LinkedIn is a tremendously powerful sales tool, able to connect marketers and other business professionals with countless potential leads. Every day, however, there’s also the chance to alienate countless possible leads with fumbling and impersonal outreach messages.
Anyone who’s used LinkedIn has perhaps been on the receiving end of such a message. It might be a message shortly after a connection request asking for a virtual or in-person meeting. The message might come without any clear expression of what the value might be or knowledge of a prospect’s company, or even their industry. It’s a very easy way to get a LinkedIn connection immediately removed by the recipient and maybe even get you blocked.
A smarter option is to learn how to build relationships and nurture potential leads on LinkedIn through outreach sequences. Today, we’ll explore how to do this and how tools like CoPilot AI can help this work be automated and at scale, though still with the personalized touch LinkedIn demands these days.
Basics of outreach sequences
An outreach sequence isn’t a hackneyed, one-off message that tries to push a product or service on a customer whether they have budget for it, it will benefit their life, or if they already have a solution that’s working fine for their needs and pricepoint.
Outreach sequences also aren’t “spray and pray,” the notoriously inept style of marketing (here’s a podcast on it) where practitioners simply send their pitch out to any email, phone number, or postal address they can in the hopes that someone, anyone might have a need. Somehow, this still happens all day, every day. If people’s email inboxes and the number of scam calls the average American gets are any indication – 30.7 a month in 2021 – it happens way too often by other means as well.
Here’s what outreach sequences are: nuanced and targeted messages designed to help create relationships with qualified leads, giving them value, building trust, and bolstering the chances of doing business together.
Outreach sequence examples
Say a business is using a LinkedIn CRM tool such as CoPilot AI to gather real-time contact information from among the projected 66.8 million monthly active users of the professional social media site in 2022.
If a marketing or salesperson tries to message every LinkedIn lead manually at every possible touchpoint, they might get overwhelmed, especially as their efforts scale and they have dozens, if not hundreds of leads to nurture. Conversely, if LinkedIn prospectors use a one-size-fits all messaging approach to spam everyone, they’ll lose possible convertible leads left and right. It will not be pretty.
What outreach sequences do is create a replicable series of messages that can be sent to possible customers at roughly timed-out (though it they don’t have to be overly strict) intervals. While there’s not a hard and fast rule on the number of messages, the sequences might look something like this:
- Send a LinkedIn connection request to a qualified potential lead with a personalized note;
- Within a few days, send them something that might be of value, but isn’t directly connected to anything you’re selling or marketing. One possible example is news of a trend or stat in their industry;
- A few days after this, offer something else that can be more closely related to you company, say a link to a recent webinar you put on;
- This is about the point where a marketer can maybe start asking about either meeting virtually or in-person. But it’s also fine to extend this step to a series of several additional steps. A marketing axiom that goes back decades suggests that it can take a customer seven times to see a message before they’ll take action and in some industries, this number might be much higher.
Ideally, you also want the customer to have an idea of your service and value proposition. And you want to be clear they could use it before you ask for a meeting. A thorough outreach sequence can help weed-out worse potential fits.
The last point is one of the most crucial and speaks to the core point of marketing: Activities like outreach sequences aren’t about delivering more business, so much as they’re about creating higher-value opportunities by cultivating relationships with strong prospects.
Manual vs. AI: when to use each type of outreach sequence
Freelancers, startups, and even small businesses might be adequately served by doing manual task-based outreach, that is, remembering to send messages to the people they’re hoping to do business with at the optimally-timed series of touchpoints. The sales pipelines for these businesses might be small enough that a technology solution doesn’t make sense for outreach, no matter its pricing.
Mid-size and enterprise-level businesses, though, and even small concerns that just have a lot of leads or possible sales engagement will want to bring AI solutions and workflows to the table for their LinkedIn outreach campaigns. It’s the kind of tool that can offer playbook templates crafted for different buyer personas, send non-spammy messages to potential leads, and even let marketing and sales people know when it’s time to reach out.
5 tips for outreach sequences
Now that we’ve covered some basics about outreach sequences, let’s look at five essential tips for marketers and others to get the most out of their outbound social efforts.
- Never ‘spray and pray’
Seriously, never do this. At best, doing the marketing equivalent of spraypainting one’s number on a highway overpass might yield a lead here and there in the sense that, as the old saying goes, “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” At worst, spraying and praying can burn a lot of possible bridges, decimate response rates, and might even lead to mockery online.
A good rule of thumb when doing LinkedIn outreach is that if messages are being sent out indiscriminately with no clue what industry, vertical, or job types the messages are going out, it’s probably an overly-broad strategy doomed to failure.
