5 Elements to Avoid in Your InMail Campaigns

I studied the best InMail campaigns over the last year, and this is what I learned: The fastest way to increase LinkedIn InMail response rates is to break away from the pack. Stand out. Write messages in radically different ways.

I studied the best InMail campaigns over the last year, and this is what I learned: The fastest way to increase LinkedIn InMail response rates is to break away from the pack. Stand out. Write messages in radically different ways.

First and foremost, be sure you’re not using popular InMail tactics. Generally speaking, if LinkedIn is promoting a “best practice” you can bet it’s tired, old and ineffective. This isn’t my opinion; rather, it’s the experience coaching sales reps and small business owners.

Starting a conversation with decision-makers is increasingly difficult … unless you make a clean break from standard messaging practices. This means, generally, avoid:

Change your game. Radically. Stand out. It’s the fastest way to run the best InMail campaign possible.

The best InMail campaigns avoid using weak words and structure. These include (but are not limited to) messages using:

  • Cordial (yet unnecessary) salutations
  • “Hook” questions (that customers see right through)
  • Descriptions of value your company provides and calls to action (too early)

Sadly, a large number of people are sending InMail campaigns that fail to avoid these elements. The below is an actual email that hit my inbox this morning. I’ve disguised the sender’s name and company. However, they are a nearly 1,000-employee organization selling lead identification services, in which you can “identify your anonymous website visitors turning them into leads.”

Worth noting, most of our clients have used this SaaS (software as a service) company with poor results.

1. Subject Line Telegraphing “Sales Pitch Inside”

Subject of our example: “Start your year in the LEAD”

The job of an InMail subject line is singular: Spark curiosity about what’s inside the message itself. The above subject line (“Start your year in the LEAD”) fails to deliver because it:

  • Attempts to be cute (with a pun)
  • Is written in a marketing tone
  • Identifies what’s inside (a sales pitch about lead generation)
  • Reads like a slogan or ad title

Instead, our clients’ experiences shows the best InMail subject lines perform because they are:

  • 4 words or less
  • Avoid cute / marketing tone
  • Contain a “tension” element, provoking curiosity
  • Leaning toward vague

2. Salutations That Inadvertently Subvert

“Hey Jeff.”

This is the salutation given in my example. In the words of sales trainer, Jeb Blount, “Don’t ‘bro’ me until you know me.”

Blount says if you present yourself to strangers (prospects) in a familiar way, you’re asking for trouble. It may come off as rude or disrespectful.

“You may offend the person who is going to pay your next commission check,” says Blount who recently got two InMail and two email messages using words like “hey” and “dude” and “bro.” This is language you would use with friends in a bar. Not a prospect.

After they “Hey Jeff,” my seller chose this phrase:

“I hope you had a great Christmas and a happy new year! Just a quick message to see if you’ve heard of ABC Company?”

Aligning with that overly familiar “hey,” this sales rep shows zero effort in making his InMail message relevant to me. Instead, he wishes me well as a means to break ice and appear familiar.

This is the most transparent way to communicate, “I have nothing worthwhile for you.” to me. Believe me. It also wastes precious time. One doesn’t even need to open their email if they see a subject line and first sentence like this in their email client.

This tactic is an insurance policy on not getting opened and being marked as spam … or, at best, being deleted.

Worse, the rep asks a yes or no “hook” question … which is all about his company. This is the worst flavor of hook questions as it is the most self-centered possible.

Can you imagine what is coming next … after he asks, “Have you heard of my company?” Of course you can. A sales pitch.

3. Too Much, Too Fast

Next, this sales rep launches directly into his pitch:

“ABC Company has revolutionized website lead generation for customers throughout North America — the software will give you better marketing and sales insight than you’ve ever had before, enabling you to maximize your ROI and fuel your sales team with high quality, sales-ready leads.”

Setting aside the many grammar, punctuation and readability of this message it is plagued with marketing copy. This is a problem.

Think of it this way. Pretend you are a sales rep for this company. Read the above aloud to yourself … as if you were standing across from someone, face-to-face. If you feel too silly just pretend you’re reading it aloud in your head … but picture yourself delivering that gigantic, self-centered, posturing blather face-to-face.

The tone is “radio or TV spot.” It’s a marketing tone. There is nothing provocative about it. This message puts the company before the value it provides.

Instead, it needs to contain one-to-one, personal tone … to be part of the best InMail campaign possible.. to provoke replies and start conversations with targets.

Instead, it presents the company’s value proposition without the prospect (me) having (first) expressed interest. The remainder of this email relies exclusively on the “yes” answer to the hook question.

