If you operate your Business in the M&E/HVAC sector as either a Manufacturer, Distributor, Agent or Contractor then you should probably know the importance of having a great profile and presence on LinkedIn. In fact the best place to find new customers is to Go fishing in the LinkedIn pond.
The simple fact is the majority of your potential customers will also be “feeding and watering” in that same pond. You need to accept and see that LinkedIn is simply the best place to connect with your Potential customers
The more active HVAC Businesses will know how to use Social Media fully to generate a constant stream of leads from other sites such as Facebook, Twitter, as well as LinkedIn.
If you haven’t had great success yet with social media, then you just need to keep learning and testing until you find the right tactics for your particular HVAC business type.
There are loads of other articles all about a complete strategy of how to target all of them, however in the HVAC/M&E B2B arena then the absolute must do tactic is to focus on LinkedIn in particular.
You’ll be able to generate as many B2B leads as you want on LinkedIn, (as long as you’ve got enough people to do it.) Detailed below is a strategy that you can use and will generate leads for you.
So why LinkedIn? If you sell HVAC/M&E products and/or services to other HVAC/FM related businesses, then LinkedIn is the main network you need to really focus on.
With more than 400 million members worldwide, LinkedIn has a massive database of potential HVAC leads in every speciality single niche out there. So if you make PRV’s (Pressure relief valves) and you want to sell them to HVAC/M&E Contractors – including those involved in service/maintenance then LinkedIn is where you will find your potential customers.
Furthermore to support this fact, there are multiple case studies reveal that on average LinkedIn, sends the most customers to B2B companies.
Hopefully after you have read the explanation above and clicked on the links, you will now know that LinkedIn is probably the best option for generating leads for your HVAC/M&E business.
If you have never used LinkedIn seriously before, if you follow our step-by-step process below, this will get you started and up and running properly from scratch.
Fortunately it’s straightforward and simple. The main thing you need to do is to dedicate some time and effort.
Step 1. Optimise your personal profile for connecting with LinkedIn targets
The process with making your LinkedIn strategy work for you will always involve growing your network by “connecting” with other “target” LinkedIn users first.
You have to start by getting connected with them (your target clients) initially so that you can communicate regularly with them in the future.
For this to work, you’ll be connecting with people you don’t know. However to do this properly, you need to make sure your personal LinkedIn profile is optimised fully with as much relevant information about you, your Business and what you do as possible, if not you will get poor results, which is not ideal as this Business platform social medium is the most important one to focus on.
What your target customers see in their LinkedIn account when you request to connect
To understand the most important parts of your profile, you need to look at what LinkedIn users see when you request to connect.
When you send an invitation to connect with another LinkedIn user, they can view it in several ways.
Firstly LinkedIn sends an email of your Invitation to their email address like this one I got recently.
Secondly once in LinkedIn, in their notifications bar, across the top they will see a mini preview with your name, title, and the start of any message you sent:
Since these people don’t know you from Adam, you won’t get many invitations accepted this way.
The best you can hope for is they’ll want to find out more about you.
First, they’ll click on the invitation to see the full message you sent which looks similar to this.
They can also look at the message directly if they check their LinkedIn inbox regularly.
Have a look at the main elements in the message:
- Name and picture
- Your tagline/title
- Your message
You’ve got 3 different ways to make your first great impression.
We are going to deal with the first two in this section – the ones that are part of your profile. Later on I’ve detailed how to write an effective connection request message later.
Section No 1 – Your name and picture: Pretty obvious that you write your name here, but you can add some further detail adjacent to it like the name of your Business. Mine says Chris Gunn – Marketing 4 Contractors
Now, with the picture. Lets be blunt, you’ve got to have a profile picture. No one will take you seriously without one.
If you can get a Professionally done head shot done then fine, but it’s not always critical.
If you can’t do that, find a wall somewhere, and upload a picture with your smartphone. their built-in cameras are pretty good these days.
