then, execute it (via email) in a way that creates an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment. Sound crazy? Sound too difficult? It’s not. I’ll even give you a template.

Here’s my best tip on writing effective sales emails or LinkedIn InMail messages: Don’t ask for the appointment. Instead, earn permission for a discussion. Then, execute it (via email) in a way that creates an urge in the prospect to ask you for the appointment.

Sound crazy? Sound too difficult? It’s not. I’ll even give you a template.

Asking for Appointments Destroys Response Rates
“Any time you begin your sale with an attempt to get an appointment, you are being rejected by approximately 90 percent to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects,” said Sharon Drew Morgen, inventor of the Buying Facilitation method.

That’s because most buyers don’t know exactly what they need. Or they do have a need but aren’t ready to buy yet. Other buyers have not yet assembled the decision-making team.

Setting an appointment with a seller will happen—but not with you.

Because you asked for it (too early).

The Goal of Your Email or InMail Is Permission
The goal of your “first touch” message is to earn the right to have a discussion. Nothing else. It’s exactly like an effective cold call.

It’s a LinkedIn InMail best practice most sales reps don’t know about. It also works with standard email and is surprisingly simple.

Start writing in a way that gets buyers

  1. affirming (“yes, I will be acting on this”) and eventually
  2. inquiring (“can you tell me more about that?”)

The goal of your email or InMail is to earn the right to step up to the plate—not swing for the wall.

Slow Down Your ‘First Touch’
I recently diagnosed and treated an ineffective InMail message example on recent DMIQ Brunch & Learn webinar, “How to Write Effective Email and LinkedIn Messages that Boost Response.”

In the message, the sales rep is going for the kill. Big mistake. He sent me an InMail message asking me to:

  • Validate the idea of a discussion about his solution
  • Invest time in learning about his service
  • Understand his competitive advantage
  • Refer him to the best decision-maker
  • Consider a “free analysis” (a proposal for his services)
  • Invest time on the phone with him

This is a common (yet ineffective) approach to writing LinkedIn InMail messages.

A Better Approach
The goal of an effective InMail message is NOT to get a meeting or any of the above bullets. If you try to force these you’ll fail. This is what kills your LinkedIn InMail response rate.

Instead, use an InMail message to provoke a “Can you tell me more?” response from a potential buyer. Use the chance to push on a pain—or surface an unknown fact—that the entire decision-making team will applaud you for.

Get on the radar of all decision-makers by asking for permission to facilitate, not discuss need.

Remember, the idea is to present information (content) that helps groups of decision-makers set aside differences, identifies common ground and prioritizes next steps (in the decision-making process).

An Effective InMail Template Example
Here is an effective InMail template for you to try. Let me know how it works for you? Seriously, let me know. Get in touch in comments or email me.

Hi, Sam.

How are you adding new capability to your ______________ [insert area of business your product/services addresses] at any time soon or in future? I work with organizations like ____ [prospect’s business] to make sure ________ [goal].

Would you like to quickly explore, via email, if a larger conversation makes sense? Please let me know what you decide, Sam?

Thanks for considering,
Jeff

Remember, be creative. You don’t need to stick with this template verbatim. Make the tone sound like you. Adjust it. Please get in touch in comments or email me with the results this approach produces for you!