How to Prospect on Linkedin? The Salesdorado Guide

You thought LinkedIn was the new Eldorado of B2B lead generation? That you could prospect by sending a few automated messages? You're on the wrong track!

LinkedIn represents a significant commercial potential, but it is above all a social network and therefore very human. A badly targeted and intrusive message can damage the reputation you have been building for months with your potential clients.

The real strength of this social network is its ability to give you authority (sometimes excessive). Your objective must therefore be to build this authority which opens many doors for you.

In this guide, we share with you the best practices and the ones to avoid.

#1 Best practices for linkedin prospecting

A word of advice before you get into the thick of things: don't waste too much time thinking about how you are going to detail your first placement.

If no one visits your profile, no one will see it. The important thing is to be identifiable, to convey a certain authority and to send the right message.

Publish content regularly

An optimised LinkedIn profile is an active profile! To develop your authority on your key topics, it is essential to write linkedin posts regularly. Share news, tips, advice or feedback. Curation is always much easier than creation: start there 🙂

Here are some of the angles and formats you can use to develop your authority:

  • Be authentic and compelling to generate reactions
  • Don't play politics: keep it professional
  • Be positive
  • Choose quality over quantity
  • No more than 200 words per post and no more than one post per day
  • One post / week is enough to start with

Joining a Linkedin pod can make sense, as long as you know the community well, especially at the beginning.

Specialise your network and build your authority

It's hard to call your LinkedIn followers a "network" if you don't know half the people in it. Expanding your network is a good thing, but be selective. Only add or follow people whose content you like and who are experts in your sector: real influencers. In B2B, this is absolutely fundamental.

When sending a contact request to someone you don't really know, don't use a personalised message: that way you're sure not to make a mistake. Many even agree that your conversion rates will be better without a message. This is true, if the message is impersonal.

On LinkedIn, 2nd degree connections are very powerful, when you share a common relationship with someone, they are much more likely to accept a connection request from you.

It's a completely artificial bias, but building up your network of influencers in your sector makes you much more authoritative on the subject.

Salesdorado's advice
When you find an interesting post, interact with it, and add people who comment on relevant things. Very quickly, a significant part of your network will be made up of professionals in your field. Plus, you'll naturally be much more "in the know". Also consider following someLinkedin influencersin your sector. This will allow you to identify those who post and comment regularly.

Optimise your profile

We read a lot of more or less true things about the different ways to optimize your LinkedIn profile, here are the really important points in our opinion, in order of importance:

  • Profile picture - This should be your first concern. EVERYONE sees this photo when you comment, post and contact someone on the platform. This photo should be authoritative: forget the wild hairstyles and the "beach" or "wedding" background.
  • Title - The title should also be authoritative and factual. Preferably, clearly display your company name, position and objectives.

Linkedin Profile

Source : Taskdrive

These first two elements are essential because they will define you to the many people you will interact with. The following tips for optimising your LinkedIn profile will only be visible to the curious people who visit your profile:

  • LinkedIn URL - By default, your LinkedIn profile URL often consists of your first and last name and then a series of numbers. On your profile, in the upper right hand corner, is the "Edit Public Profile and URL" section. Set your URL with just your first and last name to optimize your profile's SEO.

Linkedin Url

  • Cover photo - Less important than your profile photo, the banner still impacts the first impression you make and should not be overlooked. Choose a professional image, in line with your sector of activity.
  • Info" section - Visitors reading this section want to know a bit more about you. Avoid losing them with a preconceived sales pitch, be authentic and don't hesitate to use humour (without losing sight of the fact that you have to remain professional 🙂 )
  • Professional experiences - Identify your 3 or 4 strongest experiences and take time to go into detail about your assignments in the description. Try to add value by giving some key figures and/or including media.
  • Recommendations - After a successful work experience, encourage your colleagues (better if it's your boss) to give you a recommendation. They are unlikely to think of it on their own and it builds your credibility.

Ask For A Recommendation

#2 What not to do when prospecting on LinkedIn

Sending a meaningless message

The prospecting message "Hello, we have similar interests and I love to chat" is a big fat no and definitely not! You come across as a slacker who is so bored that he contacts strangers or as someone who has nothing to say. If you write (personalise your invitation) you need to have a high-impact message.

Here is an invitation that nobody wants to receive. I don't know this person, his description doesn't allow me to locate him at all, and his "personalised" message is totally hollow and meaningless.

It is better not to post if you don't have a good post (like when you add people randomly to create an authority on a topic).

A good message is a good reason to start a conversation. Not a "I'd love to have you in my network" (i.e. under my thumb?) or a "I'd love to swap". Swap? Swap about what?

