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Sales - 7 min READ

5 effective ways to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting

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Author photo: Darryl Villacorta

Darryl Villacorta

Content & Community Marketing Manager

You might share the occasional update about your company’s achievements, but did you know you can also use LinkedIn for sales prospecting?

With no restrictions on access to user profiles, thousands of professionals in every vertical, and a powerful search function, LinkedIn is the perfect platform for finding and researching potential buyers.

And if you’re prospecting for B2B customers from your target audience, the results can be incredible from the social media platform.

Research shows that 61 million people on LinkedIn are senior-level influencers, and 40 million have the authority to make company-related decisions:

Still, if you’ve never used LinkedIn for sales prospecting before, the time you need to commit can be intimidating—not to mention you need to know how to use the platform’s different features if you want to reach the right people.

That’s exactly why it helps to have some proven sales prospecting tips specifically for LinkedIn on deck.

In this post for sales professionals, you'll learn five actionable tips on how to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting, including:

1. Join relevant groups.

LinkedIn Groups are a great opportunity for sales teams to target people, such as potential customers, with certain interests and skills.

After the group admin approves your join request, you can contribute to existing discussions, as well as start your own with members of your target audience.

Look for groups filled with professionals that match your ideal customer profile.

For example, if you sell email marketing software, your prospecting targets probably include email marketing professionals. In this case, you’d want to join groups related to email marketing:

Once you’ve joined, comment on posts and answer questions to build your voice and authority among potential customers.

Remember to offer value before talking about your product or service.

You can, for instance, offer sales insights and talk about marketing automation, email marketing trends, and other similar topics.

By providing value on a consistent basis, you’ll gain group members’ attention and likely develop more opportunities to prospect.

Image for post 🚀 your prospecting

🚀 your prospecting

Pro-tip: Learn about 5 ways to prospect more effectively in this webinar.

2. Use search filters.

Most reps don’t realize how advanced LinkedIn’s search function really is.

Behind the small white field at the top of your profile is an intuitive search engine that lets you narrow down your search using specific filters which is helpful for finding ideal prospects.

For example, if you’re searching for “Payroll Manager,” you would type that in the search function and then choose “People.” You could then target prospects further and filter by:

  • Connections (1st, 2nd, 3rd)
  • Connections of
  • Locations
  • Current companies
  • Past companies
  • Industries
  • Profile language
  • Nonprofit interests
  • Schools
  • And even first and last name!

So if you want to target payroll managers at a sporting goods company such as Nike, you can just use the “current companies” filter and choose Nike as the company:

LinkedIn will then present you with a list of people who’re currently working as payroll managers for Nike in different parts of the world.

If you want to take it a step further, you can sign up for a Premium account to narrow results by prospects’ company size, groups, years of experience, and even seniority level.

Overall, LinkedIn’s advanced search filters offer a tremendous opportunity to connect with relevant professionals and potential customers. Between them and the contacts in your CRM, you can find targeted prospects and build a database of qualified buyers for your company.

3. Scroll through “People Also Viewed.”

“People Also Viewed” is a column in the right sidebar of a public profile that can be used for LinkedIn prospecting.

It tells you who else is looking at besides the profile you’re viewing—and it’s probably individuals who have similar traits to your contact.

This feature can offer valuable insight into a prospect’s network and lead you to key decision makers.

For example, take a look at the “People Also Viewed” column from car fleet company Avrios’ Founder & CEO, Andreas Brenner’s LinkedIn profile:

If you and your and sales reps were unfamiliar with Avrios’ corporate structure, the field reveals a wealth of information about this organization, including the name of the other co-founder, as well as a number of employees in different positions.

For reps practicing account-based marketing, which requires you to know several decision makers within an organization, details like these will turn out to be quite useful.

Implement this tactic by checking the profiles of your best prospects or customers, and then scroll through the “People Also Viewed” section to create a different tier of prospects who could have a say in their company’s buying decision.

