Are We Wasting Our Time on LinkedIn?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jun 29, 2015 @ 08:06 AM


Copyright: 123RF Stock Photo

It's the place to be. Join 50 groups. Ask questions. Answer questions. Connect. Like discussions. Contribute comments. Is it a means to an end or is it all a huge waste of time?

LinkedIn is a tool that I use more than some and less than others. As busy as I am, I'm unable to spend an hour on LinkedIn each day, but I do visit daily. I am engaged. And I always wonder if it's a complete waste of time. In this article, I'll share the highlights and lowlights from my informal LinkedIn effectiveness analysis and you may be very surprised with my conclusion.  [Click to Tweet]

How much of our business comes from LinkedIn? We should know this, right? The first answer is easy...NONE of our call-in business comes from LinkedIn and it shouldn't, right? But what percentage of the business coming from landing pages on my Blog, the Kurlan & Associates website or the Objective Management Group (OMG) website come from LinkedIn, either directly or indirectly?

Of the 115,000 plus visits tracked to my blog in the past 6 months, less than 1% of that traffic came from social media although most of that small amount was from LinkedIn. Did any of that turn into business? 21 forms on landing pages were completed, but the majority of those landing pages were blog subscriptions, not downloads, samples, videos, white papers, nor requests for more information. None of those 21 ever came close to entering the pipeline. There was no business as a result of visits from LinkedIn.  

In comparison, about a third of those 115,000 visits were the result of organic search and many visits were from referral sites where someone was visiting another website and clicked a link that brought them here. 1.2% of all visitors completed a form on a landing page and the sources that converted best were the referral sites, followed closely by email marketing and organic search. Some of these contacts become clients.

So where is LinkedIn in all of this? Nowhere, really. Except first degree connections. They'll sometimes reach out to me - sometimes to do business - and I'll sometimes reach out to them.

Let's look at LinkedIn in another way.  

One of the groups I belong to, Sales Management Executives, has 205,000 members. With a group that large, you would expect to see incredible engagement, right? This morning I looked through the current discussions and counted 9 new discussions from today, but because we are looking for engagement, I looked at the discussions that were started 3 days ago. Between them, there were 2 comments and 29 likes from 25 discussions posted to 205,000 people and 14 of those likes all belonged to a single discussion. My knee-jerk reaction is that this group is a complete waste of time as there appears to be only 50 or so people or .004% of the group engaged. Is this the norm?

I looked through a second group I belong to, ATD Sales Enablement Community.  This group is more of a niche so I expected better engagement from their 11,000 plus members.  In the past week there were a total of only 5 new discussions which, between them, collected 5 comments and 0 likes.  Historically, there have been a few good discussions in this group but it is the exception, not the norm.

Next I checked in on Executive Round Table and its 17,000 plus members. There were 40 new discussions posted in the past 3 days with 2 comments and 3 likes. Of those 40 discussions, 15 of them were SPAM - income opportunities, loans, investments, etc., and 8 of the 25 remaining conversations were redirects back to the poster's blog article or website. Yikes!

I'm not suggesting that there isn't any meaningful content, nor am I suggesting that I never find a discussion in which to participate. But they are few and far between. You would need to look very hard to find one worthy of your time.

I'm connected to more than 1,000 people on LinkedIn, but a quick trip to my LinkedIn home page, where updates from my connections are posted, suggests that on any given day, there are probably fewer than 25 people - or 2.5% - that are actively engaged.

Another way of looking at LinkedIn is to dissect the discussion topics in the groups. For this analysis, I visited a newer group, Sales & Marketing - Top Management (Worldwide), which has nearly 8,000 members. Of the 15 discussions posted in the past week, all 15 were started by experts (including me) - where the discussion was either a rhetorical question (not me) to which the expert already knew the answer, or a link to the poster's blog article (I did that) or website. The only people engaged are the experts who are looking for more business! Who would want to be part of a group like that?

Until today, I had always believed that if I wrote good blog articles like this one and then shared my content in the LinkedIn groups, that it was a good thing - people would benefit - and it would improve visibility. But today, with my critical eye, I concluded that content like this is not what belongs in these groups and additionally, taking the time to post there is a complete waste of time. I have proof. In the first 6 months of 2015, I have written 50 articles and shared each article with around 10 groups on LinkedIn. If only 3,000 of 115,000 visits can be tracked back to LinkedIn, that averages out to around 60 visits per article or 6 per group, per article. It would be more productive to get an extra hour of sleep each night!

Today I read an article - it was posted on LinkedIn - that said Twitter was the more powerful social medium for business. Really? There are about 25 other sales experts that regularly tweet updates to their followers when we all post new articles to our Blogs. Let's suppose that one quarter of my articles got tweeted by half of those experts to an average of 1,000 followers each (I don't know any of these actual numbers, so I'm trying to be very conservative.)  That would be 13 articles x 12 tweeters x 1,000 followers or tweets that reached 156,000 which resulted in 70 visits over 6 months.  Yup, Twitter will be really useful!

