So, you’re using GrowthGenius and now you are inundated with highly qualified prospects and new business opportunities to message and follow up with, but like anything, there is an efficient way to do this, and an inefficient way to do this. In this article, I share four strategies to prioritize your follow up strategy for LinkedIn prospecting.
Since joining GrowthGenius 6 months ago, I’ve been trying a bunch of different strategies to do this in the most effective way possible. In a fast-growing startup, you’re always trying to get the maximize the return on investment of your time. I feel like it’s important to have a structured process and systemized method to use for your follow up strategy to achieve the best results.
Regardless of what kind of lead generation campaign you have run, if you’re trying to get the most return on your investment, you need a good follow up strategy if you want to be as productive as possible.
What is the best way to follow up with your prospects? The answer to every good question is - it depends, but I think the following prioritized framework is a good strategy to act as a guide for getting back to your new connections on LinkedIn. I prioritize my follow up strategy following the list below and have been seeing really positive results in my prospecting.
These are the holy grail of LinkedIn prospecting. You’ve sent someone a high quality genuine personalized connection request and they’ve replied to your outreach in a positive manner expressing interest in learning more in whatever it is you’re offering. This is our definition of a positive response. These are the most enjoyable prospects to speak to, but also the easiest. Obviously, if you’ve used the GrowthGenius service, you’ll have a copious amount of positive responses to deal with – a good problem to have.
These positive responses are typically something in the tone of “Sounds awesome, can we book a call/schedule a demo/get some time in the calendar this week?”. At this point, you have a lay-up, and just have to get the prospect’s email or phone number. Once you have their contact details and figure out a time that works and you’re all set, happy selling.
These types of responses make up a healthy portion of my prospecting. This number will increase based on how well you’ve researched your ideal customer and used that information to build your list of highly relevant prospects. I can’t stress enough how important good quality contact data is for any kind of outbound lead generation. It doesn’t matter how good your follow up strategy is if your list sucks.
One thing to note is that I definitely noticed that I got more positive responses from prospects after putting some work into my own LinkedIn bio. If you are using LinkedIn for the purpose of prospecting, your profile is your advertisement. Your bio should not look like an extract of your resume, it should tell a story. You can weave your past experiences and personality into your LinkedIn bio to craft a narrative that will make prospects actually want to engage with you. If your LinkedIn bio still reads like a resume in 2019, you need to make changes.
These are the highest priority connections to get back to, because they are the warmest and most interested.
Messaging new connections that didn’t respond (High Priority)
These prospects will make up a healthy amount of your connections on LinkedIn. There are a number of reasons for this. People live extremely busy lives nowadays and if they aren’t careful with their attention, it is insanely easy to become distracted by something else. They could be right about to click send on their reply to say they’d love to chat and learn more about what you do and then something happens. The doorbell rings, their kid starts screaming, their friend sends them a hilarious video of a dog skateboarding on Instagram. Things happen. You shouldn’t take it personally, they might be a great fit and super interested but something else just caught their attention at that critical moment.
Even if you’ve done your homework and put in some good research and crafted a high-quality personalized request that should, in theory, really resonate with a prospect – however, this won’t always be the case. Some people are happy to grow their network and never talk to you again. Some people are lazy and won’t elicit a response without being prompted or engaged with. We try to make the prospecting experience as frictionless and pain-free as possible as GrowthGenius, but sometimes, you’ve got to do some work.
This isn’t a problem though, this is actually an opportunity to show the prospect that you really are worth your salt and that you aren’t like everyone else in their inbox. You have your foot in the door, now you’ve just got to say something to stand out and get their attention. Personalization is something that we preach at GrowthGenius, we use it extensively in prospecting for ourselves and for our clients. We like to turn it up a notch though, and hyper personalize all of our messages.
There is no exact science on what the best way is to personalize, but one thing I always think about is how would I want to be prospected if I was the person on the other side. Lead generation as an industry has a bad reputation of taking a spray and pray approach, spamming people with generic messages that aren’t relevant to them and offerings that are of little relevance or interest to the prospect. All you need to do is be a human, find some common ground between you and the prospect and relate to that.
