Tag Archives: linkedin

How to Do Cold LinkedIn Outreach

Most salespeople don’t know how to do cold LinkedIn outreach.  Many salespeople try to do cold LinkedIn outreach and do it badly.  Houston, we have a problem!  Don’t we? I’m in a fairly good place to talk about this, because I do LinkedIn outreach and I teach how to do LinkedIn outreach.  However, most importantly, I’m the recipient of a lot of LinkedIn outreach – and nearly all of it is awful.

When you’re a trainer, a coach, or a speaker, you quickly learn that there is an entire industry of people just dying to separate you from your money by promising miraculous growth – if you’ll just pay them to market you or help you market yourself.  This entire industry focuses on reaching out on LinkedIn.  I get somewhere between four and six messages a day.  Most of them follow the same format.  “Hello, Troy, you should know that I’m different and here’s why…” not realizing that they sound exactly the same as everyone else.  Well, I received a message a few days ago from a guy who started that way. When I didn’t respond, he messaged again the next day.  His message was a bit longer than most.  I decided to try an experiment.  Here’s how I responded to him:

“I suppose I’d be open to a brief strategy call.  However, you should know this – you might ‘be the opposite of every LinkedIn marketing company,’ but you sound exactly like every other LinkedIn marketing company that bombs me with messages every day.  There’s no shortage of people ready to separate coaches like me from their money, with big promises and crap returns.  And of course, you’ve done the typical move of reaching out with a hard-sell message right away with no attempt at getting to know me or building a relationship that would give you credibility with me. So – with all that said, if you’d like to schedule a short call, I’m open to it, and I’m always open to learning ways to build my business.  That said, I don’t apologize for being direct and protective of my time.  But here’s my expectation for that call:

  1. You will have at least viewed my website to get an understanding of what I do.
  2. No small talk or cheap rapport building.  I don’t schedule these calls to talk football.
  3. Your questions should be to gain understanding, not lead me.
  4. You be ready to tell me, in simple and straightforward terms, how you can help based on what you have learned about my business.

The ball is in your court.”

He has read that message, but I haven’t heard back from him.  I doubt that I will.  He’s sending out hundreds of these per week, and probably half of those people are blocking him immediately.  But, since he’s working on the law of large numbers, I’m sure he’s getting some appointments.  And that message will put him off because he’ll figure that I’m a jerk, or too tough, and there are easier marks.

Here’s what this guy doesn’t know about me and probably won’t ever get to learn:  I’m a tough sale but once I’m sold, I’m SOLD.  I’m loyal as hell, and if someone helps me, I will evangelize for them at every opportunity.  But I’m protective of my time.  When someone wants to sell to me, I expect them to have their act together.  They should have a basic knowledge of what I do and be able to fit their services into that context.  I’m happy the Chiefs won the Super Bowl (will I get sued by the NFL for using the name, or should I have said “the Big Game?”), but it’s neither the focus of my life nor something I’m interested in talking about during a sales call.  And I expect a straightforward dialogue with no manipulative BS.

In other words, I’m like most of your prospects, and that’s where this worm is going to turn.  You see, the guy who messaged me works nationwide to a big industry.  There are some 4 million people in the USA alone who are engaged in some form of speaking or coaching – so if he burns some potential leads, who cares?  He has a monstrous base of prospects.  Most of you are measuring your prospect list in the thousands, hundreds, or even tens.  You can’t afford to burn too many of them.  So, if you want to avoid failing in your cold LinkedIn outreach, here’s how to do cold LinkedIn outreach right:

  1. No immediate hard sell. I’ll be honest; I cringe when I accept connection requests from people in certain lines of business.  That’s because I know that, within minutes, I’m going to get a hard-sell message for how they can revolutionize my business.  This hard-sell message is going to be incredibly generic and not speak to me as an individual at all, and there will be no attempt at relationship building.  Try this:  When your request is accepted, just send a soft message thanking them for accepting and telling them that you’re looking forward to networking with them here.  And leave it at that.  Believe it or not, you will stand out and be memorable by NOT telling them how awesome you are and how you can solve all their problems!
  2. Engage. Now that you’re connected, engage with them and their posts. Why do people post on social media?  They want ATTENTION.  Give it to them.  Like their posts.  Comment on them when it’s appropriate – and the comment shouldn’t be, “You know, if you buy from me, you can do that even better!”  We get just a little dopamine hit when we see that someone has liked or commented on our posts, and very few people actually do that.  When you do, your name appears and they remember it.  Don’t be a stalker, of course – but give them a little attention.  You might find that they give it back.
  3. Post meaningful content. Post about more than your current product line.  Post interesting articles that you’ve read (this one, maybe?), post tips on how to do business better, even a personal post every now and then is good.  But be active.  I’m not talking about posting all the time.  One post every day or two keeps you alive on LinkedIn.  Between #2 above and this tip, you’d be amazed at what you can accomplish in 30 minutes a day.
  4. Cold LinkedIn Outreach should be appropriate and individualized. When you do reach out directly (no less than 3 weeks from initial connection), it should be individual, specific, and appropriate.  It should display some knowledge of who they are and what they do, and speak directly to how you can help them.  For instance, “Hey, Stan, I saw you’re opening a new branch in Peoria.  You might not know this, but we have a great service center in Peoria that can help you with the startup and maintenance of that building.”  No generic hard-sell crap.
  5. No fake rapport. Two things I’m sick of when someone tries to sell to me.  “How about those Chiefs?” and “Kansas City?  Great barbecue there.”  I’m sick of it for two reasons.  First, it’s an assumption – if you’re from Kansas City, you must be a dyed in the wool Chiefs fan, right?  Er, not so much.  Like I said, I’m a good Kansas Citian, I’m glad (and surprised) that they won, and I attended my friends’ watch parties.  But football does not absorb my life.  And if you’re from Kansas City, you’re big into barbecue, right?  Well….yeah, I am.  I have my own smoker and I’m convinced that the best ribs in Kansas City come from it.  But that doesn’t mean that I want to spend time that I’ve allocated for a business conversation on a topic that the salesperson probably doesn’t have any real interest in.  It’s fake and inauthentic, and it works against building rapport.  Want to really build rapport?  Ask a couple of good questions about your prospect that both demonstrate that you’ve done a bit of homework and that you want to dive deeper.  Then LISTEN to the answer.

Unlike the people who approach me, I’m guessing that you can’t really use the “law of large numbers” to generate a prospect flow, and that you can’t afford to have half of those you approach block you.  So, understand that prospecting and outreach are a slow play now. Instead of doing outreach for next week’s appointments, you’re going to do cold LinkedIn outreach for next month’s appointments – or next quarter’s.  That’s okay.  Those appointments will likely be better and more productive.

Four Ways to Improve Your Sales Communications

My friend and speaking coach, Patricia Fripp, has a phrase that I love.  She likes to say, “Specificity brings memorability.”  She’s right – and she’s getting more and more right every day.  What she means is that, when you are speaking (or selling), what sets you apart are the specific details that you bring to the table.  For instance, she coaches that you should quote statistics, specific facts, and other details that are “sticky” with the audience, even if they forget most of what you said.

Today, there’s another level to that – to sell successfully in 2023 (almost 2024), not only to you have to be specific, you have to be specific to the individual customer.  Your customer doesn’t care what you’ve done for your other 99 customers, they care about what you will do for them and their individual situation.  That expectation definitely raises the bar for your messaging, but it also creates big opportunities to win business.

If you’re still using generic sales pitches (most of us have at one time or another), you’re probably finding that they just don’t cut it anymore. Your customers have come to expect personalized interactions and recommendations tailored specifically to their needs; after all, when Facebook can detect a post you made and then immediately start throwing up ads for related products, we’re in a world where people expect sales and marketing to center around THEM. To effectively sell in this environment, you must improve your sales communications by moving beyond blanket messaging to authentic, one-to-one communication that demonstrates a deep understanding of each customer.

Once upon a time, we could send out generic email messaging and boilerplate product brochures, and still get a decent response rate. Nowadays, customers see those tactics as insincere (which, let’s be honest, they are), and often it turns customers off rather than capturing their interest. What grabs your buyer’s attention? Truly customized interactions that indicate you comprehend their unique situation.

