A new report reveals “LinkedIn grooming” is one of the most unpopular business tactics used when seeking new clients, with an industry expert saying it’s more trouble than it’s worth.
A study by relationship marketing company CR Cards, which questioned more than 300 small business managers, shed light on how companies drive client loyalty and build relationships.
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Invasive cold calling was found to be the most unpopular business tactic used when seeking new clients, followed by “LinkedIn grooming”, whereby prospective clients are approached through the social network.
CR Cards director Matt Sandford says while he hasn’t seen an increase in LinkedIn grooming, it remains a major turnoff, partly because of the work involved in order for it to be effective.
“The turnoff is [that] to make the LinkedIn grooming tactic work, you have to try and build credibility into somebody’s profile… so people will follow them,” Sandford says.
“It does work for some companies if they have their act together. But for most people, it’s too hard to build that type of following.”
“You’ve got to write lots of informative materials so that people really start to follow them and listen to what they’re saying.”
“It’s possible, but it’s just beyond the reach of most companies… It’s a long slog to get there.”
Meanwhile, Sandford says off-the-cuff cold calls are way too invasive, describing them as “a bit like spam”.
The trick, he says, is to soften the blow by preceding a cold call with some other form of communication, so it becomes less of a cold call and more of a follow-up call.
“The tactics that have been the most successful have been the calls that have been to get information about the right individual and then to use a bit of personalised direct mail to get to them,” he says.
“That’s how you soften the blow and then follow that up with a call… Send something out [beforehand] that’s personalised and relevant, and you’ll get some attention.”
According to CR Cards, businesses are four times more likely to take a prospective client for drinks or dinner than an existing client.
These attitudes were felt by clients, with more than a fifth admitting they feel “less appreciated” once they’re paying clients.
“Industry stats estimate that going after a new customer costs on average six times as much as it does to retain one,” Sandford says.
According to Sandford, the best way to determine whether someone is a hot lead is to do some digging before you wine and dine them.
“I find the best tactic is to talk to somebody who isn’t the person you want – to qualify them that way. Come under the radar and find that out,” he says.
“You can qualify a lead quite well before you get to that lead by asking someone who’s not [that lead]… Most businesses give you that opportunity.”
“Call the company up and say, ‘Who handles your media, marketing, etc, and are they a decision-maker in that role?’ That’s the best way to qualify a lead.”