There’s a time in a company’s growth when inbound leads, robust as they can be, just don’t cut it anymore. Sure, inbound is great – many organizations have enjoyed initial (and, in some cases, substantial) success that’s to it.
Unfortunately, to achieve robust growth, a consistent source of predictable opportunities is needed. That source is outbound sales.
This is the place SOCO Sales Training found itself in a little while back. For the last few years, 95% of their business has been from inbound. That’s right, 95%. SOCO enjoyed very strong marketing, branding, and positioning in the market.
But, they too started looking at larger revenue goals. According to SOCO founder Tom Abbott, the company was faced with two initial decisions: they could try and sell twice as much to their existing customers, or increase closing rate. But, as luck would have it, SOCO was already doing exceptionally well in both areas – the company was enjoying a 90% conversion rate and was regularly up-selling to its clients.
Not too shabby.
So the SOCO team realized they needed more leads. And they needed outbound sales to provide them.
“For us, outbound has always been on the radar. And, look, we needed more leads. We needed outbound, and to generate leads that way,” says Abbott.
And we figured LinkedIn was a great way to do that.
Of course, there are numerous different avenues a company can explore to fuel its outbound strategy – emails, phone calls, and direct mail to name but three.
But, as Abbott mentioned above, SOCO took another route and focused exclusively on LinkedIn to build and reach out to its contact list.
“You have to start with a very clear idea of who you are going after. We go after sales ops people, directors of sales and marketing and so on. And we do a lot of work in tech, IT, digital media – they seek us out. And that is a huge help with outbound,” says Abbott.“The great thing about LinkedIn is that you can look at size, role, and function. So, if you have yourICP nailed, LinkedIn can be a huge multiplier.”
Sharing great content
But while your outreach starts once you’ve defined your ICP, the work to become a trusted expert in the field you sell to actually starts in a somewhat different realm: with content.
According to Abbott, using LinkedIn for prospecting requires SDRs to effectively build their brand on LinkedIn and routinely share great content.
“You need to position yourself as an authority in the space.You need to build a following,” says Abbott.
At SOCO, we built my following to north of 20,000 connections. That is a very deliberate strategy – you want that exposure. Remember: it isn’t just who you know, it’s who knows you. So, be an authority.
That content, add Abbott, can be created by the SDR themselves, or by your company’s marketing department. As long as the content is helpful, consistent, and clear, then it will help get your name out there and build your brand.
“SDRs have to marketers – the functions are one and the same. It really helps, and it is one, big, virtuous cycle,” says Abbott.
“And everyone of your SDRs can become known. Not everyone has to be “the” person in a particular area, but you can be active and share content. If you have two SDRs, one is active and one is passive, the active person will win every single time.”
The importance of Sales Navigator
So, once you have your ICP nailed and your content is getting those critical eyeballs, it’s time to start reaching out to your prospects. And, in the world of LinkedIn, that means you’re building lists in Sales Navigator.
“If you’re an SSR, this is critical – it is a must-have,” says Abbott.
“You can do advanced searches, and find any of the criteria you are looking for whatever space you are trying to sell into. So, be very clear, and build your list.”
You can even target people that have been active on LinkedIn in the past 30 days. Naturally, when prospecting on LinkedIn, you want to know these people are active, so they will be active with you back.
When reaching out, stresses Abbott, it’s best to use a light touch and not try and prematurely force a meeting. For instance, when Abbott starts to add connections (from his list) on LinkedIn, he sends a quick note with the connection request so the prospect can be sure he’s a real human.
Then, he waits 1 – 2 days to follow up. And when he does, he simply thanks them for connecting.
Don’t send them a PDF brochure the second you connect. Don’t be that guy. Make it easy for people to say yes. So, wait and thank them for connecting. That is all I do.
Remember, you’re not going for the meeting. Not yet.
After that, Abbott waits a week before he follows up again. And when he does, he once again goes for the light touch.
“This is what I would call a credibility building message. I let the prospect know about a talk I did recently, and tell them they might get some benefit from it too. Then, I send them a link or whatever to a video of the work,” says Abbott.
“They get value, and they see that I know what I’m doing. This is a very critical message.”
Finally, once that message has been sent, it’s time to start asking for the meeting. So, in his next message, Abbott employs the tried-and-true approach of asking who the right person to speak with about sales training is.
Those familiar with the Predictable Revenue methodology will know that approach well.
Booking the meeting
Of course, there’s one more step – actually booking the meeting. Once a prospect expresses interest, or lets Abbott know they are the right person to speak with, Abbott puts them into another light-touch cadence to make sure he gets the meeting booked.
This cadence, however, is slightly different from the others: it includes email touches, if an email can be found, as well as phone calls, if the prospect’s phone number can be found. This particular cadence lasts for about two weeks, with a mix of calls and emails asking for 15 minutes of the prospect’s time.
If the call can’t be booked over those couple of weeks, Abbott says he moves on. Afterall, there’s more LinkedIn messages to send.
For more on Abbott’s thoughts on LinkedIn prospecting – including a detailed discussion of conversion rates at each stage of the process – check out the rest of his interview on The Predictable Revenue Podcast.
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