How to leverage LinkedIn as a B2B lead generation tool for Technology firms?

Posted on Jan 20, 2012 in B2B Marketing StrategyBlogContent and Thought Leadership  by Nilesh Patel

LinkedIn is a business-oriented professional social network, thus usually a source of highly qualified leads. Particularly for technology companies, it acts as an effective tool for their product strategies, product launches, improving customer services, and lead generation. It has become the most effective social media tool for B2B lead generation and sales conversions due to its potential to directly reach to the prospects and the convenience of directly interacting with them.

Utilizing LinkedIn as a B2B lead generation tool typically starts with building a compelling profile, joining groups, following target companies and adding relevant connections; if you are a starter. If you already have a LinkedIn account, this article will help you generate more leads by effectively leveraging Groups, Content, Events, Polls and DirectAds.

The Power of LinkedIn – Why you should be here?

Power of LinkedInAs of July, 2011:

  • 119+ Million LinkedIn members in 200+ countries worldwide.
  • 17.5% member growth in last 6 months.
  • Out of the total members on LinkedIn, almost 15% are key decision makers and potential leads; including 7.5% Directors, 4% VPs and 3.5% CXOs

Benefits of using LinkedIn:

Benefits of Using LinkedIn

 

 

 

 

  • Build awareness about your company.
  • Identify your prospective clients and connect with them.
  • Announce new product launches or service offerings.
  • Market Research – Research on the interests and needs of the prospects before contacting them.
  • Identify warm leads by tracking conversations citing a possible need of your products or services.
  • Position yourself as a thought leader within your target audience.

Things you must know:

Things You Must Know

You must know about your customers, and have a clear idea about whom you are going to target. This will prepare you well in advance in identifying highly qualified prospects, sharing the appropriate content and engaging as per their buying stage with the most effective medium.

 

  • What is your ideal customer profile?
    • What kind of functions or roles you are targeting?
    • Which industries you are focusing on?
    • Which locations or regions you are targeting?
    • What firm size are you aiming at?
  • What are the key issues and challenges of your target audience?
  • What is the best medium for them to receive the information? Is it email, phone, blogs, direct messages, video etc.?
  • At what stage of buying they are?
  • What could be the appropriate content to convert them to sales?

Start

LinkedIn-Start

 

 

 

 

1. Develop Profile

Your profile and your company’s profile act like an interface between you and your potential clients. Make your company profile as insightful as possible, clearly mentioning the focus industries, why are their needs, the key benefits for them, and a brief about your products.

Make sure to include all your key skills, specialties, educational and professional background in your personal profile. Add recommendations from people you have worked with. It further adds credibility to your profile.

2. LinkedIn Groups

Join relevant Groups. For example, if your firm is focused on providing inventory optimization software solutions for chemical industry, “Chemical SCM and Logistics Professionals”, “Chemical Industry Professionals – Supply Chain” etc. could be the most relevant groups. Also to gain more visibility join either industry specific or function specific groups such as “Chemical Industry”, “Inventory Software Professionals” etc.

Engage with your group members to understand what they want to learn, or know, and build up your content strategy around the same. Participate in relevant conversation and focus on solving their issues, and giving clarity on their discussions through your own thoughts.

Additionally, create your own Group. Decide a name which is in line with your industry keywords. For example, “Inventory Optimization Software Users” could be the name of a highly targeted Group. The Group’s introduction should be aligned with industry’s pain areas you are targeting to solve. Design a compelling logo for the Group. Promote it through website, blogs, emails, social media networks. Invite your target audience to join your Group. Demonstrate though leadership within these highly targeted connections with appropriate content. The content could be delivered through Group announcements, discussions, questions etc.

3. Follow Companies, Add connections

Build your list of target companies. Define your key stake holders within these firms. Particularly for technology firms, there could be various stake holders during the entire sales cycle. Search the companies to find these users, influencers and decision-makers.