Even if the prospect (me in this case) were to answer “yes” to the hook question the copy is difficult to read and tone is advert-like.

4. More Hooks, More Unsolicited Answers

The InMail message continues:

“What does ABC Company give you?”

This is the classic marketing hook question. I’ve seen instances where sellers follow “What can we give you?” with “I thought you’d never ask.” Simply horrible. Usually written by low-skilled copywriters … for their sales force to use.

The message continues with a list of objectives the seller assumes are valuable to me. He assumes this because he doesn’t know. And I get that. But if this seller took time to provoke a discussion then he would know.

I would know he knows. That would make him vastly different than 95% of other sellers vying for my attention. That would be good for him!

Because some of his value proposition does sound valuable. But this information is coming too soon in the conversation.

I (as a buyer) need to ask for these details to be shared … then the seller can email me more information.

This shows him I am hungry … I have been provoked.

Instead, the seller pushes information at me, saying I will get:

  1. Details of precisely which organizations have visited your website – in real-time
  2. The contact information of key decision makers at those organizations – including telephone numbers and email addresses
  3. Insight into how they found you, what they have looked at and how long they spent on your website
  4. Real-time alerts to your sales team when a prospect visits your website

5. Calls to Action

In typical marketing style the seller concludes with a call to action in his sales-driven InMail campaign.

He concludes by asking for the meeting.

You should never ask for the meeting in a cold email message.

“If you are curious to see how our software will benefit Communications Edge, let’s arrange a complimentary online demonstration and discuss our completely free, no obligation trial. What’s the best direct dial or email to reach you? — are you available sometime this week?”

Sadly, odds of his prospects making this far down the message are nearly zero. However, use of words here (at end and throughout) tear down his chances of earning replies.

Because the copy risks him sounding desperate.

“Completely free?” As opposed to non-complete freeness? Hmm. Sounds sketchy. “No obligation.” Hmm. He’s still trying to reassure me this will be good for me. Words like “hope” and “looking forward to your reply” and “I would love to” all risk making sellers look desperate for the meeting.

Also, notice how he suggests what he said (so far in this message) might make me curious. Hmm. Even if I was interested in his general value proposition he has given me so much information to consider (about himself) so soon in the game I have very few questions … very little curiosity.

This entire exchange becomes a “yes or no.” I either want to contact him, now, because I have a need or not. This limits his response and engaging as many targets as possible. (warm and hot leads)

If I don’t yet have a need there is no incentive to be in touch with him.

He also shares:

“Don’t have time to talk? Book your demo online: [link]”

… and …

“P.S. For a bit more info, feel free to take a further look here [link]”

Largely, calls to action are ineffective and inappropriate in sales emails and LinkedIn InMail messages. Multiple calls-to-action add to the confusion. It is best to look exclusively for a response in InMail campaigns, in most cases.

What has your experience taught you about structuring the best InMail campaign possible?

Ditch the Call to Action in Your Cold Email Strategy

Think about the last time a salesperson piqued your interest with a cold email, then stopped. They didn’t try to coerce or steer you. Instead, they were silent … acknowledging your right to choose to engage or walk away.

Think about the last time a salesperson piqued your interest with a cold email, then stopped. They didn’t try to coerce or steer you. Instead, they were silent … acknowledging your right to choose to engage or walk away.

We often walk away. But think about a time you chose to continue. Because you were curious, you asked for more details … to fully grasp what sounded intriguing.

Why did you make that choice? Probably because you were offered the chance to choose.

Now think about the last time a seller piqued your interest but told you what to do next.

That’s what a call to action is. It’s a directive, a guide. It’s a tool marketers use to tell the customer what to do next.

Ask yourself, as a sales person: What does giving directive do for you — in a cold email outreach context?

It directs the prospective buyer. It tells them what you want them to do next.

This is exactly why, in many cases, avoiding a call to action is the best way to provoke a conversation with decision-makers.

Psychologists and neuro-linguistic programming geeks have long studied the power of acknowledging the other side’s right to choose. You should too.

PDFs and Web Links Don’t Work

The use of PDFs and web links are usually applied in a persuasive context. Bad idea for cold sales email messages.

“I’ve attached a brief presentation explaining our value.” Or, “Please consider enrolling in this free demo of our tool …” are calls to action. And in most cases, they’re calling for action in ways working against the sales rep.

Your PDF should not out-sell you. The goal of your cold email should be to spark a conversation, not get your PDF reviewed, nor earn a demo or trial.

