Today, most salespeople prefer LinkedIn for sales prospecting. According to research, sales teams around the globe find this platform critical for closing deals. But starting on such a vast platform can be difficult without the right strategies. So here’s this blog helping you out to ramp up your lead generation efforts.
LinkedIn prospecting or LinkedIn sales prospecting is a sales activity focused on turning a prospect into an opportunity. Its end goal is to sell your products, services, experience or something else to your potential customers. This method is equivalent to cold calling where you need to make use of the best practices combined with the right tools to expand your reach and bring in high-quality leads automatically.
However, prospecting on LinkedIn takes time. It requires careful inspection of every prospect that has the potential to be your customer or a buyer of your services or products. Initially, when LinkedIn was a new platform, prospecting did not take so much time since the market was not so complicated. Over time, as the market turned more and more complicated and competitive, the time required for prospecting increased. The reason behind this is the way in which businesses and organizations today discover newer vendors and eventually study their methods and finally qualify them as prospects and then potential customers.
Once you master these methods of prospecting on LinkedIn, you can manage the time required. Moreover, you can find better prospects and study them carefully to convert them into potential buyers, thus helping your organization either way.
Initially, sales prospecting was known as cold calling where the organization exposed themselves to sell their products or services and attract the prospects to be their buyers. But today, sales prospecting is more of a strategic step to expand your business rather than just attracting customers. And, an online platform like LinkedIn has opened doors to efficient B2B sales and marketing where sales prospecting holds the key and is expected to flourish the online sales market significantly in the coming years.
What is LinkedIn Sales Prospecting?
LinkedIn prospecting is a sales method that B2B and B2C salespeople and marketers use to find prospects over the LinkedIn platform that are ready to have ideas proposed to them and be potential clients. It is an effective method to identify your ideal clients and build authentic relationships. In short, you get to uncover sales leads that can benefit from your service offerings with an aim to turn them into your loyal customers. As compared to cold calling, this process is less intrusive and a lot more effective.
The launch of LinkedIn has changed how people approached B2B sales. With the concept of sales prospecting gaining momentum, nearly 51% of B2B buyers have extensively started using LinkedIn as a platform to move ahead, proving how impactful this platform has been. Again, the recommendations provided by LinkedIn has proved instrumental in organizations finding positive leads or prospects and converting them to impactful clients, enabling them to boost their position in the market and increase profit levels by a significant margin.
Things You Should Avoid While Prospecting on LinkedIn
People often make mistakes while running prospecting campaigns on LinkedIn. This hinders their performance as well as the number of prospects they find and convert them into buyers. So here is a list of the various mistakes that one should avoid while prospecting on LinkedIn:
Using the same old methods and templates to reach people is no more a very bright idea. It may happen that the person you are trying to connect with has seen the outreach template idea a hundred times before you have sent it. This instills an idea of unnecessary continuity and may put the other person off who you thought can be a prospect and eventually a client.
You need to show some intent as well as interest in the method with which you approach these prospects to attract them and churn their interest. You should put forward your messages in the following manner.
You should be authentic in your ways of sending messages. Study your prospects’ profiles carefully and idealize those points through your message. This conveys your interest and eagerness and the prospect would automatically be interested to connect with you.
Personalization is key while you are pitching some business ideas to a potential buyer. By this, we mean to pick up or highlight a significant point from the prospects’ profile. This can be any particular post or article. This elucidates the fact that you have taken some time to read the prospects’ profiles and are appreciating the smallest of points to attract them. Bang! Automatic connection yet again.
This is a point that most people miss and is also a missed opportunity for a great deal break. If you have something to offer to your prospects in terms of service or products that can be valuable to them, never hesitate to declare it to them. This would smoothen the process of connection and would make the entire process transparent.
Missing Out on Personalization
Using LinkedIn automation is a great idea to connect with people as well as prospects. It saves you a lot of time and effort and streamlines the overall process of connecting with people. But LinkedIn automation uses the following method of personalizing the messages for all cases:
- Dynamic Placeholder- A special personalization tag used to mention some particular or unique information.
While LinkedIn automation uses this method of personalization for all its custom messages, it can be monotonous for many. If this structure is seen several times, the chances of connection can go down significantly.
Instead, you can use the following points for sending personalized connection requests. It would enhance your ability of making connections and would also increase the chances significantly:
- Mention a particular geographic location with the person you are connecting. This breaks a regional barrier and shows how open you are working within the mentioned area.
