Small businesses who are just starting often don’t have the budget to invest in a proper CRM, or sales enablement or email marketing platform. But that doesn’t mean it should stop them in building a high-quality sales funnel and scaling their business.
If you’re one of them, read on to learn how you can build a strong sales pipeline and close more leads just by using LinkedIn, Google Sheets and Gmail.
Using LinkedIn for Lead Generation and Social Selling
LinkedIn is a powerful platform not only for job seekers but also for sales professionals to prospect and engage qualified leads for their business. This modern-day technique used by salespeople is called social selling and LinkedIn is one of the best social media platforms to execute it.
“89% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn for lead generation, and 62% say it generates them leads, over two times more than the next-highest social channel.” (Source)
Here are five steps you can follow to start social selling on LinkedIn effectively:
1. Enhance your LinkedIn profile page
Your LinkedIn profile page is mostly the first thing a prospective customer will visit after they see your message. Make sure it leaves a lasting impression on them by having:
- A professional headshot as your LinkedIn profile picture.
- A crisp headline to tell them exactly what you do.
- A bio that gives them a clear idea of your background, product/service, and skills.
- Recommendations from your colleagues to demonstrate your experience.
A little work on your LinkedIn profile goes a long way as it tells your prospective customers that you’re serious about what you do and can help in solving their pain point.
2. Build relevant LinkedIn connections
While people generally follow a spray and pray technique while building their LinkedIn connections, we suggest a more focused approach as relevancy plays an important role in the way LinkedIn recommends you to other people.
Here’s how you should approach growing your LinkedIn connections:
- Add your co-workers and colleagues from current and previous companies.
- Connect with every client you close.
- Follow your competitors.
- Follow the thought leaders and influencers in your industry.
You can also use this exercise to find prospective customers. ‘Find’ being the keyword as we don’t want you to reach out to them before you have your pitch ready. We’ve mentioned a few tips below on how you can pitch and follow-up better.
3. Share the right content
LinkedIn users love content! Attract the right prospects by posting content that speaks to them. By doing so, you’re not only giving them a compelling reason to follow you, but it also establishes you as an expert in what you do. Here are some tips to engage your audience:
- Share tips to solve a pain point for your users.
- Pen down your thoughts about an industry trend.
- Share your client’s success stories.
- Share your company updates.
By amplifying your reach on LinkedIn through content you’ll be able to boost brand visibility as well as connect with more qualified prospects.
4. Participate in LinkedIn groups
Don’t just attract your ideal prospects through LinkedIn feed posts, join LinkedIn groups. LinkedIn groups are the best way to connect with like-minded people and expand your network. It also allows you to warm up the relationship with your prospects before you reach out to them. Here’s how to use LinkedIn groups for social selling:
- Join a LinkedIn group where your current customers and ideal prospects hangout.
- Make sure the LinkedIn group is active.
- Focus on solving problems rather than selling.
- Use LinkedIn groups to identify your audience’s pain points.
Once you’ve become an active member of the group and have established yourself as an expert, it’ll become easier for you to connect with your prospective customers and tell them more about the solution you have to offer. Remember, sales is more about building relationships than actually selling and LinkedIn groups will help you do just that.
5. Work on your pitch and follow-up
You’ve done all the hard work in finding, attracting and engaging your prospective customers. It’s now time to start your outreach and tell them how you can solve their pain point. Here are a few tips on how to pitch and follow-up better:
- KISS – keep it simple, silly. No one likes reading lengthy paragraphs from someone they barely know.
- Reach out with a simple question that’s focused on understanding their pain point.
- Tell them how your service or product can solve their pain point.
- Follow-up with stories that demonstrate the keys wins your clients have seen.
Your service or product might have a lot of features but don’t communicate with each one of them to your prospective customer. Each customer has a different pain point and your pitch should address exactly how you can solve it for them, that’s when it’s most effective.
So take the time to personalise your outreach, understand your prospect’s problem and then reach out. When you follow this approach, your message will automatically have a better connection with your customer and that in turn will improve your conversion rate.
If you’re planning to do it at scale, you can use Expandi.io, a LinkedIn automation tool that will help you put your outreach efforts on autopilot. This way you don’t have to send out messages manually one-by-one saving you a lot of time.
Want to take your social selling on Linkedin to the next level? Give Linkedin Sales Navigator, and Linkedin Lead Gen Forms a try.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator makes the entire process from lead prospecting to outreach hassle-free, whereas Linkedin Lead Gen Forms allows you to capture high-quality leads at scale.
Using Email Finder Tools to Populate Lead Data
Don’t have the budget to use Linkedin Lead Gen Forms but still want to engage your leads over email? Email finder tools are your best bet for this. Here’s an in-depth guide on how you can find your prospect’s email.
