Following up on my two previous blog posts; How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile In 2015, and How To Use LinkedIn to Generate Sales Leads, I now continue onto this 3rd post giving you my top set of questions to ask when qualifying prospects on LinkedIn.
This process requires a series of steps that need to be taken, allowing you to evaluate if something positive will come out of this lead, or if it is not worth pursuing. It is a very similar process to the one that researchers use when analyzing data that they have gathered, allowing them to draw conclusions or theories, and plan for what comes next.
I usually like to approach this by imagining that I am meeting a group of people in a seminar or conference. I walk into the room, introduce myself and listen to others speak about who they are, what they do, who they know, what their position is, what their current challenges are, what their goal are and so on. However when you are conducting a research on LinkedIn to qualify prospects it is done quite differently. The best approach that worked for me is to open your note pad and jot down the below list of questions, and start your research on LinkedIn to get as many questions answered. Remember that the best way to do this is to ask questions, lots of questions, more questions. The who, the what, the how, the when, and most important the why.
To identify if you have the right prospect is straightforward. The prospect must have authority, budget and the need for your service or product. Qualifying may also address the timing of the need, and what the consequences are if this need is not met.
So are you ready? How do you find the right kind of customers to grow your business? You need an effective qualifying process. Here are some of the most useful questions to ask:
Step #1: Identity Your Sales ProspectYou want to probe to find out if this person could be potential client? Questions you can ask yourself are:
- What company they work for?
- What products and / or services they offer?
- What is the size of the company?
- Which industry their company serves?
- Are they the decision maker?
- Do they influence the decision maker?
- What size company do they represent?
- How long have they been on the job?
- What other features do they have in common with you? (geography, people, work experience, groups etc…)
- Does this prospect need your product or service?
- Can they afford your product or service?
- How can you help this prospect? What can you do for them?
- Why do they need you? And why do they need you now? Even better, do they need you now?
- Will your services help this prospect sell more? Increase revenue? Cut costs? Achieve their goals?
On LinkedIn the challenge for many people is needing to answer these questions outside the context of a conversation. You need to assess what you’re reading to decide if they are a potential client, someone with influence, or what or whom you have in common.
Step #2: Qualify Your Sales ProspectAgain, the best way to go about doing this is by asking yourself and the prospect more questions. The more you ask, the more you know, the more accurate your qualification will be. Some of my favorite questions to ask at this point are:
- Is this person someone with influence?
- How active is the prospect on Linkedin groups?
- Does your prospect publish industry related information?
- Are they an industry leader?
- Are your prospects sharing posts related to a specific pain point?
- Are they they on the hunt for solutions to these pain points on other LinkedIn groups?
- Has your prospect recently connected with one of your competitors, or any company similar to yours?
- What triggers are they showing through their posts, comments, and questions in LinkedIn groups?
Once you have asked and answered these questions, you will find that some of the people on your lead list will be scratched out, and some you will want to continue to pursue, now that you have qualified them through the answers to the above questions. (Let me note that the longer you’ve been in sales or business development, the better you are at asking the right questions, knowing how to interpret the answers, and knowing what to do next.)
Step #3: When Establishing a A Connection With a Qualified Sales ProspectSo you have filtered your lead list down, and you now have some names, contact information, industry related information, and some connections. Now, here comes the tricky part. How do you start the conversation? What do you write in that email or message? What are you going to say if you are calling them? How do you break the ice? What techniques can you use?
Here are some ideas:
- Find common connections to make you an introduction.
- Send them a message with questions related to one of their latest posts, if they publish posts on Pulse or elsewhere.
- Message them with a question related to one of their questions or comments in a shared group you are in.
- Research their company and send them a message requesting for 15 minutes of their time to learn more about their company. Ask them questions about their business.
- Think of an article that you would like to write, and would appreciate to have their comments / input / concern in. Request 20 - 30 minutes of their time to interview them for your article.
I would love to hear your comments on how this works out for you. Please let me know. Are there any other questions that you feel are important to be added to this list? What questions would you ask?
Enjoy the moment and good luck.