“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.
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!