At OMG, we have a private LinkedIn group for the 150 global partners who recommend and use our sales force evaluations and candidate assessments with companies like yours. I wish I could say that this group is the exception and utilizes LinkedIn exceptionally well. Unfortunately, that isn't the case and engagement is no better than in any of the other groups I used as examples.

At the beginning of this article I said I would share my LinkedIn highlights and lowlights and all I have shared so far is lowlights. Are you ready for the highlights?


Impressive, huh?

To me, the phone is looking better and better every day. Read this article for more information on the next big game changer for sales.

I still think LinkedIn is important for making connections, visibility and getting found. But the additional time we spend on LinkedIn would be better spent on the phone, talking with prospective customers and clients.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, lead conversion, linkedin, social selling

Leads are Making Salespeople Lazier Than Old Golden Retrievers

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Mon, Jul 07, 2014 @ 07:07 AM

lazyNot too long ago, before the advent of social selling, if a salesperson needed to add new opportunities to the pipeline, there were basically two options:

  1. Make cold calls; or
  2. Call existing customers for referrals and introductions.

Interestingly, this choice was not a no-brainer!  I observed that for every three salespeople who would call customers for referrals, there were always two who preferred to make cold calls.  This was not because they loved making cold calls, but because in their minds, it was a more comfortable option for them than asking for something from customers.

Of course, things are quite different today.  Most salespeople are the beneficiaries of a nice supply of leads from their company's marketing, advertising and online efforts.  I typed that "things are quite different", but is that the same thing as, "things are quite better"?

I don't know about you and your leads, but a lot of the "leads" I see aren't very good at all. They're actually more like names with email addresses and a good percentage of them can't really be considered leads at all.  But because a small percentage of them turn out to be really good ones, all of them must be followed-up.  One can't distinguish the good from the bad until the follow-up calls have been made.

With salespeople so busy, following-up on mostly crappy leads, they probably don't even give a thought to calling customers and asking for referrals.  Suppose I was given the option to phone one of two leads:

  1. A potentially crappy internet lead where the form was completed by the assistant of a branch sales manager or
  2. An introduction from an existing client to the CEO of a growing mid-market technology firm who expressed interest in getting our help.

I know who I would rather call...

I know all the statistics about lead follow-up.  If you don't place a follow-up call within the first 10 minutes, your chances of connecting decrease by...I know.  I also know that it takes 8-15 attempts to reach one of those leads...

We all know that the introduction beats the crap out of the lead follow-up 95 times out of 100.  If that's the case, why are so many salespeople spending all of their time attempting to generate and follow-up on the leads that produce results 5 times out of 100?

If you've been reading my blog for the past 8 years, then you know that according to Objective Management Group (OMG), 74% of all salespeople are ineffective.  So we already had this huge class of sucky salespeople and now, with leads making life so easy for most salespeople, we have created a new class of sucky salespeople who are also lazy.  

Have your salespeople pretend it's 1985.  Have them each call 5 customers or clients every day for the rest of the month and ask for referrals and introductions.  If they don't do it, shame on them.  If they don't know how to do it effectively, shame on you.

Image: Chin Kit Sen via Shutterstock



Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales leads, sales tips, lead conversion, inbound leads, referrals and introductions

Social Selling - I'm a Proponent, Not a Detractor - Look at The Stats

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Nov 15, 2013 @ 08:11 AM

The battle that I inadvertently started with this post moved here where it took on a life of its own.  As of this writing, there were 36 comments, some more pointed than others.  Gerhard Gschwandtner added this post to the ongoing discussion.  Earlier this week, I wrote this post to address most of the confusion that's out there.  Yesterday, this post appeared on the Sales Thought Leaders Blog to add fuel to the fire.

I think it's all quite funny that so many have so much difficulty letting go of their positions and take things so personally.

I'm actually a proponent of social selling, not a detractor.  I proactively and consistently use LinkedIn, ToutApp, Hubspot, YouTube, Wistia, Postwire, HootSuite, MeetMe, Eventbrite and more.  Both of my companies have Twitter accounts that tweet Blog posts, news and retweet many of the tweets from other sales thought leaders.  

Bob Thompson left several comments on the article at the CustomerThink site.  In his last comment, he asked what the stats would look like if we only reported on what the best salespeople did with social media.  I think that's a terrific idea, Bob, and while it's much more difficult to isolate those statistics, I did the research and report on it here.

One important thing to remember when making these comparisons is that the most successful reps don't make cold calls, so we need to compare their social media successes to the alternative which, for them, is referral/introduction selling.

I looked at 1,921 leads that were assigned to a group of top salespeople.

They closed 69% of the leads that were customer/client referrals/introductions.

On the other hand, they closed only 5% of the leads from social selling.  WOW!!

However, I looked more closely and found that we can identify something different altogether.

If we isolate the leads that were either call-ins or emails generated from Blog Posts or videos, the closing rate shot up to 29%.  It's not the 69% of referrals, but it sure beats the hell out of cold calls and the rest of the social selling leads.  How did the top salespeople fare on those?

They closed only 3% of the "leads" that were from White Paper downloads, Sample Requests, Webinar views, and the like.

In summary, top salespeople closed less than half as many quality social selling leads as they did with all referral/introduction leads.  That's not bad.  But the 3% suggests that the "leads" from other sources should never go to salespeople.  Those leads waste time and should remain with marketing.

