15 Best Practices for Using LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting

I’ve been in sales consulting as a Trainer and Coach for more than 20 years, and have trained more than 20,000 top executives in multiple countries. My mission is simple: to help salespeople make more revenue and profit with the help of the newest technology. 

My social selling index score, a tool that measures an individual’s capability of selling a brand or product through social channels, is 76 and I rank in the top 1% of the marketing & advertising industry. You can find your SSI here – it’s a fantastic benchmark to see how you’re doing. 

It looks like this: 

I use LinkedIn all the time for prospecting and making sales. Today, we’ll look at 15 best practices that will help you with your LinkedIn sales prospecting. 

Let’s get started! 

1. Get The Basics Right

Before you can succeed with selling on LinkedIn, you need to optimize your LinkedIn profile. This means making sure every section is filled in and that you’re using the right keywords for the people you want to attract. You’ll need suitable images, a customized URL, a great summary, and fully completed skills and experience sections. Check out Lempod’s checklist to ensure you’ve covered everything. 

Once your profile is filled in, it’s time to start connecting and engaging with your audience. This means consistently showing up on the platform, writing great content, engaging with other people’s content, and being an authentic presence. LinkedIn selling is about relationship building first, so don’t start trying to sell to people straight away. That comes later. 

Once your profile is fully optimized and you’ve developed your presence on the platform, it’s time to start finding prospects

2. Make the Most Out of Sales Navigator

When it comes to LinkedIn sales prospecting, Sales Navigator is an invaluable tool. Sales Navigator is a LinkedIn-based social selling platform that provides numerous features geared towards helping you to find and reach out to prospects on LinkedIn. It costs from $64.99 per month, but a 30-day free trial is available to see if you like it before you commit. 

Here are a few top tips to help you get the most out of Sales Navigator:

  • Select one of your existing clients and use the “show similar” button to find similar people. 
  • Check out who has viewed your profile. If they’ve looked at your page, chances are they are interested in something you offer. You can then send a friendly outreach message. 
  • Use the “posted content keywords” filter to find relevant content posted by people within your target audience. 

For more tips on how to use LinkedIn for sales leads using Sales Navigator, check out Expandi’s exhaustive guidance, which is a brilliant resource whether you’re new to Sales Navigator or just want to get more out of it. 

3. Craft the Perfect Linkedin Connect message

Once you’ve identified a potential LinkedIn prospect, you’ll need to reach out to them. This usually means sending a connection request along with a message. But the perfect cold message is an art, and you’ll need to get it right if you want people to respond positively. 

Here’s one of the best social selling tips I ever received: it’s not about you. Read that again. It’s not about you! Your first message must focus on the prospect and their interests and needs first. They don’t know you, so you need to grab their attention long enough to make them care and want to talk to you. 

Here’s the approximate anatomy of a great prospecting message: 

  1. Open with a friendly greeting that uses their name 
  2. Let them know why you’re contacting them specifically. Did they say something in an article that resonated with you? Do you love a recent project they worked on? Do you do similar roles? This is all about establishing rapport and common ground. 
  3. Tell them – briefly – who you are and what you do. One or two sentences, maximum. 
  4. State why you’d like to connect with them. Again, be specific here. There is no room for a one-size-fits-all in prospecting. 
  5. End with a friendly sign-off. 

When it comes to LinkedIn prospecting messages, less is often more. Keep it short, concise, and friendly. Oh, and break up your paragraphs – no-one likes a wall of text! 

Here is an example of a great connection message for a business prospect:

Hello [Name],

I’ve followed the work you’ve done with [company] for a while, and I found it really impressive to know how [career highlight].

I have experience working with companies like yours and have helped them [example of what your solution does]. I would love to discuss a potential collaboration. Are you available for a quick call next Tuesday?

[Signature]

4. Build Authority with topic-focused Content

Effective LinkedIn sales prospecting is all about getting people to trust you. And a big part of that is about building authority. Authority proves to your audience that you have a wealth of knowledge and know what you’re talking about. In other words, you establish yourself as a credible thought leader in your industry. 

By far the best way to build authority is to write and post long-form, topic-focused content. Did you know that 82% of customers engage with at least five pieces of content before they decide to buy from a brand?

Building authority with content means that you need to offer real value in the form of quality insights, actionable tips, and in-depth information. You also need to do it consistently. Posting just one or two articles won’t cut it! 

You’ll also need to use the right types of posts. According to Lempod, posts with GIFs performed particularly well in a test they ran on LinkedIn. You should also make use of images, video content, and PDF resources alongside text. People are visual creatures and content with visuals typically receives higher levels of engagement. 

Here are my top hacks for creating awesome topic-focused content on LinkedIn:

  • Create a mixture of timely and evergreen content. 
  • Check and triple-check your spelling and grammar. 
  • Go detailed! You should be doing deep-dives into a topic, not sticking with surface-level information. 
  • Ask your audience what they want to hear from you about. 
  • Stick with it! 

