August 12, 2020

How to fill your sales pipeline, with Stephen Woessner

Episode 962:

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This episode is going to be a solocast…where it’s just you and me…taking a deep dive into a topic where I’ve been answering a lot of questions in my daily calls and meetings with business owners just like you.

In addition — several weeks ago — we aired Episode 936 which was my interview with Shay Rowbottom — one of today’s foremost influencers on how to crack the LinkedIn code in order to gain more visibility and to build community.

And the feedback we received from you, Onward Nation made me think it was time to focus a solocast around LinkedIn — but in a super-specific way so that you could walk away with specific strategies and steps for filling your sales pipeline with an abundance of right-fit prospects.

My thought is — that if you and I could have that type of strategic yet tactical discussion…and we could do that in August…you’d have one more arrow in your lead gen quiver and be ready to make the remainder of 2020 as fruitful and profitable as possible.

So that’s what you and I are going to cover in this solocast…how to effectively use LinkedIn like a pro so you and your team can generate a steady stream of well-prepared prospects so that you have a full pipeline as we step into the final 4-months of the year.

Before we dig in…I want to first make sure that we have a brief discussion around expectations.

Generating leads is not hard work…in fact…it is simple work…especially when you have the right recipe to follow, which I am going to share with you in full transparency in this solocast.

But…just because the work is simple does not mean it is easy.

In fact, I can almost certainly guarantee that you or someone on your team will be frustrated at the beginning because you don’t see immediate success.

You may even pound your first on your conference room table and wonder why the results are not better — or — you may get upset at your sales team for what seems to be a lack of productivity.

The key is — to get out there and start testing for yourself the recipe that I’m going to share with you in this episode.

You need to get as many at-bats as you can. And if you strike out — to realize that that’s okay — that that’s too be expected — and you get up, dust yourself off, and you step back into the batter’s box to get ready for another swing.

Because the more at-bats you have — the more opportunities you have to make adjustments — to make improvements — and to perfect your swing.

Case in point…let’s take a look at Derek Jeter…arguably the greatest New York Yankee to ever wear the pinstripes.

Jeter is a lock to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer with his long list of impressive accomplishments including five World Series Championship rings

But…what most people don’t know about Derek Jeter is that of all players in Major League Baseball history, he is number 12 on the all-time list of total strikeouts.

In fact, Jeter struck out 1,840 times during his 20-year career.

To say that another way…there have only been 11 people in the history of baseball who struck out and failed more often than Derek Jeter.

So in baseball terms, Jeter failed 1,840 times – but yet – he continued to get up there – to take another at-bat – and he kept on swinging.

And through it all – he recorded 3,461 hits, which is 6th all-time and he finished 11 of his 20 seasons with a batting average of .300 or better.

A Hall of Fame resume to be sure.

He never got up to the plate – struck out – and then headed back to the dugout and said, “Well, Skipper — I guess I don’t have what it takes to play ball after all. Thanks for having me but I’m hanging up my cleats.”

To minimize your strikeouts — I’m going to coach you through the right recipe for success…so that you not only have the ingredients you will need…but…you will also have the process so you know what ingredient to blend in and when.

That way — all you need to do is follow the recipe and then rinse and repeat.

Sound fair?

First…some quick words as to why we love LinkedIn as much as we do…and why it should be the cornerstone of your lead gen strategy.

There are approximately 706 million LinkedIn members — yes, 706 million.

And according to research done by Hubspot — LinkedIn is 277% more effective than Facebook and Twitter at generating leads. And 79% of marketers see LinkedIn as a very good source of leads with 43% of marketers saying they have sourced at least one customer from LinkedIn. And B2B marketers shared with Hubspot that 80% of their social media related leads came from LinkedIn.

Next…want to guess the average number of LinkedIn connections for a CEO?

930. Interesting.

Why?

Because if 930 is the average — some are higher — some are lower — but you tend not to get 930 connections by accident — you work at it — so if someone has 930 connections — it is likely intentional.

Meaning, LinkedIn is a platform that he or she values — and a place where they spend time — that is great news for you.

Okay, next…some additional insight into why you should care about LinkedIn…27 percent of all members are between the ages of 30 and 49…and another 24 percent are 50 to 64 years old…and 13 percent are over the age of 65.