That’s a marketing outcome.

Generally, introduction of marketing constructs into cold sales email messages is proving disastrous. Mostly because decision-makers are, in comparison, open to having their curiosity piqued about a problem to be solved, or issue they’re grappling with.

They’ve had enough marketing shoved at them — from marketers and, lately, sales people who push marketing messages and calls to action.

Give Them a Choice

Letting the other side choose to engage or not allows both sides to mutually qualify if a discussion is worthwhile.

“The problem is choice.” It’s one of my favorite movie script lines. Indeed, in The Matrix, choice is the problem for Neo, the pesky Anomaly in The Architect’s tyrannical system. Yet for sales reps the removal of choice is the problem!

Think about it. Removing choice is the ultimate marketing outcome. The way it’s executed is persuasion. A call to action fit right in with that kind of bold, brash technique.

Grab attention — then direct it. Hurry, before the customer figures out a way to wriggle off the hook.

But calls to action rarely fit the cold sales email context. You cannot tell a customer to engage or meet. You must help them want to meet — if there is justification to meet.

I’m often told, “Jeff I need a better email message — to grab attention, gain credibility and convince a prospect to talk with me.”

Wrong. That model eliminates choice. It attempts to persuade and then coerce a decision. Result: A few meetings happen but with reluctant prospects.

Also, consider your decision-maker is bombarded with meeting requests — all asking to give sellers the chance to persuade them!

Instead, let the other side choose to engage or not. This allows both sides to mutually qualify if a discussion is worthwhile.

Acknowledge your prospects’ right to choose. This begins the process of helping customers to convince themselves to speak … if, in fact, the decision to engage is what they need.

Quick Example

Below is an actual example of how I helped Ben, a sales rep for a retail data analysis company targeting branded manufacturers of textiles and shoes. His original cold email call to action was not working … it was typical:

Do you have 15 mins to hop on a call so we can see what your needs are and how we can help?

We quickly created a curiosity-sparking way to structure the middle and end of an effective cold email — without a call to action. It’s working!

I have an idea for you. Not sure if it’s a fit. Ralph Lauren is using an unusual tactic to ensure price alignment, drive demand and increase revenue ~31%. Are you open to hearing how they are doing it?

Best regards,
Ben

No marketing-esque call to action. Pure provocation, focusing on the amazing story Ralph Lauren (Ben’s client) is creating for itself.

This technique is resulting in far more discussions for Ben. All without a call to action.

1 More Reason to Avoid a Call to Action

Context. Cold email arrives without any context. Your prospect has no expectation of the email. Unlike a marketing email, where the reader has opted in, the reader is not expecting nor giving permission to be told what to do.

A call to action is out of context — because there is no context in a cold email.

Your cold email is fresh, new, unexpected; however, it’s also assumed to be delete-worthy (by default).

Think about your own inbox. If a sales person’s subject line “pushes a pain” you are presumed to have — delete key. If it requests a meeting — delete key. Offers a free demo — delete key.

These are the easy-to-spot, unsolicited come-ons plaguing inboxes of decision-makers. The more we all experience these patterns, the easier it is to delete without opening.

Remember: Most sales outreach is pushing self-centered marketing copy and ending with a cheesy call to action. This creates lack of distinction for sellers who use this approach.

You blend in.

Beware: “Is this of interest?” or “Would you like to learn more?” are soft calls to action that often fail too!

Bottom line: Calls to action are bossy. They either tell or suggest what the recipient should do. They eliminate choice and that’s the problem.

Eliminating customers’ choices works in marketing (sometimes) but never in sales.

Earning more conversations, faster, demands you avoid best practices. Literally. Instead, choose emerging “next practices” to create a modern, effective sales outreach strategy.

What has your experience been?

Update Your LinkedIn Sales Navigator Best Practices

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool. But you may be sabotaging the chance to start conversations with prospects. Misconceptions about Sales Navigator best practices are causing many to sabotage their diligent efforts — resulting in fewer conversations started with prospects.

LinkedIn Sales NavigatorLinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool. But you may be sabotaging the chance to start conversations with prospects. And it’s not your fault.

Misconceptions about best practices are causing many sellers to sabotage their diligent efforts — resulting in fewer conversations started with prospects. A “best practice” depends on many factors. Mainly this one:

By time it’s considered “best” it is no longer best. Because everyone is doing it results are weaker!

How are sellers using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to set more and better meetings? Here are a few emerging best practices you need to know about.

