Before the days of the internet, sales prospecting consisted of cold calls and in-person networking. Today, the increase in access to information has given the buyer the ability to control the sales process. Two-thirds of B2B buyers make their decision via online content and half of B2B buyers use LinkedIn as a source for making those purchase decisions.
What does this mean? Businesses and sales professionals should know the ins and outs of the tools they have access to on LinkedIn, given it is the largest professional networking platform out there. Consider these 12 best practices for cold prospecting on LinkedIn and adopt the ones that work best for you!
Tools for Sales Prospecting
- Join Groups
LinkedIn Groups are the place to be for professionals and businesses looking to be a part of a niche community of individuals with similar interests. They provide a place for professionals to share content, ask questions, post and view jobs, make business relationships, and establish themselves as industry experts. In short, groups allow you to network outside of your immediate circle of current colleagues, classmates, and employers.
To find relevant groups to join, simply use the search feature at the top of your homepage or select from the suggestions of Groups you may like.
- Look at the “People Also Viewed” Sidebar
Take a look at the profile of one of your best customers or prospects, then look to the right. The “People Also Viewed” box shows other users similar to your contact. You’ve just magically turned one prospect into several!
This feature is based on a variety of factors, including profiles that viewers have also looked at, as well as similarities in job titles and industries. You can also access the feature on the mobile app by scrolling to the bottom of either your, or a member’s profile.
- Reach Out to Prospects in New Roles
When a person takes on a new role, it’s been found that they are more open to shaking other things up like a new product or service purchase. If you get their attention at the right time, you might land yourself a new customer.
To keep tabs on which of your connections has landed a new role, click the “Notifications” tab and scan daily for updates. In addition to new learning who started a new job, you’ll know of things like birthday’s and new blog posts, which serves as an icebreaker for reaching out. Just make it sooner rather than later!
- Scroll Through Skill Endorsements
Similar to the “People Also Viewed” tool, scroll down on the profile of a great customer or prospect to see the “Skills” section. Here you’ll see the people who’ve endorsed them for specific skills. This is useful because people tend to attract others like themselves, so you might find similar skills and qualities in those giving out endorsements to their connections!
- Use Alumni Search
Finding common talking points can be a challenge when trying to personalize a sales interaction, but if there’s one thing that proves to be a great stepping stone, it’s the bond of a shared experience.The LinkedIn alumni search can be extremely helpful if you went to a larger sized university. Connect with a fellow alum and mention it when you reach out in your call or email– but don’t send the default LinkedIn invite, it’s lazy!
To use the Alumni Search feature, simply copy https://www.linkedin.com/edu/alumni into your browser, and you’ll get a list of new prospects who attended the same school as you.
- Browse Users Who Have Interacted With Your Posts
If you have a free LinkedIn account, you can only see a limited number of the users who have viewed your profile. Premium or paid, users can see every user who visits their profile. But no matter what kind of subscription you have, you can always see the people who have interacted with your posts.
Under your profile dropdown menu, click “Posts & Activity.” You’ll see all of the articles and posts you’ve shared as well as anyone who’s interacted with them. On the left sidebar you’ll also see the “Your followers” tab. See who’s followed you recently and consider them as possible prospects!
- Boolean Google Search
While this isn’t exactly a LinkedIn tool, a boolean google search uses special words to limit, widen, or define your search making it easier to find prospects’ Linkedin profiles. When you’re on Google start your search with “site:linkedin.com/in” followed by your search terms and Boolean search operators such as quotation marks, OR, AND, or NOT. Capitalizing these search operators is essential to using this tool because it allows Google to recognize the words as operators rather than regular words.
What do Boolean search operators mean?
- Quotation marks: The exact phrase will be present in results
- OR: Search results will include any of the search terms
- AND: All search terms will be present in results
- NOT: Search results will include all search terms before the search operator
- Create a Job Alert
Reaching the right person at a prospective company is often the most difficult part of sales prospecting. However, monitoring the company’s hiring through Linkedin minimizes the hassle and points you directly to the person you’re looking to reach out to.
First, go to the prospective company’s page on Linkedin and click “Jobs”. Once on the jobs landing page, click “Create Job Alert” right above the job search bar. Type in the job title and location you’re looking for and wait for the job to come along.
Once one pops up click “Save” and keep a close eye out to see when the job posting is taken down. After the posting disappears use your sleuthing skills on Linkedin to see who was hired and now you have a direct means of contact!
- Linkedin Pulse
Linkedin Pulse is an in-network online news feed for professionals and businesses to extend their reach and visibility. Designed to nurture professional relationships, writing for Pulse establishes your reputation as an expert in your field and can easily push people to your profile without actively prospecting. So how do you publish to Pulse? Simply go to your home news feed click “Write Article”, fill in your content and publish. Not only will your article be posted to the Pulse news feed to connect with your audience directly but it will also add depth and interest to your Linkedin profile.
- Linkedin Premium
Investing money in Linkedin Premium for sales prospecting isn’t a decision to take lightly. The four premium plans – Career, Business, Sales and Hiring – aren’t an insignificant amount of money but the upgrades that you receive are guaranteed to support serious prospecting. The Business and Sales plans are recommended for prospecting by offering advanced search features, more InMail messages, improved insights and custom lead management tools. You can actually get started for free with a 1-month trial!
- Use Linkedin InMail
If you decided to take the leap into a LinkedIn Premium account, congratulations! You now have access to Linkedin InMail. InMail allows you to directly message other Linkedin members that you aren’t connected to, to widen your sales prospecting net. When using InMail you must be strategic, you only receive a certain amount of InMail messages a month so optimize the quality of your emails. Before you get started, take advantage of the insights you receive from your premium plan, it will assist you in starting a quick and effective warm conversation to generate a higher response rate.
- Try LinkedIn Voice Messages
LinkedIn voice messages is a relatively new feature, utilized by few, making it a desirable opportunity for you to stand out from the crowd.
You can record and send messages up to a minute long to your first degree connections in Linkedin Messaging. Why send a voice message over a regular message? People speak 4x faster than they type making this a great option on-the-go, it’s easier for the recipient to listen than to read and it gives you the unique opportunity to express yourself to build a more personal connection.
To successfully leverage this feature Morgan Ingram of JBarrows has created the “10-30-10” approach to LinkedIn Voice Messages seen below:
It’s time to get started! Evaluate how you want to incorporate these Linkedin tools for sales prospecting into your overall outreach and marketing plan. Every action you take on Linkedin should be calculated and strategized like your other marketing efforts. If you’re not quite ready to invest in a premium plan, continue to polish your profile and practice your approach before you begin active prospecting. Gaining confidence with the Linkedin platform now will ultimately lead to adding new prospects to your funnel on a consistent basis.