Using LinkedIn automation as a sales enablement tool is highly appealing. After all, what sales executive wouldn’t want to minimize the significant effort required to drum up new business? Why not just leverage LinkedIn and automate the whole thing, right?
What LinkedIn Automation Can and Can’t Do
Using LinkedIn automation can help you bring in new business by adding lots of new ideal prospects to your network. It can also help reduce the amount of outbound communications (messages, InMails, etc.) needed to initiate sales conversations.
However, getting LinkedIn automation working for you requires the right things in place first. You can’t just plug in AutoPilot or Elink and expect it to build business for you right out of the box. You need to prepare for your new strategy.
There are 4 elements required for any LinkedIn sales strategy to work. These elements maximize the quality and depth of your presence on LinkedIn. If you do these things, LinkedIn and your ideal potential customers will love you for it. If you don’t, then LinkedIn automation won’t work well for you.
Element #1 – Your Profile
Success starts with your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile should be oriented around your ideal customer’s needs and the value you provide.
Why do salespeople talk about themselves in their profile summary? Potential buyers care about getting their problems solved and needs met by a trustworthy company at a fair price. This is exactly what you should talk about in your profile!
For example: What do you specialize in? Who are your customers and clients? What problems do you solve? How do you do it? Is there something unique that differentiates you? (smarter, more agile, better service, cheaper, more trustworthy, more experience?) What process or sequence do you use so I can understand how it works?
You should update your profile photo so you’re not wearing a 1980’s suit. The photo should look professional and inviting with a nicely contrasting background.
Adding a high-resolution background image that represents your business and not your vacation is a good idea (try Google Images).
Make sure your relevant skills and keywords are up to date. Open up your profile visibility settings to make yourself searchable (NOTE: be sure to have “update my network when I make profile changes” turned OFF or you will spam everybody in your network each time you tweak your profile).
LinkedIn automation will work best if you write your profile from the perspective of your customer’s needs and the value you provide.
Element #2 – Your Posts and Updates
Content has become much more important on LinkedIn in the last year or two. This works in your favor if you publish Posts and Updates regularly.
Posts are blog posts from 500-1500 words that present areas of your expertise or knowledge. You can outsource the writing of these if you like, or write them yourself. Having 3-5 useful Posts visible in your profile helps establish your credibility. It also pushes you up in LinkedIn searches and Google searches as well. Posts are an excellent opportunity to establish your credibility and authority in your market. That way your first interaction with a prospective customer will more likely be as a trusted advisor, rather than “just some other salesperson”.
Updates are typically short snippets of blog posts, videos, links to PDFs and white papers, etc. They keep you in the conversation about particular topics and create a bit of engagement. The idea is to show up regularly in your first-degree network (the little alert flag on the upper right) every time you publish an Update. Pretty soon your name will come to mind when people think about the solutions you provide.
Both Posts and Updates should have a nice image that represents the topic. You can usually grab one from Google Images or use stock images from iStockPhoto or another provider. Screenshots of PowerPoint slides also work well. If you don’t insert an image with your post, LinkedIn will usually select one automatically from the target page (if there’s a URL) and you could end up with a weird image.
It’s important to point out that publishing content can build your credibility, or it can destroy it. Regardless of what you see in the stream when you log in, avoid being the person who posts Facebook content on LinkedIn. Stick to business and your area of expertise and you will gain a targeted following of potential buyers over time.
Consistent content publishing works hand-in-hand with LinkedIn automation to spread your message and draw in potential customers from your rapidly growing network.
Element #3 – Engaging With Your Network
Engaging with other network members doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. LinkedIn prompts you constantly to engage. Here are some examples:
“Flag” notifications on your upper right header panel.
Prompts to endorse a network member for his or her skills. People you endorse often endorse you back. This benefits you because LinkedIn uses Skills as a primary search factor, meaning you will show up in more searches targeting the skills for which you are endorsed.
Announcements about new jobs and job anniversaries.
Posting and responding in LinkedIn Groups.
You can also like, comment and share other network members’ Updates and Posts. This will help leverage the network growth you get from LinkedIn automation by trading social currency. A mere 3-5 minutes per day will produce significant returns over time.
Element #4 – Messaging Prospects
Messaging prospects is a blend of art and science. The art is how you write your message. The science is regular testing to determine what is working to get that ever-challenging introductory call.
The worst thing a sales executive can do is to “message spam” new prospects immediately after connecting. You should strongly consider waiting a few days, or even weeks, unless you’re inviting somebody to an upcoming event.
A message saying “Hi, we connected a few weeks ago. I just wanted to reach out to learn about your business” is much more likely to get a positive response than “Thanks for connecting, here’s my sales pitch”.
It’s always good to send new prospects a “thanks for connecting” message. You should take the time to personalize it, rather than using LinkedIn automation to send follow-up responses. (NOTE: There’s lots of debate on the best approach and whether to “auto-respond” to new connections. Your market and the nature of your product or service will help guide you on what’s best. Be sensitive and focus on developing long term relationships and you should be fine.)
You should keep your messages short, but don’t dispense with business etiquette or being polite. Just because somebody connected with you doesn’t mean you should immediately fall into cryptic half-sentences. Remember to always put your best, most professional foot forward.
Preparing Yourself for LinkedIn Automation
Applying the suggestions above will successfully prepare you for using LinkedIn automation. It you do it right, you will build your network with the right prospects, develop engaged followers, and develop new business from ideal prospects who need your product or service.