How do I generate customer leads

XING strategy - generate leads, win customers

Hello Mr. Gehlken, why is XING such an attractive platform for entrepreneurs?

Nowadays it is becoming more and more difficult to win new customers via the classic channels. Print mailings often have a response rate of just under 0.5% - and other advertising media are also showing less and less success in B2B marketing and sales. The business portals XING and LinkedIn offer alternative options for direct contact. You can specifically find and write to the decision-makers who are relevant to you via XING. The result is low wastage and measurable responses with a success rate for e.g. "cold contact inquiries" of 10 to 40%.

How do you personally use XING from a business perspective?

All orders for my company in top social media originate from my personal network and via XING. I don't advertise online or in print myself, but arouse the interest of potential clients through specialist articles in XING groups and by addressing CEOs, HR and sales decision-makers directly.

As a basis or consequence of this direct approach, you made thousands at XING - how did you manage to build such a large network?

On the one hand, I moderate several XING groups (14) - six of which are regional, two acquisition and three HR groups. In addition, I am an active networker myself and organize network meetings, among other things. Our decision-making round table - the OWL-Bizz - is very popular, for example. Due to this mix, I also know 70% of my more than 3,700 contacts personally, by phone or have communicated with them more often via XING or e-mail. Because contacts on XING are only useful if you maintain them and stay in touch.

You talked about maintaining XING contacts - can you go into a little more detail? How can XING contacts be used in the long term?

A contact is by no means an order - so you should regularly "remind yourself" of your network. For example with:

  • own, informative specialist articles with added value
  • interesting link recommendations
  • the range of interesting whitepapers and tip recommendations

In addition, you should always keep an eye on who is posting something in groups via the XING news page. If, for example, I notice that a HR manager is only posting the link to a job advertisement, I will send him our whitepaper on the subject of “HR marketing on XING”. The result: Often positive feedback and often a phone call afterwards. The following always applies: Contacts that are made with your own XING strategy are always worth something if I use them actively and over the long term.

Many of our customers are rather small companies and startups - what tips can you share with us on how they can use XING for their own lead generation and customer acquisition?

It doesn't depend on the number of contacts, but on the class. Therefore, you should consider the following in an active XING strategy, whether as a design agency, consultancy or one-man company:

  1. Professionalize your XING profile - with meaningful formulations in “I'm looking for” and “I'm offering” and a XING portfolio as a one-pager homepage for a condensed overview of your services and options.
  2. Clearly define the target groups that are most relevant to you. Industry and product specialists with a unique selling point have significantly greater opportunities to address them directly than the vendor's tray or all-rounder.
  3. Never fall into the house when you first contact the company, but choose a meaningful and high-quality approach for the first contact. Business relationships develop - also on XING.
  4. Maintain your network carefully. Provide your contacts with tags (either directly in XING or in a CRM system) so that you can also later know who you have addressed for what reason and what potential this contact offers.

And when the number of XING contacts increases, how do you keep track of things?

We use the CentralStationCRM customer management software for 1a-Social-Media because this solution makes the management of projects and customers much easier for us due to the interface to XING (note: XING has unfortunately closed in the meantime) and the simple and very structured handling.

Personally, I don't like it at all when I first have to “browse” manuals for hours in order to understand a software solution. This is not the case with CentralStationCRM. Everything here is understandable in the shortest possible time, can be individually adapted and new employees from top social media can also find their way around immediately, even if they are not computer savvy. Our social projects SCHAKI e.V. and Dyspraxie Online also use CentralStationCRM.

Thank you again for the interview, Mr. Gehlken!

Markus Gehlken is considered one of the "pioneers of professional XING marketing". As a marketing specialist (IHK), he has been successfully marketing companies and their services via XING since 2006. Marketing via the international social media business platform LinkedIn has been another since 2013 Focus of his agency 1a social media.

Would you like to find out more about XING? Then we recommend the article "XING Marketing for SMEs".

Are you interested in other interesting articles? So far, the following articles have appeared in our series on the subject of online marketing:

Part 1.1: B2B Facebook Strategy - How do I start the Facebook adventure as an SME?

Part 1.2: Expert interview: Facebook marketing for companies in B2B

Part 2.1: XING Marketing for SMEs - How do I go about a successful XING presence?

Part 2.2: XING expert interview: Generate leads, win customers

Part 3: B2B YouTube Marketing - Does YouTube Make Sense For My Business?

Part 4: Affiliate Marketing: Definition, Examples and Co. from a company perspective

Part 5: SEM, SEO and SEA: Tips and Tricks in Search Engine Marketing

Part 5.1: Simple Search Engine Optimization - 13 SEO Tips

Part 5.2: SEO for beginners - the expert interview on the 1x1 of search engine optimization

Part 5.3: Search Engine Advertising (SEA) and Google AdWords - Everything you need to know

Part 6: Content Marketing: Pull Instead of Push - Examples, Advantages and Strategy

Part 7: Yes, I want: Permission Marketing, Opt-In and Opt-Out

Part 8.1: The Ultimate Guide to Newsletter Marketing

Part 8.2: Expert interview on the perfect email subject

Part 9: The Conversion Rate | Definition and optimization