When implementing a digital sales or social selling program, the biggest single point of failure can be writing LinkedIn messages to buyers. Or to put it in simpler language, the ability to craft well thought out messages that convert into offline conversations between seller and buyer.
Every sales strategy most likely has a multi activity approach which may include phoning, emailing and social interaction. However, sales people who use social selling as their primary customer acquisition channel are now getting the majority of their leads via well crafted and well timed messages via social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
So here are some tips on writing LinkedIn messages (or indeed for any social media platform) to potential buyers so sales people can generate sales pipeline quicker.
Tip. 1: UNDERSTAND YOUR BUYER
Long before a sales person ever writes “that message” whether it is for a connection request or for conversion to pipeline, we need to take a step back and consider how much we really understand our buyers. For example at The Bitter Business, I target 3 ideal customer profiles (ICP’s)/buyer personas: Sales Leaders, Marketing Leaders, and Sales Trainers.
I created these ICP’s so I can create content that speaks and resonates with people who are interested in using social media to drive sales. I also use these buyer personas to gain an understanding of my target audience, their needs, wants, concerns and business challenges within their industry.
Remember the 5 Buyer Why’s when developing Ideal Customer Profiles and content that matches for social selling. Why listen? Why care? Why change? Why you? Why now?
Every sales person and every sales team should sit down with marketing and create 1, 2 or 3 ICP’s as to take targeting of buyer personas to the next level. Use this exercise between sales and marketing to explore what are your prospect’s biggest fears or challenges, the consequences of them maintaining a status quo position, and the biggest win you and your business can deliver to them.
It may sound simplistic but the better you understand your buyer, the better chance sales people have of being able to move buyers out of their status quo and walk with them on their buyers journey.
Tip 2: USE INSIGHTS TO BUILD VALUE
Value is the currency for buyer connectivity. So once we understand the buyer’s position and needs, we need to source insights (news, data, information, research) which prove that we understand them and their industry. There are many content curation tools such as Owler, Scoop.it. Crunchbase, Google Alerts, Twitter Lists, and LinkedIn.
To build value with insights, sales people should focus on 3 areas:
The Buyer: Start by following the buyer on LinkedIn, Twitter even Facebook. The objective is to discover how socially active they are plus what content or conversations are they engaging with as to ascertain what they are interested in. Also try to find out if the prospect has been referenced in an article, has been complimented in a conversation or writes blog posts. There are great opportunities to engage the buyer in a starter conversation.
The Buyers Company: The level of data or insight you can get on a company depends on their size. A good place to start is their blog and do a Google search for news and announcements. Remember there are 5.4 decision makers involved in a business purchase so do some LinkedIn research on the senior players. What groups do they belong to, what level of connectivity do they have and who are they connected to. Make sure to follow their company page and twitter accounts. Then repeat a Google search for these names to find out some information or news. Also look out for press releases, newly appointed people, announcements, press mention and maybe sign up to their company blog posts.
The Buyers Industry: Another way to build value is to understand the industry dynamics of your buyer. What trends, data or insights can you gleam from business research companies such as Forester, Aberdeen Group, McKinsey and Gartner.
By focusing and investing time on these three areas, sales people will uncover insights that:
- Put’s themselves in the shoes of the buyer so they can anticipate future needs; plus
- Become valuable to the buyer in sharing quality information while gradually positioning themselves as a trusted source..
Tip 3: BUILD YOUR MESSAGE
Once a sales person feels they can bring value to a buyer (via understanding and relevant insights) with content worthy of sharing or to spark a conversation then they can proceed to the message or engaging phase. Do not rush into this.
Regardless of whether it is a connection request, a conversation starter or a conversion message, crafting the correct wording is critical.
So let us move on to how to construct the messages:
The Subject Line: Very few buyers will open a direct social media message/email/InMail unless they are intrigued by your Subject Line. It is essentially the gateway to opening a relationship. To increase the chances of a buyer opening the message, make it relevant and avoid spam sounding sentences. A subject line like “You mentioned recently” or “I noticed you”, plus include their first name and any snippet of information that will spark an interest or curiosity.
Make it 100% Personalised: Always state your name, and give the buyer the context into why you are reaching out. Then add in the value exchange (what is in it for them – research/information/similarities etc). Then maybe reference a piece of content you found from insights research. These elements are what separate your messaging from the raft of other messages they get every day from sales people doing a brochure dump or vanilla flavoured template.
Include an Impact/Value Statement: If this is a conversion message, then every sales person should address the buyer WIIFM (What is in it for me). Talk about what you can do for them referencing specific case studies, facts or clients. Include a statistic and a time frame.
Value Statement example: “I help SaaS technology companies who are launching a new product into the marketplace – and need it to be successful in the short-term to achieve their sales forecast. Where I help my clients is to generate more leads faster using social selling. As a result, my customers are able to more easily meet projected sales targets and significantly reduce the time to profitability.”
As Harvard marketing professor Theodore Levitt put it: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want to buy a quarter-inch hole.” You must understand why your customer wants that hole. Cultivating relationships within that context is much more powerful.
Every message should ideally end with a question asking them to take a specific action. If this is a connection request, then keep it with context and zero sales pitch. If a conversion message (moment of truth), maybe end by asking for a time to have a chat (reference some specific times you are available).
A few MESSAGE EXAMPLES:
Subject Line: John, You mentioned you plan to grow 250% in 2017
I read your quote in the Irish Times where you mentioned you plan to growth 250% in 2017 with a particular focus on SaaS companies and you are now putting your plans in place. Social selling will enable your sales teams to generate additional sales pipeline in these areas, which will enhance your company’s ability for larger deal sizes.
Companies like Dell, Schneider, and smaller companies have leveraged our Social Selling Methodology to:
Increase their qualified leads pipeline by 35% plus within 12 months.
Create team revenue (sales & marketing alignment) to accelerate revenue.
Drive sales enablement and account development through leadership buy-in and measures.
Can I have 15 minutes of your time for me to share the digital transformation success we are seeing across many Irish companies?
Can we set out 15 minutes on [this date] or [this date]?”
Subject Line: Dave, I noticed your interest in this article
I noticed that you looked at my profile and commenting on the article “How to Social Sell” I shared in some LinkedIn groups. I research and write articles on using social media to drive business, so if you ever require information on social selling, feel free to use me as a resource for whitepapers and research. Look forward to connecting with you.
Creating the right message is all about creating value for the buyer at the right time, this value has to be separated in connecting, being useful (conversations) and being valuable (conversion into pipeline). Sales people need to understand the buyer (ICP’s/buyer personas) from all fronts, individual, company and industry. The skill is to do the research and craft messaging around the buyer’s journey you have plotted.