How Banks Can Use LinkedIn to Search and Connect with New Clients

LinkedIn Lead Generation

Sales in financial industries have always been a face-to-face, relationship-based business. Deals are discussed and won over lunch, sponsored events, seminars, and yes, on the fairways.

Unfortunately, these prospecting and sales strategies aren’t always scalable because they’re too expensive and time consuming for the average banker or financial sales consultant. There are only so many dinners and conferences you can attend, right?

Then there’s also the case of millennials, who, despite what the media say, also need the financial services and products banks offer. The news about them not earning or saving enough isn’t exactly true but what’s true is they’re a generation not keen on answering the phone. The popularity of “online-only” banks among millennials is proof of this.

You can hit two birds with one stone if you include LinkedIn lead generation strategies in your marketing efforts. Unlike networking events where you’re limited to the number of people you can meet per night, there’s no limit to the number of people you can reach online. Social media platforms like LinkedIn also let you filter prospects, so you don’t waste time and energy building a relationship with someone who’s not even your ideal customer.

LinkedIn Lead Generation Opportunities for Bankers

LinkedIn now has more than 500 million users worldwide, with over 138 million in the United States alone. Even more interesting, data from Pew Research Center shows that over 45% of LinkedIn users earn upwards of $75,000 a month, which makes many of them a good candidate for financial products.

LinkedIn Demographics

American Express and other financial institutions capitalized on the LinkedIn lead generation opportunity as early as 2013, according to Jennifer Grazel, who used to be Head of Global Marketing for Enterprise Services at LinkedIn.

An advisor from Morgan Stanley, for instance, uses a combination of the keywords “financial advisor,” “independent,” and “woman” to rise above the search results of her target client—female heads of households. Another advisor uses status updates, such as a job change or the start of a new business, as an opening to get in touch with existing connections.

Another example is American Express’ Open Forum, a LinkedIn group for small business professionals where Amex brings experts to share their insights in the group while members share their knowledge with each other. It’s not exactly a direct way to get client referrals, but this group increased brand awareness for Amex products specifically for small business while building their brand’s thought leadership in this niche.

In the same way, if you want to get in front of property developers to sell them big loans, you should frame your approach in a way that paints you as a thought leader on commercial lending. Otherwise, they’ll just see you as another salesman gunning for a big fat commission.

Using thinly veiled “financial advice” to sell financial products, such as mortgages, CDs, checking accounts, and even big loans and investment products, don’t work if it doesn’t include their business’s unique challenges.

How to Use LinkedIn’s Lead Generation Tools to Build a Client Pipeline

The principles of good networking are the same online. It’s all about finding the people you can add value to or have a common ground. LinkedIn has so many users that it’s impossible to meaningfully connect with every one of them, so you need to be decisive when identifying the characteristics of your ideal prospects.

Here’s how you can do that.

1. List Key Identifying Factors of Your Ideal Prospect

Find out as much information as possible about your ideal prospect.

  • What products or services are you selling? Who are your typical clients?
  • What’s their job title?
  • How big is their employer or company?
  • Are they limited to a specific industry?
  • Where are they located?
  • What’s their job seniority level?

For instance, let’s say you’re promoting equity investment products and most of your previous clients are executives in the IT industry who work for big companies.

2. Use Advanced Search to Create Your Prospect Pool

LinkedIn’s Advanced Search feature allows you to find people even if you’re not connected to them. For instance, if you search for “IT Executives” without using location filters or industry filters, you’ll get over 200,000 matches.

Linkedin General Search

But if you narrow it down to a specific location, industry, and job title, you’ll get a shorter list. Here’s what I got after using the following filters:

  • Location: Greater New York City Area
  • Job Title: Executive
  • Industry: Information Technology and Services
  • Connection: 2nd level
LinkedIn Lead Generation Advanced Search

You can even narrow down the list further using LinkedIn’s “Premium Search Filters,” found in business subscriptions or in Sales Navigator.

LinkedIn Lead Generation Sales Navigator

Notice the new search features not available in the regular advanced search:

  • Relationship
  • Function: so you’re not limited to searching exact job title matches
  • Years at current company
  • Company headcount: allows you to filter companies based on their size
  • Company type
  • Tag
  • Groups: allows you to search members of a specific group
  • Posted content keywords: searches for keywords a user has on their profile or status updates

It’s tempting to cater to everyone, to want a bigger prospect list. But as the saying goes, “If everyone is your customer then you have no customer.”

Besides, it’s easier to personalize your sales pitch when you have a good idea of who your customer is. It’s also more appealing to a prospect when they feel like you specialize in helping people just like them.

A Less Awkward Version of Cold Calling

LinkedIn Sales Navigator, InMail, and even the regular (free) version of the platform allow you to connect and send messages to individuals even if you’re not yet connected. Unlike cold calling or cold emailing, these LinkedIn lead generation tools give you the opportunity to learn as much as you can about the prospect’s situation and needs, before you send a message.

1. Personalize Your LinkedIn Invites

Don’t send the auto-generated invite LinkedIn provides, and don’t copy/paste a generic invite. LinkedIn invites are the online equivalent of a first impression, so put your best foot forward. Mention shared contacts, mutual groups, or anything you find genuinely interesting about the person you’re attempting to contact.

Keep it short though and resist the temptation to promote yourself or the products you’re selling. You don’t want to turn off your prospect before they even get a chance to know you.

Example LinkedIn invite script:

“Hi Amy,

We’ve never met but we’re both on several groups, such as GROUP NAME 1 and GROUP NAME 2. I also see that we’re both connected to Nate Smith. Appreciate it if we can connect on LinkedIn.”

2. Follow Up

Send a thank you note to prospects that approve your connection request. Don’t promote your services just yet, but this is a good time to suggest that you want to talk at a later time.

Example follow-up message:

“Hi Amy,

Thanks for approving my LinkedIn connection request. I look forward to talking to you at some point.”

Some of your prospects might reply and express mutual interest for a meeting, but most will not. Don’t worry, that isn’t the main goal of this message. You’re just building the relationship at this point.

3. Tell them About What You Do and How You Can Help

Warm up your prospect by commenting on an article they follow on LinkedIn pulse or sending them something you wrote that’s related to their group or professional interests on LinkedIn. It shows that you took the time to get to know them before selling them on something.

“Hi Amy,

I hope you’re well. I don’t know if you remember me, but I sent you a connection request a few weeks ago because we have a mutual connection, (Mutual Connection’s Name).

I saw that you’re interested in (Topic they follow on LinkedIn pulse/Group) and wanted to share with you this article I wrote: (Topic headline + URL). I think you’ll find it (helpful/gives a different angle on the topic).”

4. Ask for a Quick Phone Call or Coffee

This is the message where you tell the prospect what you do, and how you can help them. Below is a sample message you can customize.

Like the invite, you should mention names of mutual connections and common interests, especially if someone from a common group is a past client.

“Hi Amy,

I’m a (Your Job) at (Name of Financial Institution/Bank), and I’ve helped many (your target market) like yourself with their business financial needs. Steve from (a mutual group where you both belong) got his small business loan from us.

Would you be available for a quick 15-minute call or coffee to see if I can help you in any way? I would really appreciate it.”

Move the Conversation Out of Social

When a prospect responds to your message, ask for their email and phone number or find it online. LinkedIn is a great tool for finding and connecting with new prospects, but not everyone checks their LinkedIn account regularly.

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