Building a Target List

The most effective sellers use Sales Navigator as:

  • their only research tool to target & identify companies & target contacts … to develop a list from scratch
  • a primary tool — adding profile data from various other sources (e.g., purchased lists with email and direct-dial phone information)
  • a secondary research tool — using purchased data or proprietary “house” lists as primary… supplementing with LinkedIn profile data (to qualify leads)

Beware: The days of using LinkedIn for sales prospecting, at no cost, are gone. You no longer have choice. Since acquiring LinkedIn, Microsoft has clamped-down on free users … hard. I’m not a fanboy, so here’s why purchasing LinkedIn Sales Navigator is required:

  • Search filters. You need them. Sure you’ll get a few using the free version of LinkedIn. But you’ll be hard-pressed to make LinkedIn’s database search filters spit back quality leads for you. For example, need to search for companies based on their size? Yup. You’ll need to invest.
  • Access. LinkedIn Sales Navigator is required if you need unfettered access to LinkedIn’s database of prospects. Truth is, if you want to search for prospects and view profiles, for more than a few hours, you must pay to play.

LinkedIn restricts free users ability to search for and view profiles. It’s called a “commercial search limit” and believe me you’ll hit it … quickly. You’ll be stopped and asked to invest.

In pre-Microsoft years it took a while to get cut-off from searching companies and viewing contacts’ profiles. Today, LinkedIn demands you slap down a charge card in short time.

Want to search the database? Want to view profiles of your targets? Do so using the free LinkedIn. But believe me … take your credit card out of your wallet. Set it on your desk. You’ll be reaching for it.

Investing in Sales Navigator is no longer a decision-point for sellers using LinkedIn. It’s mandatory. Sorry! Of course, there are other very good data sources to consider investing in too.

The Truth About InMail

Decision makers are less-and-less receptive to receiving messages on LinkedIn.

Still, most sellers use InMail and connection requests as a primary communications tool. However, this is no longer a best practice, not recommended in most B2B sales environments. InMail is best applied as part of a multi-pronged approach. (email, phone/voicemail, InMail, direct mail, etc.)

Thus, InMail is not a big value-add, nor why sellers invest in LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Nor is it a secret weapon to get more and better conversations started with prospects. InMail can be used productively but it has serious disadvantages to consider.

Overall, Linkedin is weakening as a communications platform — all while the company builds an image as the premier “social” sales tool.

This weakening isn’t my opinion — it’s the accumulated experience of our customers. People like you.

My sales team (and our clients’ teams) report decision-makers becoming less-and-less responsive. In all B2B industry sectors? No. In most? Yes.

Increasingly.

Some blame the “Facebook-ization” of LinkedIn.

Bottom line: Decision-makers are increasingly less receptive to receiving messages on LinkedIn. Quick analysis of LinkedIn’s public discussions about user base stats and you’ll see it too.

Access to the LinkedIn database (and use of targeting filters) is the primary reason to invest.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator and Your CRM

Most organizations (large or small) use their CRM to track “Navigator sourced leads.” This helps you understand how many deals flow from contacts leaning (fully or partially) on data found on LinkedIn and Company profiles.

Beyond this simplistic level of tracking most organizations do not track a hard ROI on Sales Navigator; instead treating it as a cost of doing business. (a line item expense)

Buying Navigator is like buying any other kind of list to call from. (except this is on a subscription basis) However, many organizations do wish to understand how many leads are being pulled from LinkedIn’s database — and how many of those leads actually close.

This helps one understand quality of leads from LinkedIn overall … assuming a level of sales rep proficiency, of course.

The most effective sellers also do not use Sales Navigator as a CRM itself beyond temporary storage of leads. Most sellers choose to move contact and company profile data sourced within LinkedIn into their CRM or sales automation tool of choice — then pursue the lead.

Other Worthwhile Research Tools

Research is truly LinkedIn’s most valuable deliverable to you. That said, data on LinkedIn is supplied by users. Thus, it’s accuracy is only as good as the user provides.

Navigator’s “Business Insights” feature is a popular way to monitor useful news & info about target contacts & companies. Thus, this best practice remains. While Google Alerts and other services offers similar monitoring LinkedIn’s Business Insights feature brings this into a centralized stream within Navigator.

“Headcount growth by function” and “Total job openings by department” are two very useful Sales Navigator data sets. These allows sellers to see where within an organization current investment (budget growth) activity is taking place—and is planned to take place in immediate term—from a personnel perspective.

Research is LinkedIn’s strongest value to sellers.

