LinkedIn Prospecting: How Much Time Should You Spend?

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?” It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start. True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

“How much time should you spend on LinkedIn each week?”

It’s a noble question. I understand why you ask it. But worrying about time is a dangerous place to start.

True, we live in a world where we have limited time for new ideas. But saying, “You should spend X hours per week on LinkedIn” would be disingenuous.

Because there is no credible answer to the question. Instead, the best starting point is simple: Get more leads, faster, by creating a LinkedIn prospecting system.

You will be effective—regardless of how much time invested on LinkedIn!

Where to Start With LinkedIn
Here’s the skinny: The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting the more time you’ll want to invest in it.

So invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Start by making the most out of every minute you commit.

Learn a systematic approach to:

  • Attract potential leads to connect with you
  • Spark questions about what you sell in buyers’ minds
  • Help prospects self-qualify faster

Let’s start today. Pick one of the above as a goal. Let’s commit to taking the first step toward a better LinkedIn prospecting system.

The Problem: Lack of a Good System
Most sales reps struggle with LinkedIn prospecting because they don’t use a system. Or the process they’re committed to doesn’t work.

For example, we’ve been told (by “experts”) to invest time on LinkedIn by:

  • publishing (blogging on the LinkedIn platform)
  • polishing your profile with new features
  • sharing knowledge with Connections and in Groups

Publishing on LinkedIn’s platform, sharing knowledge and polishing your profile might be effective—if they’re part of a system. These tactics, alone, are not enough. If you’ve already tried them you know what I mean!

A Direct Response Copywriting System
“How can I get customers to view content on my profile and be so excited they contact me?”

That’s a better question! One that leads us toward a proven system. A system to get customers curious about you. A better way to provoke response from buyers.

Content that makes customers respond does one thing really well: It uses direct response copywriting to make potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I can take action on that. In fact, I’ll probably get results from taking this advice.”

Most importantly, buyers must conclude their thoughts with an urge.

“How can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

This simple idea (using a direct or subtle call to action) is the difference between wasting time on LinkedIn and effectively prospecting with it.

Response is what drives success. It’s what gets you paid. Invest time on LinkedIn with a system that grabs customers’ attention and gets them to respond.

Remember, publishing content on LinkedIn’s blogging platform or posting interesting updates will not work. Not without the direct response element.

More Success = More Time
The more success you have with LinkedIn prospecting, the more time you’ll want to invest in it. It only makes sense to invest time, first, in making sure you experience a little bit of success. Success that you can increase, systematically.

Start your LinkedIn prospecting journey by making the most out of every minute. Commit to LinkedIn, but resist worrying about how many hours per week to invest.

Instead, invest time for a few months in optimizing a prospecting approach. Use this proven system to get started. I guarantee you won’t worry so much about how much time you’re investing. In fact, you will probably want to invest more time in LinkedIn prospecting!

Good luck. Let me know how it goes for you.

Picking the Right Social Selling Training: A Cheat Sheet

Social selling training is on the agenda for B-to-B sellers in 2014. Sales reps and dealers are under increasing pressure to speed-up prospecting using LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and more. But how can you choose the best social selling training or trainer for your organization?

Social selling training is on the agenda for B-to-B sellers in 2014. Sales reps and dealers are under increasing pressure to speed-up prospecting using LinkedIn, blogs, Twitter and more. But how can you choose the best social selling training or trainer for your organization?

Here’s where to start. Follow these steps to make the best decision. Plus, I’ll show you a way to make sure you, personally, benefit in the eyes of your boss.

7 Point Social Selling Checklist

  1. Create selection criteria and request for proposal email.
  2. “Short-list” candidates and solicit proposals.
  3. Review proposals.
  4. Interview best candidates & check references.
  5. Negotiate, review and sign contract.
  6. Assess your team.
  7. Start the training and report effectiveness.

Want to get started on this process? Print-off this Social Selling Training Cheat Sheet PDF. (No registration needed)

Selection Criteria
Will your sellers learn social selling tactics or will they start doing? Only consider training that:

  • teaches a practical, repeatable system based in traditional copywriting skills,
  • helps sellers take “first steps” to apply the system,
  • promises outcomes like more appointments & more response for sellers, in less time.

The more you stick with the above criteria the more you’ll be able to measure the performance of your training investment.