LinkedIn is hyper-intrusive because it's a social network (and therefore human). Your messages are not mixed with newsletters or purchase confirmation emails. So it's very easy to get it wrong, and very difficult to get it right. Avoid sending out mass emails of rotten messages.

When you solicit someone, you are engaging not only yourself but also the person you are soliciting. Poor targeting, or messaging on LinkedIn is rather more serious than via email, whatever the RGPD gurus say.

Sending the wrong prospecting message on Linkedin

The classic: Waiting for your prospect to add you before sending a 40-line message because 300 characters "isn't enough".

Yes, that's enough.

Example #1

Hi Michel, I'm contacting you on Patrick's advice to offer you a free trial on our tool. It seems that you are having problems getting more positive reviews at the moment? We built TOOL_NAME precisely to answer this problem, I would love to have your opinion. 294 characters

Example #2

Hello Thibaut, we have developed tool X for company Y (ideally a competitor). They are using it to solve this complicated problem of many characters. Would you be interested in trying it for free for a week? I'd love to hear your feedback. 243 characters is plenty of room to replace X and Y and the complicated problem of many characters.

Question
If, like us, you find that 300 characters is enough for a linkedin message, tell us in comments what you send to your prospects 😉

Automate your linkedin messages

On LinkedIn, many actions can be automated, such as generating lists or collecting information. But send an automatic message on LinkedInThis is often a bad idea, unless you really know what you are doing. Example #2 above could work for example, provided you have prepared a nice file with X and Y for each linkedin profile...

Looking for more and better leads? Try Apollo, the leading sales intelligence & engagement platform

#3 How do I find leads on linkedin?

Define your persona

In terms of direct marketing, the power of LinkedIn lies in its ability to deliver qualified leads through the valuable information we all share on the professional network.

Before you start prospecting for customers, start by defining your buyer persona This is a representation of your ideal customer, based on biographical or demographic criteria.

Based on this ideal profile, you tailor the content you share on your LinkedIn account as well as your business development messages.

LinkedIn filters

LinkedIn's "simple" search allows you to use the following filters to optimize your segmentation:

Levels of relationship

This first filter is quite powerful because LinkedIn displays the number of relationships you have in common with your prospect when you send a connection request!

Filter Relationship

As a reminder:

  • 1st degree: you are already connected;
  • 2nd degree: you have a common relationship;
  • 3rd and +: you are connected with a person who is connected with a person connected to this profile;

The 2nd degree is therefore the filter to use first if you want to expand your network. If you already have a large network, the 1st degree filter can be invaluable for targeting. Avoid sending a message to your entire network explaining what you do... This is called SPAM in email, and it's the same on Linkedin.

Locations

Filter your qualified prospects by country or region. If you wish to develop in a specific geographical area, remember to enter it.

If your prospecting is broader, consider adapting the language of your connection messages according to the origin of your target.

Company & Schools

If your target accounts are clearly identified, you can address the profiles you are interested in directly within these companies.

School Filter Linkedin

If you don't have anyone in common in your relationships, you can try an approach based on having followed the same ones. ...This creates a pseudo proximity that reinforces your prospect's confidence.

Here again, be careful not to get burned by your entire alumni base because of an error or a badly calibrated message...

SalesNavigator filters

More intuitive and precise, Sales Navigator filters allow you to combine criteria to obtain a more relevant base of qualified leads.

Prospecting Linkedin Sales Navigator

Pro Tip
Sales Navigator limits your search results to 2,500 members. The idea is to encourage you to segment your searches a bit more to send more specific messages... which is far from a bad idea 🙂

#4 Structure, and automate (sparingly)

Give more value than you ask for

You are asking your prospect to read you, so you are asking for time. To compensate, find a way to give them some value in return. On linkedin, the usual btob prospecting methods apply.

If you want to follow up on your contact, the follow-up must generate value for your potential customers as well.

For example: you offer a free tool that you have built for a client & that you think may be relevant to your prospect since he has the same job, and the company where he works is facing the same problem since you saw that X or Y on his profile.

And don't be mistaken.

Alternatively, you can offer a free consultation on this issue since you have solved a similar problem.

Every time you ask for something, it has to create value for your prospect.

Don't expect to get appointments by talking about yourself in automated messages on LinkedIn. The only appointments this method gets are for training courses to do exactly the same. What we call creating your own market...

Saledorado's advice
If you want to develop your social selling skills, check out our guide to the best sales training courses in 2021.

Get a recommendation

LinkedIn works a lot on influence games. The power of influencers is fundamental. The power of recommendations is also very important: they can open many doors for you, even when it is a passive recommendation (2nd degree connection).

