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Powerful LinkedIn Prospecting: The 4 Dos and the 4 Don’ts

50% of salespeople are using LinkedIn to beat sales quota. Social selling is the new name of the game.

In fact, 90% of C-level executives ignore cold calls altogether, especially since 84% prefer consulting social media before making purchasing decisions. As a result, cold calling to fill your pipeline is on its last legs.

On the flip side, three-quarters of all sales representatives are not getting any social selling training, and you can see why I wrote this article.

So how do you generate prospects using LinkedIn? And what should we avoid doing on the platform too? So let’s get into some LinkedIn prospecting tips.

What is LinkedIn Prospecting?

LinkedIn prospecting is the process of searching for, identifying, and connecting with LinkedIn users to convert them into new potential customers.

Time and again, we have heard the maxim, “It’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know.” That is true for prospecting on LinkedIn too. People choose to be on LinkedIn to make professional connections, and part of that hunt is being approachable too. This makes LinkedIn the perfect place to find and nurture new potential customers.

But, approaching unsuspecting LinkedIn users and bombarding them with the features of your product won’t work. Instead, researching your prospects on LinkedIn and curating a message that resonates with their interests is a better way to start a conversation.

With over 770 million users worldwide in 2021, it is no surprise that LinkedIn is a forerunner in connecting B2B buyers and sellers. But don’t let the vast numbers ease you out of your responsibilities. According to Forbes, the three golden rules to prospecting better are:

  1. Have a clear message
  2. Establish your credibility
  3. Demonstrate your expertise

Now lets see how we can implement these golden rules with 8 LinkedIn prospecting tips.

The Dos and Don’ts of Sales Prospecting on LinkedIn

Just like all industries, sales prospecting has its own best practices. So let’s go through what works (and doesn’t) when prospecting for new business on LinkedIn. Here are 8 tips when prospecting on LinkedIn.

The Dos

1. Optimize your headline

First impressions matter; there are no two ways about it. They are crucial for your success in sales. When using LinkedIn for sales prospecting, your profile is your first impression. And within your profile, your headline is what sells you. So, how (and why) do we go from this:

Powerful LinkedIn Prospecting: The 4 Dos and the 4 Don'ts

To this:

If you ignore the headline field, LinkedIn won’t leave it blank. Instead, the headline field will revert to your job title and corporation. While that’s not a sin, it does not help you stand out. Generating new sales leads means hooking potential customers, and a captivating headline will help you do just that.

Next, pay attention to your audience. Who is it that you’re trying to reach? And what message would compel them to act? Another consideration? Don’t use technical jargon where your customer won’t resonate with it.

Thirdly, make sure your USPs (unique selling points) are right there at the forefront.

Do you provide a better-quality product than your competition? Then put it in your headline. Please keep it captivating but straightforward enough for your customers to learn about you before they respond to your messages.

To sum it up, you have 120 characters to pitch your prospects. Use them wisely, intently, and resourcefully.

2. Keep posting – and updating – content regularly

Posting content regularly will seem daunting at first. With minimum likes and little to no engagement, it can even seem pointless. But we all have to start somewhere.

Posting aimlessly will accelerate your chances of giving up on the process. So follow these tips from the experts at Forbes to build your consistency.

  • Learn your audience’s content expectations
  • Turn the content into a conversation
  • Post engaging, consistent content
  • Leverage up to date content trends
  • Reciprocate engagement on your content with engagement on your followers

LinkedIn Pulse is the platform’s blogging service. Now, imagine your LinkedIn profile is your resume while your LinkedIn Pulse profile is your cover letter. Creating blog-style content on LinkedIn Pulse can help establish you as an expert as the articles you compose show up with your name.

More content posted on the LinkedIn platform also establishes trust and familiarity, which can exponentially increase your chances of gaining prospects. It can also allow you to show off your technical expertise in a friendlier and more compelling way than your CV-like profile permits.

When creating content for lead generation and LinkedIn prospecting, make sure you’re focusing on a specific target audience and you build relationships with them. You don’t need to invest in a prospecting tool to connect with your decision makers. Relevant content is a strong sales process to turn your audience from potential prospects into an incoming connection request.

3. Use the search option smartly

LinkedIn Search is capable of more than it is given credit for. In addition to searching for names, job descriptions, regions, role titles, and industries, you can also integrate Boolean operators to specify or broaden your search results.