The “bad” news is that, now, you have to put in the work to research prospects and customers as individuals before reaching out. Take the time to thoroughly understand your target’s business, challenges, goals and buying criteria. The good news (no scare quotes this time) is that it’s incredibly easy to do so. LinkedIn (in particular) gives you a window into what your prospect is thinking and doing – if you are on LinkedIn and if you are using it.  Yesterday, I talked to a new client who explained to me that most of his salespeople don’t have LinkedIn profiles and aren’t using it.  In 2023, that’s unacceptable – you’re leaving a lot of your opportunity to sell on the table.

When you are armed with a solid understanding of a prospect’s or customer’s world, you can then tailor every piece of communication to resonate. Customize emails, social messages and collateral to showcase your grasp of their priorities and needs – and how you can create Advantages over their current situation.  That can launch them into their own Buyer’s Journey – one that hopefully includes you. Send relevant content that ties directly to current initiatives within their company. The more precise and one-to-one your outreach, the better it will be received.

Don’t be afraid to send non-sales content.  For instance, let’s say that you see an article that ties back to something one of your customers is experiencing, or a post that you might have seen on LinkedIn.  Shoot them a message with a link to the article, indicating why you sent it.

Nailing this level of personalization at scale takes work.  After all, most of us have more than one customer or prospect at a time! But it pays off handsomely by boosting response rates and forging stronger customer connections. Research by The Relevancy Ring found personalized emails generate six times higher transaction rates and individualized web experiences provide a 20 percent lift in sales. Customers that feel understood and valued through tailored communication build lasting loyalty with brands over those taking a one-size-fits-all approach.

While personalized messaging certainly demands more upfront effort from you, that’s precisely what sets you apart. In competitive industries, buyers have multiple options with comparable solutions. You’ve probably already figured THAT part out.  Taking time to understand your customers shows you genuinely care about their success beyond making a quick sale. Strong one-to-one connections drive more productive conversations that uncover true needs and align your solutions. When your buyers feel understood as more than transactions, you build trust that wins business.

Here are four quick steps to individualizing your communication:

  1. Research. Note that when I say “research,” I’m not suggesting that you spend all day on one customer.  You can learn more in five minutes now than you used to be able to in hours – so spend that five minutes doing quality research.  Company web pages are good.  Company social media is better (because it’s more current and more reflective of where they are at the moment).  Your contact’s professional social media is best.  Looking them up on LinkedIn?  Good professional research.  Looking them up on Facebook?  Stalkery.
  2. Find a “hinge.” A “hinge” is a point upon which to base sales communication.  For instance, if your target says that they are about to open a new location and you sell something that helps with that, that’s a hinge.  If your target expresses frustration that you can solve, that’s a hinge.  But remember – hinges are “specific.”
  3. Craft a message including the hinge. Now it’s time to reach out.  You can use email, social media messaging, or you can even craft a short voice mail (because so few people answer the phone anymore).  “Hi, John, this is Troy with ABC Company.  I see that you’re opening a new location at 46th and Main, and we already help several of your neighbors solve this problem that you’ve referenced in a LinkedIn post.  Maybe we could help you, too – could we talk?”  Remember – specificity brings memorability.  Keep it short and punchy, but include enough detail so that you’re talking to your target, not just anyone who might be in the area.
  4. Be patient. We might not love it, but the reality is that prospecting is much more of a slow play now.  The level of information and control that your buyers have means that they can enter their own Buyer’s Journey on their timetable – not yours.  Understand this, keep dripping specific messages, and you’ll get on their radar screen.

The bottom line is that generic communication doesn’t work anymore. Want to win more business today? Then you have to become a student of your prospects and clients. Put in the work to comprehend needs, goals and pain points at an individual level. Then demonstrate that understanding through authentic conversations and recommendations matching each customer’s unique priorities. This approach to selling is going to move your customers beyond the “occasional buyer” status and create the “loyal customer relationship” that we are all looking for. Set yourself apart and improve your sales communications by speaking to customers like the individuals they are.