- Share something for free that you have created. It can be any article, PDF, e-book or a case study to show your interest in that particular prospect. It will also indicate how you value the client.
- Use hyper-personalization to its maximum. These are some specific advanced personalization hacks that use different methods of customizing your messages like keeping track of customer preferences based on real-time data and artificial intelligence. This makes your message look more attractive, leading to better connection as well as lead generation.
Missing Out on Content
If you are not creating enough content to reach your prospects, you are missing out on potential opportunities. You need to create industry-specific content and something that can attract prospects to connect with you. Here are some interesting points for content creation that you can use.
- Create content that is long as well as explanative. Avoid too much boredom in these contents. Instead, highlight exciting points for maximum reach.
- Post content that is industry-specific. Never divert away from the main point you are trying to highlight. Instead, use terms that keep you on track and in sync with the industry happenings.
- Post exciting videos as well as presentations to make your content visually appealing. This creates a sense of attraction and also portrays the efforts you have put into curating your profile.
- LinkedIn groups are a great way of engaging with people, let alone prospects and potential clients. They are an open world of opportunities to connect with like-minded people. It also provides great news and updates on the stuff going on in a particular industry.
Having a Bland Profile
When you send a connection message, the prospect initially checks your profile and tries to find points that are solid enough to apply as a worthy connector. Your first impression matters and plays a big role while connecting on LinkedIn. Hence, make sure you have a properly personalized profile that tells everything about you to the prospect and also provides enough reasons to accept your connection request.
Here are some points that you should take note of:
Profile Photo and Banner Photo
Both the profile photo and banner photo are crucial to show who you are. Ideally, you should have your photo in the profile photo section to make it look professional. Even if you choose not to use your photo in the banner photo section, you can upload custom pictures from the internet that are related your title and it will still look professional.
Try to use a solid as well as an intriguing tagline. Your tagline shows the first-hand benefits of connecting with you, where you can put forward your ideas as well as pitch the proper deal. An engaging tagline also provides enough bases for the prospect to connect with you.
The LinkedIn summary holds all your past work experiences as well as job titles. Consider keeping it short and simple while covering everything. You can also add your general life experiences to divert a bit from the professional side and open up to the prospect for better results.
Ignoring the Best Practices
This is one of those grave mistakes that most people make while LinkedIn prospecting. If you do not follow the best practices or even the basic rules, LinkedIn can suspend or even ban your account completely. Here are some reasons why your account can be suspended by LinkedIn:
- Spamming other users with excess connection requests, thus violating the social etiquette.
- If you have an excessively low acceptance rate against the connection requests you send to other users.
- Your account can also be suspended if you use non-verified and risky LinkedIn automation tools. LinkedIn uses a special algorithm to detect these automation tools and if found that they violate the basic laws, your account is at a huge risk.
- LinkedIn algorithms can also detect illegal usage of the account and hence it can be suspended or banned completely.
Hence it is highly advisable that you use verified and honest ways to connect with other users on the LinkedIn platform. Use the proper techniques of prospecting as well as decent ways to connect and you are completely safe from unwanted actions that LinkedIn takes.
15 Best Practices for LinkedIn Sales Prospecting
Since LinkedIn is an exclusive platform for sales outreach and B2B marketing strategies, prospecting is quite helpful to boost your business with high quality lead generation. Nearly a half of the consumer base uses LinkedIn to make decisions while purchasing and hence using this platform to pitch your sales ideas can bring a lot of success.
To make the most out of LinkedIn prospecting, you need to follow certain practices that accelerate the process and increase the chances of success by a huge margin. So here are some of the best practices for prospecting on LinkedIn.
1. Optimize your Profile
Like you would want a prospects’ profile to be neat and specific, containing valuable information, another person who is viewing your profile would also want the same. For a successful connection request, the prospect would want to study your profile to move ahead with the deal. This is where you need a polished profile that contains all the necessary information alongside all the required data to seal the deal. Avoid listing your skills and services in a generic way. Frame it uniquely so that the prospects’ thoughts are churned to move ahead with the deal.
Here are some steps that you can take to ensure a well polished LinkedIn profile:
The first thing that users notice about your profile is the profile photo and the banner photo. Skip the fancy pictures. Instead, opt for the ones that show your face. It gives a professional touch to the whole profile and increases your reach by stamping an essence of trust and authenticity.
