Lead nurturing is often defined as a way to stay in touch with prospects until they’re ready to buy.
Now, because of that definition, when someone accepts your invitation to connect on LinkedIn, some people believe that it gives them the right to send you a sequence of messages that look like this:
- Message 1: Thanks for connecting.
- Message 2: Here is a great article for you.
- Message 3: Let’s talk to see how we can help each other.
- Message 4: Did you receive my messages?
Sound familiar? That’s not lead nurturing. That is just selling under false pretenses.
True lead nurturing is about helping.
Why is LinkedIn so great for nurturing leads?
Imagine attending a networking event. Everyone wears a name tag, but that doesn’t give you much information to start a conversation.
Whereas on LinkedIn, you can learn a lot about someone before initiating that first contact. As a result, lead nurturing becomes a lot easier.
Similarly, the information you publish on LinkedIn shapes your perceived image. And since people tend to buy from someone they trust, you have a clear advantage over competitors when you’re perceived as a source of authority.
Lead nurturing is a semi-linear process where you’re supposed to help buyers move forward in the buying process. However, you can only do that if you know where your prospects actually stand. That’s why successful salespeople always try to have meaningful conversations with their prospects.
In this article, we’ll show you how LinkedIn can help you:
- Build rapport
- Boost your credibility
- Accelerate sales conversion
Use LinkedIn to build rapport
People enjoy connecting with like-minded individuals. LinkedIn helps you build rapport by finding points of commonality. It’s as simple as that.
With the click of a button, you can learn if you and your prospect gravitate in the same circles, are members of the same alma mater or simply share some common interests.
When you’ve attended the same school or support the same causes, you feel connected. And that sentiment sparks trust.
The importance of doing your homework
Make the effort to learn what drives, entertains, and interests the people you want to connect with. Then, use that information to break the ice and personalize your communications.
And since the goal here is to nurture leads, you should make every effort to discover your prospect’s pain points too.
Sometimes it’s obvious from your prospect’s status updates or comments. Sometimes it’s not. But you don’t want to look like you didn’t do your homework.
First impressions matter
Whether you find new contacts on LinkedIn or they find you, your profile gives them a first impression. At the very least, pay close attention to your headline, your picture, and your background image.
Your LinkedIn Summary is also a great opportunity to show that you understand your buyer persona. Show her she’s in the right place to address her more pressing concerns.
Consider using the Featured section to share a white paper or report you wrote. Whenever possible add visual interest to your LinkedIn profile. A nice image or pdf can really catch the eye. It becomes a sort of personal landing page where you can add a compelling call-to-action.
Relevancy is the best strategy
What is interesting on LinkedIn is that you can even interact with prospects when they’re not a first-degree connection. Simply add a comment on one of your prospects’ posts or published articles.
The interest should be genuine, though. Pick and choose the topics where you can add value to the conversation.
And as much as you want to demonstrate your expertise, avoid appearing like a know-it-all.
Use LinkedIn to improve your credibility
There are many ways to showcase your expertise on LinkedIn. Some are passive, like uploading your work portfolio on your profile or adding key certifications. Some are more active, like sharing your knowledge in groups.
Remember, though, that in the context of lead nurturing, you have to empathize with your prospect, who may already be overwhelmed by too much information.
What would convince her that you know what you’re talking about?
Get recommendations from people that matter
There are two forms of recognitions on LinkedIn: skill endorsements and recommendations.
Skill endorsements are nice, because they are a form of social proof. People assume that the majority knows better. A person who gets 99 endorsements—99 being the maximum—appears more legitimate than someone who only gets 10.
But people have become wary of fake endorsements. Recommendations carry more weight, especially if they come from people with authority in your community or field of expertise.
Position yourself as a subject-matter expert
Ideally, though, you want to be perceived as a thought leader.
Simply start by asking yourself what could be of value to your target audience. Then try to create something relatively unique. It could be your own research, a presentation you recently gave at a conference, or an opinion article.
But it could also be a way to repackage curated content. For example, each edition of Harvard Business Review features a synthesis section. This consists of a two-page article where a subject-matter expert synthesizes three to five books on the same topic—capitalism, productivity, fixing the Internet, etc.
If you were to adapt the same concept to LinkedIn, you could give your opinion about the top five articles of the week about artificial intelligence, Bitcoin or whatever you want to be recognized for.
Establish an optimal cadence
One of the biggest challenges when you publish content is to maintain a regular cadence.
A typical LinkedIn post has an average life span of 48 hours. So you definitely need to publish more than once a week. Some people publish every day at the same time, others stick to a specific day of the week.
Give it time. You’ll probably have to experiment with this, but regularity builds top-of-mind awareness and it will also help you develop a publishing routine. It can even become a sort of appointment with your readers. They’ll know when to find you online.
By this time, you should have had a few interactions with your prospects. You’re on the right track, but it’s only the beginning.
Now, let’s take the next step and capitalize on the personal affinity and credibility you’ve established so far to initiate more meaningful conversations.
Moving conversations offline
Interestingly, social media has not eliminated face-to-face contact. Quite the opposite. Many groups started online now organize live events on a regular basis.
In these times of social distancing, meeting for coffee or at a large group gathering is out of the question, but you can still have a meaningful conversation on the phone or via video conferencing.
Here again, you want to make it easy for your prospect to take the next step. Tools like Calendly and YouCanBookMe help you find a convenient time without the back-and-forth emails.
Turning leads into real opportunities
Conversion happens when you have better insights.
It’s hard to suggest a next step when you don’t know where your prospect lies in the buying cycle. Is the potential buyer acknowledging there is a problem or an opportunity? Is she evaluating different options? What factors are affecting the purchase decision?
That being said, your conversation doesn’t have to be self-serving. You build trust by seeking to understand other people’s point of view. Be patient, but above all, be open to new experiences.
You may discover along the way that your prospect is not the right person to discuss a potential project with, but she can still introduce you to other people in her network.
Be authentic, be vulnerable
This is where LinkedIn differs from automated follow-up sequences sent via marketing automation software.
It’s B2B, but we buy from people we like and trust. Seize that chance to show who you really are. This approach isn’t only refreshing, it can actually win you the deal.
Authenticity goes a long way to building trust.
Lead nurturing is not just the responsibility of the marketing department. You have a unique opportunity to develop deeper interpersonal relationships.
It will take time and effort, but if you establish a daily 20-minute routine to nurture leads properly, your sales funnel will never be empty.
And what if you could turn this into a game where each team member shares best practices during the boring weekly sales meeting? That could be a fun way to report on progress and keep your team motivated.
Talking about sharing, how do YOU use LinkedIn to nurture leads? Tell us in the comments section.
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