So to say that another way…over 64 percent of LinkedIn members are over the age of 30…and 38 percent of total members earn $75,000 or more per year.

Bottom line…there are 706 million people on LinkedIn…64 percent of them are over the age of 30…and 38 percent earn more than $75,000 per year…with the average CEO having 930 connections on the platform.

All of that speaks to your opportunity of finding and connecting with the prospects who can fill your sales pipeline, Onward Nation.

Okay — let’s press forward by reviewing the seven ingredients within our recipe.

Our recipe for how to effectively use LinkedIn to fill your sales pipeline consists of seven core ingredients.

I’m going to share the full list with you — and then we will go back and dissect each one.

Ingredient #1: Improve your LinkedIn profile by adding video / audio clips, value proposition, etc. to your Summary.

Ingredient #2: Import your existing email list in LinkedIn and send connection requests.

Ingredient #3: Build your prospect list using LinkedIn’s advanced lead gen tools like Sales Navigator.

Ingredient #4: Send InMail messages to your top prospects — and be sure to speak the language of your “client avatar.”

Okay — let’s dive in and go tree-by-tree so you can see all of the tactical ingredients of this recipe.

Ingredient #1 is all about making sure your LinkedIn profile is not just good — but that it is excellent — dare I say optimized.

Why does this matter?

Because when you send InMail messages as part of Ingredient #4…the very first place your recipients — your prospective clients will go to learn more about you — is your LinkedIn profile.

And if your profile is sparsely populated with value propositions, your connections count is low, you haven’t taken the time to include a quality profile picture, you have zero recommendations, etc. — then it looks like you don’t care.

And if you look like you don’t care — they won’t either — and they won’t respond to you.

Maybe your InMail was just spam — you are ignored — and they move on.

Or, if you take the time to include audio and video clips, Slide Shares of recent presentations you delivered, links to articles you have written recently, blog posts, recommendations from current clients — it not only takes advantage of all the profile building tools that LinkedIn provides you — but — you also visually demonstrate your thought leadership and expertise to your prospective clients — and that is a very good thing.

Now when they receive your InMail message as part of Ingredient #4 — they move from skeptical questions like “Why did she send me this?” to “Oh, interesting…they would like to talk with me? Awesome.”

Think of your LinkedIn profile as your personal landing page and it needs to be excellent — just like everything else in your business.

And — at Predictive ROI — my team and I have been experimenting with long-form LinkedIn posts…typically about 800 to 1,000 characters…with a bold headline that includes a search term…and we have seen Google indexing this content and ranking well in search results.

So — you’ve undoubtedly heard people talk about “optimizing” your LinkedIn profile for search…yep, it’s a thing.

Okay — this is going to sound self-promotional…and hopefully, you know me well enough now to know…that I’m only mentioning this to give you a good tangible example.

Go to LinkedIn and look me up — send me a connection request…and you will see illustrations of each step I just shared with you.

Now on to Ingredient #2 — import your existing email list into LinkedIn and send connection requests.

To make sure we’re on the same page here — I’m talking about taking your email list — the list you communicate with often — consisting of customers, prospects, your full community of email subscribers — people with whom you have a relationship — and then uploading that list into your LinkedIn account and inviting them to connect with you on LinkedIn.

But why?

First…when you increase your number of LinkedIn connections — your network and credibility grow. Instead of having several hundred connections — you move to several thousand or more.

And the next time a prospective client checks out your LinkedIn profile — they may see the larger number — and for some people — the larger the number — the more impressive and more credible.

Second…your number of 1st-degree connections in LinkedIn impacts the number of prospects you will be able to see during Ingredient #3 of this process — when you use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool.

To cement this into place — let’s quickly review what LinkedIn defines as 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd-degree connections.

A 1st-degree connection on LinkedIn is — let’s say you are listening to this solocast — you like what you hear — and decide to send me a connection request on LinkedIn — and by the way — you should totally do that!

Anyway — when I receive the request — I personally accept it.

And so you and I become 1st-degree connections. Rock solid awesome!

Now, here’s what’s interesting. My nearly 27,000 1st degree connections instantly become your 2nd-degree connections. And all of my 2nd-degree connections become your 3rd-degree connections.

Again, why is that important?

Well, back to my connections…my 26,000 1st connections theoretically extrapolate out to a total network of 680 million people when considering 1st degree, 2nd degree, and 3rd-degree connections.

