So you’re a startup and you want to crush it in the worldwide business community using LinkedIn? If only we had met 12 months ago but its okay I am here now to save the day. If you haven’t already figured it out, LinkedIn has long gone past the point of being a place to get you your next job and moved into one of the best business development tools you have ever seen.
I was lucky enough to spend two full days, with some of LinkedIn’s finest, (from Silicon Valley) when they were in town 3 weeks ago. I was also fortunate enough to be one of the first people in Australia to become what’s known as a LinkedIn Instruct trainer. What does this fancy title mean you ask? It means that I am certified to train any of my 40,000 colleagues on the benefits of LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a business development tool – you guys get access to this info though, thanks to Addicted2Success.
1. A premium account is very valuable and here’s why
LinkedIn offer a range of different premium accounts depending on what you use it for. In the past I have found the free one to be more than adequate but once you want to move on from using it as a networking tool and to using it as a business development tool I am afraid you will need to pay. Don’t stress about this though because the investment is well worth it and everything, that I talk about in this article, can be done with a Premium Sales Navigator account. The main reason you need a premium version is that the sales landscape has changed. “An average of 5.4 decision makers are now involved with a buying decision.” A premium account will help uncover who those decision makers are which can’t be done easily any other way.
2. Take those skeletons out of the closet and show the real you
Too many people on LinkedIn try and hide things about themselves. If you want this to be a successful business development tool for your startup, then you really need to consider putting as much valuable content about yourself on your profile, along with a quality photo. A lot of founders try and hide their skeletons but what they don’t realise is that things that they think they should hide, they actually should show to the rest of the world because it makes them real. Failures are one of those things you should be proud of and you should show it off on your profile.
You should also make as much of your profile public. This means that in your settings you can select to show different bits of information to people you’re not connected with. This is very important because success on LinkedIn means being open and honest. The moment you don’t, it lessens its effectiveness significantly. With my own profile, I have chosen to show everything publically and to my connections. The advantage here is that if someone has never done business with me before they can really do their research first, before having to make contact with me.
“Think about it, would you prefer to do business with someone you know a bit about or that you have been referred to, or a complete stranger?”
3. On to the sexy stuff – premium features
The premium tools are what allow business development on LinkedIn to occur. See below for what each one does and get using them asap.
• Send Inmails – the way to speak with people you don’t know.
• Save accounts and leads – an easy way to keep track of prospects
• Separate LinkedIn page – this is a separate page that only show you what your leads / accounts are up to so you can be well informed.
• Lead recommendations – get to know who the other decision makers are in a prospect’s company.
• Unlocking people beyond your third-degree connections – a premium feature that is really helpful when you have no connections in common with someone and want to view their profile. You get 25 of these per month.
• See who’s viewed your profile – great for starting a conversation with someone and finding out why they looked you up.
• Lead Builder – build your own custom list of leads via a highly targeted search tool.
• Teamlink – see who else within your team or within your 1st degree connections might know a prospect to get a warm introduction
4. You must be the most recent and the most frequent
Jack Delosa, who was recently featured on Addicted2Success, says at his Unconvention event that you must be the “most frequent and the most recent,” in front of your prospect (without spamming them) and if you are this will significantly help you to win the business. LinkedIn will help you do this by being able to stay top of mind with any prospect you’re following. By commenting on their posts, liking their status’s and inviting them to groups you’re able to get them to remember you easier than any other way – especially if the comments you write are valuable and insightful.
With Sales Navigator, you will be able to follow people without notifying them, before you decide to connect. This can help you to see what their company is doing via the news feed and track any content or comments they post. Whether you’re a startup or a sales person, this takes a lot of the researching out of your day. You can take this a step further by seeing if they have a Facebook Fan page where you can use the same strategy. A word of warning though, make sure your Facebook page is clean and doesn’t have any photos that you would rather not let your business prospects see. A photo of you in your birthday suit, sculling a beer would not be something you want the business world to see I’m sure!
“A photo of you in your birthday suit, sculling a beer would not be something you want the business world to see I’m sure!”
5. The way you connect with people is important
With LinkedIn, it’s always best practice to try and only connect with people you know first. As a startup, you want to be able to prospect with it and there are two ways to do this without knowing the person first. One way is to see whom you have in common with them and then ask that person for an intro. I don’t personally do this too much as I am more like a hawk and like to avoid any delays. I find this works for me about 90% of the time. The other way is to save them as a lead and then send them an inmail to introduce yourself to them. It’s good practice to save them as a lead because it allows you to see them in your custom Sales Navigator news feed.
