How to use LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting
LinkedIn has gotten really popular, which is awesome. People have meaningful discussions and getting advice is now easier than ever. With great popularity comes great opportunity for salespeople.
There is just one problem…
Yeah, we have all gotten those scammy direct messages that make us question every connection request we get.
2-3 years ago you could get away with a connection request and sending a followup messaging to try and book a meeting. But, times have changed and your strategy needs to change as well.
In this guide, we will discuss how you can leverage the power and popularity of LinkedIn WITHOUT being super scammy (many SDRs don’t even realize they’re doing anything wrong).
Here are the main topics we will cover.
- What you should be using LinkedIn for.
- Who your target REALLY is…
- How to provide value.
- Identifying and responding to triggers.
- Sell without “selling.”
- The purpose behind the interaction.
Let’s dive right in!
How should I be using LinkedIn?
There is a classic debate about LinkedIn that I will NOT try and squash here. The debate is simple, should you be actively selling on LinkedIn or should you be engaging with prospective customers?
Here is how I think of it personally.
LinkedIn is a great way to grab the attention of your buyer and engage them in conversation.
It is NOT a great place to pitch your solution out of nowhere.
The ladder is a strategy that is running rampant and it can work but it’s short-sighted. Here’s why.
In the world of B2B sales timing is everything. There are multiple estimates that say only 3% of your target market is ready to buy now. So what does that mean?
If you message a pitch to a prospect, 97% of the time they won’t be ready. And guess what happens when you reach out again?
They aren't going to be ready.
You get the point.
What results is a LinkedIn mailbox that’s a graveyard of unsuccessful, automates, thoughtless pitches.
So here is my simple 4 step framework for using LinkedIn for prospecting.
- Create content regularly about the industry you are selling into.
- Get your coworkers to like/comment as soon as you post it (the almighty algorithm likes this).
- Engage with people in the industry you serve through comments.
- Direct message potential customers to spark a conversation, not a sales pitch.
Who should I be targeting on LinkedIn?
Having success with prospecting on LinkedIn requires you to build an audience that’s both relevant and engaged. Those two things are typically related, the more relevant your content is the more engaged your audience will be.
Engagement is important because that’s how you get visibility. The more engaged your audience is the more LinkedIn will show your content to other users.
However, there is one problem.
Often times the person who is responsible for deciding to purchase your solution is not highly engaged on LinkedIn. They may lurk from time to time but that doesn’t help you as much as them engaging with your content via comments and reactions.
How do you solve this problem?
Build an audience of both the decision-makers as well as the end-users.
As an example, let’s say you sell a marketing automation tool to Chief Marketing Officers. Here is exactly how I would use LinkedIn.
- 80% of connections requests are to Marketing Managers and 20% are CMOs.
- Write posts and create videos that provide value to Marketing Managers.
- Engage with Marketing Managers via comments and DMs without any sales intent.
- Message the CMOs with the intent to engage in a conversation and validate a need.
- If there is a need… book that meeting!
How to make content for LinkedIn
Now that you agree that you should be providing value to your audience in the form of content, let’s discuss how to make that content. Creating high-quality content requires a large time investment. It also requires expertise in a specific industry.
How do you get around that?
Here are some ideas for you to start with.
- Interview the CEO of your company asking their opinion on something that the end-users of your solution will care about (DO NOT make it a sales pitch).
- Write LinkedIn posts about recent discussions you saw between the users and give your thoughts.
- Ask questions that the end-users will answer.
- Summarize industry podcasts.
Get creative and add value!
How to use triggers to effectively prospect on LinkedIn
LinkedIn can be a great way to identify when there is an opportunity to buy or at the very least, put yourself on the radar of the decision-maker. These opportunities are called “triggers” and it's important that you tune your eye to spotting these.
What is a trigger?
Triggers are things that happen that should trigger you to take some kind of action. For example, if a decision-maker posts or comments something.
If you are using LinkedIn Sales Navigator they show this on the home dashboard, making it easy to see.
If you are not using Sales Navigator you will have to rely on the LinkedIn algorithm and manually checking your prospect’s activity feed.
What to do when you see a trigger?
What you do when you see a trigger is directly related to what activity the decision-maker has taken. Here are some common activities and how I suggest responding to them.
Makes a post
- Post a comment adding relevant value and engage in conversation.
Likes a post
- Connect with the poster and start adding value and engaging with their content.
- Email the decision-maker with “I saw you liked NAME’s post about TOPIC. [Insert your opinion].” This should be the first sentence before the rest of your email.
Comments on a post
- Reply to their comment by adding value and engage in conversation.
- Email the decision-maker with “I loved your comment on NAME’s post about TOPIC. [Insert your opinion].” This should be the first sentence before the rest of your email.
Do you notice a common theme here?
VALUE and ENGAGEMENT.
To have the most positive impact on your prospects you should be providing value regularly and engaging with them. Remember, you are playing the long game here, this requires you to build a reputation.
Action Step: Every morning for 10 minutes, check your LinkedIn activity feed and respond to triggers.
Using LinkedIn without coming across “spammy”
When prospecting you will most certainly find yourself in a situation where you will want to try and book a meeting through LinkedIn. After all, isn't that why your company is paying for Sales Navigator?
Here is the deal.
You should 100% be using LinkedIn to schedule meetings with decision makers. You just need to not be a weirdo about it. There are two things I suggest you do to avoid coming across “spammy”
Tip #1 - Provide Value
Consistent with the entire theme of this article, you should be providing value on LinkedIn. That way, when you reach out, the decision-maker is already familiar with you.
Tip #2 - Ask Questions
The biggest mistake I see from SDRs who use LinkedIn for prospecting is they ask for a meeting immediately. Ask the prospect an engaging question to spark a conversation. Once you identify a need, ask for the meeting.
How to use interaction to drive inbound leads through LinkedIn
In order to get users on LinkedIn to start coming to YOU for a solution to their problems, you must first build your brand. LinkedIn is not cohesive with a quick win strategy because you can’t reach the volume needed to achieve meetings quickly. Sending out 30 InMail’s a month is not going to move the needle. You MUST engage with your prospects and you must build a professional brand that relevant to the industry you serve.