12 Tips for Improving Consulting Sales with LinkedIn

Professional Skills

12 Tips for Improving Consulting Sales with LinkedIn

Click here to download the Finding Perfect Consulting Prospects with the LinkedIn Boolean Search Cheat Sheet used with some of these tips for improving consulting sales and filling your pipeline.

Nearly every consultant faces the dreaded Feast-or-Famine cycle.

Consulting business slow-downs hit hard in the summer and over the winter holidays when your contacts and decision makers are away and when budgets are changing.

To fill your prospect pipeline you could hire an agency to build a list of leads for $800 to $3,500 per month. That's expensive for a solo-consultant or boutique firm. And, the agency can't engage and nurture your prospects.

With these tips you can easily build your own list and turn the leads into engaged prospects.

These tips are a small collection from the larger strategy and step-by-step guides in the Filling Your Pipeline module of the course Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business.

1. Create a Client-Needs Oriented LinkedIn Profile

Consultants must have a LinkedIn profile that is client-needs oriented and scannable. Do not write your resume or C.V.

Potential clients are interested in solving their specific problems. So, make your LinkedIn profile about their problems and how you solve them. Any easy way to do this is the W’s approach your 5th grade English teacher taught you,

  • Who You Work With
  • What Problems You Solve
  • How You Work with Clients
  • What Results Client Get
  • How to Contact You (Put your contact info where it is easy to see instead of hiding it like LinkedIn does.) 

To see one style of scannable, prospect-oriented profile take a look at mine,
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronperson/

While you are there, please send me a Connection Request. We can both expand our network of high-quality people.

2. Reengage with Your 1st Level Connections

There is an art to improving your consulting sales, keeping your pipeline full and retaining clients. The ART is Authority, Rapport, and Trust.
Stay engaged with your LinkedIn connections to build your ART. After connecting stay engaged by sending them important industry news, commenting on their posts and articles. Set up an engagement sequence to move your 1st level connections to email or phone.

3. Use LinkedIn to Engage with Your Speaking Audience

Use LinkedIn to find, connect and engage with people who will or could be in your speaking audience.

Even if they do not attend, seeing your name as speaker will help consulting brand you as an authority. Send messages to your 1st level connections who might be interested in your speech. Post and update the location of your speech and include related #hashtags to insure you reach people interested in the topic.

Use Advanced Search in LinkedIn Navigator or free LinkedIn with Boolean search strings to find lower-level connections who might be interested in your speech.

Click below to download your free Boolean search cheat sheet for LinkedIn.

Finding Perfect Consulting Prospects with the LinkedIn Search Cheat Sheet.

The LinkedIn Boolean search cheat sheet shows you how to find exactly the right prospects using LinkedIn (free) Filter or LinkedIn Navigator Advanced Filter.

4. Never Use LinkedIn Automation Tools

There are three strong reasons for not using LinkedIn automation tools, 

  • LinkedIn is there to find, connect and engage with prospects. The automation tools can return so many Connection Requests you will get back more than you can engage with. Would rather have a large list to inflate your ego or a smaller list of highly-qualified and engaged prospects you know? 
  • Sending high volumes of Connection Requests and messages is spam. You don’t like it and neither will your connections.
  • LinkedIn will ban you. I’ve sent as few as 50 automated messages for three days in a week and received a Warning from LinkedIn. As a consultant you cannot afford to lose LinkedIn. I no longer use automation tools to send Connection Requests or messages. 
Warning from LinkedIn for Using a Connection Automation Tool

Warning from LinkedIn for Using a Connection Automation Tool

5. Make Your Messages Personal

Treat LinkedIn as though you are at an industry association dinner with people you enjoy. You get to sit next to someone in your industry, learn about them, find something in common and build rapport.

Before the dinner is over you want to get the email and phone number of the people you have met. After a few LinkedIn messages you should move offline to email and phone and try to schedule an onsite meeting.

6. Create Well Defined Consulting Client Profiles with Search Criteria

The more precise your niche and more well-defined your Client Profile, the easier it will be to find clients and grow your consulting.

In the Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business course students use tools and tests to find and validate the right niche and client profile. A few days research at the beginning can save you years of failure.