What do you see changing lately? What best practices do you experience as being ineffective these days? And which are emerging as a better practice?

 

3 Proven Ways to Sabotage a LinkedIn Prospecting Strategy

Stop the madness! LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool, but most sellers are sabotaging their chance to start conversations with prospects. From InMail to connection requests, I coach sellers on best use practices. Lately, these three mistakes are running rampant.

LinkedIn LogosStop the madness! LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool, but most sellers are sabotaging their chance to start conversations with prospects. From InMail to connection requests, I coach sellers on best use practices. Lately, these three mistakes are running rampant.

1. Using LinkedIn As a Communications Platform

Increasingly, Linkedin is weakening as a communications platform for sellers, all while the company has successfully built an image for itself as an essential sales tool. This weakening isn’t my opinion — it’s my accumulated experience. My team, and my client’s teams, are seeing decision makers becoming less-and-less responsive over time. Some blame the “Facebook-ization” of LinkedIn.

Historically, LinkedIn has seen massive abuse of its InMail messaging platform. In 2015, the company re-arranged its rules and response rates increased substantially. There was less spam on LinkedIn.

However, lately, we (my clients and I) are seeing decreasing:

  • Quality and effectiveness of InMail
  • InMail writing skills
  • Communications skills among sellers

Decision makers are responding less on LinkedIn’s platform, simply because Navigator’s popularity is increasing. More sellers are piling on. However, this is resulting in a steady increase in spammy messages on LinkedIn’s platform.

Remember: LinkedIn’s strength is in its profile database — not its ability to take the work out of starting conversations with customers.

I know snazzy LinkedIn adverts claim otherwise. As do the “LinkedIn experts” who arm you with InMail templates. Templates don’t work.

Bottom line: Do you use LinkedIn as your primary communications platform when prospecting? If so, you may be weakening your chances to start conversations on it.

Over time, we are seeing decision-makers:

  • Disguising their authority on LinkedIn
  • Accepting fewer connection requests
  • Responding to issues-oriented provocations, not meeting requests

Instead, use LinkedIn for what it’s best at: Prospect targeting and research. Make sure LinkedIn is not your primary communications platform when prospecting.

2. Relying Too Much on InMail

Most sellers are relying too much on email. InMail is even worse … in terms of the assumed “power” of LinkedIn’s paid email service, InMail.

I am constantly advising, “InMail doesn’t have superpowers.” Sellers roll their eyes and say, “well, duh, Molander.” Only to turn around and keep using it … as if it is capable of more than standard email.

It is capable of less.

InMail is no different than standard email as a conversation-starting tool. However, it is weaker as a sales tool based on how most are using it. With InMail, remember, you have no reliable way to:

  • Understand open rate of messages
  • Strengthen subject lines (and get opened more!)
  • Easily manage follow-ups as part of your cadence

InMail is a tool that integrates with a multi-pronged sales prospecting cadence. Our most productive students use InMail as a last resort — toward the end of outreach sequence (standard email and phone).

One of the biggest mistakes I’m seeing is expecting InMail to deliver above average response from prospects. It does not.

Another big mistake: Using InMail without having a proven, effective subject line. You must test subject lines outside of the realm of InMail, before you start InMailing, because LinkedIn InMail cannot help you test subject lines. There is no “open tracking” available in LinkedIn. With InMail, you are flying blind with regard to understanding open rate.

Open rate is critical because, first, you must know if you’re being opened. Then (and only then) you can judge effectiveness of (and adjust) the message. Don’t judge your message without first knowing it’s being seen!

Solution: Test subject lines outside the realm of InMail, then bring your strength to it. Bring subject lines that you know people are opening. Aim for a minimum 30 percent open rate. You need at least a 40 percent response rate for InMail to be worthwhile (cost effective).

3. Asking for Meetings

Are you still sending out email templates asking for meetings? Stop — now!

Remember: Your goal is not to book a meeting when making first contact. Using InMail? Standard email? Connecting on LinkedIn? Be warned: Asking for what you want, right away, usually fails.

As a rule of thumb, any time a B2B seller begins a prospecting cadence with an attempt to get an appointment, they are being rejected by 90—97 percent of perfectly good prospects.

Because most of your targets are not yet realizing they need a meeting. They are going to buy something similar to your solution within two years — but not from you. All because you rushed the meeting. You didn’t give prospects the chance to understand why they need to talk with you — and decide (for themselves) when.

Instead, get invited into the discussion first. Help the buyer understand why they want the appointment. Attract the potential buyer to ask YOU for the meeting, demo or face-to-face. Get invited to discuss a challenge, fear or goal your prospect has.