When considering what social selling trainer is best for you consider the instructional design. Only invest in training that:

  • includes worksheets that get sellers DO-ing, (not just learning)
  • is directly relevant to current challenges, goals and ambitions of your sellers,
  • focuses on a balance of platform (eg. LinkedIn) and prospecting tactics and

Beware of social selling training promising outcomes other than measurable increases in response to—and appointments with—your reps and dealers. Hire a trainer who measures his/her own success based on sellers taking action. (not merely repeating what they learned)

Place all of your criteria in a short, focused request for proposal (RFP) email. You’ll put this list of requirements to work in the next step.

Cost and Delivery of Training
Overall quality of the trainer, skills the training will develop and delivery of the training. These factors drive cost.

If your team is geographically disbursed an online training will be most cost effective. Are your sellers ambitious do-ers? Will they actually make time for the training? If so, a self-paced, “home study” program may work.

If your sellers will be reluctant to take the training, mandate attendance from your sales leader. Also, choose to deliver training using a live Webinar format. Make the training assignable to a date on their calendar.

Short-List Candidates
Using Google and LinkedIn search, scan the horizon for training candidates. Identify a short-list of potential social selling training trainers.

Use your selection criteria to solicit proposals from trainers. If you don’t wish to mail out a formal RFP, no problem. Use your selection criteria as a guide to identify the most capable vendors.

Review Proposals: The 3 ‘Must Have’ Components
Effective social selling training must result in sellers getting better response from prospects, faster. Make sure training you invest in focuses on a process that creates:

  • attention from a targeted group of potential buyers,
  • engagement that is provocative enough to spark
  • response—conversation that generates a lead or sale.

Choose a social selling trainer that basis his/her training in direct response copywriting that helps get more attention, engagement and appointments.

Assess: Make Sure You Succeed
Make your social selling training relevant and effective. Start with an assessment. Discover your team’s strengths, weaknesses and challenges—right now.

Require your social selling trainer to perform a low-cost assessment to guarantee your success and avoid disaster.

Make sure the assessment:

  • justifies your investment,
  • identifies and sets performance metrics,
  • uncovers current attitudes & experiences with tools like LinkedIn,
  • identifies both resistance to social selling and early adopters.

Identifying early adopters will insure success in the eyes of your boss. By finding reps and dealers eager to sharpen their skills you can focus the training on increasing their success (and reporting back to the boss on it).

You can stack the deck in your favor!

How to Avoid Failure
One of the most common reasons social selling and/or LinkedIn training fails is lack of focus on how to get response. Make sure your training provides more than how-to lessons on managing LinkedIn’s privacy settings and controls.

The primary goal of your training should be earning more appointments by increasing response.

When interviewing final candidates ask them for references who can tell you how their sellers are generating more response after the training.

Do you have more questions about investing in social selling training? Let me know in comments or send me an email. I’ll be glad to help! Or print-off this Social Selling Training Cheat Sheet PDF. (No registration needed)

LinkedIn Profile Makeover for Sellers

Are you appealing to emotional and tangible desires of buyers on your LinkedIn profile—in ways they cannot resist acting on? Reinsurance broker, Paul Dzielinski is. That’s how he’s enticing prospects to talk about buying his products. Dzielinski is generating leads with his LinkedIn profile using a system to get the job done faster. Once again, the process is rooted in traditional direct response copywriting. There are three components.

Are you appealing to emotional and tangible desires of buyers on your LinkedIn profile—in ways they cannot resist acting on? Reinsurance broker, Paul Dzielinski is. That’s how he’s enticing prospects to talk about buying his products.

Dzielinski is generating leads with his LinkedIn profile using a system to get the job done faster. Once again, the process is rooted in traditional direct response copywriting. There are three components.

  1. Solving customers problems in ways that
  2. are designed to provoke a response and ultimately
  3. foster buying confidence in customers (convert the lead).

Give Prospects a Reason to Act
Dzielinski knows that prospects are lazy. That’s why he gives them a reason to take action. There is no better reason than a pain, fear or goal his customers have.

Smart sellers like Dzielinski are placing videos and Slideshare presentations on LinkedIn that invite customers to act—to be taken on a journey. A trip where the prospect identifies as a buyer and then chooses to steer toward or away from products.

As it turns out, engagement is not the goal. Response is. But you’ve got to give customers a clear, compelling reason to act.

Design Slideshare Decks to Provoke Response
Dzielinski ‘s customers are asking him questions—the questions he wants to answer for them. Here’s how he’s doing it. It’s all about what and how prospects encounter content on his profile. For example, buyers are asking for advice, short-cuts and practical know-how based on a Slideshare deck on his profile.