A good strategy is to contact the boss and ask him/her to refer you to the right person. The idea here is to get a "peer to peer" exchange, or "junior to senior", or, much more rarely, senior to junior.

Recommendation

Source: Career Side Kick

Get off LinkedIn as soon as possible

You will never get anything done on LinkedIn. Even a meeting agreed on LinkedIn is very unlikely to happen in real life. Linkedin should remain the tool that allows you to find the right person and start a conversation.

The chat interface is very bad, and the majority of LinkedIn users do not see it as a working tool. So what happens there is not so bad.

Salesdorado's advice
Arrange to take the conversation to email or phone as soon as possible.

Create a link

What if you also helped your prospects with your super network & super influence?

  • This is the basis of the network: creating links around you
  • It is a very simple way to create value

In concrete terms, you can comment by tagging a prospect on a post that will interest them (obviously you have to be relevant...), or recommend that a prospect read the article to another prospect, etc.

Expand within each account

It's a bit of a staple of prospecting, but it's even truer on LinkedIn: never settle for just one contact. When you target an account, you need to get inside the account.

  • Add the founders / directors (anonymously). If one of them accepts you, all employees will see it as a joint relationship when you add them.
  • Add and engage in conversation with several possible targets. No matter how well you comb through each account, it will often be difficult to identify the right person directly.
  • Share & interact with content posted on your target's corporate account, and on your targets' personal accounts: most employees will follow the account in question and are more likely to see your post or comment.

Automate only what needs to be automated

Automating Linkedin is risky because it can ruin the relationship you are trying to build with your prospects and all the effort that goes into it.

Some simple and repetitive tasks can however be automated:

  • Add (without message) profiles similar to yours, or prospective profiles to expand your network on your topic
  • Share a free resource or article (but be VERY specific).

On the other hand, as soon as you are in demand: do not automate anything, you will always be wrong.

Salesdorado's advice
To automate these repetitive tasks and save precious time, try a tool like ProsectIn!

Propsectin

#5 How to optimize your Linkedin prospecting?

Beyond its ability to generate qualified leads, the real strength of LinkedIn lies in the authority you can create on a topic.

If you manage to become (or at least appear to be) a reference in your field, your prospects will naturally contact you rather than someone else to find out more about your solution.

Salesdorado's advice
The main advantage of automation is not to scale up. It is to be exhaustive, more precise, and above all very regular. It also allows you to systematise your prospecting process (systematically follow up on D+4 exactly), to optimise it.

Be regular

Here are some examples of content publication rates & actions you can build on to start building your authority:

  • 20 (targeted) connection requests per day to expand your network
  • 1 short post per day
  • 1 long publication or article per month to be written
  • Interacting (liking, tagging, commenting) with relevant publications at least once a day (on the toilet...)
  • Start 3 to 5 highly focused private discussions per day via LinkedIn messaging

Optimise your content

81% of customers prefer to engage with salespeople whose brand is strong on social media. So it's important to encourage all of the best practices discussed in this article within your sales team. You, and your teams, need to leverage your content marketing strategy to build that reputation.

Test, measure and replicate what works, and ban what does not. Both technically (post structure, publication schedule, hashtags etc.) and substantively (topics etc.)

Identify your promoters

Learn to recognise your promoters, those who speak well of you, and nurture that relationship by continually providing them with value. Take a sincere approach to helping them grow on LinkedIn & elsewhere, they will repay you.

Really measure your success rates

One more reason to be regular and to automate: it allows you to measure the impact of your actions and to obtain real success metrics.

There are several indicators that can help you measure the performance of your social selling. On LinkedIn, the following are the main ones:

  • SSI LinkedIn: This analysis tool developed by LinkedIn allows you to evaluate your activity on the platform. It is useful for comparing the activity of several salespeople in the same team, for example.

Ssi

  • Connection requests received: A better indicator than the size of your network, the connection requests you receive are a good way to measure your authority development (if the profiles match your targets).
  • Engagement with your content: By publishing content regularly, you will provide value to your prospects (subscribers or not), the more you will interest them, the more they will interact with your content.
  • Generated revenue: This is the ultimate indicator because it is the ultimate goal of your approach! Your Social Selling strategies must generate revenue and if you are not driving any leads from LinkedIn to your CRM software, something is wrong! Read the previous parts again 🙂

If you're reading this, you're well on your way to exploiting the potential of LinkedIn for prospecting! In reality, you may be disappointed because you thought you could turn LinkedIn into an almost effortless lead machine.

Just like in real life, developing your authority on a topic takes time and requires some investment. We hope these best practices will help you become a true expert, feel free to share examples of deals signed as a result of your LinkedIn prospecting in the comments 🙂

Looking for more and better leads? Try Apollo, the leading sales intelligence & engagement platform

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