The Root Cause of Prospecting Email Troubles

Whether using standard email or LinkedIn’s InMail, there is one problem I see repeatedly: Talking about the benefits of products and services too soon. It’s the most common sales prospecting email hurdle to jump, and for good reason.

EmailWhether using standard email or LinkedIn’s InMail, there is one problem I see repeatedly: Talking about the benefits of products and services too soon. It’s the most common sales prospecting email hurdle to jump, and for good reason.

Most sellers are stuck. “What else is there to talk about at this point anyway?”

That’s why we take the easy way out. The lazy way. Talking about solutions to customers’ problems.

And that’s why we fail to earn replies. Instead, we talk only about their problems — not your solution. Not yet.

Yes, there may be other problems sabotaging your cold email, such as:

  • A subject line that is too “telling” about your message
  • Length of your message and/or lack of a provocative element
  • Use of words that subvert your goal, don’t trigger an immediate reply

But the issue of breaking the ice is the most common problem when prospecting using email. How can you start a relevant conversation when you don’t know what to talk about?

How to Break the Habit
The fastest way to break the habit is to take action right now. Literally. First, let’s put the problem into context.

Talking about benefits with your prospects isn’t the problem. The problem is your entire approach style. The premise of your approach.

Your first touch email must not:

  • Attempt to earn a meeting, appointment or demo
  • Take longer than 20 seconds to read
  • Reference you, your client list, products nor benefits

Do not try for the meeting in your first touch. Asking for what you want, too soon, will fail.

Instead, attract the prospect to the idea of talking with you. First, get invited to discuss a challenge, fear or goal your prospect has.

The meeting will come. Trust in it.

Be brief, blunt and provocative.

Talk About This Instead: Real Life
If you’re not in touch with the day-to-day nightmares, problems, hidden challenges, big opportunities and nagging suspicions of your customers, nothing will help you. Period. You must be willing to research, understand and know your prospects inside-out.

No exceptions.

Top 3 Reasons LinkedIn Navigator Strategies Fail

Most LinkedIn Sales Navigator strategies failed in 2015, and I know why. Let’s quickly understand why most small, medium-sized and large corporations see poor results when investing in LinkedIn social selling via Navigator — and what you can do to thrive in 2016.

Most LinkedIn Sales Navigator strategies failed in 2015, and I know why. Let’s quickly understand why most small, medium-sized and large corporations see poor results when investing in LinkedIn social selling via Navigator — and what you can do to thrive in 2016.

These are the three reasons why most Navigator strategies fail:

  • Inappropriate training: Sales training focuses on technical LinkedIn know-how — instead of effective communications methodology.
  • Experimentation with InMail: Sellers use InMail as a message testing ground — rather than testing in a less costly and restricted environment (standard email).
  • Misguided content/messaging: Sellers use inappropriate message structure and follow-up cadence — rather than sparking replies by planting questions in minds of potential buyers.

No. 1: Select Communications-focused Sales Navigator Training
Navigating LinkedIn itself is not simple. But learning how to get around the Navigator platform is the entry fee.

The force multiplier is a communications methodology that is simple, effective and repeatable.

Don’t get me wrong. Sellers should be trained on how to use Navigator’s interface. LinkedIn has free video training resources for customers. YouTube tutorials also come in handy.

But make sure you/your team is trained on how to communicate in ways that produce response and meeting requests.

Yes, make sure your team is expert at using LinkedIn Navigator’s search tools when prospecting in a territory or industry vertical. Yes, they should know how to listen / monitor news tidbits about prospects. They should use Navigator’s ability track comments, posts and updates made by prospects.

However, the key to earning appointments with Navigator is communicating in ways that provoke potential buyers’ curiosity in what you/your team is selling.

Not just knowing how to use Navigator’s interface.

Beware. As Anthony Iannarino says, “The curriculum for many social selling programs is not in line with what really needs to happen.”

3 of the Best Subject Lines I’ve Found

Inbound marketing is the rage in B-to-B marketing. But there’s no substitute for diligent prospecting: cold calling and cold emailing. No, these techniques are not dead. They work. But only if you have an effective, repeatable process to interrupt and spark conversations with new prospects.

Inbound marketing is the rage in B-to-B marketing. But there’s no substitute for diligent prospecting: cold calling and cold emailing. No, these techniques are not dead. They work. But only if you have an effective, repeatable process to interrupt and spark conversations with new prospects.

Yes, I said interrupt. So shoot me.

