Rob Simmons is a Vice President of Commercial Sales at LeanData. Connect with Rob on both Twitter and LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional social network, utilized by over 300 million active users every month for professional networking and career development. And, believe it or not, over 40% of LinkedIn’s active monthly users log in every day.
As a sales professional, both of those statistics caught my eye!
As a VP of Sales at LeanData, I regularly receive prospecting inquiries from other sellers on LinkedIn. And, truthfully, I don’t mind. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a seller, I appreciate and respect the hustle and nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic of utilizing LinkedIn as a prospecting tool.
However, my years of receiving prospecting inquiries through LinkedIn have allowed me to pretty much see it all — with apologies to Sergio Leone, the good, the bad and the ugly.
However, over time, I’ve seen it all on LinkedIn — the good, the bad, and the downright ugly.
LinkedIn serves me as both a professional seller and an occasional professional buyer. As such, it provides me a perspective on both sides of the buying journey. Here are six tips for better prospecting with LinkedIn.
Make Your LinkedIn Profile Picture-Perfect
Before you reach out to prospective customers via LinkedIn, ensure your profile is polished and professional. According to research, 64% of businesspeople review the LinkedIn profile of someone they’ve never met prior to an important business meeting.
Your LinkedIn profile precedes you prior to your first in-person opportunity to make a first impression.
Start with a professional, high-resolution profile photo. Additionally, list your current position and describe your professional achievements and experiences.
Personally, in most cases, I look at LinkedIn profiles before I ever accept a request to link. How does your LinkedIn profile look? Does it present a professional image of who you are and what you do?
It’s Personal, Not Business
You must absolutely, positively personalize any request to link on LinkedIn. As the old saying attributed to both Oscar Wilde and Will Rogers goes, “You only have one chance to make a first impression,” and when I receive a request to link from a person I don’t know and it’s not personalized to my individual attention, I immediately form a negative impression.
Of course, that negative impression is the exact opposite of the person’s primary objective. I view canned, generic requests to link as not only lazy, but incorrectly presumptive that I will entertain the request.
I’m trying to maintain a network on LinkedIn of connections I actually know. If I don’t know the person sending a request to link and it’s not personalized, I’m simply not accepting it. Importantly, I don’t think I’m alone in that practice.
Keep it Short, But Still Sweet
Important in personalizing a request to connect on LinkedIn is the brevity of your message. It’s a case where less communicates more.
Your best approach is to refer to something they have written or posted, or perhaps a webinar they moderated. Mention you saw it, and tell your prospect how it impacted you, or, conversely, share your take on the subject.
It’s okay to be somewhat short and ambiguous in your connection requests. Just ensure you stand out from the crowd
Give the Relationship Some Time
Don’t pitch your new LinkedIn connection as soon as your link request is accepted. Allow your nascent relationship to breathe and grow.
In the meantime, add immediate value by sharing content, including both content from your own organization as well as curated content relevant to your new connection’s role. In addition to adding value over time, you build awareness of both you and your organization.
Engage With Your Connection’s Posts
Actively engage with your connection’s LinkedIn posts and articles. Like and comment on them as relevant and appropriate. Again, with regards to comments you may leave, your goal should be to add value to your digital conversation. At the same time, your active engagement builds your personal brand and its mindshare with your connection.
Add LinkedIn Messaging to Your Sales Sequence
While you’ve connected with your prospect — and subsequently built your personal brand awareness — on LinkedIn, you’ve undoubtedly sent introductory emails and perhaps left a voicemail or two. At this point, if your connection hasn’t responded to your attempts over the phone and through email, integrate a LinkedIn message into your sales sequence.
But don’t overthink it!
Your LinkedIn message can be very similar to the emails you’ve sent previously. However, just like your emails, you need to personalize your LinkedIn message.
Call out if they previously worked at a customer account of your company, or have common connections. Furthermore, reference areas of expertise and responsibility from their profile and share how your organization helps similar companies solve common challenges.
For example, if my typical buyer persona consists of Demand Generation leaders, and I see on a connection’s current job experience that their responsibilities include driving top-of-funnel leads for the Sales team, I might reach out to them with a message like the following:
You work hard to drive new leads for your sales reps. How important is lead response time to hitting your marketing pipeline and revenue goals?
LeanData’s State of B2B Lead Management report shares how the fastest growing organizations are effectively orchestrating their prospective customers’ buying journeys into the right hands for follow up.
I thought you might be interested in a different approach to improving your inbound conversion rates through faster and more accurate lead and account management.
Are you open to a conversation about getting every lead to the right rep at the right time?
LinkedIn is an important tool for sellers, whether you use LinkedIn Sales Navigator or not. When used properly, LinkedIn is a veritable goldmine for sales prospecting and running outreach campaigns for lead generation.
However, there are a few hard and fast best practices for you to implement, including the six tips above. Use LinkedIn wisely, and remember the adage, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”
Read more content from LeanData here.
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LeanData is inspiring a global movement among its community of over 5,000 OpsStars worldwide, empowering them with revenue operations excellence that translates into compelling buyer experiences and competitive advantage. As a result, LeanData’s platform is a tech stack essential for modern revenue teams, with more than 1,000 B2B leaders relying on LeanData, including Salesloft, Snowflake, Clari, VMWare, Hewlett Packard Enterprise and more. For more information, please visit https://www.leandata.com/.