For any sales team, particularly in the B2B realm, prospecting with LinkedIn can be a very rewarding strategy.
There are more than 756 million users on this professional networking site and 57 million businesses. Every profile is packed with information that can help with crafting a pitch, and the platform is deliberately designed to encourage connections.
Sounds like paradise for salespeople, right?
Well, yes it is. But as with every sales channel, you need to adopt proven tactics to see consistent results. To help power your next campaign, we have compiled a complete list of guiding principles.
The New Age of Sales Prospecting
To understand the full potential of LinkedIn prospecting, it makes sense to look back at what came before.
Sales reps used to spend a lot of time on cold calling and cold emailing. We’re talking stone cold here — researching and connecting with potential leads ahead of time usually required yet more time on the phone or networking at events.
Over the past decade, the picture has changed drastically. Many executives and buyers simply don’t respond to unsolicited pitches any more. To get through, you need to find different ways to engage.
Enter LinkedIn. This platform has a powerful search function for finding prospects, and has social features that help you to build a professional relationship. Better still, you can use a tool like Datanyze to do further research on any user.
But how do you translate this opportunity into closed deals? That is where our guiding principles come into play.
10 Key Principles for Prospecting With LinkedIn
No matter what industry you’re working in, there are a few important LinkedIn rules that every salesperson should know. Write these down or save them on your phone — we don’t care how, just make sure you learn them by heart!
1) Engagement Is Key
Like every other social network, LinkedIn was built for engagement. That means likes, comments, recommendations, messages, and more. If you don’t fully utilize these features, you won’t get the best out of this platform.
If you’re wondering how leaving a comment could possibly help you land a deal, think of LinkedIn as a 24/7 virtual networking event. By interacting with other users, you can strike up conversations.
By the time you come to deliver your pitch, your name will be familiar to your target lead.
2) Don’t Be Shy About Connecting
You probably wouldn’t go around Facebook, sending friend requests to interesting strangers. But on LinkedIn, it’s perfectly fine to connect with people who might become your clients.
Remember, LinkedIn is all about digital networking.
When people see your connection request, they may check out your profile and see what you offer. It’s a step towards warming up that first call or email.
3) Make Sure It’s Personal
With both engagement and connection requests, it’s important to keep it personal.
While it might be tempting to put a lifeless “Congrats!” under every positive update and use the default connection message, putting something more personal is likely to yield better results.
If necessary, focus on a smaller number of users and give each one your full attention. It’s better to build a real connection with five key users than to spam the notifications of 50 random people.
4) Use A/B Testing
Even when you are personalizing your connection requests and messages, it is still advisable to use a rough template. Quite apart from saving time, this will allow you to test different approaches and stick with the ones that work.
Most marketers will be familiar with A/B testing — where you trial two variants against each other. When prospecting on LinkedIn, you can use such tests to optimize your engagement templates.
By constantly testing and iterating your messaging, you’re likely to improve your hit rate over time,
5) Share Content Regularly
When you connect with a prospect on LinkedIn, they become your follower. There is a decent chance that they will see your updates, and they may even share your post with their own followers.
Much like leaving a comment, posting an update is a good way to attract the attention of potential leads and build authority within your niche. However, very few people actually take advantage of this opportunity.
According to LinkedIn’s own figures, only about 1% of monthly active users actually share something — but they attract 9 billion impressions.
Simply by posting something a couple of times a week, you instantly put yourself ahead of your competitors. Top tip: use visual content. Posts with images get twice as much engagement as posts without, and videos see 20 times more shares than any other kind of content.
6) Use Personas to Power Your Search
In order to apply the principles mentioned above, you first need to find some potential clients.
LinkedIn has a powerful search function that should make this easy. However, it’s sometimes tricky to track down the exact type of person you need to target.
To avoid frustration, we recommend creating buyer personas before you go looking for leads. For LinkedIn, this could either be an individual or a company.
Think about your ideal client, and try to fill out this checklist:
- What is their title?
- Which groups do they belong to?
For companies, you can also consider the number of employees and type (public or private).
When you start looking for leads, use the information above to narrow down your search.
7) Optimize Your Profile
Just as you might use the search function to find prospects, some of your target customers will be using search to find solutions. Wouldn’t it be convenient if they found your profile first?
As with every other search engine, it’s possible to optimize your LinkedIn profile or page for search. This is a really worthwhile investment of your time, because it creates a passive funnel that delivers qualified leads.
In many respects, the process is a reversal of creating your buyer persona. Instead of thinking about what clients have on their profile, you need to think about what they are searching for.
Here are a few key tips:
- Use a professional headshot as your profile photo
- Use your headline for a snappy value proposition
- Include keywords in your headline and summary
- Write your About section like a landing page with CTAs
- On your personal profile, make sure to fill out the Skills section
- Post regular updates
8) Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
You can reap many rewards from using the free and open features of LinkedIn. But if you’re planning to use this platform as a prospecting tool, it might be worth paying for a Premium upgrade.
This unlocks LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which comes with a number of benefits. These include:
- Advanced search
- Recommended leads based on custom filters
- Unrestricted InMail
- Keyword search for groups and posted content
- Tag-based organization
While you can probably do without the $65 upgrade for a while, it’s usually worth investing if you’re planning to do prospecting with LinkedIn.
9) Play the Long Game
Building a genuine connection with anyone, even if you have mutual interests, is not an overnight process. It takes a little time for the other person to feel familiar and the trust to grow. Both are an essential part of warming up prospects.
For this reason, it’s always worth playing the long game when you make connections on LinkedIn. Some people make the mistake of pitching instantly. This might work occasionally, but you may scare away some clients as well.
If you pick the right targets, staying patient and working on building that professional relationship is usually the better option.
10) Spend Your Time on the Most Promising Leads
Another common mistake made by sales reps on LinkedIn is spreading their net too wide.
The usual consequence is spreading yourself too thinly, so that some of your time is wasted on unlikely buyers. Worse still, your ideal clients get less of your attention.
When you go prospecting with LinkedIn, focus on quality over quantity of leads. If a profile hits all the right notes, invest time in getting to know that lead.
Prospecting With LinkedIn and Datanyze
Follow the principles mentioned above, and you should see a strong flow of leads coming your way in the near future.
If you want to make the process even more efficient, you might want to use a tool like Datanyze. Our free Chrome extension lets you easily find a direct email address and phone number for any LinkedIn user.
With a click, the extension also provides valuable intel — such as the size of the company your contact is working for. We’re adding many more features soon.
Sign up free today to give it a try for yourself.