An effective digital prospecting process starts with your opening line. In an email (or LinkedIn InMail) message it starts with your:

  1. subject line and
  2. first sentence

Your first few words will make or break your “cold” digital approach.

So let’s have a look at an effective, repeatable email messaging approach that helps you interrupt prospects in a way they appreciate.

A Cold Approach Process Prospects Like
This is the effective technique practiced by the top 5 percent of digital sellers when prospecting. Remember to always structure what you write to:

  1. earn attention and quickly direct it in ways that …
  2. spark curiosity (in what you said, not your product/service)
  3. provoke response (immediately, without hesitation)

Once you’ve completed this process with the “first touch” message you can connect the conversation you sparked to your product/service — naturally, with integrity and without feeling pushy.

The output of this process is lovely: Buyers that self-identify or poor leads that self-disqualify.

All thanks to your effective, repeatable email messaging approach that scales your time. Thanks to your ability to interrupt in a way that is appreciated by potential buyers.

3 Subject Lines That Provoke Opens
The job of your subject line is to get your email opened—in a way that doesn’t backfire in your face. Remember to never:

  • Signal what is inside your email by being too specific. Weird or odd is good. But a total disconnect with the prospect risks the delete key.
  • Ask for a meeting in your subject line — or telegraph you want someone’s time!

And for Heaven’s sake don’t write your subject line like an email newsletter headline. What do you do with anything looking like that — coming from someone you don’t know? That’s right. You delete it!

1. “Not spam — I read your profile”

I wish I could take claim for this one. It was originally suggested by a client. It works for him, other students and me, too.

This is a LinkedIn-specific approach that works because it:

  • Bluntly capitalizes on the spammy environment inside LinkedIn by being honest about it
  • Separates you out … draws bold distinction between you and the crap (noise)
  • Suggests you invested time researching the prospect (setting you up to prove it)

Pair this kind of honest approach with a bold, no-nonsense first sentence and you’ll earn better response. The “curiosity factor” here is secondary to the “wow” factor you get with blunt honesty. And sounding different than most of your competitors.

Inside your email message be certain to focus on one (minimum) or two specific noteworthy items from the prospect’s LinkedIn profile. Don’t be general. That won’t work. You must be specific about what you see and link it to the “why” (why this spurred you to contact them).

Be specific. Even if it’s anecdotal (e.g., they’re into mountain biking, tennis, cars, Star Wars, etc.).​

2. “Have you considered?”

Think of what your prospect is aware they need to know … or suspects they might not know enough about. That’s what to focus on. Leverage that uncertainty. Here’s how: Inside the email, reveal a specific fact or alarming trend most customers don’t know right now — but should.

Warn them.

A warning is a mental trigger. We all appreciate being warned about unseen dangers or hidden opportunities.

Don’t waste time introducing yourself in the first sentence. They can see who you are in your signature.

Help your prospect think, “I didn’t consider that. I didn’t know this was an option. Doggone … what else does this person know that I should know?” or “Wait. I didn’t realize that. I need more details. How exactly does that work?”

Focus on making your email message sound like a message from a person—not a marketer or sales rep. This way you can get invited into a discussion about what they are receptive to talking about right now.

At least half of your success depends on a willingness to try something different, or a little weird.

3. “Worth a discussion?”

This technique can be super effective because it’s direct. Many of my students feel an urge to not be so mysterious. Well, this is for you. Because it balances being direct with a mental trigger.

It helps readers wonder, “Is what worth a discussion?”

It sparks curiosity. That’s your subject line’s only job.

The only downside to this effective subject line is how it:

  • requires you to write a message that is both direct and a little bit mysterious (inducing questions)
  • relies on a “yes/no” answer (earning a “no” gets you deleted … although this is also a plus as it qualifies yeses)
  • usually works with messages that are near-term (pain/goal) focused (generate yeses only from immediate-term buyers … people who know they’re buyers right now)

All of that said, it’s a handy subject line that works with many of my clients. Me too!

Do you have any subject lines that are working lately?

How to Get Meetings With Buyers Who Say No

I swear if another person says, “Most of the buying decisions are already made by the time decision-makers meet with sales reps” my head is going to explode. This is true. Got it. But how does a seller get a meeting with decision influencers during the early phase? How can you get invited to discuss buyers’ challenges as they are discovering they need a solution?

I swear if another person says, “Most of the buying decisions are already made by the time decision-makers meet with sales reps” my head is going to explode. This is true. Got it. But how does a seller get a meeting with decision influencers during the early phase?