Example of a LinkedIn Post with Image:

5. Get the Email Address Behind any Business Profile

Though it’s okay to use the inbuilt messaging system for your first LinkedIn prospecting messages, you should take things to email as quickly as possible. The humble email address is your most powerful tool when it comes to connecting with and staying in touch with prospects. 

Fortunately, Aeroleads is here to help you. Its fantastic prospecting software helps you find the email address and phone number of any business or person connected with that business. 

Simply sign up for Aeroleads (there’s a free trial if you want to check it out before you buy), install the Chrome plugin, and add prospects directly from LinkedIn. 

6. Use Linkedin Ads and Reach More Relevant Audiences

LinkedIn has the best organic reach of all the major social media platforms. But there is likely to come a time when organic reach isn’t enough and you want to reach a broader, more qualified audience more quickly. Enter LinkedIn ads. LinkedIn ads are particularly popular with B2B salespeople, with 89% using LinkedIn for B2B sales and 62% saying it effectively generates leads. 

LinkedIn ads are highly targeted. You can refine your audience by factors including job title, company size, degree qualification, seniority level, and much more. You can also add images and video to your ads along with text to boost engagement. 

Here are my top tips for LinkedIn sales prospecting using the platform’s ads function:

  • Start with sponsored posts, which are low-risk and high-reach. Move on to sponsored messaging – which delivers targeted ads directly to your audience’s LinkedIn inboxes – later. 
  • Make sure you’re absolutely clear on your goals before you get started. If you don’t know your aims, you can’t hope to reach them. 
  • Measure your click-through rate and conversion rate at every stage. 
  • Make sure your copy is truly amazing! It must grab the reader’s attention and make them want to know more immediately. 

7. Use Account-Based Marketing on LinkedIn

Account-based marketing is based on directing marketing resources at targeting a specific set of accounts. In other words, identifying key prospects and tailoring messaging to them specifically to maximize sales closures. 

On LinkedIn, this means choosing specific people to engage and using highly targeted content to reach them. Here are three tips to help you do that: 

  • Choose your highest quality prospects, segment them, and upload them to LinkedIn. You can then use the Matched Audiences tool to deliver specific, focused ad content. 
  • Integrate your CRM system with LinkedIn. If your CRM and LinkedIn talk to each other, you’ll have even more data to help you target the right accounts.
  • Try things out and use A/B testing to see which types of content work best. 

Source: Eduard Klein

8. Automate your Sales Process

Once you start utilizing best practices in LinkedIn prospecting, you’re likely to see new leads rolling in at an increased rate. That’s when it’s a good idea to automate your sales process as much as possible. 

Sales automation allows you to streamline time-consuming tasks and let the software take them off your hands. Aspects like list building, lead qualification, and email marketing can easily be automated. You’ll be amazed at how much time you can save and how much more efficient your business will be as a result. 

Here are some of my favourite automation tools you might want to check out:

  • LeadFuze for lead generation
  • Livespace, a CRM with lead scoring and qualification capabilities
  • Harmonizely for scheduling meetings and appointments

Even things that can’t be completely automated, such as phone calls from your sales team, can be streamlined with the right LinkedIn prospecting scripts for them to use.

You can also leverage LinkedIn automation tools with the appropriate software. Expandi.io is the safest, with standout features like webhooks, smart inbox,  and image personalization.

9. Connect LinkedIn with Your Email Outreach Tool

Once you’ve started identifying prospects on LinkedIn and gathering their email addresses, it’s time to connect the platform with your email marketing tool. This will allow you to send automated email campaigns to your LinkedIn contacts quickly and easily. 

Lemlist is a fantastic tool to automate your cold outreach email sequences.

Once your found your email addresses with Aeroleads, import them by CSV to Lemlist and let the tool do the heavy lifting. 

What I really love with lemlist is that you can use deep personalization of your emails at scale with their liquid & spin syntax. For every recipient, it generates a personal version of your generic email outreach. It’s all automated, but your recipients won’t notice that.

(Source)

10. Leverage Hyper Personalization with LinkedIn and Double Your Response Rate

Expandi, a company providing LinkedIn automation software, ran a campaign in which it leveraged hyper personalized GIFs such as this one during LinkedIn prospecting

(Source)

Did it work? Yes! Expandi achieved a 72% acceptance rate and a 40% reply rate for this particular campaign. 

The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than plain text, and 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual. 65% of the human population are visual learners. In other words, if you send them a personalized image, your prospects are far more likely to remember you and think favorably about you! 

When something moves, we are hardwired to notice movement and pay close attention to it. (try not to follow the movement of the animated gif 😀 ) 

For image personalization & animated GIF personalization you can use Hyperise, a hyper personalization tool that allows images to be personalized with enriched data, dynamically on the fly and at scale. 

You can also use hyper personalized images and GIFs in your LinkedIn sales prospecting. Here’s one way I use hyper personalization. Given the pandemic and the fact that I often serve clients all over the world, I often can’t meet my prospects face to face. Instead, I invite them to virtual coffee with me using this image:

Source: Hyperise

It looks magic, but the process is pretty simple. You just need to create a template with your photo and add your name and the placeholder for your personalization. I use a handwriting font, so it looks like I painted the name on my mug by hand. 