I have experience working in a marketing agency, in market research, data analytics and now technology sales. I’m also personally passionate about strong single origin drip coffee, optimizing human nutrition, lifting weights, running, reading about decision making and psychology, house, and techno music, drinking fine gin and my dog, half-Labrador half-Alaskan malamute, Luna. I can usually find something in common with most people to break the ice.
On the off chance, there is absolutely nothing I can think of to relate to the prospect on a personal and emotional level, I try and show them that I have really done my research. I’ll go on their website, look through their work and see if I recognize or have a genuine interest in any of the clients that they have worked with in the past. This is pretty easy for me now and gets much easier with practice.
If Digital Agency X has done some creative work for Fitness Brand Y, suddenly it’s very easy for me to show them I appreciate their work by relating it to my own interests. Case studies often go into the weeds and mention the fine details about what metrics have improved by how much e.g “Our campaign increased spontaneous brand awareness by 23%, grew their followers by 19k and was responsible for a 14% sales increase in this product line”.
By mentioning these metrics and stating how impressive they, you prove to the prospect you’ve really looked through their site, understand what they do and the impact you can have on a business. Imagine you are the prospect, which of the following messages are you more likely to be receptive to?
“Hey Liam, I looked through your company’s website and liked what you do. I think we could help your company”.
“Hey Liam, I looked through Digital Agency X’s site and was really impressed by your work. Especially the case study with Fitness Brand Y – increasing their sales by 14% is super impressive! I think we could help you find more of those clients”
In my anecdotal experience, you are undoubtedly going to get better responses with Message 2.
These connections should be followed up with as soon as you’ve finished getting back to the positive responses, time is of the essence here. The longer you leave someone waiting the more likely they are to forget about you, what you do or who you are.
Now that we’ve gone through how to follow up with your positive replies and new connections, I am going to go through how to follow up with prospects that you have had some level of previous interaction with, either you’ve had a conversation and they’ve gone cold somewhere along the way or they’ve just been cold and unresponsive to all your messages.
“There’s always a reason to reach back out. Technology and social has made it incredibly easy to be relevant, timely, considerate, and human. The best teams leave no stone unturned while ensuring prospects are consistently feeling helped or selflessly served” – Ryan Nahas, Founding Team + Head of Growth @ GrowthGenius
Following up is an immensely important part of prospecting and sales in general. I remember shortly after I got a job at GrowthGenius I had a week or so before I was due to start, and I was hungry to make an impact as quickly as possible. I didn’t know anything about sales, SaaS or the B2B space in general. But I did know that I was hard working, disciplined and have an insane amount of grit. I am always striving to be the hardest worker in the room in everything I do
I knew I had a lot to learn, with little time. Naturally, I went to Audible and downloaded the first book I could find with a decent amount of positive reviews on prospecting, which happened to be “Fanatical Prospecting” by Jeb Blount. I listened to the book, and while there was nothing really groundbreaking about the book. It preaches to always be prospecting, always looking for opportunities in every interaction you have and that you need to routinely work hard on prospecting. It was clear to me that if I wanted to succeed in sales, I was going to have to become a fanatical prospector.
I also recently listened to David Goggins’ audiobook, “Can’t Hurt Me”. The Navy Seal who ran 60+ ultra-marathons, 100 miles with several stress fractures in both legs, completed multiple Navy Seal hell weeks and broke the pull-up world record after 3 attempts. A concept he really tries to get across is that hard work is the great equalizer. If you’re not a one in a million genius, and not getting the results you want, the answer is simple – work harder. You should apply this mindset to your follow-ups.
I feel that I have to mention, that you can’t be afraid of following up. A reason I hear from some people for not following up is that they don’t want to “annoy people”. You cannot let this fear stop you from following up. If you are worried that your messages are annoying people, then your message is not good enough and you are not providing them with any value. If you genuinely believe in your product or service, you are doing them a favor by following up.
When I am following up with someone, be they cold or warm, I always aim to add some sort of additional value. You can do this a number of ways, by providing some additional info, sharing a piece of content (blog post, webinar, podcast) or just saying something light-hearted and quirky that grab their attention and make them laugh.