One question this leaves me with is who would have been better at following up on the quality social selling leads?  The top salespeople (who never cold call and rarely get resistance) or the newer and/or less successful salespeople who regularly deal with such annoyances?

Are these findings more encouraging?

I believe they are.  They suggest that with the existance of two variables, social selling can be effective.  

We must be able to differentiate between quality and other leads.

We must have a method for getting only the best quality leads directly to the salespeople.

We must funnel those leads to the salespeople who are most capable of closing them.  That last statement is different from traditional lead distribution at most companies.  Aren't you sick and tired of giving leads to salespeople who don't follow up on a timely basis?  Who don't convert them?  Who don't close them?  I believe that leads should go only to the salespeople who prove they can be effective with them and follow up on a timely basis.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, Gerhard Gschwandtner, lead follow up, lead conversion, KPI, social selling, statistics

Who Cares More - Sales or Marketing?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, Feb 08, 2011 @ 23:02 PM

It all depends on the parameters.  I'll list a dozen or so items that both sales and marketing should care about and provide my opinion about who cares more.  Then you can tell me how wrong I am.

Who cares more about:

  • Revenue - Sales is often compensated on revenue or at least gross profit so sales wins this one hands down.
  • Leads - This one could go either way...Marketing is supposed to generate leads and  companies that place an emphasis on lead gen and measure its effectiveness, care more.  In fact, in companies where there is that much emphasis on leads, salespeople depend on them and hate them, all at the same time.  So many of the leads in high volume lead gen initiatives are low quality leads.  Based on that, marketing cares more.  However, in companies that don't generate many leads and where they aren't expected to generate high volumes of leads, when sales does get the occasional lead they care very much!  Scenario two is more common so I'll give the nod to sales caring more about leads but only by a small margin.
  • Conversions -Marketing doesn't believe that conversions are high enough but which conversions are we talking about?  Lead to appointment?  Lead to Opportunity?  Lead to Qualified?  Lead to Closed?  Marketing cares about generating leads.  Sales cares about conversions.
  • Praise - Marketing cares more about how their work looks - they want praise for their designs.  Sales only gets praise for results - for revenue.  Marketing cares more about praise.
  • Income - Sales usually gets commissions and bonuses based on revenue - not marketing - so sales cares more about income.
  • Pressure - Sales is always under pressure while marketing - not so much.  Sales cares more about pressure.
  • Results - See Income.
  • Metrics - Assuming that companies have and use metrics, sales metrics are more likely to drive revenue while marketing metrics are more likely to identify effective ways to generate leads.  With the latest technology, Marketing is more nimble than ever before and can act on those metrics and make instant changes.  With sales, the metrics typically point to changes that salespeople must make to their behaviors - something that takes longer and sometimes doesn't happen at all.  Marketing cares more about metrics.
  • The Look - Marketing is responsible for the look but sales rely on the look as a crutch.  Marketing has pride of authorship so they care more.
  • The Brand - Marketing positions the brand and does the "branding". They are the only ones that care!
  • Reality - Sales lives in the reality of customer interaction, competition, and market challenges.  Marketing believes that every lead should be sold.  Sales cares more.
  • The Customer - Sales cares more about what the customers think and say because sales, not marketing, is hearing those opinions directly.  Sales cares more.
  • Activity - Sales cares more.

That's my opinion - choose one or two categories and tell me why I'm right or wrong...

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Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales management functions, lead conversion, lead generation

Derek Jeter Shows Salespeople How to Convert Leads to Opportunities

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, May 13, 2010 @ 15:05 PM

Derek Jeter running out a ground ballDerek Jeter, the leader and all-star shortstop for the New York Yankees, goes all out running hard to first base on every ball he puts into play.  As a result, it's easy for management to expect the same kind of hustle and effort from everyone on the team.  After all, if the star does it, then everyone should do it. Other teams?  Not so much.  David Ortiz of the Boston  Red Sox never runs hard on a ground ball so what does management say to a younger player who also fails to run hard?

The sales force has similar issues.  If your Star Salesperson prospects like crazy it makes your job very simple.   You just point and say "Do what she does and one day you'll get the same results".  Then you hold your salespeople accountable to those expectations, let your top performer lead by example and watch what happens.  But the reality is that most of your Star Salespeople aren't really stars, don't do what stars do and live off of business they developed years ago or worse, off business somebody else developed years ago.  Then what?

Speaking of the grunt work, I read a statistic from one company that showed that they didn't get long term customer value from leads until 6-10 follow up attempts were made. 


That's just to get to first base. (Shameless Baseline Selling tie-in there)

How many of your salespeople are giving up WAY before 6 attempts?  

How many of your salespeople simply aren't working leads thoroughly enough?

Tell your salespeople that they're going to have to start running hard to first base on every ball/lead that they put into play.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Baseline Selling, sales management, Closing Sales, Sales Accountability, derek jeter, converting leads to appointments, lead conversion, sales prospecting

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader,  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned awards for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog for eleven consecutive years and of the more than 2,000 articles Dave has published, many of the articles have also earned awards.

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