The software later replaces the placeholder with the first name of the recipient.

Source: Hyperise

You can also use the recipient’s company logo or profile image to catch their attention. 

It’s simple and quick, but it works beautifully. Why? Because it makes the prospect feel special. The best way to reach out on LinkedIn for sales is to reach out to a specific person, not a generic idea of a customer or client. 

11. 10x LinkedIn Post Views With Likes From Other LinkedIn Content Makers

One of the reasons LinkedIn has amazing organic reach is that when a user likes or interacts with a piece of content, others in their network will see it on their feed. So if you want to leverage that organic reach to its full potential, you’ll need to get the right people interacting with your content. 

I recommend using Lempod, which is a brilliant LinkedIn marketing tool that helps you tap into the power of your connections and their networks. Vaibhav Sisinty of Uber reported that their posts got four to six times their usual engagement levels when they started using Lempod. Stapho Thienpont of TMF said that his company enjoyed three times more leads thanks to the tool. 

12. Get 5x more Linkedin Connections with Groups

LinkedIn groups are communities of people within the platform who share a common interest, industry, niche, or role. There are thousands of groups and you can find them for just about any industry you can think of. 

When it comes to LinkedIn sales prospecting, connections are everything. And you can find the right connections, and more of them, by joining and engaging with LinkedIn groups. 

Start and comment on discussions, like content within the group, and make sure every interaction provides value. This lays the foundations for connecting with group members outside the group. 

13. Steal your Competitors’ Audiences

Are you envious of the audience and reach your competitors have on LinkedIn? The answer is simple: steal them! 

Here’s a quick guide to how to do it on LinkedIn: 

  1. Use TexAu to scrape a competitor’s Twitter followers and convert them into LinkedIn profiles. When Expandi did this, they found LinkedIn profiles for about 65% of their competitor’s Twitter followers. 
  2. Send connection requests on LinkedIn. 
  3. Send a targeted, personalized outreach message. 
  4. Repeat. 

Expandi took this a step further, creating a comparison page to compare their tool against their competitor’s to show customers that theirs was the better option. 

14. Follow Up with Engaging Video Funnels

Video and video streaming is exploding in popularity. According to Cisco, over 80% of all internet traffic is now dedicated to the video!  When people ask me how to do prospecting in sales, this is always one of the first tips I give: make the most of video content! 

For your LinkedIn sales prospecting, you can use engaging video funnels to engage your prospects and get them to give you their time and attention. Instead of a generic pitch email or a LinkedIn request, which is limited to 300 characters, what if you reached out to a potential customer with a personalized video? I don’t know about you, but I’d be seriously impressed! 

By taking the time to send a highly personal 1:1 video you’ll cut through the noise in your prospects’ inboxes, get more replies, and convert far more customers than you could hope to with text-based messages alone. 

You could even go a step further and combine personalized video funnels with the image hyper personalization we discussed above. This is an extraordinarily powerful combination that has been known to yield open rates beyond 80%.

This is how a personalized video message looks like: 

Source

You can create a list of prospects, find their Email addresses with Aeroleads, and upload that list to bonjoro. Then send personalized videos through their web or mobile app. 

15. Leverage Mini Courses or Webinars to Generate Leads at Scale

Online courses have been tremendously popular for some time, and are even more so now that the COVID-19 pandemic is preventing people from attending events in person. But you can still connect with your audience, provide value, and generate leads through mini online courses and webinars. 

These strategies work especially in B2B marketing if you address complex and nuanced topics. You can attract people by providing valuable information that they would struggle to find elsewhere. 

You’ll need an online course platform (find a list here) or professional software to create your webinar, a quiet place to present with a strong internet connection, and of course some killer content. 

Here are my top strategies for using online courses or webinars to generate leads:

  • Leave the pitch or call to action for the very end. 
  • Prepare and practice as much as you can! You need to appear confident and professional. 
  • Offer a lead magnet to encourage people to sign up, such as a free ebook or bonus training video. 
  • Advertise your event on LinkedIn and other social media channels. 
  • Reach out to prospects either by email or LinkedIn to invite them personally. 

Courses and webinars give you a fantastic opportunity to prove your knowledge and establish credibility. For that reason, they are a powerful lead generation tool. 

Over to You

LinkedIn sales prospecting works. But if you want to leverage its full potential, you need to understand how to use LinkedIn for prospect research, building connections, and engaging effectively with the people you’d like to sell to. 

I hope these tips will help you get started and get the most out of the awesome power of LinkedIn as a sales tool. 

What are you waiting for? Good luck and here’s to closing your next sale!

About Eduard Klein

Eduard Klein is an International Digital Growth Marketer, Blogger, and Entrepreneur with a global mindset. He guides people through the process of starting and growing a digital business, showing them how to ride the wave of digital technology and marketing without getting swept away. 

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