Why Do As Many As 75% Of Outreach Messages Fail on LinkedIn?

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No One Is Home.

LinkedIn announced Q3 2016 results a couple of weeks ago on October 27th. There are now 467 million LinkedIn members. They also announced 106 million unique monthly logins, which sounds great until you realize what that means. 106 million people now log in once a month or more often than that. The flip side of the coin is that 361 million people log in less than once month. Think about that for a second or two…that’s 361 million people, some of whom may log onto LinkedIn once before New Years. Many of them will show up once between now and the Spring. And many won’t really show up at all.

If you send a LinkedIn message today to someone you would really like to speak with, but if they are one of the 361 million, the odds are pretty poor that they are going to respond to your message.

Why? Because they will likely ignore it. These are people who don’t use LinkedIn very often. They don’t “get” networking. They have never seen the value in using LinkedIn regularly, and they still don’t. So messages from LinkedIn are more likely to just be ignored. This is what I mean by your outreach failing because no one is home.

  And in an oblique way, LinkedIn acknowledges this problem.  I think it is instructive that if someone responds to your LinkedIn InMail you get a credit for a new InMail to use with another LinkedIn member. How long does LinkedIn give them to reply? Ninety days. It sounds to me like LinkedIn wants to give them every opportunity to show up and respond, but they aren’t that confident either.

So you can knock on the door, but if no one is home…what can you do?

Your homework.

Before you reach out to someone, go to the recent activity part of their LinkedIn Profile and look for two things: number of followers and recent activity. If someone has 1200 followers and you can see they are active posting and responding to other people’s posts, you can feel comfortable that they appreciate what LinkedIn has to offer and will likely respond to your message. It may not be the response you want, but at least you will know where you stand.

On the other hand, finding someone with 41 connections and no activity is the kiss of death. Likelihood of this person responding is effectively zero.

What else can you do about it? Be realistic and use alternatives. If you are confident in your email abilities you can try emailing them. Or you can try  approaching the target company through someone else at the company who does look approachable.   

The bottom line is that no matter how fabulous a candidate may seem to be for your product or service, you are going to have a really hard time getting the attention of someone who is not there.

Learn to recognize low probability situations and don’t invest your time in them.  

Why Every B2B Salesperson Needs Sales Navigator

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Here’s what LinkedIn really is:

“LinkedIn is a database of prospective customers with the means to sort and make sense of that database”

In the just released results (October 27, 2016) LinkedIn announced it had 467 million members. LinkedIn may not have everybody, but I would argue they have most of the people that matter.

To capitalize on sorting and making sense of that database, you need Sales Navigator. Here’s why:

  1. Sales Navigator gives you the ability to filter on multiple parts of profiles – like geography, industry, and company size – and Sales Nav also allows you to search by title and keyword and do Boolean searches (which is a really cool term for a group of search conditions like “AND” or “OR” ).
  1. You can take your search results and adjust or change the filters you are using and conduct the search again.
  1. You can save your searches. This is particularly important if you have put together some exotic searches ( see the example below) and want to make sure you can replicate it.  
  1. You are not limited on the number of searches you can make in a given month.

The bottom line is, if it is on someone’s LinkedIn profile, you can search for it and find that profile.

Here’s an example of a search you don’t see every day, but one that will illustrate what you can do with Sales Navigator:

I had a client looking for beta sites for their new software product. They needed banks. In the mid west. With a certain number of servers. Running a certain type of software. But not the banks that were running their direct competitor’s software.  So I developed a search that identified the people running the data centers at banks that met those criteria. Results: Eight prospect companies to call.  

With the data that LinkedIn users put on their profiles, you are only limited by your own imagination.

The LinkedIn business premium subscription also has similar capabilities as Sales Navigator, but not as many filters. And the free account has a small subset of Sales Navigator’s features…for now.

There are other features in Sales Navigator, both those important to social sellers (the ability to designate a LinkedIn user as a lead, and view their activity in a separate feed) and any sales person (the much maligned but still very effective InMail), but you have to find them before you can follow or contact them.

And yes, having all this ability doesn’t come cheap: Sales Navigator will will cost you five or six hundred bucks a year.

But as much as many people dislike LinkedIn, if it’s where your prospects are, it had better be where your are.

Are We In The Calm Before The LinkedIn storm?     

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Clues that the big push to increase premium subscriptions is coming soon

In the announcement accompanying the LinkedIn acquisition, Microsoft made it  clear that one of their goals was the “acceleration” of premium membership sales.  A few weeks ago, I suggested that the big opportunity was in Sales Navigator subscriptions. Now it appears Linkedin has begun setting the stage to start herding members currently using free accounts for business purposes towards Sales Navigator or Business Premium accounts.

The first clue was a few weeks ago when a “tags and notes” section was added  to Sales Navigator. Gee, something for nothing, thanks LinkedIn, that’s pretty nice. And then  word came out (hat tip Donna Serdula https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/linkedin-removes-relationship-section-from-profiles-donna-serdula?trk=prof-post) that LinkedIn was doing away with the relationship section in profiles for free users. If you want to be able to annotate or categorize profiles, you will need Sales Navigator to do so.

And an early version of the new user interface (hat tip to Mark Williams https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Oy2w9C6FQ) seems to indicate chunks of search functionality may be going from free accounts too. Some limited search still seems to be there but the ability to perform complex searches and search your connections connections may be on the way out, or at least severely limited. Whether this is a preview of what the final version of the new User Interface will look like remains to be seen, but I think it is becoming clear that

If you use LinkedIn to further your business, you will need a premium  account

If you are in sales or marketing, the days of wondering whether you need a Business Premium or Sales Navigator Account look like they are over. You do. LinkedIn may mitigate the shock with free trials, or less expensive starter kits, or limited time offers, but if you are serious about using LinkedIn as a tool to generate business, you will become a premium member.

If I am correct is this assumption, all the things that we have taken for granted as salespeople – Advanced Search capability, searching connections connections, visibility of third degree types, how many results and how they are displayed for a search – are all on the table.

And my guess is this will go beyond the user interface. I would expect Publishing to get better and offer a premium option too. Promote your company through Company Pages? That’ll cost you. How about Linkedin Groups? Starting a group to promote your business? Ka-ching!

I think we will evolve to a clear delineation of LinkedIn users – ironically, the hunters and the hunted I talked about in a post a couple of weeks ago will now be even more defined. LinkedIn business users will gravitate to Business Premium and Sales Nav for the features they need. The free users will generally use LinkedIn for basic networking, group participation, status updates, job search, and news on Pulse.

Let’s face it, no one should be surprised by this. Microsoft has to rationalize how paying $26B for LinkedIn is a smart idea, and that means squeezing money from users where they can. And if you are using LinkedIn to generate business that makes you squeezable.

So strap yourself in. It’s starting.