See my LinkedIn profile (and why not connect with me while you’re at it)
Section No 2 – Your Job title: LinkedIn calls it your “professional headline.” When you’re logged in to LinkedIn, you can edit it and write whatever you want, as long as it’s professional
You should write your job title in this section as well as anything else that’s relevant especially to the type of people in the HVAC/M&E sector that you want to connect with. (Depending on what your business does, you should think about who and what type they should be) for now, you need to have a similar position to those in your professional headline.
So, if you were targeting CEO’s, you’d write something like:
CEO of (the name of your business)
If that’s not accurate, try to find a term that’s on a similar level that describes what you do:
- Managing Director (MD)
Section 3. Bulking out your profile: Assuming you have completed the first three parts of your message invitation correctly, the person you will be inviting will then probably check out your full profile (very few will connect just based on the invitation).
The main thing they’re looking for is to determine if you’re genuine or not. You don’t need to write anything special apart from making sure your profile is completely filled out.
List all down your previous jobs/employers, what you did there and the things you achieved at each of those jobs. Once you have completed everything above, you can move on to the next step.
Step No 2: Create your own LinkedIn Group – this is why.
If you are going to make an impact with those in the same pond, and for it to work properly, you’ll have to create your own LinkedIn group.
Then, you’ll have to continually keep adding the right connections to that new group and then manage it.
Don’t assume this is an instant permanent quick fix. This is something that you have to be prepared for as a long-term project, but it only takes a few minutes each week once you get going.
This is what you need to know about what processes you will follow:
You’re going to invite some potential leads to join the group you created. You’re then going to make the most of the new HVAC/M&E group to get more connections and get more leads.
The first thing to do is to create the group. I’ll show you how to do that shortly
But! before you jump ahead and do that, you need to decide what kind of group you should create and the name (which should reflect the purpose of the group). If you look at the UK HVAC/M&E related ones, you’ll soon get some ideas. The bottom line means that the group has to be of benefit to your potential customers. – Those who are in the HVAC/M&E Pond!
So, if you sell HVAC products/services to Facilities Managers, create a group for Facilities managers. If you sell Boilers to M&E Contractors create a group for UK M&E Contractors. I’m sure you get the picture!
If you only sell HVAC/M&E products/services to local businesses in a local area, then it’s a good idea to add a location to the name of the group as well.
Here are a few sample titles for HVAC/M&E groups:
- UK HVAC Leaders UK
- UK HVAC Equipment Manufacturers
- UK M&E Contractors
Make it sound impressive so that your potential customers in the “HVAC/M&E Pond” actually want to join.
Creating a group on LinkedIn. It’s quick and easy and only takes a few minutes to create a group from scratch.
Firstly make sure you are logged into your LinkedIn homepage. Then hover over “interests” section on your top menu, and then choose Groups. Then, from the “My Groups” button at the top, choose “Create Group” from the dropdown menu.
Or if you want to make it really easy, just click this link.
That will then take you to this form
There aren’t many fields to complete, and are pretty self-explanatory.
The most important things are the group name and the group logo. You can easily get one made using Upwork etc.
You can change that later though, so for the moment you can use a place-holder. It’s not critical just yet because you won’t be adding members for the group yet.
Filling the group with content: Although you’re not really getting the group up and running properly just yet, it’s a good idea to publish a few pieces of relevant content just to make the group look like it’s alive.
There are a couple of ways you can do this. The first is to type in your niche into BuzzSumo. This is what I put in for HVAC Maintenance.
The second thing that often throws up some good alternatives for newsworthy articles is on Google News as can be seen here and again you can filter the results to suit. This image below shows the broad results for HVAC.
The results pages from both options then gives you a list of popular HVAC Maintenance articles. You can add a post in your relevant group. All you have to do is to write a quick comment to introduce each of the articles (e.g., “What do you think about these HVAC Tips and Tricks?”).
Once you’ve got your group working then you can go on to the next step below.
Step 3: Finding your target hit list of potential customers – in the HVAC pond!
This is where the fun stuff starts, where you’ll properly look into the HVAC pond and start fishing for the people who will then become sales leads.
The objective is to ideally develop a list of potential HVAC/M&E leads of between 500-1,000 contacts.
