This is Part 4 in a 5-part series describing an effective LinkedIn strategy for selling high value products and services.
Part 4: LinkedIn Automation
LinkedIn Automation is an important part of this LinkedIn strategy. You can use a small Google Chrome extension which instructs your LinkedIn profile to do specific actions. Or you can invest in a third-party service that connects to the back end of your LinkedIn account through LinkedIn’s API. Either works if you use it responsibly (i.e. don’t exceed any volume limits).
It’s important to understand that using automation is not an effective LinkedIn strategy by itself. You also need to optimize your profile (SEE Part 1: LinkedIn Profile Optimization) AND you need to publish good content on a regular basis (SEE Part 2: LinkedIn Content Publishing)
How LinkedIn Automation Works
The idea behind LinkedIn Automation is that it turns your LinkedIn account into an INBOUND sales tool versus an outbound sales tool like most salespeople use LinkedIn for. This is a key part of this LinkedIn strategy.
There are 3 elements of LinkedIn Automation:
- Auto-visiting target profiles
- Sending connection requests
- Scheduling direct messages to new (or existing) connections
Before you set up auto-visiting, you need to specify the search criteria to find the profiles you want to visit. This is done in Advanced Search — typically using Sales Navigator. Then this saved search criteria is added to the automation tool, and you set a schedule to visit profiles.
LinkedIn automation allows you to visit many more profiles than you would normally visit manually — hundreds in fact. Auto-visiting profiles is valuable, because many people will visit your profile in return.
A certain percentage of these people will then invite you to connect. Accepting these inbound invitations adds them to your first-degree network. Since they’re in your first-degree network you can then freely message back and forth. This is 100x better than sending blind InMails!
Sending Connection Requests
Most LinkedIn Automation tools also allow you to send connection requests to individuals you target using Advanced Search criteria. Sales Navigator is a required tool for this, as you need as many available invitations as possible.
Depending on your industry and job level / role, you can expect to get anywhere from 15% to 40% connection acceptance rate. If your job title very clearly says “Sales” then your connection rate will be on the lower end. A CEO or Director will obviously achieve a higher connection rate.
It’s very important to stay below LinkedIn’s connection invitation limits — this has trended down over the last few years to cut down on connection spam and currently stands at 100 connection requests per week. If you know the person’s email address you can increase this number but that’s challenging to do at scale.
For 100 cold connection requests per week, you can expect to get 15-40 new targeted connections. This adds up over time!
Once somebody is in your LinkedIn network you can then message them, which is the next step.
Scheduling Direct Messages
Once you’ve got somebody in your network, you have lots of choices. The thing you don’t want to do is immediately start message spamming them. Give it a few days or a week to send a message. This substantially reduces the spam knee-jerk reaction.
Depending on the LinkedIn Automation tool you’re using, you can schedule 1 or more messages after connecting with a prospect. You MUST monitor your LinkedIn message stream for responses — some will be good (“call me”) and some will be negative (“please remove me from your marketing”). You can’t just put direct messages on autopilot.
Here is a basic “soft” sequence to follow:
- Greeting, thank you for connecting
- Here’s a good article you might find interesting
- Webinar invitation
- Question about a problem you might be able to solve
The sequence can continue for months if you want. Creating a long tail engagement sequence like this can yield excellent results. As long as you’re providing value-added information (as opposed to a hard sell) then it’s generally not seen as a problem.
If you hard sell somebody with a 1-2-3-pitch sequence you will get lots of disconnections and complaints and LinkedIn will throttle or shut down your ability to send messages.
You should also space messages out a few days or week (people aren’t active all day on LinkedIn so there’s no use in sending messages on a quick frequency — doing so could also trigger LinkedIn’s DM spam algorithms).
You should also A/B test messages to optimize the results. Most market niches aren’t huge and it’s generally better to lead with quality over quantity to maximize opportunities from a small population. Some LinkedIn Automation tools have split testing capabilities — they’re worth the effort!
We recommend that you track every message in a spreadsheet or campaign tracking tool embedded in your LinkedIn Automation software. Double-messaging people because you forget whom you messaged is bad.
Benefits of LinkedIn Automation
Below are the benefits of LinkedIn Automation versus traditional outbound LinkedIn sales prospecting.
Outreach with LinkedIn Automation
- Prospects connect with you (warm)
- Targets your second- and third-degree network (large footprint)
- High volume
- Works “while you sleep”
- Obeys LinkedIn rules and limits
Manual LinkedIn Outreach
- You find prospects (cold)
- Highly targeted (good for executives)
- Targets your first-degree network
- Low volume
- Can only be done by you
- High cost / high reward
- Combined online referral / offline strategy
The great thing about LinkedIn automation is it can be run in parallel with your daily LinkedIn prospecting work. You can’t run it at the same time, but you can run it outside of business hours when you’re not making calls (or not working at all).