Have an Impactful Headline
Headlines are the first step towards describing your job profile. Have a short yet impactful headline whereby you explain the job title and other important information in short. Use professional language to describe the information. You can also use industry-centric terms to explain the present data.
Present through your Bio
As per the recommendations of the LinkedIn experts, four points should be very clear through your bio, though they should not be very explanative or long.
- Mention the things you are passionate about.
- Mention the reasons that have brought you to be a part of the business or the organization.
- Mention your current job role, precisely explaining the tasks you do for the company’s benefit.
- Mention the services or products your company provides to its customers.
To expand your profile’s reach, update it regularly with content that is authentic as well as attractive. Think about how your prospect can approach you and answer those particular questions in your profile to maintain originality.
Share Engaging Content
Your profile is a very powerful way to present yourself to others. One way you can enhance this power is by sharing engaging and informative content. However, there are times, when you may run out of proper content. In that case, you can always share relevant content available at various groups or from your connections on LinkedIn. This creates a mutual reach system between both parties.
Turn Off Unnecessary Settings
LinkedIn automatically turns on a setting that disables your name when you visit your prospects’ or any other users’ profiles. While you turn off this setting, your name appears on every profile you visit thus increasing the connection outreach.
Carefully Request Endorsements
Endorsements are quite important to build your profile. But avoid spamming every account asking for endorsements. This can lead to suspension or ban of the account. Instead, rely on building relationships first and then asking for valuable endorsements.
2. Polish your LinkedIn Pulse Profile
LinkedIn Pulse is one of those content publishing platforms maintained by LinkedIn and open to its users. It is kind of an internal blog within the social network itself that lets you post articles or contents that get automatically displayed on your profile. This makes your profile more attractive and intellectual, displaying a professional side of your profile to the prospects viewing your profile.
3. Consider the Premium Version
Honestly, taking the premium version of LinkedIn would be a great decision, a decision you would never regret. It opens a plethora of options to choose from where each has its benefits including
Users who are into core prospecting should consider having the premium version of LinkedIn to have a smoother and expanded experience on this platform.
4. Have a Proper Method of Outreach
If you are a person who is serious about collecting prospects and turning them into potential clients, you should devise a master plan to have a successful outreach. You would need a step-by-step process for healthy prospecting and developing your business for the good.
Here is a quick explanation of five important steps that are part of a properly devised outreach plan and can help you put forward your ideas better and seal the deal.
- Find the right group of prospects who you feel is appropriate to expand your business. These people should prove their loyalty and long-term involvement.
- Try to connect with the people you have shortlisted for an appropriate go-ahead. Connecting is crucial to match with the level of professionalism as well as to pitch ideas.
- Engage with these people through different topics. This ensures that both of you are on the same level and have a proper connection to go forward with a deal.
- After a proper engagement with the targeted person, build a professional relationship that can help you to pitch your ideas better and smoother.
- Finally, after pitching your ideas successfully, convert them from prospects to potential clients or buyers for the organization or business you work for.
5. Use "Search" to the Maximum
LinkedIn provides all sorts of advanced tools for searching to some extent even without the premium version. Though at one point it limits the number of searches, you can still make full use of it with all the advanced tools and filters. One of the most exciting features is the Boolean search. It enables you to have a more advanced as well as streamlined search. If combined along with other available filters, your results would be even more to-the-point, helping you to prospect better.
6. Make Use of the "Search Alert"
The LinkedIn “Search Alert” is yet another powerful feature that you can set up to have proper search results based on all the criteria you provide. This also helps to have more specific result tabulation along with timely notifications. These notifications arrive every time LinkedIn detects a profile based on the criteria you have selected and alerts you.
7. Anchorage the "Alumni Search" Option
The “Alumni Search” is a powerful LinkedIn search tool that enables you to search from a pool of users with whom you do not have a direct connection but share certain aspects in the professional field. If there is a specific aspect that is common between you and that other person or prospect, creating a healthy and professional relationship would be much easier. You would also be open to other connections as well as on a mutual basis through the prospects’ sources.
8. Reach to your Profile Viewers
Once you launch your prospecting outreach campaign, you can record an increased number of viewers who have visited your profile to check out the information. These can be random people who do not even act as prospects for your particular pitch. But there is no harm at all to reach out to these people with your sales pitch as you may never know that some of them may be your potential clients that can help you develop the business.
