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Selling to Fortune 500 Companies (An Easy 3-Step Process)

selling to fortune 500 companies

Selling to Fortune 500 companies is a different game than SMB. Sometimes all the emails, cold calls, tweets, and inMails in the world still won’t get the attention of key contacts at that enterprise account.

If you need to quickly drum up interest in a large account and have some type of free offer or trial of your product, one tactic you need to try is LinkedIn Ads.

Let me explain.

The $5K Experiment

At Ghostery, our tiny enterprise sales team has closed almost half of the top 25 eCommerce retailers. To start gaining interest in the other half, last quarter, our CRO decided to run a smart experiment. He gave each person on the sales team a $5,000 budget to act like a marketer.

We could put the budget to use however we wanted to get traction in our key accounts. (Yes, the thought of inviting all my prospects to an extravagant dinner and drinks event crossed my mind.)

My approach was different than the rest of the team. After spending only $600 and a few hours, I found myself quickly unable to keep up with all the quality inbound leads and conversations I was having with my target accounts.

LinkedIn ads not only have generated quality inbound leads that led me to pause the campaigns and put in more process, but with this first test, I even got enough interest to close our first major account from a LinkedIn Sidebar Ad.

What’s surprising is that the outbound team had been hitting up some of these targets for more than a year and they appeared completely silent, but within 2 days I was able to immediately start having conversations.

While it’s still in its early days, this approach has a ton of potential for founders, marketers, sales executives, and SDRs.

How It Works

My process works in 3 basic steps: create an ad targeting a key account, point that ad to a landing page, and when a lead comes in, immediately follow up.

selling to fortune 500 companies - 3 steps

While I developed the ad copy, the creative, the website, and nurtured the leads myself, you can either start small, or bring someone on your team to help if it isn’t your expertise.

Let’s walk you through exactly how I sell to Fortune 500 companies with this 3-step process:

STEP 1: Create Ads by Account (Time to Complete: ~1 Hr)

First, log into your LinkedIn ads account and you’ll get walked through the process of creating your first ad.

In the targeting process, LinkedIn will let you hone in by company, job title, geography, industry, LinkedIn groups, and keywords in your target profile.

The hardest part is knowing exactly what type of customer to target. Make sure you focus on only your strongest customer hypothesis, or the educated guess about your next best customer, which in my case was Ecommerce CXO, Director, and VP-level executives:

LinkedIn Members

For each campaign, I was able to create tailored ads to a fairly targeted audience, which for Fidelity amounted to only 20,111.

Here is how my results looked at the end of my first set of campaigns:

click-through rate

You might notice my click-through rate (your CTR measures the % of clicks from people in my market who have seen an ad and clicked it) for VPs of Ecommerce wasn’t too exciting.

I messed up on that one, and quickly learned my targeting and copy was too general — there wasn’t enough of an incentive to click. I was able to get my ad on the second day to be much more effective:

LinkedIn Ad

Notice that I’m calling out Fidelity specifically?

Targeting by company is key.

Also, if your logo isn’t recognizable, use a photo that catches attention. To know you’re doing well, LinkedIn considers a good CTR to be higher than .025%, and the targeted ads I created here received CTRs over 6X that.

If you’re really wanting to optimize your ads, I’d recommend you start with Cost-per-Click (CPC), and later pay on a CPM (or cost per thousand impression) to optimize it because you now have an approximate conversion rate.

With the Fidelity campaign, I was bidding at $3.43 per click, but as I figured out the CTR with my first campaign settled at .245% and had a CPM bid of $1.20 – I realized I could change the way I bid to CPM to get 7X the clicks for the same price.

You’ll only come to these realizations after you test your ads, and when you see if your previous ads actually led to qualified leads, which brings me to…

STEP 2: Collect Emails (Time to Complete: ~40 Minutes)

You’ll notice in the above Fidelity ads, I sent people to the domain freedomainscan.com.

I actually purchased this domain just for the experiment, and I set up this quick website using Instapage:

are digital third parties hurting your site

Not too bad, right? Instapage is the most intuitive website builder I’ve found, and this process took me about 30 minutes to think up and get running, and 30 minutes to perfect the look and copy.

Use a free incentive like a signup, trial, or demo as a place to direct people who’ve clicked on your ad, or create your own incentive like I did here. In this example, I’m giving away a free domain scan, which gives me a great excuse to collect their email and company so I know where to send the report.

Note that although Instapage allows you to optimize your page for mobile, I spent no time doing this because I knew my leads would come from the web.

As soon as your ads get approved (LinkedIn takes about a day to do this), you can then spend 30 minutes a day closely monitoring your budget and CTR and make sure you’re getting clicks. You already know you have the right people signing up. Simple tweaks to the copy like better calls to action and better images will go a very long way, and you can get alerts and monitor your sign-up rate from Instapage.

Make sure your sign-up rate is at least 10%, although you can aim to reach as high as 25% of new visitors signing up.

STEP 3: Nurture to Close (Time to Complete: Varies)

This step is where the magic happens.

