LinkedIn has become a valuable channel for salespeople looking to generate new leads for their business. Improve your LinkedIn response rate with these tips for how to stand out and succeed in a competitive space.
Many salespeople, freelancers and consultants use LinkedIn's direct message (DM) system to reach out to prospective customers. You may have even sent or received some of these messages yourself. They usually start with some platitudes about how the person found you, then they mention some product or service they provide, and finally, they conclude with some request for a meeting or request for you expression of interest in what they've just described. Does this sound familiar? There are several problems with this approach that are limiting your LinkedIn response rate. Let's dig into these issues first, then talk about ways to improve LinkedIn response rates for you or your team.
Problem #1 – Your DMs are more like emails
The first problem with this approach is that the LinkedIn DM function is designed to be more conversational, yet the aforementioned outreach script reads more like an email. There is a mismatch between the message and the medium. The message is long, but the medium is designed for short messages. Thus, people on the receiving end of these messages are instantly put into a difficult spot. They feel like they're either expected to respond in long form (but they don't have the time, so they don't respond at all), or they're going to respond curtly with a 'yes' or 'no.' In either case, you as a salesperson are not going to get a response that provides enough context to offer an effective response of your own.
Problem #2 – Your DMs are just a sales pitch
The second problem with the usual LinkedIn approach is that it's just a sales pitch. The odds of it getting a response at all are so low that it's basically impossible to predict. The solution to this problem that many salespeople back on is to send more of these messages or to automate them to "scale" their outreach. While this approach may get you more "at bats," it won't change the fact that it's coming across as a sales pitch, and most people don't want a sales pitch in their DMs.
Problem #3 – Your DMs are generic
The third problem with your DMs that are just sales emails is that they are too generic. These messages could be addressed to literally anybody on LinkedIn and they come across that way. This means that there is little to no connection with the recipient's emotions or personal story, and thus, the prospect is unlikely to engage with you if you don't appear to know anything about them. Since a lot of sales people use automation tools to send direct messages on LinkedIn, they think that using merge tags that automatically pull certain basic details like the prospect's name and employer into the message is sufficient to personalize the note. It isn't. In fact, it's quite the opposite; it's a surefire way to tell the prospective customer that you're using automation to reach out to as many people as possible, including them. That's not a good way to start off a conversation anywhere.
Problem #4 - You seem generic
The fourth problem with sending generic sales pitch emails through LinkedIn DMs is that YOU are generic. Well, you're coming across that way at least. LinkedIn has built an empire on homogenized branding for every person on the platform. If you're old enough to remember MySpace, you'll know just how far apart these two platforms are in terms of personal branding options; MySpace had it all, LinkedIn has none. LinkedIn really does not give you any opportunity to set yourself apart from the other 900,000,000 users on the platform, so you really need to educate yourself to understand exactly where and how you can make yourself stand out. (More on that in a minute.)
Tip #1 – Send short DMs, not emails
You simply cannot treat LinkedIn DMs like emails and expect a great response rate. A chat system like LinkedIn's is for chatting conversationally and not for long-form prose like email, and that's how most people (especially busy executives) expect to use it. Here's another tip, and this one is super important:
LinkedIn DMs open at the END of the message. So, if you're sending some big, longwinded message about how you think you can help the recipient, they're not going to see any of that when they first open the message. What they are going to see is the last dozen or so lines, the last of which are usually a "signature" of some sort. (Again, people are using LinkedIn DMs like email...) This is a lost opportunity. Since this is all that people are guaranteed to see if they open your cold DM (there's no guarantee they'll scroll up to see the whole thing) make sure your DM is short and to the point,
The last thing on this tip is the most important: Links that you share in your DMs will be previewed at the end of your message. DO NOT WASTE THIS SPACE with a weak closing or redundant information like an email signature. Instead, share your NodCards link which will close your message with a stunning image of you, your brand, and your role at your organization. When clicked, this link will connect the recipient directly with you. This is how you grow your business from cold DMs on LinkedIn.
Tip #2 – Add value right away
When you send a cold DM on LinkedIn, you need to remember that the person on the other end didn't ask for you to contact them. You are reaching out to them about a business opportunity for yourself, and the least you can do in that message is offer the recipient some value in exchange for their time and consideration. Whether this is a free consultation, a piece of content, information, or an offer of an introduction, you need to add value right away in the very first message. No one is going to give you the time of day without you offering some value (nor should they), so try out some offerings and see what sticks and improves your response rate.
Tip #3 – Personalize your messages
All social media platforms are good at showing you the people who you know and might know or want to connect with. That's in their DNA and in their best interests to generate monetizable engagement on their respective platforms. LinkedIn profiles offer a treasure trove of information about people that you should absolutely take advantage of when you send a cold DM. This means you need to do a little research by visiting your prospect's profile and learning what they're all about. Not all of their information will be useful to you, but certainly, if you see that have any connections in common, you should mention those right up front and engage your prospect with that angle. This is exactly how introductions and relationships are developed in real life, through personal connections in common, so why wouldn't you leverage this dynamic online? For example, here's a great way to open a conversation with a prospective customer with whom you have a connection in common:
"Hey Jerry, I was doing some research on [Jerry's Company] and your name popped up as a connection to Bob Smith. Bob gave me the best piece of advice I've ever gotten when we were at [Your Former Company] together. Do you have 10 minutes for a phone intro? I'd love to chat and tell you what it was."
In this example, Jerry's going to know that you want to have a business conversation with him, but the odds of him agreeing to one go up significantly when you show him that you already have some equity with people in his own professional circle. So, use the information that LinkedIn gives you and improve your DM response rate by personalizing your cold outreach for every prospect.
Tip #4 – Sign your DMs with a stunning signature
If your prospect is only guaranteed to see the end of your LinkedIn message, you need to make the most of that real estate with a stunning signature that sets you apart. Take advantage of the fact that LinkedIn will put the preview to any link you share at the very end of every message, and make that preview an advertisement for you and your business. This will ensure that no matter whether the prospect chooses to engage or not, you will have put your best foot forward with instant credibility in terms of branding and customer experience.
From now on, the first thing your sales prospects will see is you and your brand, in full color, and ready to work. If they click your signature, they will be taken to your NodCards to either save your contact information for future use or to connect with you right away to do business. Every click is tracked by day so you can see just how effective your LinkedIn DMs are at bringing in new leads for your business.