More than 60 percent of salespeople point to cold calls as the worst part of the job. But making connections and getting meetings are critical steps to finding customers looking to buy from you. Nowadays, many take advantage of social media to find quality contacts and connect with them. Doing it well can yield a wealth of opportunities and eventually more sales. Tapping into the biggest business network with a LinkedIn prospecting tool can help you mine it for potential customers.
How effective the tool is begins with having a good strategy for identifying who those people are and where to find them.
Let’s take a look at how LinkedIn fits into your prospecting picture, how to find your ideal customers, and how to tap into tools that make prospecting there easier.
Why LinkedIn For Sales Prospecting?
Among all social networks, LinkedIn is the rare one with a focus strictly on doing business. More than 830 million users across 200 countries have profiles, while more than 58 million companies have pages on the platform.
That huge reach makes it so easy to find all the decision-makers you want to reach in one place. Because it is business-focused, those on the platform expect to connect with others to do business. It’s a key part of a digital marketing strategy, yielding far more sales leads than any other social network.
While LinkedIn’s size is great, that size can also be a downside as you attempt to sort through every one to find the right people to connect with. Not everyone can or should be your customer, so prospecting helps you target the best options for your company.
LinkedIn makes it easy for your sales team to build on what the marketing team does. They can be looking for reactions to articles posted to your company page and following up on those who have commented since they are likely prospects.
LinkedIn understands its role in the B2B space and builds tools and products that revolve around that. Upgrading to a premium account and tapping into Sales Navigator can supercharge your prospecting efforts. Since the underlying structure of the platform is a search engine, the system categorises, sorts, and tags profiles in ways that you can easily search and filter.
Before you start, you need to know how to do prospecting on LinkedIn without running afoul of the platform’s terms. The mission and purpose of LinkedIn are about fostering relationships, which require genuine connections and interactions.
As a result, the terms are geared to protecting all users from unwanted communication, which means you have to proceed carefully when prospecting to ensure you don’t cross lines that can get your account restricted or banned. A rough rule of thumb is to avoid anything that makes it seem like you’re spamming people or not being selective in your connections.
Activities LinkedIn is looking for include sending too many connection requests or messages, especially if you don’t get many responses. They also might flag your account for visiting too many pages too quickly or for other activities that seem robotic.
Define Your Ideal Customer
To find leads, you have to start by knowing who you’re looking for. This involves identifying what makes someone your ideal customer and understanding what makes for a good customer.
But know that the answer can’t be everyone. When you’re building a target and defining that ideal customer, you have to be as specific as possible. You’re looking for people and companies that benefit the most from what you have to provide, but also those who might be the most profitable and interesting to work with.
A good starting point for setting target parameters for your ideal customer is who you already reach and do business with. These should include:
- Industries you currently serve
- Industries you want to break into
- Position of decision-maker
- Company size
- Time in business
Consider also what kind of triggering events bring those current customers to you and add those to your filters. It could be a merger, new product, or milestone event like reaching a certain company size.
Now that you know what you want to accomplish with your prospecting and you know the profile of whom you want to reach, it’s time to figure out how to find them in the vastness of LinkedIn.
Fortunately, LinkedIn’s underlying structure makes it easy. It offers numerous options for filtering, and if you use them wisely, you can drill down to the best prospects to reach out to. Which ones are available to you depends on the type of account you have.
If you have a free account, you do miss out on some great features for prospecting, but the filters offered are still quite robust.
Anytime you do a search in the box at the top of the page, you’ll be presented with various options after the initial search is done. These filters allow you to weed down the list by parameters such as:
- Connection level
- Current company
- Past companies
- Service categories
Your initial search could be a company name, title, or some other keyword your target is likely to use. LinkedIn allows you to get finely targeted with the keyword functionality since it allows you to search using advanced Boolean operators.
These operators let you combine search terms in ways that help you get more relevant results. The most common options are
And – include everything in your search list
Not – don’t include this term
Or – include either term
You can also use quote marks to create a phrase, which tells the search engine to do those words in that particular order. This is especially useful for any industry-specific language you might want to search for.
In a basic account, you can’t save a search for use later, so it’s good to keep track of the parameters that work for you so you can use them again. It’s worth noting that you can save a hashtag search, though. When you click a hashtag in a post, you’ll get a button that allows you to follow the hashtag.
Sales Navigator comes as part of the premium version of LinkedIn and allows you to up your search game with additional tools. You can target different types of parameters than the basic search, such as:
- Job change alerts
- Advanced group filtering
- Similar to current customers
These searches can be saved with alert options to let you know when something new happens. Once you’ve done your search, you can load it into the lead builder or upload it into your CRM. You can even create blacklists that filter the search to exclude people you’ve already talked to.
It’s worth noting that LinkedIn limits the results of any search to 2,500, so you want to get your search as refined as possible. Otherwise, there will be many potential names that get left off your list once it gets past that number.
Bring in the Automation Tools
Hopefully, by this point you’ve amassed a good-sized list of potential customers. It’s time to bring in the automation tools to help you execute your prospecting strategy.
Once you conduct a good search in Sales Navigator, you can transfer that list into your sales CRM. This is where having a CRM that can easily integrate with Sales Navigator can save you a ton of time.
You can then use your CRM to start sending connection requests or messages out in a fashion that mimics human behaviour. Auto responses like a thank you for connecting can be part of your automation as well. Personalise your messages as much as possible to raise the odds you will get a response from the prospect.
Your tool might also incorporate AI to analyse messages and replies. The system can sort positive replies or priority responses to the top so you focus on those first.
Just remember that while an automated tool is great, you should alternate its efforts with some manual action occasionally. This might be forwarding an article to a single prospect or starting a non-work-related conversation with someone you’ve been developing a relationship with.
Know that social selling can be far more effective than old-school cold calling or letter writing. LinkedIn’s huge size and business orientation make it the perfect place for your B2B sales team to find companies and contacts that meet your ideal client profile. A LinkedIn prospecting tool helps them do this more efficiently through advanced search filters, saved alerts, and automated messaging.
Ready to take your sales department to the next level? Contact us to get a demo of our automation tool that improves your prospecting reach on LinkedIn.