There is a tendency to believe LinkedIn is the perfect sales/business development channel for every B2B product or service.
I’m here to tell you it’s not.
Every year I see unsuspecting companies sink tens of thousands of dollars, in time and money, trying to reach potential buyers who are not paying attention or simply aren’t there.
If you want to use LinkedIn to generate conversations with people you’d like to do business with, there are three important bits of information you should look at.
#1 How many ideal accounts can you find on LinkedIn
Many people do a cursory search for this number; but the way they go about it is giving an inflated answer. I see two common mistakes. The first is not having an in-depth description of an ideal customer or client. The second is believing the number LinkedIn or Sales Navigator returns in a search.
Ideal customer descriptions generally include industry, geography and size. But it’s rare that, for example, every law firm in the San Francisco bay area with 10 or more employees would have both a high lifetime value and a high likelihood of buying from you. More often, there are other factors to consider – anything from the type of law being practiced or the age of the managing partner to the business model being used. These requirements need to be taken into account when you’re estimating the size of the market.
There are also issues with the LinkedIn or Sales Navigator search itself. I have yet to see a search that did not include a significant number of accounts that should not be on the list. They may be the wrong size, in the wrong location, even simply the wrong kind of company.
#2 How accessible are the buyers at your ideal accounts
There are varying degrees of buyer participation on LinkedIn. Some people go to LinkedIn every day and welcome new connections; others may go once a week; still others don’t even remember they have a LinkedIn profile.
You can evaluate the accessibility of buyers by looking at the size of their networks, the quality of their profile, and their level of activity – posting updates, liking, commenting and sharing.
Even with the unfortunate growth in popularity of automated connection apps, size of network is an indication of how much interest a person has in building a presence on LinkedIn. In general, a prospect with a network of 1500 (connections and followers) is going to be more open to your approach than a prospect with a network of 276.
Quality of profile can indicate how seriously they take LinkedIn. LinkedIn favors a complete profile, and members whose profiles include a crisp headshot, informative About section, details about current and past jobs, at minimum, are usually paying attention.
#3 How long can LinkedIn continue to deliver quality conversations
No matter what some “experts” would have you believe, generating conversations with people you really want to do business with – without wasting time talking to people trying to sell you something or damaging your personal brand – takes time and/or money. If you’re going to make that investment, you’ll want to know how fast you’ll run through what LinkedIn has to offer.
This number is a factor of the size of the market (#1 above), the accessibility of the buyers (#2 above), the number of calls you want to book per month, and the percentage of buyers who will engage with your outreach messages and eventually schedule a call.
Here’s a formula you can use to figure that out.
Three possible outcomes
Surprises can be big fun in many situations, but business development decisions are generally better when you know what you’re getting yourself into.
If the numbers show LinkedIn has high potential as a business development channel, you can move ahead with confidence — and a set of expectations grounded in reality.
If the numbers are not so good, you might be able to make adjustments in your target market to improve the outlook.
If the numbers are throwing off red lights, you’ve avoided a big waste of time and money.
Want some help?
At The Conversion Company, we perform a LinkedIn Available Market Analysis as the first step in any client engagement. We’ve now made this analysis available as a separate purchase. It takes about a week to do. You can learn more about it here or just schedule a quick call with Mindi.