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An Overlooked LinkedIn Prospecting Strategy: Cold-Messaging
Survey Question: Over the past 12 months, have you run any cold-messaging campaigns on LinkedIn?
While only 10% of financial professionals run cold-messaging campaigns, more will likely start using LinkedIn cold-messaging as they become aware of the opportunity.
Source: Oechsli Institute Research, 2019
A part of our series, Mastering LinkedIn. Developed in collaboration with the Oechsli Institute
In 2010, Forrest Fenn, now an 89-year-old Santa Fe author and artifacts dealer, said he hid a treasure chest containing over a million dollars’ worth of artifacts and gold in the Rocky Mountains. He wrote clues for finding the treasure in a poem titled, “The Thrill of the Chase.” Three hundred fifty thousand people hunted for the treasure until it was finally found in June 2020. Fenn himself made the announcement, although he wouldn’t say where it was found or by whom.
Likewise, many financial professionals are searching for prospects in your area. LinkedIn offers ways to help you find them, if you know how to use the clues. It involves searching for ideal prospects, then knowing how to message them, and to build connections.
What We’ll Cover:
- The cold-messaging prospecting opportunity
- Finding ideal prospects
- Making connections
First, the LinkedIn Cold-Messaging Prospecting Opportunity
Asking your LinkedIn connections to introduce you to their LinkedIn connections is an excellent prospecting strategy. That’s a warm lead situation because your connection making an introduction is vouching for your credibility.
But there may be times when you want to prospect people on LinkedIn, but you don’t have any mutual connections. In this scenario, cold-messaging on LinkedIn can be effective. We call it cold-messaging, because you’re reaching out to a prospect you don’t know. For example, let’s say you were trying to prospect dentists in your area, but none of your LinkedIn connections are connected to those dentists. Fortunately, with LinkedIn, there are ways to contact them directly.
Cold-Messaging Is a Numbers Game
You’ll need to send hundreds of messages each month to arrive at a handful of prospects who will take you up on a conversation. Also, these direct messages must be designed to strike up a conversation. Think of “conversations” as the new “lead.”
According to our 2019 Oechsli Institute research, only 10% of financial professionals ran cold-messaging campaigns on LinkedIn. Most financial professionals either don’t know how, or they dread the thought of prospecting people they don’t know. In this article, we’ll reduce the dread factor by giving you methods to find ideal prospects and turn them into clients. We expect more financial professionals to start using cold messaging as they become aware of the opportunity and see other financial professionals having success with this strategy.
In addition, our research on affluent investors demonstrates a strong receptiveness to this approach. As the table below shows, a large percentage of affluent investors report they’re willing to respond to a LinkedIn message from a financial professional.
Many Affluent Investors Are Willing to Respond to a Linkedin Message From a Financial Professional
|Not Unlikely at All||8%||28%||51%|
Source: Oechsli Institute, 2019
As you might expect, age plays a factor as well. The younger demographics report higher receptivity.
Combining the relatively small percentage of financial professionals using this approach with affluent investors’ openness means there’s a large prospecting opportunity. Let’s review an effective process for running a LinkedIn cold-messaging strategy to prospects.
Second, Search for Ideal Prospects
LinkedIn helps you find opportunities by enabling you to search for people who meet certain criteria. From CPAs to executives, to business owners, to people changing jobs, you can achieve highly targeted results. You’ll want to think of your ideal prospect in LinkedIn searchable terms. Where do they live? Where do they work? What is their job title? Did they attend a specific university? You get the idea. You’ll use these criteria to craft your search results.
The following are a few examples of our favorite searches. Use these as a starting point, but get creative with searches that are focused on your ideal client profile.
Find Career-Transition Prospects*
You can find people in between jobs by searching for terms like:
“in between jobs”
available (this should probably be a bit more specific, or the results could be endless)
Find Business-Owner Prospects
LinkedIn is fertile ground for the business community. To increase the accuracy of your results for business owners, you may want to upgrade to a paid version of LinkedIn. This will enable you to narrow your filter by number of employees and avoid the “owner” who is self-employed.
Find Executive Prospects
LinkedIn is the preferred social network for business executives:
Find COI (Centers of Influence) Prospects
There are endless ways to search for COIs. Here are some we’ve found most effective:
“Certified Public Accountant”
“Estate Planning Attorney”
Find Physician Prospects
More doctors are on LinkedIn than you might think. Look for these terms:
Third, Making Connections
After running a search, it’s time to connect. But is it worth the time to personalize the request? According to our research, 24% of the affluent respondents said a personalized invitation to connect increases their likelihood of accepting, and 32% said they were unsure.
In our opinion, you should always try to personalize your request. Nothing turns people off more than receiving a general message that says nothing about yourself or why they should connect with you. Do your homework and reference a commonality, and give your prospect context around why connecting makes sense.
Craft a Powerful Message Sequence
There is no perfect script. While some templates may work from time to time, an effective LinkedIn messaging strategy is much more involved. A great message is personalized and tailored for your ideal prospect.
