Social media is getting personal. In the past year, we’ve seen a drastic shift from public platforms to more private conversations. In December, TechCrunch termed 2018 “the year social networks were no longer social”, as increasing numbers of users moved to less public modes of communication. There’s a reason the top 3 messaging platforms now service almost 4 billion monthly users worldwide.
That trend has long been true in sales. Relationship building is the name of the game, and especially businesses with long-term sales cycles need to make sure they make more than passing contact with their leads and prospects. That’s where LinkedIn Messenger enters the equation.
You know LinkedIn as the platform to connect with business buying agents and other professional audiences. You might also know it as a tool that, though powerful, has significant limitations when it comes to breadth of audience. That’s why taking advantage of the potential depth of communication with each of your prospects becomes so crucial. These steps help you leverage LinkedIn Messenger as a powerful platform to nurture sales relationships.
1) Know Your Audience
It might seem basic, but it’s still an important first step no matter your tactic. Before you even begin to consider tactical considerations of LinkedIn’s messenger platform, you have to know your audience.
That goes beyond whether or not they know and use the platform. Hopefully, you already know that they do. Instead, and in addition, focus on more specific questions:
- What are their pain points and open questions that conversations with you could address?
- When are they typically online? We know that sending messages to audiences who are currently online are more likely to be read.
- How many other sales people do they currently and do they expect to communicate with?
Answering these questions is not easy. You will need to rely on in-depth research, your own past experiences with customer interactions, and at least partially on your own intuition. Still, even partial answers can give you a better idea on how to focus and optimize your messenger strategy.
2) Adjust Your Message to the Sales Cycle
Building relationships with your prospects becomes especially important for more complex sales cycles, and that’s where LinkedIn Messenger has the potential to shine. In that case, though, you also have to make sure that you meet your prospects where they are.
In other words, adjust your messaging to their specific stage in the sales cycle. Someone who has never heard about you will need to be able to see you as an authority first. A new lead might need reinforcements that you have the expertise they need. Overt sales pitches are probably best reserved for prospects who have all the information they need and are just about ready to make a purchasing decision.
3) Leverage Paid InMail to Gain Prospects
Increasing your prospect database is likely a core goal for any sales professional on LinkedIn. You might be able to gain some of them by sending connection requests. Chances are, though, you won’t have unconditional success.
Instead, why not coordinate a better approach? LinkedIn offers paid outreach through sponsored InMail, a hybrid system between its own messenger platform and regular email. The key: you can target these messages as you would digital ads, based on factors like industry, job title, and employer.
Put differently: you spend some money, target a specific audience that fits your prospect profile, and craft a message designed for that audience. Voila: you gain a premier spot in the messenger inbox of some of your most relevant potential prospects.
LinkedIn limits the number of sponsored messages any user gets per month, which is why InMail tends to significantly outperform cold email pushes of the same nature. You can get undivided attention, and plenty of space to make your case; perfect to gain prospects.
4) Personalize the Content
Whether you send an InMail to potential leads or a regular message to your existing contacts, customizing it to your audience is absolute key. The basics of email personalization apply here as well. If you can make your audience feel like you’re speaking to them directly, your response, click-through, and conversion rates increase drastically.
That type of personalization is achievable through a number of efforts:
- Write a subject line that catches your audience’s attention and directly addresses a problem or question they might have.
- Use your message body to write about the problem or question in more detail, directly fulfilling the subject line’s promise.
- Use basic merge fields, such as your recipients’ first name in the address line, where possible.
- Focus on casual language that’s not heavy in sales lingo, but reads as if a normal conversation between you and the prospect.
- Offer a natural next step, whether that’s a click to a relevant piece of content on your website or a simple request for a reply and conversation.
5) Focus on Value to Your Users
Finally, never underestimate the value you have to provide for your prospects to pay attention. If they detect a thinly veiled sales pitch with nothing in it for them, they’re out. Determining what that value could be is crucial to your efforts in building a sustainable relationship even before the sale.
Again, that value can take a number of shapes. You might want to make your audience aware of a lead magnet that covers industry trend or another topic relevant to their everyday work. You might be able to offer an even more tangible benefit, such as a free trial.
Another opportunity is to leverage features like the new meeting set up tool, newly available and especially relevant for prospects late in the sales funnel. Either way, the existence of value in any of your messages is absolutely crucial to long-term, sustainable success on LinkedIn Messenger.
Through these steps, you can ensure that LinkedIn’s personal messaging tool becomes a valuable part of your effort to build prospect relationships. Your approach becomes more strategic, allowing you to maximize your opportunities and optimize your time spent in driving prospects through the sales funnel. It’s a first step in becoming a more successful sales professional who can leverage in-person as well as digital opportunities equally successfully.