What makes Dzielinski ‘s Slideshare deck work? Success is all about how the content is structured around the three-step process. Paul is successful because he exploits classic copywriting techniques via Slideshare.

Dzielinski is giving prospects temporary satisfaction. He’s answering questions in ways that satisfy for the moment, yet provokes intense curiosity, which creates more questions.

“It’s Copywriting 101,” says Copyblogger Media founder, Brian Clark. “You know, in copywriting, the purpose of the headline is to get the first sentence read. The purpose of the first sentence is to get the second sentence read.”

Get Prospects to Lean Forward
Clark says, when you apply the idea to SlideShare, “the purpose of each slide is to get the next slide advanced … and the next thing you know, your finger is just moving. Advance, advance, advance.”

Clark wisely points out, “It’s very engaging because it’s not a lean-back experience. It’s a lean forward. I want to see what the next slide says. And when it’s really well done, it’s fascinating. The next thing you know, you’ve gone through 70 slides and read the entire thing.”

In Dzielinski’s case, he’s offering prospects pithy, useful advice about captive insurance. Do they need it, why they might benefit, why not (what’s the “best fit”) and the kind of costs involved.

Using his PowerPoint presentation, he’s getting buyers curious about the details behind his solution. At the end he makes a call to action for a free assessment.

Is a deadly simple idea. Plus, it’s effective and repeatable.

The Truth About Sharing Content on LinkedIn
Your prospects don’t need engaging stories. Buyers have nagging problems and challenging goals that are far more important. What they need is a better way to achieve goals—or an insurance policy against risk. Thus, your job is to leverage this need and get customers curious about your remedy.

How can you help customers overcome the challenges they face, reduce the risks they need to take or find a short-cut to achieve a goal faster?

Make sure your words are making customers respond.

Make sure you LinkedIn profile is answering questions in ways that makes potential buyers think, “Yes, yes, YES … I should take action on that. That will probably create results for me. Now, how can I get my hands on more of those kinds of insights/tips?”

Need some help making this happen on your profile? View the 12-minute video training here.

Getting customers curious about you is the key to using LinkedIn for lead generation—effectively. This simple idea is the difference between wasting time on LinkedIn and having it pay you.

Good luck!

A Successful Social Selling Example in B-to-B Marketing

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is one of my favorite social selling examples in B-to-B sales. Telling this story at conferences is always a crowd-pleaser because of how practical and repeatable the approach is. JLL is a global player in real estate management and investments. The firm helps commercial real estate owners make money managing big properties and buildings smarter. In this short video, I’ll reveal how JLL’s sales team is using YouTube videos to get more discussion going with hard-to-reach decision-makers.

Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) is one of my favorite social selling examples in B-to-B sales. Telling this story at conferences is always a crowd-pleaser because of how practical and repeatable the approach is.

JLL is a global player in real estate management and investments. The firm helps commercial real estate owners make money managing big properties and buildings smarter. In this short video, I’ll reveal how JLL’s sales team is using YouTube videos to get more discussion going with hard-to-reach decision-makers.

Behind the Scenes
What’s at work here? Let’s look at what’s going on behind the scenes so you can replicate social selling success in your setting.

JLL’s sales team has an unusually smart, very effective, starting point when approaching social selling.

They start with customers’ problems, challenges and goals in mind. Then, they design everything they put out onto social media to create one thing: response. For them that’s all that matters—getting clients to email or pick up the phone and ask for a meeting to talk about their problems.

JLL’s sales and account reps know how to structure what to say. They know how to talk to clients, not just what to say. They also know when to talk and when to clam up. This helps them create so much curiosity in JLL that customers cannot resist responding.

JLL’s reps provoke customers to take action. Here’s the surprising part: In the world of social media, what actually generates response has very little to do with technology.

Generating leads and appointments is based on one, essential practice: Copywriting. Direct response copywriting that grabs attention, challenges status quo thinking and provokes a response. So here’s one of my best social selling examples: A multi-billion dollar organization using the copywriting technique I love to train sales teams to execute.

The Problem and Solution
JLL had a new energy & sustainability division to launch, but current customers told sales reps their whitepapers were horrible. Potential customers were distracted—impossible to reach. The “greening of corporate America” was in full swing, but customers didn’t want to engage.

The problem: JLL’s whitepapers were filled with knowledge that clients already. So JLL’s sellers decided to focus more on capturing video sound bytes from a variety of property management experts.

Each two- to three-minute video captured surprising and, sometimes, shocking information. Knowledge that was structured to intentionally irritate customers—cause them to think, “Uh-oh, I didn’t realize that. I’d better call my rep to get to the bottom of this,” or “WHAT?! I had no idea. I better find out more about this right away … my butt is on the line here!”

