Salespeople around the world have fully embraced the power of LinkedIn. The world’s largest professional network has become the go-to-place to find sales prospects.
Most salespeople know the power of the tool and are taking full advantage of it by keeping their profiles up-to-date and making sure they are as active as they would be in real life. Posting interesting articles, commenting on groups’ questions and finding out as much information as possible about their prospects before sending an email or calling them up.
Mastering the basics of how to find sales prospects on LinkedIn is not complicated. However, if you are involved in sales at any level, either as your main job or as the basis to keep your business alive, you need to step-up the game and make sure to get the most out of it.
Using the simple search option is not everything you can do on this professional network. Take a look at these ideas to improve the results of your sales prospecting activities.
1. Use The Advanced Search
This might sound like a basic thing, however, I have seen quite a few salespeople missing this basic “advanced” step. When using the advanced search, combine different search criteria. Depending on your focus, it might make sense to use two or all of those suggested in the picture below.
Key questions to keep in mind when filling in those criteria are:
- What’s the role of your prospect?
- Is your sales prospect research restricted to a certain country?
- Is your sales prospect research restricted to one company?
- Are your sales prospects in specific industries?
Depending on the number of criteria you set, your research accuracy can vary.
TIP: When you are looking for a prospect in a specific company, but your research goes beyond that particular lead, you should leave selected “Current or Past” in the company field. You might find out that someone who used to work in company A doing that particular role, has now moved to company B, doing the same job. Boom! You just found another lead.
2. Use The “People Also Viewed” Sidebar
LinkedIn has an algorithm (I guess) that shows people with a similar role in other companies or in the same company with a similar position. This function is extremely valuable when doing a wider sales prospecting activity.
Let’s say, for example, you are looking for the marketing manager at company A. You found her, but you are not 100% sure whether she is the decision maker or not. She didn’t write the full job description, so you are not sure if she is the one dealing with the area of your interest. On the right side, you find the “People Also Viewed” sidebar that suggests you the Head of Marketing, together with another three marketing managers at that company. Now you have a better list of prospects in that company.
TIP: Sometimes LinkedIn suggests people with same jobs (but in different companies) as the prospect you have been looking for. Try to be specific when choosing a keyword or a role.
3. “Hack” Your Competitors’ Network
If you are looking for sales prospects, where better than your competitors’ network?
Depending on the industry you are in, going full-on for a direct competitors comparison could be acceptable for your sales approach. You probably know very well what makes you different from the rest, so why not using it?
Look for someone that is doing the same job as you do but for one of your competitors and search for their connections. This can be tricky because not everyone allows connections search, especially if you are not connected to them.
TIP: Keep in mind that this can be used also “against” you. Try to avoid adding competitors to your LinkedIn connections. If you do so, restrict their ability to view your connections.
4. Join LinkedIn Groups
As discussed in “6 Successful Ways To Source New Sales Leads“, joining Linkedin Groups can be incredibly useful.
It might be complicated to find your sales prospects through a normal LinkedIn Search. However, they might be members of specific industry groups. Join those groups and participate in conversations, in this way, you might engage in an interesting back-to-back with sales prospects. Another interesting thing to do is to look for the list of members in that LinkedIn Group. You might find a good bunch of sales prospect.
Remember that, when connecting with one sales prospect over LinkedIn, it’s important to create context. If you are part of the same LinkedIn Group and you see that your sales prospect has made a comment to a certain question or has posted something interesting, you can use that as a reference in your cold email or intro message. If you are not part of the same LinkedIn Group, when checking their profile, you can actually see which group they are part of. Join these and strategize how to approach them.
TIP: We have now the ability to go beyond a simple name, email, and phone number. Do your research, be prepared and use every single weapon in your pocket to stand out of the crowd.
5. Look At Your Sales Prospect’s Skill Endorsements
Would you be surprised if one of your sales prospects is connected to other peers in the same industry?
Would you be surprised if one of your sales prospects asks her peers to endorse her on Linkedin to boost her profile?
If you are, you haven’t yet understood how the LinkedIn works. If you are not doing the same, you are missing on building your personal brand. On the other hand, if you are getting endorsed to show everyone you are an “authority” in your role, then why wouldn’t your sales prospects do the same?
Go on one of your sales prospect’s LinkedIn profile and scroll through their endorsements. Check by whom they have received the endorsements and you might be surprised (although at this stage you should not), that you might be able to find another good amount of leads.
TIP: It’s OK to do your research and navigate through your sales prospect “social” life to find other leads. However, remember to create the context when approaching new people and don’t be “creepy” pointing out that you found they have endorsed John Smith. That’s not going to help.
6. “Hack” The Target Company
When approaching new sales prospects, you want to make sure that you create some context for your contact or you have a referral.
Having a referral in every prospect company you want to approach might be complicated, if not impossible. However, there’s a “hack” for that.
Step 1. Identify the company you want to target.
Step 2. Click on the “See All” referring to the employees of that company.
Step 3. Check what degree of separation you have to someone in that company (even if they are not the right person). There’s a good chance, if you have a good LinkedIn network, that you might be at a 2nd-degree connection distance.
Step 4. Connect to those people through referral.
Step 5. Turn that new connection into an advocate of your solution.
Step 6. Get them to introduce you to the right person, your sales prospect.
TIP: Leverage your network to create connections and reach your prospects in the right way.
7. Keep An Eye Open For New Roles
When changing jobs, people are more willing to shake things up a little bit. That might be implementing new processes, identifying new ways to do the same old thing, and also add new vendors. When you join a new company, you see things with the eyes of an external person, although now you are part of it. This means you see opportunities and problems that others might just not see anymore because they got used to the same old thing.
With the same reasoning, if you approach a new sales prospect that has recently changed a company or has being promoted, she might be more interested in talking to you, than an “old” employee in that same company.
Look at your news feed to check when some of your connections change role. When prospecting for leads, check also for those who recently joined. There is a higher likelihood that they will get back to you.
TIP: When approaching a prospect that recently changed job, be honest and congratulate them. Take the time to establish a connection and be sincere.
There are different ways to source sales prospects. LinkedIn is surely not the only networking tool available; in some countries, this is not as used. Having said that, being able to understand how to approach sales prospects is fundamental for success. LinkedIn provides an easy way to connect and find topics to create a context when sending cold emails. I personally use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which gives me access to a set of add-on features that are very useful.
Do you also use LinkedIn for sales prospecting? Do you have any other suggestion we might have missed?