It's no secret generating qualified leads for your IT business is tough.
We recently wrote about referral sources for managed service providers however this method of acquiring leads for your MSP can be inconsistent and you'll be relying on your business network and existing customers.
In this article, you will learn a proven 3 step process for generating qualified leads on LinkedIn.
This process can be systemized which will create a steady stream of warm leads for you or you to follow up with.
Step 3 in the process involves picking up the phone and speaking to your LinkedIn connections - does this sound intimidating?
Potentially, but if you follow step one and two outlined in this article your connections will want to speak with you and look forward to meeting you.
Who is your ideal customer?
Before you start hitting LinkedIn connection requests you have to be strategic and look at the long term goal of this process.
First the question, what type of businesses does your IT business work well with, who is your ideal customer?
Hopefully, this is an easy question to answer but sometimes it can be particularly difficult.
What even is an ideal client? One that is highly profitable or one you enjoying working with?
That decision is yours but if you can't figure out who your ideal client is I suggest you start with your existing client base.
This more than likely is broken down into 3 sections:
- 80% That help pay the bills
- 15% That makes you profit
- 5% Where the real money is
Almost all customer bases form themselves into this structure and it's the 5% we want to concentrate on.
That 5% is the basis of your future clients.
What industries are they in?
What size are they?
What's the geography of their operations?
Once you have answered these questions you should have a pretty good idea of what an ideal client might look like.
Here's a slide I put together many moons ago for my old managed service IT business. These were the "best" industries/verticals I worked with.
This is turn can help you form a prospect list.
With this information to hand it is now a case of connecting with the decision-makers on this prospect list online.
There's no better place to do this other than LinkedIn. No other platform currently allows you to connect directly with a potential client base.
The only word of advice I'll give in this matter of forming a connection base on LinkedIn is: do it manually. Don't start running automated tools or sending out spammy LinkedIn connection requests. That's the last thing you want to do.
The process I've seen that works best is by connecting with around 10 connections per day.
These connections would be prospects and specifically the types of individuals that make the IT buying decisions for the business.
For most small to medium-sized technology companies, this is usually the business owner or financial director.
Never connect further down the food chain to individuals that might seem approachable - this includes office managers, IT managers and technology specialists.
I'd suggest avoiding these types as it will just eat up your time - you want to be referred down the food chain so connect at the top.
The connection request itself is also something you want to think about.
At the time of writing, there's the ability to send a personalised message along with your connection request.
There are two schools of thought on this. The first is to send out a highly personalised message complementing the connection or bringing up a common interest.
The other school of thought, which I believe is preferable is to send the connection request with no message what so ever.
Whilst some will argue this is a bit like walking up to someone in the street and handing them your business card without saying a word, I disagree.
If you have a LinkedIn profile that clearly states where you operate your business and how you help your clients then chances are you will receive acceptance of a blank connection request.
Firstly - if you operate in a geographical area - you both have something in common (your both local business owners). This is unique for MSP's as most work with local companies. We want to be hyper-local focused here.
Secondly - if they need technology solutions then they'll be more willing to accept the request. This filters out others that may have no need.
All too often I am bombarded with connection requests with messages I consider to be a form of spam.
The main thing you have to get right with the blank connection request is your profile.
It needs to have a connection in mind and address common pain points. This comes down to copyrighting, something you'll learn all about later on in this book.
The last point I'll make in building this connection base of prospects is that it's your online audience.
If you can get into the habit sending out 10 connection requests every day of the working week that totals over 2000 for the year. Now not every one of those connection requests is going to be accepted but approximately 40-50% will be.
That equates to approximately 1000 connections we can start targeting with daily videos.
How many leads does it take for you to close? With over 1000 I'm sure you'll have enough leads coming in to fill your calendar once you get started.
Educate your audience
The next step in the process is posting on your timeline.
My suggestion is to post 2-3 times a week - it does not matter when you post but what you post.
Do not include links to other websites or resources, the LinkedIn algorithm penalises posts with URLs as this is taking the user base away from the LinkedIn platform.
Instead, I suggest a mix of written content which is extremely helpful and video.
All too often I see LinkedIn posts that are crafted to do only one thing, promote the company or individual. The reality of the situation is this has the exact opposite effect that was intended.
People are turned off by self-promotion and the "hey look at me" posts - they are fluff and help no one including the original poster.
LinkedIn should be used as a platform to help your potential prospects.
The A to B approach
I use what is called the A to B approach.
Your prospects are (LinkedIn connections) are currently in a situation you want to help them get out of.
The most common for an IT or managed service customer is bad service.
Your potential customer is getting bad service and you need to help them get out of that situation.
What are the stepping stones we use to get from point A to point B?
Useful content that's going to help them realise their situation and as an unintended consequence want to speak to you about this.
Here is a good example of what stepping stones I would put in place for this scenario.
Using Video on LinkedIn
At this point, I have to come clean with you. I'm using the same process on you with this blog post. The reality is that your IT marketing strategy may be lacklustre and you're looking for a solution.
Well at IT Rockstars we not only help with the process mentioned above (by applying premium white-label content that you can post out to your feed as if it were your own).
We also have the MSP video academy which takes full advantage of the LinkedIn platform.
What I will disclose with you right here on this page is the fact that I know how busy you are in your IT business, it's a tough job balancing the operational side of managed service and running the business.
Both sales and marketing are almost an afterthought - the question is how do you find enough time in the day to market your IT business?
That's where video can help. It takes 90 seconds a day once you know the formula for crafting extremely helpful LinkedIn video posts.
Let's dive into the LinkedIn search feature. By default it's free but once you start using the search extensively you'll find that LinkedIn has a good knack of blocking you from using it further. This block is a bit like a paywall where they want you to upgrade to the LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Sales navigator is awesome but it's not cheap. I would advise making the most of the 2 weeks free trial for the navigator and seeing the type of searches you can bring up.
A great one for MSP's is a search on local companies between 10-50 employees in size. This is our sweet spot for managed service and IT support.
Smaller than this number and it's not worth the hassle, anything bigger and you'll find the prospect will more than likely have an internal IT resource.
To avoid the LinkedIn Sales Navigator fee you can use advanced google searches. Bring up a list of local companies on Google, visit their website and most now have a LinkedIn social icon, usually near the bottom of the homepage.
Click this will get you to the LinkedIn company page and then it's just a case of clicking the employee button to find the "IT buyer/decision-maker"
Targetting prospects on LinkedIn for your IT business then posting out useful content to your LinkedIn profile is not only a smart move - but also adds a certain authority and credibility to your business which many of your competitors will envy.
As mentioned already IT Rockstars can help with this marketing process, when you sign up for our free trial you'll automatically lock out your local competitors so they cannot access the premium white-label content we provide.
The detailed marketing systems we teach our members is also something that is not made public, again you will have the upper hand.
If you are not actively spending at least 5 minutes a day on the LinkedIn platform to establish the authority of your technology business you'll soon be left behind the other smart marketers that are using the opportunity to their advantage.
My advice - take some form of action.
Chief IT Sales & Makreting Geek