How can you get invited to discuss buyers’ challenges as they are discovering they need a solution?

Stop asking for meetings. Literally. Start attracting the meetings to you. Provoke your prospect to start the chain reaction.

Get them curious about you. Curious enough to invite you to the discussion, in its earliest stage.

They Need You, Badly
You’re selling a B-to-B product or service that people need — yet they keep declining the invitation to meet, discuss their situation. You know they need a remedy to a disease they have — or will soon have. They need to act.

They need to meet with you. But they keep saying no.

Maybe your solution pays for itself. Or it will bring growth to buyers who implement it. It can change things for the better, fast. It’s good!

In your email, phone script or LinkedIn InMail approach you mention this to them — only to get turned down or ignored.

The truth is, they don’t care about the promise you (or your competitors) make. They only care about themselves. You are not attractive to them.

“Social Selling” Is Not the Answer
Customers need to discover, for their own reasons, why they need us. Not our reasons — theirs. Is how you’re using social media focused on helping them do so? Usually not, and it’s not your fault.

We are constantly being told what to do. None of it works.

  • Engage with insights
  • Share valuable content
  • Stop pitching and start connecting — make deposits before withdrawals
  • Build a social sales funnel
  • Help customers become sales advocates
  • Use personal branding to establish your reputation

These tips are what you want to hear — not what you need to know.

What you need to know is not simple. But it is effective. It’s what the top 5 percent of digital sellers are doing.

Here’s why you may be failing. What you are most receptive to trying (what you want to hear) doesn’t work. It’s a human thing. For example, on LinkedIn:

  • Share someone else’s update and give them credit
  • Comment on someone else’s update
  • Comment on a discussion in one of your LinkedIn Groups
  • Comment on someone’s new profile picture
  • Start a discussion or share an article in one of your LinkedIn Groups
  • Congratulate someone on a new job
  • Share your blog posts with your network
  • Wish your contacts a “Happy Birthday”
  • Thank people for endorsements

Any fool can take these actions. They’re often touted as effective by people who couldn’t sell there way out of a paper bag.

These tips sound logical, doable and simple. Hence, the appeal.

But they will not move you toward what you want — the appointment.

Stop Asking for What You Want
You want the appointment. But what you need is an invitation. You might think I’m playing with words, but this is vital to your success. It’s critical to stop asking for what you want. Focus on what you need.
You need to be invited to the “cool kids club.” And while social media likes, shares and comments may be helpful, they’re not the key.

Your goal is not to book a meeting when making first contact with a prospect. Using InMail? Standard email? Connecting on LinkedIn first?

Beware: Starting by trying to get an appointment will get you rejected by 90 to 97 percent of perfectly good prospects. I learned this from my own experience, but Sharon Drew Morgen really drove it home for me. She’s got 20 years of experience herself.

When you go in cold, with an email or call, most buyers don’t know what they need at that point. Or they do have a need but aren’t ready to buy yet. Other buyers haven’t assembled the decision-making team, yet.

Setting an appointment with a seller will happen —but not with you. All because you asked for it too early.

The key that unlocks the door to your appointment is an invitation to talk —not discuss need. Being invited takes attraction. And sometimes attraction takes provocation — to spark a bit of curiosity in your prospect.

Provoke to Grab Attention
You cannot just show up on someone’s screen with an article containing information they already know. That’s a social selling pipe dream. Instead, attract the potential buyer to ask you for the meeting, demo or face-to-face.

Get invited to discuss a challenge, fear or goal your prospect has. Provoke them. Remember, if you aren’t provocative in a way that sparks curiosity, you aren’t getting to step one — a reply to your email.

Because decision-makers are filtering emails on-the-go. They’re mobile. Getting a reply demands that you are brief, blunt and provocative.

Start by using your first email message or cold phone script to provoke a “What did you mean by that?” or “How, exactly, did you do that for your client?” from a potential buyer. Use the chance to push on a pain point — or surface an unknown fact the prospect needs to know about before they can make an informed decision.

Get on the radar of decision-makers by asking for permission to facilitate discussion, not discuss need — and certainly not discuss your solution.

Sharon Drew Morgan puts it this way. “Help buyers navigate through the early part of their internal decision journey, much like a GPS system helps drivers navigate their route.”

Get started today by giving prospects an irresistible reason to talk — to flip on that GPS.

Attracting a prospect to you requires saying just enough in your cold email to get the conversation started — a short chat about what’s meaningful to the other person.

Then, allowing the other person to do most of the talking beyond the first, cold email.

Good luck!