Are you getting the most out of LinkedIn for sales prospecting?
The professional/social platform doesn’t have to be reduced to the occasional press release about your company or your job change every couple of years. With over half a billion users, LinkedIn (and Sales Navigator) is a power sales prospecting tool.
40 million LinkedIn users are decision-makers within their company.
Clearly, LinkedIn holds tremendous value for sales teams. But you don’t have to limit sales prospecting on LinkedIn to InMail or sponsored posts.
On top of using Sales Nav and LinkedIn advertising, this guide has 7 additional, unique ways to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting. You don’t even have to have 10,000 followers to make it an effective prospecting technique (but gaining connections and followers should be one of your goals).
There are no ‘quick wins’ here. It takes work, but it will work for you if you take the time to put a handful of these tips into practice.
9 Creative Ways to Use LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting
- Optimize your profile
- Export your LinkedIn Connections
- Add new Connections every single day
- Start with what you have in common
- Jump into social selling
- Look at who’s looking at you
- Switch up your channels
- Try out LinkedIn advertising
- Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to scale sales prospecting
1. Optimize your profile
Most sales prospecting is defined by hustle: send 200 emails, request 100 connections, make 20 calls.
But you could make those efforts much more efficient by taking a step back first. Take a look at your LinkedIn profile. Is it optimized to help you sell?
Better yet, take a look at Justin Welsh’ LinkedIn profile. He’s a sales consultant with more than 15 years of experience and it shows.
Justin does more than a few things to optimize his profile to sell:
- His headline concisely sums up exactly what he does. No fluff, no distraction.
- He includes a bit of social proof with the “LInkedIn Sales Stars” badge.
- His background photo includes not one, but two value-based CTAs.
You may not want to be as zealous as a consultant, but make sure your headline defines your role and your background photo speaks to what you’re selling. Try to balance your personal brand with your company’s value prop.
2. Export your LinkedIn connections
Not all connection requests should be made with a discovery call in mind.
But as you progress in your career, you may be sitting on a good number of connections that fit your ideal customer profile. Every so often, circle back to see who may be open to one of your (charismatic, personalized) messages.
There are a couple of ways to do this.
Export your connections with LinkedIn settings
LinkedIn lets you export all of your connections at once. You can request the export as part of your data archive, through Settings & Privacy.
You won’t be able to filter your connections ahead of time, but the spreadsheet will include company and role information for you to sort through.
For more info, we wrote a separate guide on how to export LinkedIn connections.
Export qualified connections with LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Using Sales Nav, you can filter your connections by your ICP criteria ahead of time. Export and get the emails only for the connections you know have a good chance of turning into prospects.
- Use the Sales Nav search to enter the title or role you’d like to target.
- If you have a high number of connections, narrow down by geography or company size.
- Select ‘1st Degree Connections’ under the ‘Relationship’ advanced filter.
- Hit ‘Export emails with Wiza‘ to get the full list of your 1st degree connections
3. Add new connections every day
Yes, every single day.
On top of your more ‘organic’ connection requests, find a way to work connection requests into your prospecting, too. Instead of relying on your feed or LinkedIn suggestions, build a lead list in Sales Navigator and treat it as your pool of future connection requests.
Ideally, you want to keep this highly personalized. Create lead lists with specific criteria that you can create personalized messaging for. Then send a connection request with a voice message whenever your sequence dictates. Some sales reps prefer to send a connection request first, but with other sequences you can call or email first.
Whatever you do, don’t send a pitch right after someone accepts your request. Be tactful, people.
If you want to turbocharge this approach, you can use a tool like Phantombuster to automate your connection requests while maintaining some level personalization.
4. Leverage shared connections
Ever heard of the six degrees of separation?
Depending on the industry you’re selling into, you could be just 2 or 3 degrees of separation away from a good portion of your target audience.
Run through the same process as you did for exporting connections, but select ‘2nd Degree Connections’ instead of 1st degree. You’ll need to get much more granular in your targeting — these searches can return hundreds of thousands of results. For example, I narrowed in on specific SDRs using advanced filters on Sales Nav:
- Relationship: At least 3 shared connections
- Geography: California
- Company headcount: 1-10
- Seniority level: Entry
I ended up with a lead list of just over 500 — very manageable for multiple touchpoints.
