Business developers like to compare their deal pipelines to giant funnels. Into the top of the funnel, you pour your new investment opportunities. As the funnel narrows, you engage with the deals that meet your investment hurdles and have the highest probability to close.
Often business development strategies focus on the top of the funnel: the leads that a company is collecting. Most strategies have something to do with widening the funnel or the volume of leads that are going in. These deal referral leads can come from in-house lists, purchased lists, online directories, and are driven by business development activities. The main goal of these strategies is to invest resources to drive volume at the top of the funnel.
However, ask any seasoned BD professional and they will tell you of the horrors that can be created from just focusing on increasing the number of new deal leads. That is it creates much more work to separate the quality deal leads from the duds and shepherd the good and actionable deals through to closing.
Business developers are becoming increasingly aware of the drawbacks of this model and the execution bottlenecks it can create. The digital age has made it easier to get in front of more eyeballs, and collect more inbound leads in easy-to-use CRM databases. But so far it hasn’t done as much to smooth or streamline the midpoint of the funnel.
I advise today’s technology enabled investment professionals to focus not just on increasing the volume of new deal leads, but on the quality of the leads which is directly correlated to the quality of the referral source. And one popular social media platform has made it a lot easier.
Using LinkedIn to land (and keep) referral sources and deal leads
Since its inception, LinkedIn has grown from just another place for recent grads to post resumés to the de facto social network for businesses. LinkedIn’s ad services are prized for how precisely they can be tailored to clients by sector and demographic. They tend to turn up leads of more consistent quality than purchased data lists and online directories.
Now the platform is adding Lead Gen forms to make the process of converting leads even smoother. This is a game-changer for business developers; by instantly populating a custom form with a LinkedIn user’s information when they click an ad on the site, Lead Gen forms eliminate the need for a landing page that users need to fill out manually.
This helps make the process of collecting lead information as smooth as possible. As soon as a potential customer clicks an ad, their information can be collected and added to a database as a potential lead.
LinkedIn’s ad services are prized for how specifically they can be tailored and served according to metrics like sector, location, and even position, increasing the likelihood that they’ll be seen by someone with decision-making power. But no matter how well an ad is targeted, the click-through experience can often keep a business developer from capturing a prospective deal referral source’s contact information and reason for inquiry which can further help screen to actionable deal flow.
Every click a conversion
By automatically populating a form with a visitor’s data, LinkedIn has eliminated the need for a manual form. Instead, every click on a sponsored ad becomes a conversion, collecting quality information that staff can use to follow up, nurture a relationship, and eventually close a deal.
Requiring a busy executive to manually populate a form can be the kiss of death. Sponsored ad campaigns that require customers to fill out their information manually are a drag on a conventional keyboard, and they’re even worse on the tiny one on your smart phone.
LinkedIn has added a powerful addition to an already effective tool. Business developers who used LinkedIn’s ad services are already paying to attract clicks and hoping that with enough exposure, they’ll have a decent conversion rate.
With Lead Gen forms, every click is a conversion, which causes the overall cost-to-convert to drop. Some business developers have been able to successfully reduce their costs per conversion to 10% of what they were previously, but even more modest reductions mean significant savings that can be allocated to other areas of business development.
How to set up a Lead Gen form on LinkedIn
The process of setting up Lead Gen forms is simple, and offers some useful features. When creating LinkedIn Sponsored Content, you can choose whether you want the ad to redirect to a landing page or other content, or to collect information for a Lead Gen form. The forms are customizable, allowing marketers to select up to seven auto-populating fields, making it easy to collect only the information that’s most relevant to your team. And customized messages add a convenient way to call people to action.
When potential leads click through an ad, they’ll be shown the form, its fields already filled out with information sourced from their profile. All they have to do is press “submit.”But where does the information go? LinkedIn stores responses in a database format that syncs easily with many CRM applications. From there, it’s ready to be integrated into your outreach program and prioritized more appropriately than before.
By the time a business has gone to the trouble of selecting a target demographic and crafting a sponsored content campaign, it shouldn’t have to worry about additional costs to convert. Lead Gen forms are an easy and effective way to improve this metric.