LinkedIn is one of the most straightforward, accessible forums for effective sales prospecting. It gives you immediate access to millions of potential customers with needs and interests that align with your offering and sales process.
But how can you make the most of the platform? Where should you be looking? And what does it take to productively connect with prospects via LinkedIn? Here, we'll answer all of those questions and more with our list of five key tips you can leverage to take your LinkedIn prospecting efforts to the next level. Let's jump in.
5 LinkedIn Prospecting Tips
1. Make sure your profile is easily findable, fleshed out, and professional.
When you connect with a prospect on LinkedIn, you're making a digital first impression — so make sure your profile is presentable, looks professional, and effectively conveys your qualifications and accomplishments.
LinkedIn prospecting is about cultivating immediate trust, and your prospects are going to be much more inclined to hear you out if your profile is fleshed out with a professional headshot, up-to-date descriptions of your work experience, a series of impressive endorsements, and a quick yet thoughtful look into what your company does.
Bear in mind, you don't have to be too over-the-top or fancy, you just need to demonstrate that you and your business are legit. That doesn't have to mean writing a five-paragraph essay to detail every last one of your previous responsibilities at every company you've worked at — but it does mean making sure your accomplishments are sufficiently highlighted without grammatical errors or too much technical jargon.
2. Conduct thoughtful, well-researched outreach.
A lot of salespeople waste time, effort, and deal potential by conducting impersonal outreach when prospecting on LinkedIn. They often run into trouble by "selling first" over the platform. For instance, they might try to connect with a prospect by saying something like:
I work at XYZ company, we sell ABC software to businesses like yours. Do you have some time to set aside for a chat?
Thanks, and I look forward to hearing from you!"
Cut-and-paste, impersonal messages like that generally don't register with prospects. The person on the other side of a message like that can tell that you don't know much — if anything — about their business. They'll know you're treating them like another brick in the wall and will be less inclined to hear you out.
That's why you need to add some degree of personalization to your LinkedIn prospecting. Take a second to explore content your prospect might have posted.
Check if they're active in any LinkedIn groups, and see if you can notice any interests or concerns they might have — and incorporate that insight into your outreach.
One way or another, show that you have some grip on what they do and know how your product or service could remedy issues they might be having. Try something like this
I was browsing the 'Edtech Startup Community' group on LinkedIn earlier and saw the article you posted about curriculum planning at trade schools. I thought the case you made for how less traditional educational institutions can still benefit from curriculum planning software was incisive and interesting.
If that article is any indication, you're setting yourself up to be an excellent thought leader in your space. I'd love to connect with you to talk a bit more about how you think companies like yours can appeal to and tap into those kinds of markets.
Taking a more measured, personalized approach where you "show" as opposed to "tell" what you can do for a prospect will make your outreach more effective and set the stage for a more immediately productive conversation.
3. Constantly expand your network.
ABC — Always Be Connecting.
You can't win if you never try. In a similar vein, you can't prospect effectively on LinkedIn if you retire to your corner of the platform and never actually make connections. You need to constantly expand your network.
Establish connections with your peers and potential prospects. From there, see if you can link up with any shared connections that might stand to gain from your product or insight.
Your LinkedIn game should never be stagnant. There are always more connections you can make that will either be productive in themselves or put you in touch with other people that will help your prospecting.
4. Master LinkedIn search.
LinkedIn search is the easiest way to find prospects that fit the bills you're looking for — and it doesn't take a premium membership to make the most of it. Even a free account gives you the resources to sufficiently screen prospects by criteria like location, title, company, and industry.
For instance, imagine if you're looking to reach executives at IT companies in the greater San Francisco area. LinkedIn provides the resources for you to easily find and connect with those kinds of prospects — even if they go by varying titles, like "President," "Owner," "CEO," or "Founder."
With LinkedIn search, you can pin down those users — regardless of how they identify themselves — by searching for "President or CEO or Owner or Founder." Searching by that criteria will return results for anyone with one of those keywords in their title.
And if LinkedIn's free search isn't specific enough for you, you can upgrade to a premium account to access additional filters, including company size and seniority.
5. Maintain an active presence in relevant LinkedIn groups.
As I mentioned in the second point on this list, LinkedIn groups can be an excellent resource for finding and connecting with prospects. Maintaining an active presence in these kinds of forums allows you to acquaint yourself with potential customers and learn more about your vertical, certain industries, and your target base.
Comment on content you find particularly engaging or interesting. Read up on relevant material your fellow group members post to get a better picture of their needs and interests. And finally, find the prospects you're looking for — and send them connection requests that show you know what you're talking about.
When leveraged correctly, LinkedIn groups provide a one-stop-shop for all your prospecting needs. They give you access to a base of users that consistently engage with the platform, offer the basis for conversation starters to drive effective outreach, and provide educational resources to help you bolster your industry knowledge and frame yourself as a trusted advisor throughout your sales process.
Regardless of your industry or vertical, you stand to gain a lot from prospecting on LinkedIn. If you decide to use the platform to connect with potential customers, be sure to identify your prospects with careful intention, learn as much as you can about them, and reach out with some degree of thoughtfulness and personalization. If you can nail those elements, you'll see the kinds of results you want from your LinkedIn prospecting efforts.