For large deal sizes, you should keep this as organic as possible. Create a list on Sales Nav to keep yourself organized, follow them on LinkedIn, then spend some time engaging with their content. After a few touches, send them a connection request mentioning both their content and the most promising person you have in common.
For high volume sales, you’ll need a way to work this approach at scale. Create a larger list on Sales Nav and export their emails right away. Then create a message that focuses on why you’re interested in them instead of why they should be interested in you.
After the emails are sent, go through your list and send connection requests all at once (or over the course of a week). With both the mutual connections and email, they’ll likely be more receptive.
5. Jump into social selling
Depending on what you’re selling, it may make sense to go all-in on social selling. Done right, social selling is the perfect midpoint between outbound and inbound.
But ‘trying to get more active on LinkedIn’ doesn’t mean you’ll turn into a LinkedIn star overnight. Committing to social selling requires at least three things: consistency, organization and knowing what the hell you’re talking about.
Start by building your foundation. Join groups, engage with posts, make organic connections and post your own content consistently. Give before you take. Offer insight into your industry, stories that enlighten, and comments that lift the conversation. This is the most time consuming element here, but will likely have the biggest impact long term.
Then it’s time to get organized. As you see more engagement on your posts, start tracking it. Get into the ‘prospecting’ part of social selling by sharing your webinar or offering additional insight to those who comment that they’re interested.
Through inbound messages, interested comments and event attendees, you’ll start getting qualified prospects. Who’s to say if they’re MQLs or SQLs?
6. Look at who’s looking at you
Turn the tables on the “who viewed your profile” feature on LinkedIn.
Every week, go through the list of people who have looked at your profile. Pick out those that seem to fit your target audience and send a Connection request. It doesn’t have to be awkward. Mention you saw that they stopped by, ask what brought them to your profile and if you can be helpful.
This one isn’t exactly scalable, but you may just strike gold.
7. Switch up your channels
Let’s be honest: it’s hard to track conversations in your LinkedIn inbox.
It gets cluttered as your connection requests are accepted, and it’s hard to remember to mark each important conversation as unread (let alone find it later on).
Instead, consider using different channels for different purposes:
- InMail: For high-value accounts and messaging directly from your prospecting activities in LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
- LinkedIn Messages: Use messages only for introductions and as a separate touchpoint for engaging with prospects’ content.
- Email: Move sales conversations to email as quickly as possible; people will be more likely to respond once you have a connection. You won’t get lost in the noise.
Then again, InMail messages are expensive, connection requests shouldn’t be used for pitching, and you’ll need a tool to export email addresses. Use your best judgement for which channel will work best for each purpose.
8. Try out LinkedIn advertising
This is more of an MQL tactic than sales prospecting, but some revenue teams will find value in paying the premium for LinkedIn advertising.
It’s not exactly creative, and it can be expensive, but it’s effective for high value ICPs. LinkedIn ads are also a great way to bridge the gap between sales and marketing if you have other social selling efforts in place.
You can send Message Ads, set up display ads or use ‘conversation ads’ to introduce sales collateral earlier. Whatever floats your boat — just make sure you track it.
9. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator to scale sales prospecting
A handful of these tips for how to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting involve leveraging Sales Navigator.
But what if you could prospect faster — and to more targeted lists — by utilizing Sales Nav to its full extent? The sales platform is extremely powerful for prospecting.
Sales Nav runs about $80 per month, but it’s worth every penny. With more than 500 million users, it’s a virtual treasure trove that gives you a map to finding the best possible prospects.
- Use advanced search filters to narrow in on highly targeted lists for more personalized outreach.
- Save your searches to come back to later, saving time and your sanity.
- Set up daily or weekly email alerts for when new leads are added to your criteria.
After you build your list (or as you search), you can enrich the data by exporting lead emails, phone numbers, social media handles and company info.
Combined with some of the more organic techniques outlined above, getting lead info through Sales Nav will accelerate your sales prospecting efforts.