Don’t just use the tired old demographic profiles like, “CPA mom who referees kid’s soccer after school”. Use well-define criteria describing their pain and needs. You are not advertising cereal to a mass audience over television. You want to laser focus on your prospect’s specific pains.

7. Test Client Segments to Find High Response Segments

Well defined search criteria make a huge difference. We have seen acceptance rates for Connect Requests go from 3% to 50% by finding the right Company Size segment.

In another experiment we segmented the Client Profile into three different Company Size segments. Two segments had the same response rate. However, the one with the longer sales cycle had a 15% lower response rate. That made a difference in how we prioritized our marketing.

If you use LinkedIn Navigator you may want to test response rates on different segments in,

  • Industry
  • #hashtag (use for interests or niches)
  • Company Size
  • Geographic Regions
  • Seniority Level
  • Years in Current Position
  • Title

Save your best search criteria as a Saved Search. In LinkedIn Navigator your Saved Searches automatically update to show the latest connections that meet your criteria.

8. Exclude Search Segments You Don’t Want

Some search criteria return find too many results. They are too broad. For example, a title search for Consultants also returns people who are doing Sales and Recruiting. 

In LinkedIn Navigator you can block criteria to narrow your search. For example, add a criterion like Unpaid in Seniority. That filters out unpaid interns or volunteers. When you first select Unpaid it appears as a blue button. Mouse over the button and click the International NOT symbol. The Unpaid button turns red and excludes that criterion.

These images are of Exclude buttons in LinkedIn Navigator's Advanced Search. The image on the left excludes Recruiters from a Title search. The image on the right excludes Entry level, Trainees, and Unpaid workers from a Seniority Level search.

Exclude recruiters from LinkedIn search.
Exclude trainees and unpaid from Seniority search in LinkedIn Navigator.

Not all search fields in LinkedIn Navigator Advanced Search have an Exclusion button option. But you can still use a NOT expression in a Boolean search string.

In free LinkedIn you can exclude fields by using the NOT expression in a Boolean search string in the search box.

Download the LinkedIn Boolean Search Strings cheat sheet from one of the download boxes in this post.

9. Join Groups You Consult In and Post Comments

There isn’t much conversation in LinkedIn groups, but joining a group will display on your Home page the posts made to groups you join. If you see a post or article from a consulting prospect, comment on it and send them a message.

10. Use #hashtags to Search for Niche Consulting Prospects

In my course, Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business, I highly recommend consulting to a niche. Of course, part of the course is helping members find and validate their niche.

If you want to search for prospects in a narrow niche and not in the broad industry segments, add #hashtags in your search, for ex., #sustainablebusiness.

If you use LinkedIn Navigator (I highly recommend it), you can enter #hashtags in the Advanced Search box.

If you use free LinkedIn, click in the search box and choose People or Content. Then, enter a #hashtag such as, ex., #sustainablebusiness. (If you have a small network the search return may be empty.) You can create more complex searches using Boolean string searches.

#hashtags can be used in Boolean searches. You can download the free LinkedIn Boolean search cheat sheet above.

Finding Perfect Consulting Prospects with the LinkedIn Search Cheat Sheet.

The LinkedIn Boolean search cheat sheet shows you how to find exactly the right prospects using LinkedIn (free) Filter or LinkedIn Navigator Advanced Filter.

11. Follow Your Prospects and Comment on their Posts and Articles

Follow your prospects so you can see their posts and articles. Keep you name in front of them by commenting on their activity. To follow lower level connections, click More... > Follow.

12. Use a LinkedIn Prospecting Routine Checklist

LinkedIn can be a blackhole that sucks up your time. It can also be a gold mine.

Set aside at least 30 minutes each day for a LinkedIn routine. (Don’t do it first thing in the morning unless finding new prospects is your highest priority.) Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are high activity days on LinkedIn when you can expect consulting leads to see your connection requests.

Before you send ten or twenty connection requests you may want to make a few message templates that include sentences you can personalize. After a series of conversational or informational messages move the prospect out of LinkedIn and into email or a phone conversation. 

Part of your routine checklist should be tracking where each prospect is in your nurturing sequence. 

These are a few tips from the larger strategy and step-by-step guides in the Filling Your Pipeline module in the course Starting and Building a Thriving Consulting Business.

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