For UK HVAC/M&E Businesses, you should find thousands of users who match your buyer’s profile.
To find them in your pond, you’ll be using the LinkedIn search facility.
Start by clicking the section “advanced” link to the side of the search bar at the top.
This will then enable you to get a lot more specific with your fishing.
You can then narrow down the results whichever way you want, but a good starting point is:
In HVAC/M&E sales, you would nearly always be searching for the same type of job title in each company, which is why you add a title filter (e.g., CEO, MD, FD, Contract Manager).
By then adding in some other filters then that will ensure that the results are in the industry you sell to, (at this stage there is no HVAC section – so you will have to enter it under Mechanical & Industrial Engineering) and the location filter(s) will further make it easier to become your customers eventually especially if you operate in a particular area – like many M&E Contractors, Plumbers, Electricians etc.
As you can see from my search below these are the results for an advanced search I did for MD’s in the Mechanical or Industrial Engineering industry. I could then add further keywords if I wanted to filter further – like HVAC etc.
These results are more or less what I’d be looking for from that search. So these are the fish in my HVAC LinkedIn pond that I want to try and connect with.
I suggest that you start a list of these contacts in a spreadsheet. Copy over their full information or even the LinkedIn URL of their profiles.
Once you’ve completed all of that, then it’s time to move on to Step 4 to start connecting with them.
Step 4: Making initial contact with each member
OK now that you’ve done all the basics so that you can finally start getting some serious involvement now.
The objective is to connect with every person on your “target list.”
Hopefully you will have your own photograph ready – which is fine, however you could probably improve your own professional headline.
Let’s say you sell HVAC equipment to Facilities companies.
Right now, your headline looks something like this:
Managing Director – Marketing 4 Contractors.
That’s all fine and dandy, but you need to change things around and think about it from the point of view of the people you’re trying to connect with – (MD’s in Facilities companies).
They’ll see another MD wanting to connect with them. That’s great. Because they will think of you as a peer, not someone who wants a job from them.
However with that current headline, they’ll see that you’re the MD of a marketing company. What does that have to do with Facilities?
That tells the user that you might probably want to get something from them. Basically you don’t want them to get that initial impression.
So, what else can you do to demonstrate that you have some credibility in their industry?
Well hopefully you should remember that group you created. That’s how you demonstrate your credibility.
Now, my (artificial) professional headline becomes:
Managing Director of Marketing 4 Contractors. Founder of UK HVAC Equipment Manufacturers.
Can you now see how that makes a big difference to the MD’s of Facilities Businesses I want to be connecting with?
Now, it looks like I’m more than just involved in marketing. I have a professional interest in HVAC Equipment as well, and I’m active in the HVAC equipment community. It’s a much better first impression to make.
Writing a convincing initial connection message: The final part of that improving that initial impression is your opening message, and this is where tons of people usually get it wrong. After all have you ever been on the receiving end of some random person wanting to connect who is not from your industry and is of no benefit to you or your business? Connection requests like that will most likely get ignored
Your’e limited to the amount of words you can write so that you come across as a professional and explain why you want to connect with someone.
Here’s what a reasonable basic connection request sounds like:
Hi (name), I came across your profile on LinkedIn and thought we might both benefit from connecting with each other. If you’re open to it, I’d love to connect. Thanks, (your name).
You’ll get a rough acceptance rate of between 40-60%. To make that acceptance rate even better, look at their profile first, find something interesting about them that you can relate to, and mention that in your invitation.
Possibly they might be based in a nearby town/city, so maybe you could change your invite to something more like this:
Hi (name), I came across your profile on LinkedIn and thought we might both benefit from connecting with each other. I see that you work in Nottingham, and I’m actually just down the road in Leicester. If you’re open to it, I’d love to connect. Thanks, (your name).
This is a Great Tip on what to do to send the invite: This is the easiest part, but it’s where loads of people get stuck.
Normally when you request to connect with someone, LinkedIn will display a form that asks you how you know the person you are trying to connect to.
However If you make the mistake of choosing (everything but the friends option), LinkedIn will ask you for the user’s email address to verify that you know them.Well at this point you don’t!