Using Google Sheets as your CRM
Now that you have data about your prospective client’s you’ll need a place to store them. We’ll show you how you can build a no-cost CRM using Google Sheets. It’s effective for businesses who are starting as you can also create dashboards and reports using Google Sheets.
Step 1: Decide the contact fields
Essential contact fields to include:
- Date created: Defines when the lead was first reached out.
- Company name: Defines the name of your prospects and customers.
- Website: Stores the website URL of your contacts.
- Primary contact: Stores the name of your main contact in that organization.
- Designation: Stores the designation of your main contact.
- LinkedIn profile: Points to the LinkedIn profile of your main contact.
- Email: Stores the email address of your primary contact.
- Phone: Stores the preferred number of your primary contact.
- Deal owner: Tells you who owns this deal from your company.
- Deal stage: Stages the progress of the deal in your sales pipeline.
- Deal status: Highlights the deal status – open, won, or lost.
- Deal value: Tells you how much revenue the deal is going to bring you.
- Deal last modified: Tells you when the deal was last worked upon.
- Notes: You can use this field to add specific information about that deal.
Step 2: Decide the stages in your pipeline:
Fundamental deal stages you can create:
- Prospects: This stage applies to unqualified leads in your pipeline.
- Qualified: Move leads who’ve shown interest in buying to this stage.
- Contacting: Move leads you need to contact/contacted to this stage.
- Call scheduled: Move leads to this stage when you’ve planned a call.
- Evaluation: Leads who are evaluating post the call go in this stage.
- Negotiation: Leads you’re in negotiations to go to this stage.
- Deal Won: Mark deal as won when you successfully close them.
- Deal Lost: Mark deal as lost if negotiations didn’t materialise.
Step 3: Import Contact to Google Sheets
Now that your CRM structure is ready, it’s time to import your contacts. You can follow the steps to export your contacts from these popular email apps:
Once you have the .CSV file, just copy & paste the information onto your Google Sheets template, and you’re done.
Use the workflows listed below to automatically export contact data to Google Sheets if you’re using Typeform, JotForm or Wufoo to collect lead data.
- Export new Typeform entries to Google Sheets
- Export new JotForm entries to Google Sheets
- Export new Wufoo submissions to Google Sheets
Bonus: To make the process easier for you, we’ve created a free Google Sheet Sales CRM template that’ll help you get started right away. Feel free to customise the contact fields and deal stages according to your preference.
Use automation to personalize outreach and nurture leads via Gmail.
If you are using Google Sheets as your CRM and Gmail as your email platform, it’s important that these two apps can talk to each other seamlessly or you won’t be able to scale your sales outreach. That’s where automation platforms like Automate.io come into play. They allow you to integrate your favourite web apps and create workflow automations without coding.
Without further ado, let’s jump into Google Sheets and Gmail integration that’ll help in automatically keeping your leads engaged while you focus on what you do best – closing deals faster.
When you’re pitching prospects at scale an email template does come in handy to speed up the process but that doesn’t mean you send a generic email to everyone. When it comes to sales a touch of personalization goes a long way. Use this workflow to automatically draft emails in Gmail every time a lead is added in Google Sheets.
You can then personalize the pitch for every lead based on their pain point by going to the Drafts tab in Gmail and send out the perfect email that results in a conversion for you.
Send a personalized email from Gmail for new leads in Google Sheets
On an average, a prospective buyer fills out 3-5 lead forms. Therefore, it’s important that your first response time is faster than your competitor or you might end up losing the deal.
That’s where this automation will come to your rescue. If you’re consolidating leads from multiple sources in Google Sheets, you can use this workflow to minimize your first response time by sending a personalized email instantly via Gmail without any manual effort.
It can be a simple acknowledgement email that states you’ve received their request and will get in touch shortly or it can be a conversation starter asking them for more details before you get on a call with them.
Alternatively, you can also create a group email in Gmail and send personalized emails to a particular group if you store your contacts in Gmail.
Set up nurturing sequences on Gmail
What if I told you it’s possible to set up end-to-end action based nurturing sequences on Gmail? Using Automate.io, you can turn Gmail into a cost-effective email platform by setting up condition filters that allow you to send an email via Gmail when you receive a reply and also space out multiple emails using our Timer app.
This workflow will help you in nurturing your leads automatically using Gmail alone. You can create a 3 to 5 email nurturing sequence and send it out based on whether they reply or not. If they don’t you can automatically schedule a follow-up email to remind them.
That wraps up our blog on how businesses on a shoestring budget can use free platforms like LinkedIn, Google Sheets, and Gmail to scale your sales pipeline and close deals faster. It’s now time for you to put these tips into action and see the results yourself.
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