There is a costly disconnection between sales and marketing efforts on LinkedIn. This should come as a surprise to pretty much no one since lack of cooperation between technology marketing and sales teams has been a widely known problem for at least a decade. But LinkedIn offers its own opportunity to see and fix the disconnection – and allow both teams to deliver results that get noticed in the boardroom.
I’m going to give you an example of what can be accomplished when you create a cohesive sales and marketing LinkedIn strategy. But first let’s look at what’s generally happening now. The more active your company is on LinkedIn the bigger this missed opportunity is likely to be for you.
Same company. Different programs.
Right now the world’s best technology sales teams are using LinkedIn to research prospects, make connections and generate opportunities for initial phone calls and product demos. Our own anecdotal evidence indicates immediate success rate increases as high as 50% are normal when sales prospectors switch from cold calls to LinkedIn. This is happening even though most prospectors are using blanket messages and spending little time trying to develop a lead before asking to schedule a call.
Meanwhile, on planet marketing, these teams are steadfastly focused on brand maintenance. They post regular updates to personal profiles and company pages, join some groups and occasionally post comments on discussions. LinkedIn tells us the vast majority of technology companies are in brand maintenance mode.
Do you see what’s happening here
Sales teams are finding success on LinkedIn relative to cold calling and emailing, but they’re using the same old approach. They’re not taking full advantage of a network that allows them early access to buyers.
Marketing is conducting brand maintenance activities that are important, but they’re roughly the equivalent of the old brochure-style website. They provide a needed presence for the company, but don’t directly help generate leads for the sales team.
Same company. Cohesive strategy.
Now let’s take a quick look at a tech company with an integrated LinkedIn sales and marketing effort. For privacy’s sake, I’ll call this company Yikes Enterprise Solutions.
Yikes began their program development by first reaching an agreement between sales and marketing teams on definitions of a) target prospects, b) program objectives and, of course, c) sales-ready leads. Reaching this agreement helped Yikes turn a bunch of independent operators into a continuously improving team.
What the marketing team does
Marketing focuses on the target audience in large numbers (relatively speaking), identifying groups where prospects are likely to be found — joining, monitoring, starting and participating strategically in discussions as subject matter experts and problem solvers. Their efforts are focused on creating industry awareness, building credibility and getting prospects to know, like and trust the company enough to want to talk with a sales person.
Many of the Yikes marketing activities are intended to drive qualified traffic to their blog and to various landing pages where prospects are encouraged to exchange contact information for gated content of considerable value. A conventional lead nurturing program follows from there.
One of the most effective of all their LinkedIn efforts, Yikes marketing is building a custom LinkedIn group. They are reaching out to high-level decision makers and creating a community – sponsored by Yikes – where a mouthwatering collection of potential future customers is gathering.
What the sales team does
The Yikes sales team, for its part, locates individual prospects on LinkedIn and reaches out to connect directly with them. These sales pros build rapport with prospects by inviting them to the custom group and using content provided by the marketing team to nurture the relationship. They also use the Yikes group as a pool to locate warm prospects they haven’t previously connected with – prospects that have been invited and nurtured by the marketing team.
Since they have direct one-on-one contact with prospects, the sales people are able to provide marketing with valuable feedback about the effectiveness of different messages and content, allowing marketing to fine tune and add to the content and messaging inventory.
While the above example may sound like a pipe dream to you, it’s not. It may take working outside the boundaries of marketing and sales silos, but decision makers who fund the program will agree it’s worth the effort.
Traffic from LinkedIn to the Yikes website and landing pages has increased 30% and continues to grow while the conversion rate is also going up. Inside sales people produce an average 45% increase in appointment setting rates. Sales management and executives report meeting with high level prospects they have not been able to reach previously.
LinkedIn offers both marketing and sales people an opportunity to deliver “sit-up-and-take-notice” results, and when the two teams collaborate everybody wins. The opportunity is waiting for you to take advantage of it. If you need some help getting your LinkedIn efforts coordinated and off the ground, check out our list of LinkedIn services.