5 Ineffective Actions Most Sales Executives Are Taking On LinkedIn

March 25, 2014 by

As LinkedIn gives sales professionals direct access to targeted decision-makers and influencers, it can be and should be one of the most powerful tools in their arsenal. However, many sales professionals complain that they are not getting an ROI from their LinkedIn efforts. They are making many connections, but they are generating very little leads and sales.

There are many reasons for why this is happening, including:

  • Poor targeting; they are connecting with anyone that comes their way.
  • Having a resume-based LinkedIn profile that does not pique their interest further since it’s not case study driven.
  • Only spending 15 to 30 minutes per day on LinkedIn. This does not give you time to make meaningful connections, build a community of key decision-makers who have an interest in your area of expertise, nourish relationships, or engage in conversations.
  • Taking the five actions listed below.

Ineffective LinkedIn Action #1: Email Scraping

Inside one of the LinkedIn groups that I belong to, the CEO of a high-tech industry business development firm mentioned he’s using software that scrolls through LinkedIn and extracts the contact information of people who represent his ideal target market. He’s then transporting the information with one click of the mouse to his Salesforce CRM where his sales team can send personal emails introducing his services. Sounds good in theory, right?

However, he is “cold emailing” out of the blue.

Instead of taking the time to build and maintain relationships with key decision-makers by providing value where they want to opt in for more information and enter his CRM, the CEO is forcing prospects into their funnel. These prospects he’s entering into his database are not even marketing qualified, as they have not shown any interest or need.

Ineffective LinkedIn Action #2: Trying to  Sell Too Soon

Once a connection is made on LinkedIn, or once a prospect joins a LinkedIn community, many sales executives try messaging the prospect with a quick description of their products and/or solutions. They then suggest a phone call to discuss how their company can help their new connection. Most of the time, these messages are ignored. In fact, one sales executive I recently spoke to mentioned that he may get two responses for every 100 to 150 emails he sends.

Prospects on LinkedIn don’t want to be sold to overtly. In fact, a recent LinkedIn report for the technology industry shows that 75 percent of IT buyers would be willing to connect with a vendor, but they are hesitant because they don’t want to be inundated with marketing and sales pitches. They want to be educated. They want relevant content that will help them with their challenges so they can make smarter business decisions. Focus first on establishing a relationship and demonstrating your thought leadership and relevance, then on moving prospects down your sales funnel.

Related Class: LinkedIn Marketing Engagement Strategies 

Ineffective LinkedIn Action #3: Using LinkedIn Groups as a Place to Distribute Your Newsfeed  

Many sales executives are taking advantage of LinkedIn groups. They’re useful for prospecting, but also as a place to get wide exposure with targeted audiences, as you can easily share content. However, they’re sharing content in an ineffective manner.

Before working with my LinkedIn marketing firm, a CEO of a software firm for the recruiting industry had his sales team post content at least three to four times a week, sometimes more. But they were generating very little traffic and leads from LinkedIn.

The sales team was not creating relevant, thought-provoking discussions that had context and standalone value. They were simply sharing the first couple lines of the blog post and a link, so there was no engagement. Their links were getting lost in the deluge of wall-to-wall newsfeed-like posts, press releases, and promotional content.

By creating real conversations and earning the right to get their prospects’ attention by sharing valuable insights before linking to the CEO’s blog, we increased traffic by 3,620 percent in six weeks.

Ineffective LinkedIn Action #4: Becoming Too Much of a Resource                   

Many social media experts tell you to share other people’s content 80 percent of the time and your content 20 percent. On LinkedIn, I think it should be reversed. Most sales executives are so focused on curating and sharing other people’s content that they are becoming known as a resource. But, prospects invest in thought leaders. You’re able to put content directly in front of key decision-makers – yet you are sharing industry news and other people’s content. Our clients are sharing their case studies and thought leadership information and getting 11.5 times more engagement.

Ineffective LinkedIn Action #5: Focusing Too Much on Gated Content

As I mentioned several times throughout this article, your prospects on LinkedIn want a value-added relationship with potential vendors. But they don’t want to jump through hoops and break down gates to get the information that can help them with their business decision. They want you to act like the rest of their network (their peers and established experts) by having a point of view and freely sharing valuable content.

As a marketer myself, I know the importance of landing pages and getting prospects to sign up for white papers, webinars, and other offerings. But you need to prove to decision-makers that they’ll want to enter the next stage of the relationship.

Now that you know what’s not working on LinkedIn, fix your actions. Then, let me know if you start generating more leads and sales using LinkedIn.

Watch author Kristina Jaramillo's Online Marketing Institute featured class, Optimizing LinkedIn Marketing Efforts for Lead Generation to learn more about how to increase the ROI from your LinkedIn marketing efforts today!

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