9. Leverage the Use of "People Also Viewed"
The “People Also Viewed” option on LinkedIn is LinkedIn’s very own recommendation feature. The chances of these people being prospects are low but there can be profiles that can help you indirectly to boost your profile. They can also be potential competitors from whom you can take tips to enhance your pitch, your ideas as well as present yourself through your profile.
10. Be a Part of the Various Groups
There are several types of groups present on LinkedIn. These groups can be immensely helpful while building connections, getting ideas, sharing information, and most importantly, collecting prospects. But before joining any group, you should always study how these groups work. While most of them are complex to join and stay in, many groups are having people that have more or less similar ideas along with similar goals.
If you manage to join a group as per your professional needs, always be free and open. Communicate openly without expecting anything from the members. Share important information, content as well as ideas. Once you start building the trust and reputation within the group, you will be on top of it in no time and will also have a lot of unexpected help from the other members.
11. Make Wise Use of InMail
InMail is a powerful tool provided by LinkedIn. It is a feature that enables the user to send emails within the LinkedIn application. But it has a strict set of etiquettes and rules that every InMail user should follow to use the feature smoothly. The biggest sin that most users commit while using InMail is by spamming every other user with the same connection message or a message that explains your pitch for the product or service. You need to be immensely strategic, honest, and polite while sending emails through InMail to have proper replies and results.
12. Take the Help of a CRM
A CRM or Customer Relationship Management system is quite helpful after you are a known profile throughout the LinkedIn platform and have started receiving bulk connections from prospects. In that case, CRM helps you to integrate these requests and reach them systematically and makes sure that none of them goes missing.
In most cases, using a CRM needs a LinkedIn Sales Navigator account which is more of a premium feature. While you receive bulk connection requests from prospects, consider opting for a premium account and manage the requests through a CRM. If not, you will have to do everything manually, which is quite a tedious task but not impossible. If controlled manually, chances of missing out on valuable prospects are high.
13. Consider Taking External Technological Help
At one point in time, you would want to get out of the tedious routine of LinkedIn and try to automate processes or at least try to smoothen proceedings a bit. In that scenario, there are thousands of external LinkedIn tools available online that you can use to streamline the regular processes and help with efficient result obtaining.
But don’t forget to check all the LinkedIn regulations regarding these third-party, external tools. LinkedIn has a strict circular of regulations regarding these tools and automating every process can lead to severe actions taken against your profile. Consider using smaller tools that automate insignificant features, which comply with the LinkedIn regulations.
14. Use the Voice Message Feature
The voice message feature is one of the newest features added to LinkedIn. It is a great and effective way to communicate with people, although sales executives avoid using this feature. It is one of those standout features that make your efforts look unique.
One of the LinkedIn experts described a “10-30-10” method of sending these voice notes whereby a total of 60 seconds are allocated for each voice message. The “10-30-10” method is described as follows:
- 10- Use personalization as the weapon in the first 10 seconds of the voice message where you describe yourself and the way you have understood the prospect.
- 30- Use the next 30 seconds to introduce your pitch to the prospect. Describe how every organization has been benefiting from the particular pitch and how it can help them too to grow and develop in a very short span.
- 10- Use the final 10 seconds to approach the prospect for a CTA or Call to Action. This is the segment where you allow the prospect to come back to you by taking some sort of action.
Check for the “listens receipt” option available to know if they had listened to it. Ideally, use the follow-up message after 2-3 days for proper and smooth processing.
15. Use the Right Prospecting Tools
This is by far one of the most important prospecting best practices that you need to follow to have a successful prospecting campaign to attract the maximum number of prospects and converting them into potential clients. There are two types of prospecting tools that you can use to make the process easier and more productive.
- Chrome Extension Tools- These are mostly free and can be easily used. The only problem is they have a lot of restrictions from LinkedIn itself.
- Cloud-based Tools- These are downloadable from the cloud. Some of them are paid while some are free services. These have minimal to no restrictions from LinkedIn and can be used more effectively for better results.
Like always, LinkedIn is a powerful platform for B2B sales and marketing since there is an open option to connect with millions of users who either share a similar thought process as yours or have an interest in pitching various sales ideas. Prospecting with LinkedIn will help you get a number of other users and potential clients who are waiting for ingenious sales ideas to have a development on both sides. Make sure to use it wisely and in compliance with all the terms and conditions set by LinkedIn to avoid any strict actions against your account. Also, keep in mind to follow the best practices for a successful prospecting campaign alongside obtaining the richest results that are solely aimed for you and your business’s growth and overall development.