E-commerce Link: Linking in to Sales
I've been using LinkedIn to net leads and sales with great success lately. Contrary to what "the experts" say, the trick is how you think about what you already know works. In fact, getting prospects off of social media is key. Yes, I'm serious.
I know, the gurus claim setting up an engaging LinkedIn group or attractive profile is the key to success for your business. But finding crafty ways to mention your blogs, webinars or new product releases within LinkedIn groups will not work well to create appointments, leads or sales. Not like the technique I've been tapping into can.
Step 1: Find and Showcase Honestly New Knowledge
I recently decided to go after a niche market: Small to mid-sized home improvement businesses who need help using LinkedIn for sales at their dealership or local business. My goal was to create sales leads for my book and training products—relationships that I could nurture into sales. My strategy was to get people already engaged in discussions relevant to the pain I can cure to actually leave LinkedIn and visit my site.
First, I created audio and print/blog content that I knew would scratch the itch of my target market. I properly baited my hook. I interviewed a kitchen cabinet industry expert who had something truly different to say about how successful kitchen cabinet dealers are using social media and using LinkedIn for sales leads.
What my expert had to say was contrarian, valuable, provocative and actionable. This part was key. This was the barb in the hook.
Step 2: Watch for Qualified Discussions
Next, I published a handful of stories and audio interviews on my site featuring my guest, Jim Gurulé, discussing how successful home improvement businesses are using social media to create leads and sales. He didn't talk about how they should be using Twitter, Facebook, blogs and such. Instead, he spoke on how his company is doing things and gave readers/listeners the chance to learn how they can do the same. He told them how to take action.
I then carefully joined related LinkedIn groups, taking care to make sure I was clear about my intent to join. I had something honestly valuable to share—actionable insights on a topic that is of current interest to group members.
I joined and waited. Within a few days I spotted a discussion on a kitchen cabinet industry group where I could answer a question in a way that "brought to life" the specific valuable answers my guest expert was offering, but not in the usual way.
Step 3: Tease Prospects Into Action
The biggest mistake most of us are making when promoting content within a LinkedIn group is sharing a link back to what we've published. You see, the minute I stopped sharing links and started saying less the more action I got—the more people did what I wanted them to do (visit my site and become a lead).
Although most social media gurus don't tell you this, you ultimately want to get prospects off of social media and onto a lead-nurturing system. What I've learned is how you go about doing that is critical (so as not to waste your time!) when using Linkedin for sales leads.
Lately, the more I'm baiting people—teasing them—the more I'm getting emailed directly through LinkedIn from hungry customers who want to connect, become a lead or buy a product on-the-spot.
Yes, I have a website that is quite good at selling products and capturing leads, so that part doesn't go away. What's key here is how I am teasing my target audience into taking action on something I know they already want to act on. "Less is more" is not a new concept, but it sure does work.
Here's how I did it. I took two of my best quotes from the hour-long interview and chummed the water with them. If you want to catch fish, you've got to attract the jumbos. Here's one of them:
"What social media does is allow access to buyers. [But] then the strategy is to take them off of the social media. Next you put them into a process. This is where we get into emotional-driven, direct response marketing routines … where they find you through relevant content via social media and you put them into a campaign. Dealers can leverage marketing automation technology to deliver more content that nurtures them along toward a sale."
The other quote, in essence, told my target audience what they really wanted to hear: Success is about getting back to basics, that design (a value-added service that is being commoditized lately) still matters and how social media can be used to become known, liked and trusted in very practical ways if you focus on a simple, easy-to-do process.
Most importantly, I provided no link to the content!
Provoke Prospects to Get Sales
Basically, I provoked my target market into contacting me. I already knew this approach worked. I figure, why not leverage LinkedIn Groups in a way that tempts group members to email me for more details or click over to my profile and then onward to my blog to acquire the knowledge?
Indeed, why can't you execute this same idea? Sure, you've got to trust that this will work, but give it a shot. For me, the results rolled in: A dozen or so industry-specific leads and a handful of immediate sales. I love using LinkedIn for business leads because it's so simple and time effective.
Worth noting, I followed a simple, practical system:
- I created valuable content (answers to burning questions).
- I monitored the network for people demonstrating need for it (in LinkedIn groups).
- I revealed answers in ways that created cravings for more of what I have to share (provoked interaction).
I didn't merely "tell a story" or "provide valuable content" or educate my target market. That's social media guru blather. I ethically bribed my customers into taking action on something that they wanted to take action on to begin with. I then gave them full satisfaction–useful, actionable answers to burning questions and insights they had not heard before.
My experience, and those of others I'm researching lately, prove it out: The key to success is thinking creatively about what you already know works and getting your target market off of social media.
Jeff Molander is the author of "Off the Hook Marketing" and adjunct faculty of digital marketing at Loyola University. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and read his blogs at www.jeffmolander.com/blog and www.makesocialsell.com/blog.