Use Advanced Search to find your stake holders, and generate a highly targeted list. For example, you can refine your search to find supply chain professionals within your target Companies, Industries or Groups. In the paid versions, you can also filter this list as per their functions and company size.

Look at their LinkedIn Profiles to find out more about them. Look for things you have in common. These are good icebreakers and you’ll know the ways to start a conversation with them. Start connecting with these people. Don’t forget to send them a personalized message after they accept your invitation.

Leverage the relationship with your existing connections.

  • Every week, identify a list of people in your network and send them a short message sharing your thoughts on their discussions, appreciating their blogs or articles etc. At times such small messages can turn into a sales conversion.
  • Search for your target companies and find out the people within them who are your 1st level or second level connections. Ask them for an introduction to your decision maker or prospect.

Track

LinkedIn Track

 

 

 

 

Track targeted companies and stake holders

Go to Google and set up a Google Alert for your targeted people and companies. You can do this by visiting “alerts.google.com”. Set the frequency of these alerts. Now you will start receiving Google Alert in your Inbox about any updates from these people and companies. Act upon these alerts to engage with them.

Let’s take an example of an inventory optimization software provider focused on medium to large sized chemical manufacturers. Now such a firm will track the purchasing, procurement, supply chain and warehouse management functions within firms such as Dow Chemical, DuPont, and Eastman Chemical etc.

Track the conversations where your stake holders are talking about a potential need of related products or services.

Engage and Generate Leads

Engage and Generate Leads

 

 

 

 

1. Engage in Discussions

Gain visibility as an Expert. Be active on the groups where most of your decision makers interact. Participate in their discussions. Also answer the questions asked by others in the Group. This will help you gaining more visibility.

Make yourself a trusted advisor and Expert. Answer the questions asked by your target audience in the Answers section of LinkedIn. Search your relevant questions by using related keywords. Make sure that you frequently answer few questions in your area of expertise aligning with your target audience’s pain areas. This will help you gain visibility and credibility. People will start to connect with you as a thought leader within that area. Such people when in need of related products or services will look upon you as the first choice because you have proved yourself to be a trusted advisor for them.

Use LinkedIn polls to validate your existing content, understand target audience behavior, and pull their attention to a specific topic.

  • For example “What are the issues you currently face while using Inventory Optimization software?” The answer to this poll will not only give insights on the issues your target audience face, but will also prepare you well in advance to upgrade your product as per your specific industry segment or client requirements.

2. Post Updates, Share Content

Update your LinkedIn status frequently with relevant and effective message, and ask your colleagues and friends within related industries to share the same within their networks. This will increase your visibility across the target audience.

Post your messages in relevant LinkedIn Groups to reach new people.

Create your content (event, whitepaper, blogs, e-book, trials etc.) to engage with the prospects as per their readiness or buying stage in the sales funnel.

3. Promote Events

LinkedIn helps makes your event gain visibility on your profile, thus providing visibility within not only your networks but within those who are accessing your public profile.

It also gets listed in event directory visible to everyone who is searching for such events. In addition, it provides you the option to invite people from your network to attend it.

You can also track and measure the effectiveness of your events.

4. Identify warm leads by tracking conversations

Track the conversations where your stake holders are talking about a potential need of related products or services. Identify these warm leads, connect with them to understand their core issues, and convert these into sales.

Nurture the leads who are in evaluation stage for your related products. Educating them about you’re the benefits of your products through a product comparison sheet. Suggest them a trial or demo of your product.

5. Generate leads through LinkedIn DirectAds

Create targeted and compelling ad campaigns to drive new prospects to your landing pages. Use LinkedIn DirectAds to put these ads across targeted LinkedIn subscribers. You can target your ad based on the demographic information of people. This is almost similar to Facebook Ads or Google AdWords.

Write a compelling headline; add short and relevant message and your destination link. Now bid on the amount you will pay to LinkedIn whenever someone clicks on the Ad.

Normally compared to Facebook and Google AdWords, LinkedIn DirectAds bids are higher. But, compared to the targeted reach and immediate B2B sales conversion possibility, it is still a good bet.