4. Tweak your profile for sales.

With a few quick changes, you can turn your LinkedIn profile into a prospecting machine.

Because the folks you’ve engaged with through groups and direct outreach will most likely visit your profile to learn more about you, it only makes sense to optimize your profile to impress prospects.

When you're using LinkedIn for sales and finding ideal prospects, make sure your headline conveys what you offer and who you help. For example, if you're a sales rep, and you sell enterprise accounting software, a good headline might be:

“I help B2B companies minimize costs through accounting solutions.”

A well-crafted headline gives off the impression that you’ve taken time to make the rest of your profile appealing, too.

Have a look at this headline:

Whoever visits this profile will immediately know that Marie-Louise Sylva is an expert in helping companies improve their brand image.

Ask yourself: Why would anyone be interested in what I do?”

Then condense your answer into 120 characters and use it as your headline.

To further optimize your profile for sales LinkedIn prospecting and, craft your summary to be a mini USP (unique selling proposition) packed with keywords and active language.

Aim for a summary of around three to four paragraphs.

As you’re writing, get more specific about what you do, the companies you’ve worked with, the results you’ve delivered, and the people you’ve met.

Also, consider displaying a piece of visual content or two in your summary.

For instance, you might want to add a blog post announcing your win of a company award or a case study of a big-name customer.

Here’s an example:

Motivational speaker Richard McCann talks about what he does for a living in his summary. The detail about the number of people he has coached through his training is intriguing, and the visual snippets of how he presents on stage give an interactive overview of his personality.

The summary is one of the first things people glance at when they land on a LinkedIn profile, so insert paragraphs and visuals that convincingly tell them why they should keep scrolling.

Finally, when using LinkedIn for sales, always add a high-quality headshot to put a face on your profile. It will create a good first impression and make you appear more approachable. Keep it professional—no bathroom selfies.

5. Send InMail messages.

InMail is LinkedIn’s internal email system.

It gives sales reps the ability to send direct messages to any LinkedIn user without requiring an introduction. As you can probably imagine, it’s a goldmine for sales prospecting.

The only requirement to start searching for potential prospects is that you need to have a Premium LinkedIn account to access InMail.

Depending on your level of subscription, you only have a limited number of InMail credits per month, so use these messages sparingly and strategically for your sales team.

Want to impress the brand manager of Walmart? Whether you’re a dedicated consultant, the VP of Sales, or a company representative, make your InMail customized and compelling.

Here’s an example for inspiration:

It follows many of the best practices for composing an InMail message that gets a response:

  1. Emilia called the prospect by his first name and specifically mentioned where she came across his profile
  2. She addressed Brad’s possible needs based on the position he holds at his company
  3. She used a soft close (“Would you be able to spare 10 minutes for a chat”), assuming the prospect has a busy schedule

Here’s a similar template you and other sales professionals can use to personalize an InMail message and find potential prospects:

Hi [prospect name],

I came across your profile while looking for senior [job title, e.g. “account executives”] in the [insert group name] group. I thought I should get in touch with you because I’m reaching out to professionals and companies that are implementing [product name/type] into their business development efforts.

I’m part of the [team name/category] at [company name]. We help companies achieve a better ROI with [product name/type], making them more accessible, searchable and enjoyable. I’m connecting with professionals like yourself to offer free consultations to assess your needs and explain [product name/type]’s effectiveness.

Would you be able to spare 15 minutes for a chat? If you have a colleague who’d be more appropriate to contact about this, please let me know and I’ll reach out to them personally.

Prospects are three times likelier to respond to an InMail than a regular email, so if you’re determined to make contact, an InMail message might be the way to go.

Ready to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting?

There you have it. Five prospecting techniques to rekindle your interest in LinkedIn.

As we demonstrated in each of the points above, LinkedIn and its features can be massively useful when it comes to researching prospects, gathering details about an organization, and reaching out to key decision-makers.

So if you have a LinkedIn account you’ve ignored for a while, dust it off, use these strategies, and start prospecting.

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