For the rest of the story, watch the video clip above and learn how got the attention of busy, distracted property owners—many of whom were interested in talking about JLL’s services after all! I’ll show you exactly how they got prospects and clients to ask for discussions!

Content Marketing and Copywriting in Tandem

What differentiates the content marketing writing style from direct response sales copy? We hear a lot about content marketing these days, and, at first glance, it seems to be a distinctly different approach than direct response sales copy. But is it really all that different? Shouldn’t there be a plan to move the reader to action with the ultimate result of

What differentiates the content marketing writing style from direct response sales copy? We hear a lot about content marketing these days, and, at first glance, it seems to be a distinctly different approach than direct response sales copy. But, is it really all that different? Shouldn’t there be a plan to move the reader to action with the ultimate result of monetizing the marketing effort? As direct marketers, most of us would agree that getting the reader to buy should be the ultimate objective of any kind of marketing. But each of these skills—content marketing and direct response sales copywriting—can lead from one to the other.

Today we share five recommendations to strengthen both. Before we do that, let’s define each:

  • Direct response copywriting is all about leading the reader to action. It might be a sale on the spot, but it could also be lead generation, or perhaps an action as simple as getting someone to opt-in to a series of emails. Likely media used: direct mail, email, landing pages, video sales letters, print ads and direct response broadcast.
  • Content marketing, on the other hand, is about writing and freely delivering content of value to the reader. It builds trust, confidence and leads into selling from a softer angle. It may not get a sale on the spot, but it should have the reader predisposed to buy when the opportunity is presented. Likely media used: blogs, articles, online press releases, social media, white papers and video.

Content marketing should inform, build trust and credibility with the prospective buyer, so that when harder-hitting, persuasive direct response sales copy with a call-to-action is presented, the response rate is higher. In other words, when both approaches are used in tandem, the sum can be greater than the parts.

Copywriter Chris Marlow suggests, “the term ‘content’ should be reserved for writing that does not have the express purpose of getting a lead or sale.” But she adds that, “sometimes you need ‘content’ to get the lead or make the sale.”

Whether you’re using content marketing or direct response copywriting, here are five recommendations to make both approaches stronger and logically flow from one to the other. Inspiration for this list comes from American Writers and Artists (where I teach a copywriting course), copywriting clients and personal experience:

  1. It all starts with the headline and lead. Use proven direct mail formulas like the four-Legged Stool (Big Idea, Promise, Credibility, Proven Track Record), or the four U’s (Useful, Unique, Urgency, Ultra-Specific), or any one of many other direct response copywriting formulas. The headline formula often works better when you fit your main idea within eight words or fewer. Using a proven direct response letter writing formula can make all the difference in your success.
  2. What’s the FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)? Get the attention of the reader and quickly demonstrate you understand their pain. Most everyone has on their minds fear, uncertainty, and doubt in their personal lives, relationships, finances, career, retirement or health.
  3. Is the message confusing, unbelievable, boring or awkward? Review the copy with a small inner circle of people. Reading copy aloud with someone listening and evaluating it is a must. If it’s confusing, unbelievable, boring or awkward, you’ll hear it when voiced. I was again reminded of the importance of this step after logging several hours by phone when reading a long-form letter aloud with a client so we could both hear it. The extra investment of time strengthened the story, benefits, false close and call-to-action items for the right flow to build the sales message.
  4. Gather a small group to review copy and the lead. Ask each person to assign a numerical ranking (1-10 scale) on whether they’d keep reading or not. If less than 80 percent of the responders wouldn’t read beyond the headline and lead, then the writer needs to fix the headline and lead, or start over.
  5. Is it clear? When your customer or prospect reads your copy (whether using content marketing writing style or direct response copywriting), has the issue been laid out clearly? Was a complex message simplified? Did the message build rapport and trust? Does the copy naturally flow so that the prospect concludes that your product solves the issue? And check the call-to-action. Is there one? Keep in mind that if you’re using introductory content writing, the CTA may be only to opt-in, subscribe or click a link to request or read more in a series.

Bottom line: what are you asking the prospect to do? Is it advancing the prospect along in a planned spaced-repetition contact strategy that leads to your ultimate desired action: a sale?

Whether your copy style is content marketing that is conditioning the reader to make a future purchase, or direct response selling asking for an action on the spot, what you write ultimately needs to justify its existence with a strategy that leads to monetization.