Using operators like Quotation marks, Parentheses, NOT, AND, and OR can help you refine your search and take you faster to where you want to be. Consider the following examples:

  • Let’s say that you want to search for people who have “manager” in their profiles but avoid people who are assistants to managers or senior managers. You can accomplish this by searching for “Manager NOT assistant/senior).”
  • Alternatively, if you want to broaden your search results, you can use the OR operator. Try searching for “person OR company OR product” (to search for any of these keywords).

Also, consider setting up search alerts for recurring searches that you make every week. These search alters will massively speed up your LinkedIn prospecting efforts.

Search for a specific word string and click the Create search alert button. LinkedIn will then share a list of new search results based on that search string right in your notifications panel.

When you search for prospects and then do cold outreach via a LinkedIn search or InMail messages make sure you build relationships before you go for the pitch.

4. Invest in LinkedIn Sales Navigator

While LinkedIn sales navigator is not a small investment, it can help your LinkedIn prospecting efforts.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is similar to LinkedIn Search. But LinkedIn Sales Navigator comes packed with more targeting power. For example, while LinkedIn Search allows you to search for a manager within a company, but LinkedIn Sales Navigator goes further and enables you to search for companies with a specific range of employees. Sales Nav allows you to keep filtering and refining your search until you reach your desired level of specificity.

Once you have a result you are interested in; you can save them as well. The ability to save your LinkedIn searches acts similar to search alerts, and you will be notified of new results adhering to your requirements as and when they are updated. These saved searches and alerts allow you to act faster, find those time-critical sales leads and become more effective at sales prospecting.

The Don’ts

1. Non-personalized LinkedIn messages

While cold calling worked in the past, since then, social anxiety has increased. The result? The increased popularity of text messages – and in our case, LinkedIn prospecting messages. Response rates on text messages are 295% higher than on cold calls. But don’t spam them.

With all the LinkedIn prospecting tools at your disposal, you’re doing it wrong if you are still sending out non-personalized messages. A well-drafted LinkedIn message is your most valuable weapon, second only to a fully established profile. And sending out a templated message with just a personalized introduction is not enough either. Depending on your sales strategy, it might serve you well to customize the body of your message according to the individual requirements and interests of the recipient.

That does not mean to draft long stories referring to their problem and how your product can help solve it. Your best bet? Aim to craft a clever yet subtle message that piques their interest and makes them want to know more. You can then set up a follow-up call to turn the warm lead into a hot sale.

2. Forgetting the sales you’ve already made

Not adding – or at least inviting – your current customers to your LinkedIn network is a schoolboy error. These customers can add to your credibility by giving recommendations, testimonials and increase your reach exponentially by providing you with quality referrals.

While your current customers may not want to refer you directly, you can still leverage their reach and connections when connected with them on LinkedIn.

3. Overdoing it

Keep it original. Plain and simple. Especially if you don’t want your account to be restricted, yes, you read that right. LinkedIn has the authority to suspend accounts or even ban users they deem unfit to be on the platform.

While LinkedIn automation may make your life easier, LinkedIn is smart enough to realize when taking non-human actions. For instance, automating your profile to send out connection requests in the order of hundreds per day will get your account banned. Other examples of lousy automation include visiting a vast number of pages very quickly and generating artificial engagement.

Even without automation, you can still get your account banned with your actions. For instance, sending out too many connection requests to people you do not know will cause LinkedIn to assume that you’re using automation tools.

4. Not using – or misusing – LinkedIn groups

Joining LinkedIn groups gives you an avenue to reach prospects with similar interests as your ideal buyer persona.

Even more important than connecting with like-minded people is standing out as an expert in your field. While there are thousands of sales reps on LinkedIn, you can showcase your expertise in your niche by joining and adding value within relevant groups.

What’s worse than not being a part of LinkedIn Groups? Joining groups and then misusing them. Don’t treat LinkedIn groups like an opportunity to shove pitches down the throats of your potential buyers. Instead, play it strategically and narrow down the groups you can be an active member of. Then slowly increase your influence as an authority within the group.

Conclusion

Social selling on LinkedIn is here to stay. While social selling may seem daunting at first, knowing your way around it helps establish authority, cultivate trust, and generate sales. And that, in the end, is what we’re after, right?

So personalize each connection request. Leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator for your lead generation. Avoid any LinkedIn prospecting tools that don’t help you get in front of your target audience. And start generating sales from all of those gold mine LinkedIn profiles.

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