Many of us check LinkedIn at least once a day.  Some of us are regular posters, some people are seeking a job, or a candidate for one. Others are using LinkedIn for various prospecting activities.  I’d like to address the last activity since it relates to phone calls.

If you have a target market, LinkedIn gives you an easy way of finding your perfect prospect. Their navigation tools easily identify people in a specific part of the world (i.e. your specific zip codes) with a title that matches your best prospects.  Once you have your list, the next activity is to ask for a connection, then start messaging.   Some people message first, hoping to get positive responses.

In either case, once you have someone engaged via messaging, the next step is a phone call.  You want to “get to know each other” and the best way is through a real time conversation.  This is where many advisors make an unforced error.  When you’ve gotten a potential prospect interested in a getting-to-know-you call, you’ve created an opportunity to make a true human connection.  Everything up to now has been digital.  Talking on the phone makes each of you more “real” to the other.

My concern comes from discussions with advisors who complain that this process failed them.  I have no advice on how to gather your list, or do your initial messaging.  But I CAN help you when you reach the point of a phone conversation.

First, don’t start with a product.  No matter how much you think you know what someone needs, the other person will be turned off if you start the conversation that way.  Even if you’re right, it’s the wrong way to engage a new professional friend.  You need to first know who they are.

Start by asking them about their business.  Are you targeting HR directors about nearly no-cost benefits?  Are you reaching out to company directors for Financial Literacy seminars?  Do you want to speak to people in charge of “Lunch and Learn” sessions on possible low cost group benefits? Do you want to meet an accountant or estate planning lawyer to do cross referring?

Ask them about their work, their company and employees.  Try some questions that target what they are currently doing in the area you’re most interested in.  Make sure your questions flow from one to another in a logical sequence.  Start with general, non-threatening questions so you can keep the conversation going and eventually ask more pointed ones.  It should take about 10 minutes to get someone comfortable enough to answer detailed questions.

Consider this a one-sided “People Fact-Finding” call.  Showing an interest in the other person gets you more information, a better sense of who they are and possibly a new friend.  And when you’re an expert questioner, you find out what you need to know in order to present who YOU are.

Do not use your classic “elevator speech”- ever.  You want to know who THEY ARE FIRST.  Then you will figure out – during the conversation – how you will position your practice so it is beneficial to them.  When it’s your turn to talk (after about 10-15 minutes of finding out who they are) you will begin your first sentence with these five words:

You know when you said.

And by bringing their words into the description of your work, you are speaking to to their self-described issue. Examples:

You know when you said that your employees are interested in having more benefits, but your employer isn’t willing to add the cost?  I work with other HR directors who have that exact same challenge.

You know when you said that you are looking for a person to work with your clients on lowering their taxes by using smart financial ideas? I have worked with other accountants who also want to help their clients pay less in taxes.

You know when you said that you would like to provide more educational opportunities to your employees? Our firm has a well-received Financial Literacy program that can be customized to meet the exact level of interest of your people.

You can’t offer these benefit focused comments if you don’t listen first.  The only way to find out what people’s issues are is to be the questioner, not the talker.  If you know how to get a client at ease with telling you all about their financial life, you can do this as well.

Implementing this conversation on your LinkedIn calls will result in more appointments and potential clients. It will also make your LinkedIn marketing more effective.

Remember: Words Matter!