This is where you follow up with someone who has expressed some level of interest but for some reason, you never confirmed a concrete call in their calendar. This happens all the time where someone will say “Sounds good, can you send me some more information to firstname.lastname@example.org” or “yes let’s chat” but has gone cold ever since. Another scenario is you booked a call with them, but something came up on their end and weren’t unable to make the call. In real life, this happens.
The approach I take is pretty simple. You’ve already both agreed that there is an opportunity between the prospect and you that at least warrants a conversation. If I was reaching out to the prospect in question, I might say something like this.
“Hey Liam – I know we had some time set for last week, but something came up and our schedules didn’t align. I have some free time this Wednesday at 11am EST if you’re free?”
“Hey Liam – I was listening to this podcast, and when they were talking about B2B prospecting I thought of you! How about we get some time back in the calendar for this week?”
“Hey Liam – hoping you weren’t buried alive by a mountain of emails last week and you’re still interested in chatting? Let me know what your calendar is like this week!”
In reality, if they have a genuine interesting in your product or service and something really did come up, they shouldn’t need too much persuading to simply reschedule the call.
In my experience, if they are a good prospect who is going to be even worth doing business with, 9 times out of 10 they will reply something like “Oh sorry, had a crisis situation with a challenging client last week, let’s set up some time to talk” or “Sorry my son fed Lego to the dog again last week and I had to bring him to the vet, still happy to chat tomorrow”.
Following up with your warms leads is definitely important, but I think they are less pressing and urgent than new connections. There could be an argument to be made that you should getting these prospects back in the calendar as soon as possible and maybe prioritize them over new connections but I prefer the workflow of batching my follow ups along with follow ups of the same time.
I can bang out new connection follow ups one after another and get into a flow of doing it, whereas with warm lead follow ups I often have to go digging through my inbox to find the conversations. It’s a more manual and slower process and takes deliberate thought to find the prospect and context of the conversation. Try both approaches and see which workflow you prefer.
You’ve sent a personalized connection request, you’ve done your research, and you’ve sent a personalized follow up. Still, the prospect has not responded. This can be very frustrating especially if you are newer to outbound prospecting. You cannot see the fruits of your labor and you start to wonder is it worth it to keep following up. In my experience, yes, it is.
I’m a big believer in trusting the process. Setting up a system of doing things and being consistent. Of course, you should always be looking to improve your process, but you should also be disciplined and systematic with your approach. You should control the variables and when you change things, record the results and measure the outcome. Otherwise, how do you know what’s working and what’s not working?
Following up with leads that other salespeople would give up on is what separates good results from great results. You can decide whether you want good or great results. If someone has been unresponsive to all of your previous messages, you obviously need to change something. Insanity is repeating the same behavior and expecting a different result. If you’ve gone for a highly personable emotionally-driven approach, flip the script and present them with hard numbers, facts and business rationale and vice versa.
If that doesn’t work, you can send them a funny GIF, a meme or a picture of your dog. If that doesn’t work, you can send them personalized voice messages (this is a favorite of mine that often gets very good responses) or videos. You are trying to show to the prospect that you are willing to go the extra mile for their business. Time and time again, it’s this last effort that produces a response from a prospect.
These are the lowest priority follow ups, this is not to say that they are unimportant but without sugar coating it – in reality they are the less likely to convert and thus have the lowest expected value and ROI on your time. Do these if and when you have all your other follow ups completed.
In conclusion, I think following the strategies mentioned in this article can help anyone go from a zero to a hero in outbound prospecting. It certainly isn’t an easy thing to do, and it will require perseverance, patience and a positive mindset. You need to play the long game, start seeking opportunities and start building your pipeline.
It doesn’t matter what kind of business development or lead generation initiatives you’re undertaking, if you want really good results, you’re still going to have to work hard. You can use all of the technology, tools, tricks, trips, and hacks in the world but if you’re not following up, you’re leaving deals on the table. You get out what you put in.
You’re not going to go from an empty pipeline, no network and no connections to a huge network and a full pipeline overnight, but if you start working hard today, you can probably book a meeting tomorrow.
If you want to talk more about following up, fitness or food, feel free to reach out and connect with Liam on LinkedIn.