The aim here is to strike up a conversation and see if there are any synergies. If there are then it’s usually good to connect with them then and stay in touch. I like to always ask them how they like to keep in touch. Some people like email, some like Twitter and some still prefer the old fashioned SMS.
The only other thing, I would say about connections, is that when I look at someone’s profile for the first time, their LinkedIn connections tell me a powerful, subconscious message about them. This is because the types of people you mix with tell someone a lot about your character and your interests. I find it fascinating to see who I have in common with someone and I can be often seen in first meetings with clients, on an iPad, comparing whom we have in common.
6. Increase your “Social Selling Index.” What an earth is that?
The reason, I was given the opportunity to do the LinkedIn Instruct training, is thanks to a new phrase your going to hear a lot more in the business world about called your “Social Selling Index.” In simple terms, this means your score out of 100 to be able to sell via social media on sites like LinkedIn. Mine ranked as one of the highest in our organisation based on a number of different factors. Those factors included things like number of connections, the amount of connections that had a senior role in an organisation, the number of Inmails sent, my interaction with the community via comments / likes, the number of people who viewed my profile etc.
If your startup or sales people are serious about using this tool then you’ll need to get this index higher, although the most important factor here is really the profile part.
7. Inamils are important and are gods gift to you
It goes without saying that Inmails are an important communication tool on LinkedIn and having a compelling subject line will determine part of your success. If the newspaper can draw people in via a headline then you can do the same with a subject line of an Inmail. A story, that I heard recently, was of a sales person who found out that a prospect used to own a Porsche (a mutual connection told him). Rather than sending a boring Inmail introducing himself, he chose to make it all about the prospect and write a subject title that was human. The subject title he chose was “How’s the Porsche running?” What was clever is that this title showed the prospect that there had been research done before making contact rather than sending something more generic. He got a very prompt response from the prospect, which led on to further discussions after that.
The other important factors of an Inmail are:
– No more than 3 paragraphs
– Mention someone you have in common with the prospect
– Ask questions about them and don’t talk about yourself too much
– Try not to talk too much about your company until the prospect asks
– When making requests in the Inmail, always give them a chance to make a counter offer
– Get to the point and ask for their contact details when you feel the times right
– Don’t be afraid to reach out to very senior people – you will be surprised at the response rate
Final Piece of Advice
One final thing, to mention about Sales Navigator, is that you could also look to purchase it for your sales people. The advantage here is that it’s an easy tool for them to use that avoids excuses about their sales funnel being empty and allows them not to have to cold call ever again. A lot of startups buy leads from third parties in the early days until they get their SEO right and this could drastically reduce this dependency. If your sales people have a Sales Navigator account then all the Inmails they send and leads / accounts they save will be stored away from their own personal account.
A question, that a lot of startups ask, is that if that person leaves their business, what happens to all the info in the Sales Navigator account? The answer is that it currently goes to no man’s land and neither the ex-employee nor the startup gets access to the information – this could change in the future though. Any connections that the employee has made will be retained though but nothing else.
The other question you might be thinking is can the leads be exported? No, they can’t be because LinkedIn is a community for its users and this would go against that philosophy. One thought, that also crossed my mind when I first heard about Sales Navigator leads, was I didn’t want to access them via another system outside of our Salesforce CRM. Apparently there is a way to integrate leads with some CRM’s, although I haven’t done this yet. A quick Google search shows its possible though.
Feel free to view my page on LinkedIn for some more ideas.
TELL YOUR STORY, BE REAL, BE YOU AND CONNECT!!!
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
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Everyone Wants Sales Leads But No One Wants To Sell
Sales leads are the lifeblood of any business.
Without leads, your business doesn’t make money. That’s why many businesses treat leads like the most valuable resource in existence. Leads are a topic that never goes away and you can never have enough.
Sales leads are the cause of so many disputes in business.
We have it all wrong, though.
Having something to sell is the real answer.
Knowing what you’re selling.
Many companies don’t know what they are selling.
They think they’re selling products or services that magically turn into revenue and light up your accounting software with lots of green, shiny graphs.
Until you know what you’re selling, sales leads won’t help. Getting more sales leads, increasing your Adwords spend, buying more Facebook ads, doing more networking events, printing more t-shirts and producing more ‘content’ for your blog will not help.