Therefore make sure you, pick the “friend” option. Then, you don’t need to enter their email address. You can add your personal message in the text box and submit your connection request.
I know your’e thinking you might come across a bit creepy to these people because you’ve chosen the friend option. However they will never actually see it. It seems to be information that’s only useful to LinkedIn themselves. Your target recipient will only see the parts of the invite we’ve looked at so far.
It’s a good idea if you do a trial run first of sending out invites slowly to begin with to see how people respond to them. Keep tweaking your message, profile, and lead targeting until you get an above 50% acceptance rate.
Step 5: Over the next few weeks keep engaging with each new member
Just to recap for a minute. Well the fishing part is complete, You have found the fish in the HVAC pond and who they are and you have just made your bait more attractive.
Now this is the time for some graft to get them onto your hook and into your net.
There are two parts to this step.
Part 1 – Getting your group up and running: We’re now going to develop it and get it full of useful activity.
The main process at this point is to simply invite your new connections to join your Group.
When you make a new connection, just send them a message like this:
Hi (name), Thanks for connecting with me!
I just wanted to give you some information about a LinkedIn group I’ve created and am trying to grow. It’s called (group name).
It’s a place where all the members can discuss anything related to HVAC/M&E. I hope you’ll join if you get a chance.
You won’t get 100% of your connections joining, especially at the beginning when there’s not much going on.
However…if you personally invite 100 targeted users, you will have a small, core member group, and that will be enough to get going.
You’ll have to be the one that is most active in the group in the beginning, because most likely no one else will start discussions.
Post content from tools as mentioned earlier – BuzzSumo and Google News on a regular basis, and keep on top of any big HVAC/M&E announcements.
Once you start getting other people posting comments and participating in discussions, keep going!
Keep going until you have 5-10 regular members who regularly post new content to your group without any prompting on your part. When they do that, make sure you try comment on, like, and share everything they post to encourage them to post more. The more active your group is, the easier it’ll be to attract new members.
There will be a time, when you’ll start getting new member requests you didn’t invite, who will then want to connect with the Group. This guy says he gets 15-20 new invites every day from members of his group.
It’s worth keeping track of who does and doesn’t join your group after you ask them to. There could be several at first especially those that may not be interested initially because there’s not a lot of activity.
Try Inviting them again a few months later when there’s plenty of discussion going on. You’ll get a much better response the second time around.
Other alternatives to grow your group:
If all of that sounds great, then that tactic on it’s own will definitely grow any new LinkedIn group. But if you’d really like to catch more fish and pump up up the growth of your HVAC Group then there are some additional tactics you can use.
- Advertising – You could use LinkedIn Ads to promote your group to your target audience. You can target similar people to those in your pond to bring in new members who could end up being leads too.
- Group cross promotion – There are other similar groups in the HVAC/M&E/Facilities industry, and you could offer to do a cross-promotion in those groups. If you tell your group members about their group, and they’ll do the same for you.
- Posting updates – When you post something new on your LinkedIn account, it will be shown to people you’re connected with as well as your group members. It works especially well as it gives your new connections (from your hit list) another opportunity to join your group.
These tactics aren’t needed to grow your group, but it can help to make it grow faster.
Part 2 – Making personal connections to generate leads:
One of the main purposes of the group is to connect with those potential leads easier and to demonstrate yourself as an authority in their industry. It potentially could also bring you some sales leads in the future. After all what’s the point of all that fishing if you can’t take some home for dinner – right?
So you have to take a more pro-active approach. So with your “Sales head” on, the main objective is to turn those new connections from your hit list into sales leads – get them on to your hook.
These are people who are willing to receive a sales call, agree to a meeting, attend a webinar, anything that could lead to a sale.
However you must forget about turning them into leads at this point. You won’t get much success if that’s all you focus on. What you need to do is to take a long-term approach and build a relationship with each and every one of them as that’s the only real way that they will trust you and agree to something with you. You want to come in slowly and stealthily.
So how do you go about doing that?
