The goal of a LinkedIn business development program (or social selling, if you want to call it that) is to drive conversations with ideal prospects who ultimately turn into new clients or customers. From prospect identification and initial outreach to closing the sale, there are a number of places where these efforts can go off the rails; and if you’re not paying attention you won’t know how to fix it. You may not even know it’s happening.
Here’s what we track.
1. Number of phone calls per month
I know – big duh. But I talk to a surprising number of people who can’t tell me how many phone calls they’re generating from LinkedIn. This is especially true of those who are running their own program, and it’s not good because resources – time and/or money – are being invested and you should know definitively whether it’s paying off or not.
If you’re getting fewer phone calls than you expected, you likely need a tweak in one of three areas: your target audience, your messages or your offer.
2. Connection acceptance rate
This is the percentage of people who accept your invitation to connect and join your network. Unlike the days when we accepted connection invitations because it was new and interesting, now people tend to be more picky about who they connect with, and watching this number helps you tweak your 300 characters to get the best response. It will also keep you out of trouble with LinkedIn because if too many people choose to click “Ignore” on your request, LinkedIn can and will put your account on hold. This number should be especially important to you if you are, heaven forbid, using an automated app to barf out connection requests.
3. Connection-to-interest rate
This is the percentage of people who connect with you that eventually express interest in having a conversation. Connections aren’t going to do you a whole lot of good if that’s all they are. You want to have conversations, right? If you’ve done a good job of identifying your ideal prospect but your conversation interest rate is low, it’s either your offer or your messaging. Test these one at a time to avoid having too many variables.
The same thing is true with InMail response rate. If few people are responding to your InMails, you know you are either talking to the wrong people or saying the wrong things. And you’re wasting money.
4. Conversation agreement to conversation rate
What percentage of people who say “yes” to a conversation and the conversation actually occurs? Surprisingly this is where a lot of opportunity can get lost. It’s a process issue, not a strategic one. Getting the conversation scheduled and ensuring it happens is an administrative challenge, but it’s critical to identify and fix it to maximize efficiency of your program.
5. Calls-to-opportunity rate
If you’re having conversations, but there’s no fit or opportunity, you may be talking to the wrong people. Recently a new client came to us after having spent a year with a different LinkedIn firm. His biggest complaint? Thirty-five percent of the conversations the company drove to him were with people who did not need his services and were in no position to hire him. You’re unlikely to have 100% call-to-opportunity rate, but when 35% don’t stand a chance to be qualified, you’re wasting a lot of time.
A low call-to-opportunity rate could also indicate a flaw in your sales process – which is a different problem but one you need to know about.
6. Opportunity-to-new-business rate
Finally, there is the close rate – how many opportunities become new clients. If the opportunity is real and the close rate is low, you’ll want to look at your sales process. That’s outside my area of expertise, so I recommend getting some help from a sales consultant.
I look at these numbers for ourselves and our clients on a monthly and quarterly basis. Doing so, I can quickly identify the biggest opportunities for improvement, offer recommendations for action and keep the program in top shape.
Questions? Contact me on LinkedIn. I’m happy to help.