Also, a great messaging campaign doesn’t stop with just one. You’ll need a sequence of messages to send your prospects.
The following is a framework to help you craft your message sequence. It’s a formula I refer to as the “7 Cs.”
Almost 1/4 of Affluent Respondents Say They’d Accept a Personalized Connection Request
|Affluent Investor Survey Question: If someone asks you to connect on LinkedIn and personalizes the message, are you more likely to accept?||Yes||24%|
Source: Oechsli Institute, 2019
The 7 Cs Framework to Craft Your Personalized Connection Request
Open with a Commonality
Take the time to read their profile and find common ground. This might be a mutual connection, alma mater, former employer, charity, etc. By the way, it’s never a bad idea to include commonalities in your actual search to speed up the process. For example, if you served in the military, instead of simply searching for business owners, you might search for business owners who also served in the military. Thus, you would open up your dialogue with that commonality.
Check out your prospects’
LinkedIn profiles, their posts, and any blog articles they may have written. Let them you know enjoyed their article, and ask them a question about their article. Question: Does my message reference a commonality? (Mutual connection, school, hobby, charity, etc.) Give the Prospect Some Context
Even though they accepted your connection request, you’re messaging someone you don’t know. Tell them why you are reaching out to them specifically. For example, you may reference that you specialize in working with clients who are in their profession.
Question: Is it clear to my prospect why I’m messaging them?
Keep it Conversational
We can all smell a copy-paste job from a mile away. Your message must come across as authentic. Ditch the financial jargon and don’t try to be too formal. In fact, we see higher response rates on messages that are really informal.
Question: Does my message sound natural when I read it aloud?
Less really is more. Messages with paragraphs of perfectly crafted text appear inauthentic, can look overwhelming, and appear “salesy” to your prospect. Our knee-jerk reaction is to hit the “delete” button. LinkedIn’s messaging feature is more like a chat feature. Think more text message and less formal email.
Question: Does my message feel long and complex or more concise, like a casual chat?
Have one clear Call-to-Action (CTA)
Your CTA must be clear, and there should only be one. Asking your prospect to do multiple things makes you look disorganized and only confuses them. That said, you do want to include an “ask” of some sort. You might ask your prospect a simple question to start the conversation, ask permission to send them a valuable resource, or request a brief phone call. Regardless, just pick one.
Question: Does my message have one clear CTA?
Make a Compelling Offer
This goes hand-in-hand with your CTA. It may go without saying, but your offer should be tempting. If you’re asking someone to have a phone call with you, you better sell them on why it won’t be a waste of their time. If you offer them a helpful resource, let them know the benefits they’ll receive and the feedback you’ve received from others.
Question: Is my message enticing?
Don’t Forget to Check In
It’s rare that you’ll receive a response from your first message. Most of the time, you’ll need to follow-up with your prospect multiple times before you get a response. Just remember to be brief, and try not to be a nuisance. Look for additional ways to add value and engage them. Ideally, you will have determined your message sequence prior to sending your first message.
Question: What will I say in my second and third message, and when will I send them?
Here’s An Example of a Connection Follow-Up Message Sequence
LinkedIn Message 1:
(If you’ve found an article your prospect has written or posted, comment or make ask a question.)
I enjoyed your post on [topic]. That was an interesting perspective. Do you think that trend will continue?
LinkedIn Message 2:
I work with [profession, e.g. dentists] regarding their financial needs. I’ve attached a link to our guide on [title] you might find helpful.
LinkedIn Message 3:
Did you have a chance to review the guide? Hope you found it helpful. Do you have 10-15 minutes to connect for a phone call in the next week?
LinkedIn Message 4:
Hi [name], Just wanted to follow up regarding my previous messages. Are you free for a brief call on Tuesday morning?
Remember Three Things When Prospecting on LinkedIn
First, you can use cold-message strategies on LinkedIn to find ideal prospects and turn them into clients, but it’s a numbers game that requires consistent effort (and/or patience). Plan on finding opportunities and contacting several prospects each month. Second, tailor your search based on your ideal-prospect criteria. Take some time to identify the type of prospects you’re going to pursue, including their occupation, industry, location, and current or past company. Third, use the 7 Cs to personalize your messaging.
Prospecting Can Feel Like a Treasure Hunt
Without a strategy, prospecting on LinkedIn can feel like trying to find Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure in the Rockies. This is especially true if you’re trying to prospect people you don’t even know on LinkedIn. But in this article, we’ve shared the steps used by top financial professionals to bring in clients using LinkedIn.
- Define your ideal prospect in LinkedIn using searchable terms. (Where do they live? Where do they work? What is their job title? What is their seniority level? Where did they go to school? What certification do they have? Do they have a shared interest? Etc.)
- Run a search to arrive at your ideal prospect and send a personalized invitation to connect. Remember, this is a numbers game, so you’ll want to be generous with your invitations.
- Get more prospecting ideas by downloading the Mastering LInkedIn workbook below
The Oechsli Institute is not an affiliate or subsidiary of Hartford funds.