Without question the best way is to send them messages through LinkedIn. As you’re now connected, you can send messages to them pretty easily.
Let’s put this into detail:
You should send 5 or 6 messages which must be solely focused on providing your new connections something interesting and relevant to their industry or adding value to their job function before asking for a phone call or anything that could lead to a sale. These messages should be based on their industry – so if your prospects is involved with Data centres – send them something about Data Centres .
I’d recommend you only send these messages around 2-3 times a month. You don’t want to come on too heavily when you’ve only just met them.
There are basically three types of messages you can send:
- The follow-up after connecting – Good idea to send right after you connect. Thank them for connecting, and invite them to join your group.
- The article/feature resource suggestion – Send them a link to a magazine article or other online resource that would be beneficial to them in their work life.
- New Discussion suggestion – Inform them about a particularly interesting discussion in yours or other group, and invite them to participate.
There should be a mixture of Item 2 or 3 type messages in particular.
Depending on how useful those suggestions are will determine how successful you are. If you point them to an article where they actually take action will build trust in your relationship in a big way.
Step 6: Get them out of LinkedIn and into your own lead gen system!
LinkedIn is a brilliant place to make new connections, build relationships and demonstrate your HVAC Industry knowledge and expertise, but realistically you can’t actually directly sell them your HVAC/M&E products or services on LinkedIn – it’s just not the right place. So what you have to do is to take them out of LinkedIn and point them to an external Lead Generator that you have created and operate
What you could do is to try to schedule a phone call/meeting or invite your leads to a webinar. This guy Neil Patel is an expert US Marketer and does it particularly well.
So, how do you get them off LinkedIn?
Firstly, it will take take you 1-3 months to send those 5-6 messages – as I said earlier this is not an immediate quick sales lead generator, it’s a long-term process, but it does pay off.
So the next thing is that after you’ve sent those messages and built-up the trust and relationship, send them another brief message like this:
Hi (name), I’m glad we connected a few months ago. Hopefully you found the articles and features useful that I sent you recently. It’s been great getting to know you and your business a little better. Would it be OK if I gave you a quick call at some point to see what’s happening with your business? Does next (week) work for you?
It’s not a too pushy sales request, however this might not work as some people still think your’e just trying to pitch to them.
What should you do when it fails: Not every prospect will agree to a sales call. Therefore put them in a category of connections that you will need to take a longer term approach. They could still become a lead later, but at the moment it’s clear that they won’t. Keep a list of all these people and keep in touch with them by sending them monthly messages highlighting the best discussions in your group or the best resources you’ve come across.
You won’t have to put in as much effort as you do with your other more interested prospects, but don’t give up on these either, so you will have to continue to nurture them.
LinkedIn is the best social media site for finding people in B2B HVAC/M&E sales.
This article follows a pretty simple strategy that you can use to get leads. When you’re done with your initial hit list, create a new one. Keep repeating it so that you have a consistent source of high quality leads.
Linkedin has a great feature that allows you to find your perfect type of client and it then saves that into a “saved Search” and then emails you automatically when someone matches your criteria and then adds them automatically to your saved search
The process isn’t too complicated to complete the strategy, but it takes a lot of work and time.
Learning to fish is great. But it can take time, and you probably won’t catch too many fish in the meantime. What if you don’t have time to sit in the boat all day with a load of empty beer cans and watch the fish not getting onto your hook? Or maybe you just don’t want to learn how to fish?
That’s probably when you start exploring other options.
Getting visible to customers in LinkedIn is no different. You can always learn how to do it, but maybe you’ve had enough of fishing, and now just want some leads.
That’s what my “done-for-you” LinkedIn lead generation service is for. It’s for you if you don’t have time to do all the legwork yourself.
Whats the cost?
I can help get your business more visible on LinkedIn. I’ll take care of 90% of the work, and will discuss the progress with you for the final 10% that I just can’t do for you – like your personal stuff. It’s a one-time investment of £495 + VAT
Want to get started? Just call us on 01252 413596
If you have any questions about this strategy, let me know! Leave me a comment below, and I’ll try to answer them for you