Do you actively add leads onto LinkedIn as part of your marketing and selling practices?
Have you ever wondered when is the best way to add contacts on LinkedIn to maximize your connection rate (% of people accepting your invitations)?
If so, this article may help.
At one of my companies, AODA Online (a software that helps web developers make websites more accessible for people with physical disabilities), we used to offer a free scanning tool on our website where users could insert a domain they wished to scan for accessibility compliance.
For this exercise, after a lead came in, I would call as a follow-up. In doing so, one of three things would happen:
1. They would pick up and I would talk with them.
2. They wouldn’t pick up and I would leave a voicemail.
3. I wasn’t able to get through to their line so no voicemail was left.
For those that I didn’t talk to (#2 and #3), I would also send a short email. The email would typically look like this (with slight variations to indicate when they activated the online scanner, the salutation, etc.):
Now, this is where it gets interesting.
I would search for the lead on LinkedIn and invite them to connect (note: in some cases they would have received the LinkedIn invite before the email but both happened in a short period of time on the same day).
My LinkedIn messages all followed the following format (except changing the reference on when they may have used our tool):
After at least 7 days from the invitations, here is what I found:
1. I had a 90% LinkedIn connection rate with leads that picked up the phone,
2. I had a 20% LinkedIn connection rate with leads that I left a voicemail,
3. I had a 60% LinkedIn connection rate with leads that I didn’t leave a voicemail.
The leads that I talked to was a clear (and unsurprising) winner but wait… what? I actually had a higher success rate with those I didn’t leave a voicemail with than those that did.
How can this be?
Here’s what I think was happening:
1. When I was able to reach someone, it created a spark of human connection and rapport. Enough that 90% (9 out of 10) decided to accept my LinkedIn invitation.
2. The big piece of data is that leaving voicemails received the lowest invitation acceptance rate. It could be that I’m poor at leaving voicemails but I don’t think that’s the case. I’ve become as comfortable leaving a voicemail as I am talking with someone on the phone.
My hypothesis is that when I leave a voicemail, I’m being labelled in the recipient’s mind as a solicitor. By leaving a voicemail, we don’t get an opportunity for a two way conversation, conveying as much empathy, listening, etc.
3. By leaving no voicemail, it keeps the relationship neutral where I’m not coming across as a solicitor because for all they know, I didn’t even call. Then when I go to add them on LinkedIn, they just see me representing the company that they reached out to via our online tool.
Here’s how you can apply these findings to your business.
1. If someone is calling your company for services (hot lead), I recommend calling right away, leaving a voicemail, adding them onto LinkedIn, etc. If someone has reached out to you for services, they are in immediate need what you offer and you’ll probably see your number of returned phone calls and the LinkedIn connection success rate high.
2. If someone is downloading an e-guide / report, using a utility based tool on your website, etc. (a soft lead), I’d recommend:
a. Research the lead briefly online and if they look qualified, call them (qualify them further on the phone and see if your services can help);
b. Don’t leave a voicemail the first time (it’s likely not going to be returned and as you can see from the data, you will substantially lower your success in connecting with them on LinkedIn);
c. If you don’t reach them via phone, send them an initial email. This first email can also be setup to be automated (Marketing Automation is a lesson covered in more detail in the Kill The Cold Call™ free 7-day course, Social Selling 101).
d. Search them on LinkedIn, and if you can locate them, invite them to connect.
e. After steps a-d, what you do next can vary widely from calling them again the next day, and/or keeping them inside your marketing automation plan to nurture the relationship further, or some version/combination of both.
I hope this research helps improve your success using LinkedIn for marketing and sales.
How have you used LinkedIn to connect better with leads and/or sell more? Share your experiences below.