- Use software to target specific verticals
The key with outreach sequences is specificity. Tailor different campaigns to different industries and geographic areas. What might be of keen use to someone selling real estate in Alabama could be worthless to someone trying to move SaaS products in Seattle and vice versa.
But it can also be overly cumbersome to try to manually separate out which LinkedIn targets are best suited for which messages. The good news: Software exists that can comb through untold numbers of LinkedIn profiles, using a variety of search parameters and algorithmic tools to unearth groupings of similar professionals.
- Leverage AI that gets the conversation started
The best LinkedIn prospecting software doesn’t just go out and find leads. It gets the conversation going with them, with templates that can adapt to a variety of business situations.
It might seem that possible customers would be aghast at talking to chatbots and provide abysmal reply rates, though there’s been some evolution in this space in recent years, as Chatbot.com noted in 2020. “Research shows that customers have already developed their preferences for chatbots,” the site noted. “Consumers eagerly turn to them for handling minor issues. They don't mind if they are served by a chatbot as long as they can quickly solve their problems.”
There’s a caveat here and it’s that good AI and automation-based software for LinkedIn outreach sequences also needs to has tools built-in to tag in human sales reps when needed.
- Focus on short, regular touches to build business relationships
One of the main problems many marketers and sales reps have with their LinkedIn sales outreach efforts is that they go way too early for the jugular (i.e. asking a customer to hop on a phone call or sign up for a free demo) without giving any idea why it’s worth their time.
Some marketing or sales teams might operate under the mistaken assumption that if they aren’t asking a customer for money yet, they’re giving them something free. But time’s a commodity as well and increasingly precious in a world that demands ever more of people. It’s definitely one explanation for depressing open rates, unsubscribes, and other poor metrics.
Short, regular follow-up touches can respect the time of a hopeful future customer while helping introduce them to a business, personnel like SDRs (sales development representatives, and products or services.
- Know when to move on, but don’t be afraid to circle back
There’s nothing wrong with polite persistence with a potential customer, continuing to engage with them periodically via LinkedIn outreach sequences or other tools. As we noted earlier, some customers need to see a business’s message a whole bunch of times before they’ll maybe take some action.
At some point, with a businessperson who’s just not responding, it makes sense to put those efforts on the backburner. Shift the focus to others who can be helped and can offer more interest. It’s a better use of time and resources and goes back to principle number 1 of not spraying and praying. The best outreach sequences reach people who can and want to be helped.
But it’s also okay, at least with active LinkedIn connections, to circle back in the future and try again. After all, a connection still in place suggests there might be some interest down the line, just possible bad timing if there’s no response to several messages. And circumstances can change or new stats or trends can emerge that can merit additional outreach.
Using CoPilot AI to turbocharge outreach sequences
For businesses ready to get more from their LinkedIn prospecting, here are a few ways that CoPilot AI can help companies improve their outreach sequences.
Unearthing quality leads
CoPilot AI is an artificial intelligence-fueled platform and LinkedIn prospecting dashboard that allows businesses to do smart and targeted outreach sequences.
Instead of having to scroll by hand through hundreds, even thousands of LinkedIn profiles regularly and then having to message those people one by one, our tool can amass information from prospective contacts such as job titles and locations. The system can also update automatically if this information changes, unlike static spreadsheets that must be updated by hand.
Best of all, CoPilot AI’s technology can get the conversation started with these people, using a suite of templates to craft unique messages with valuable information for anyone you’d like to do business with.
A respectful approach that nurtures leads
Some business messaging services can perhaps be intrusive. Its designers might not cognizant that selling sometimes requires a softer, more thoughtful strategy, rather than bombarding people with constant entreaties to buy through aggressive email sequences with spammy subject lines.
Such is not the tact taken at CoPilot AI, where we help the marketers, sales professionals, and others we work with reach out to their LinkedIn contacts in a way that maximizes the chances of a positive interaction.
To offer a use case, as a business owner who is using CoPilot AI recently told us about how one of their prospective leads views our service, “She’s like, ‘It was a very respectful type of an approach.”
Scale your prospecting
At CoPilot AI, we lean toward quality over quantity for the companies we work with, generally believing that one high-value lead is better than five low-value ones. It goes back to that adage of avoiding “spray and pray” marketing and instead zeroing in on the most rewarding business relationships.
That said, we have no problem helping our partners scale their efforts. CoPilot AI is capable of messaging dozens, even hundreds of companies simultaneously. We can cast a very wide net when the situation calls for it, helping businesses scour every corner of LinkedIn for every opportunity for their sales pipeline.
We’ll still focus on delivering a potential high-value relationship with each of the messages we send, no matter how are going out. It’s what’s needed to ensure success on LinkedIn these days.
Don’t spray and pray. Try CoPilot AI to improve your LinkedIn outreach today.