If you’ve promised something for free, send it to your prospect. In my case, this was a 3rd party tracker report I created myself, but it could also be trial access or another customized insight.

Be sure to offer a 10-minute call to get them properly set up, or to offer additional insight. Give your prospect what you promised to get them to jump on the phone, then use your awesome sales skills to close the deal.

It’s a best practice to respond to these incoming leads ASAP, so consider setting up an auto-responder like MailChimp that messages someone immediately when they sign up.

Bottom Line: Selling to Fortune 500 Companies

Targeting key accounts with LinkedIn Ads is a big opportunity to get into even the most gated organizations. If your product is enterprise-ready and you’ve already got a trial option or something free to give away, try this out.

I’d love to hear about your results. Check my bio to get a link to my Twitter and let me know how it goes. Happy hunting.

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    • Wow! We are sharing this for sure! I really love how you broke down the capture portion. Most overthink it and that’s a problem. Thank you so much for including Instapage as well! If anyone has questions I am available to answer as well.

    • Hey Juliana, super happy to see that you signed up and tried https://www.instapage.com out. I do recommend left aligning the text so that it looks nice in that space 😉

    • thanks Tyson! Totally agree – first draft on the landing page was pure hustle and wasn’t thinking much about design. Even with a less than perfect designed landing page, the results were pretty solid.

    • Super smart post Juliana. Really good stuff

    • Juliana that’s awesome! Can you shoot me an email? eric at instapage dot com ?

    • Excellent idea and execution. And it does only work for larger companies; with SMBs LinkedIn doesn’t support it because the number of people targeted is too small.

      • Thanks Louis and you’re right on the money. At the time of writing this, LinkedIn requires an audience size of at least 1,000 so the approach is best for targeting employees of a certain seniority level and/or function at a major brand.

    • Juliana, thank you for this info. I am starting my own consulting practice and wonder if you have any experience/suggestions for using LinkedIn Ads for professional services marketing. Appreciate any help you can provide.

    • Excellent! I just loved it 🙂

    • Juliana, I love this idea! I am definitely going to try this out. Thanks for sharing.

    • Optimizing the landing page for signups. I played around with this a ton and experimented a bit with dynamic text functionality so that, for example, folks coming from the CVS ad saw a message about CVS on the landing page. Experimenting with the dynamic text functionality can really increase conversions and it’s worth a shot if you have the time..

    • Great post Juliana! Thank you

    • Just saw this post. Loved it. It’s definitely much more effective than running random company ads that don’t have a point 🙂

    • Great idea! Thanks for sharing..

    • Thanks for the insight Juliana, just the information I need to convince us to try this on the Enterprise Accounts we’re looking to solve complex sales and marketing problems for

    • Love this smart marketing Juliana! Thanks for sharing your approach, it’s a lovely way to be introduced to Ghostery! Your solution is something that I will be sharing with my clients.

    • Hi Juliana – thx for sharing this! So you set up Ads per account? Isn’t this less effective and very time consuming, rather than targeting positions?

    • Nice post, Juliana. I had an interesting experience with this in the early 1990’s when I was working for a big business intelligence software company. The huge customer was looking for “digital cockpits,” so they called these management dashboards. With help of Marketing, I created customer specific documentation including screen shots of what we had done for the first customized one, not on business intelligence but rather “digital cockpits.” Passed them out all over the world. Result: Grew the customer by 284% in one year. (Shrank in prior years.)

    • Tried a similar approach about 12 months ago complete with call to action of free initial 2 hour consultation. Targeted accounts that we knew needed our services and did not experience the short time frames you refer to. Maybe it is different in the States to Australia, personally I found EDMs targeted at contacts sourced through LinkedIn far more successful.

    • Fantastic, thanks. Need to crank out some Account Based ideas for enterprise right now, super helpful.

    • It’s a year later and this article just popped up on Salesforce for Sales – LinkedIn page. Very relevant for me and the people I lead today! Thanks sharing what’s working Juliana!

    • Got excited, then realized this doesn’t comply with LinkedIn’s advertising guidelines:

      “Any ad found to be infringing on the trademark of a complainant will be removed from LinkedIn. You should not use trademarks, logos, service marks or company names in a way that would be confusing to the user, or imply an affiliation or endorsement when there is none.”

      https://www.linkedin.com/legal/pop/pop-sas-guidelines#trademarks-and-use

    • Hey Juliana, great post. Tried this a few weeks ago but couldn’t target the companies I wanted to because they were too small. I tried different companies and noticed that Linkedin’s minimum audience is about 1,000 people, anything below that and your audience is too small. And even if the company has 1000 employees but you only want to target the decision makers, again, the audience will be too small to run an ad. Do you know any way around that? 🙂

    • Profile picture of Michael Goldstein
      @goldsteinma
      ( 190 POINTS )
      4 months ago

      This really works. Followed the process and narrowed down to super-targeted title search on linkedin. i had to add enough titles to get big enough audience for linkedin to run the campaign – 300-400 ppl. so far its very early – but CTR OF 4-8% – unheard of. Still too early to see conversion rate on landing page, but that’s on me. The process works!

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