Yes, 680 million…which means I can roughly see just about everyone on LinkedIn.

HOLY BANANAS!

I can search through a huge number of people during Ingredient #3 in finding our ideal prospects we might want to reach out to.

So, Onward Nation, building your number of 1st-degree connections is essential to your success on LinkedIn — and uploading your email list and sending out connection requests is a quick and easy way to boost your connection count — and the size of your network — with a couple mouse clicks.

Very powerful.

Here’s how you complete the step. And unfortunately, LinkedIn does not make this process very intuitive or easy. But — hang with me…here’s how you do it.

Click the “My Network” tab in the main navigation. You will then be taken to a screen that on the left side reads “Connections” at the top left column all the way down to “Hashtags” as the last open in the left menu.

Click on the first option…”Connections.”

From this screen — this is where it gets wonky.

On the far left…you should see an option that reads… “Your contact import is ready. Connect with your contacts and never lose touch.”

And you should see a button underneath that reads “Connect”.

Click connect.

Next, you will be taken to a screen that shows a list of a whole bunch of people from your contact list, etc. that are on LinkedIn…and LinkedIn is offering to send a bulk connect request to them.

Click the little checkbox in the upper left — and then the blue “Add Connections” button and by doing so — you will invite hundreds if not thousands of new people into your network.

Awesome…but we’re not done yet.

The next screen will give you a list of people who you know who are not yet using LinkedIn…and LinkedIn is asking you for permission to email them on your behalf to entice them to join LinkedIn.

To me — that feels a bit yucky — so I recommend that you click the “Skip” button.

Okay — then finally…we have almost arrived at what I actually wanted to show you.

When you skip the last step…you will receive a screen with a headline that reads, “Didn’t see anyone you wanted to invite?”

Well — at the bottom…in hard to read gray text…is a link that reads “Done for now.”

And when you click the “Done for Now” link…the magic happens.

You will be taken to a screen where you can do several things…you can connect LinkedIn to your email service and it will pull out your list of contacts for you…awesome.

Or — from this screen…you can also upload your email list and send connection requests to all of them instantly.

BOOM!

Okay, back to lead gen and Ingredient #3: How to build your prospect list using LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator Tool.

Sales Navigator is a premium version of LinkedIn — but and my guess this happens to you a lot, too — I am often offered the opportunity to upgrade from the Free version of LinkedIn into one of the premium versions several times of year.

And when we have a major biz dev push or campaign taking place — we definitely make the upgrade. But for maintaining your profile and sharing your thought leadership content — LinkedIn’s free version works just fine.

So let’s do a quick tour of Sales Navigator.

From within this powerful tool…you will be able to search through your entire network of connections using several powerful filters, such as:

  • Keywords
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Title
  • Company Name
  • Location — or mile radius from your office or location

And then you can take it deeper and make your searches more refined by including your prospect’s years of experience, their function within their particular company, seniority level, what they are interested in, company size, and so forth.

By taking the time to get specific about your prospect — you leverage LinkedIn’s database — to deliver back to you a list of prospects who match your criteria and you eliminate the time-wasting of sending direct mail to a purchased list and hoping for a better result outcome than the last campaign.

So let’s say that in your first attempt — LinkedIn returns a list of 100 people.

You can then click on the profiles of each person (see — Ingredient #1 is really important) and from their profile — you can better determine if he or she is a good fit for your lead gen efforts.

If yes, add the person and their details to an Excel or Google Sheet so you can keep a running list of who you have reached out to…and no…LinkedIn does not offer any sort of automated CRM functionality.

This is tedious work — I get it — but — it is also where the rubber meets the road in the success of your business and it will fill your sales pipeline.

Okay, so I’m going to assume you did all of the work you needed to do up to this point. You have built a solid profile — you expanded your LinkedIn network by leveraging your email list — and being smart — to also reverse the process and cross-pollinate your connections back into your email list…and now…you have mastered the Advanced People Search tool with the resulting outcome being — a highly targeted prospect list — perhaps the most targeted list you and your sales team have ever had.

So now what?

Ingredient #4 is next.

Crafting your InMail message and sending it to each of the people on the list you just created.