You’re not getting enough leads or closing the leads you have because you’re not sure what you’re selling.
Are you selling to humans?
Go and Google ten company websites. Pick any ten.
You’ll notice one thing: more than half the websites don’t sound like they are selling to humans.
There’s no human language, very little content created by the people that work at the company, zero compassion and not a lot of humility.
Most websites are designed to sell to robots that can’t stop looking at their smartphone. That’s not us. We’re human despite our phones changing the way we live.
Humans look for thoughtful businesses.
Humans look for solutions to problems that are not being solved.
Humans like a business to stand for something human.
How you sell matters.
Selling like you’re in the office with The Wolf Of Wall Street Jordan Belfort will not help you sell.
How you sell matters just as much as what you sell.
The process you put a client through has to be simple, thoughtful and in their best interests (not yours).
That last point is crucial. Many businesses exist to serve the board or shareholders, but they do very little to help people like you and I live a better life and do our best work.
The values of your company and what you stand for effect the leads. Before anyone ever becomes a lead in your sales funnel they are a person or a group of persons (a business) with a problem.
Many people never make it into your sales funnel because how you sell what you do is wrong.
Paying for more leads is not nearly as powerful as changing how you sell to the leads you have.
Loving the people who do the selling.
Leads are only half the puzzle.
The bigger question is who is selling to the leads? Does your business treat those people who call your leads well? Do the people who call your leads even care or are they after nothing more than a pay cheque?
These are the unanswered questions that get lost in conversations about why your business needs more leads.
More leads won’t help if your salespeople burn them or don’t know how to convert each lead into a customer that becomes a raving fan and introduces more people (leads) for free.
Treat one lead really well.
I had a sales guy that used to work for me. He treated one lead in Queensland, Australia really well. He spoke to him every day. He knew a lot about the persons family. He even went to the leads barbecue.
That lead was so impressed that he referred several hundred (that we could track) leads to our business. Treating one lead really well is far more powerful than buying more leads who don’t care about what you do.
Digital marketing has become a drug that every business thinks they need.
If only the business world knew the power of one lead.
The good cause factor.
Your business may do something simple like mow lawns.
That may not sound like a life-changing business that can take this lead advice I’m giving onboard. “My business is simple,” you say to me.
Well, I’d challenge that. Any business can have what I call the ‘Good Cause Factor.”
Let be give you an example. The local butcher down the road from me has a BBQ every Saturday afternoon where they invite the community to come and eat some food for free. Everyone is welcome including the few homeless people in the area that never buy any meat from their business.
People stand out the front of that butcher and talk about things that are happening in the community. This Saturday ritual has become a place where business ideas have flourished, homeless issues have been discussed and people who were lonely and possibly suicidal, decided to live for a bit longer.
The last part is the most interesting. In my community here in suburban Melbourne, there is a large group of people that suffer from mental illness. When I went through my own battle with mental illness, I went to the local town hall where people gathered who suffered from the same condition.
It was that event every Wednesday that helped me become a different person.The loneliness and the isolation I felt were cured by the simple act of connecting with other people and having the guts to talk about the demons I was facing.
These same people go to our local butcher on Saturday and eat at the free BBQ. The butcher is thoughtful and they know that they are doing something far more important than selling meat; they’re selling connection to the community, and a possible solution for isolation and loneliness that leads to mental illness.
So back to the point of this post, the community butcher is selling a good cause — an X Factor as some people would call it.
What your business does with its resources to help a worthy cause that affects humans like you and I is just as important as sales funnels, lead generation and your product roadmap.
Link your business to a worthy cause no matter how simple it is.
I lose my mind when people talk about lead quality.
The quality of leads comes down to the quality of people talking to those leads and what you have to offer. Even the coldest lead can buy from you if you know how to find their problem — which they may not know they have — and use your product or service to enhance their life.
Quality of leads is a myth. All leads are equal.
No matter what stage of the sales funnel someone is in, they can be converted by the right business, with the right message and the right intentions to serve rather than take.
More leads are not the answer.
I know you want more leads. We all do.
I’m telling you to think much wider and deeper than that. If all we had to do was get more leads and we’d become the next Bill Gates, we’d be all billionaires.
I could go and set up a business that does nothing more than generate leads and call my business the ‘Billionaire Factory.’ One, two, lead, wham, bam and now you’re rich.
Refine your business down to helping one lead.
Make that lead believe in you.
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