There are seven sub-ingredients, if you will, that make up the InMail message…and they are:

  • Include the first name of the recipient in subject line
  • Your first 255 critical characters need to be awesome
  • Speak to your “Avatar”
  • Include credibility indicator(s)
  • Include a client testimonial
  • Include a call-to-action – reason for your prospect to reply to your message
  • Include your email signature

In today’s show notes — I included an actual InMail message — a template — you can use to create your own.

Please use it.

My Predictive ROI team has sent thousands and thousands and thousands of InMail messages on behalf of our client’s lead gen efforts — as well as for our biz dev — and the template we included in today’s Show Notes is the resulting outcome of all that testing and hard work.

You will dramatically shorten your learning curve by using the template.

One last point about the InMail and the template you will see in the Show Notes — there is a reference to “speaking to your client avatar.” And yes, we have a recipe for that, too.

If you go to our free Resources Library at PredictiveROI.com/Resources you will be able to download our free workbook on how to create your ideal client avatar.

Having and mastering this knowledge is a must in writing effective InMails.

Before we close out for today…I’d like to leave you with a couple of important thoughts.

Now that you have learned the recipe – and have seen the typical result outcomes – there are two questions you and your team need to answer.

First…how will we take immediate action based on what you learned here today?

How will you apply it right away to fill your pipeline?

And that leads to the ultimate question.

Are you committed…or are you just interested in having a steady stream of well-prepared prospects flowing into your sales pipeline?

Being committed means knowing exactly how much new business you are seeking, from what sources, and having a strategy in place to fill the pipeline to get it.

Let me share a quick story about Coach Nick Saban from the University of Alabama – who, in my opinion, represents the epitome of being committed.

Alabama is consistently one of the top-ranked teams in college football each year.

Coach Saban’s reputation is one of the precise detail and process.

And once he uncovers a “recipe” for success…he uses it over and over again.

But he also freely shares his secrets without fear that his competitors will be able to duplicate his results.

How is this possible?

Case in point…my good friend, mentor, and three-time guest on Onward Nation, Don Yaeger, interviewed Coach Saban as they considered writing a book together.

During one of Don’s visits with Coach, he asked if there was a secret formula or recipe that gave Saban an edge to recruiting the best talent out of high school year-after-year.

Coach told Don that his recipe is simple. He committed himself to watching every single play that any of their 85 scholarship athletes every played while in high school.

Every play…so he could evaluate talent, effort, and other qualities.

Let’s just think about the magnitude of that for a minute.

Alabama has 85 scholarship athletes…who likely played at least 2-years of high school football…at 10 games per year in high school…and many high school players play both offense and defense during a game, so let’s call it 100 plays per game.

All totaled, Coach Saban watches film on 170,000 plays to make his recruiting decisions.

It is an overwhelming number, right?

How could anyone do that? But Coach Saban does.

And the resulting outcome is that Alabama is consistently the best on the field each year.

So Don asked him, “Coach…aren’t you worried that if we put your secret recipe into this book that people will steal it from you?”

And Saban looked at Don and said, “Nope…not worried at all. Because no one is going to be willing to put in the same amount of effort that I am willing to commit to our success.”

Don’t give up

So my hope is that you don’t leave this solocast thinking – yeah, I knew LinkedIn could do that. My challenge to you is…but is your business doing it?

And as Tony Robbins says…“A real decision is measured by the fact that you’ve taken a new action. If there’s no action, you haven’t truly decided.”

So I hope you will decide to put this sales pipeline-building recipe into action and then please drop me a line and let me know about your success.

So with that said, Onward Nation…

I want to say again, thank you for taking the time to be here with me today. It is an honor to have you here — your time is sacred and I am delighted you chose this episode to be what you listen to, study, and take with you on your morning run, or maybe Onward Nation has become part of your daily commute, or in some other way has become part of your morning routine.

How ever our daily podcast fits into your daily routine — I want you to know how much I appreciate you sharing some of your invaluable 86,400 seconds you have in your day with me and the strategies we learn and share each day from today’s top business owners.

Remember — now’s the time to double down. The data is on your side.

Onward with gusto!


Stephen Woessner

Stephen is the CEO of Predictive ROI and host of the Onward Nation podcast. He is the author of two bestselling books, speaker, trainer, and his digital marketing insights have been featured in SUCCESS, Entrepreneur, The Washington Post, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and other media.