How To Find Prospects on LinkedIn
LinkedIn is an essential tool to deepen relationships with current clients and customers. It is also the world’s largest tool to fill your sales pipeline with new prospects. It’s key to note that LinkedIn connections are very valuable since they are often the gateways to prospects. As previously mentioned, 98% of sales reps with more than 5000 LinkedIn connections meet or surpass quota.[i]
One of the main reasons for social selling is because there is no longer just one buyer at a company. There are many influencers; sourcing them via LinkedIn to understand their connections and roles is critical. As LinkedIn’s Mike Derezin, vice president of LinkedIn Sales Solutions, notes, “Today there are, on average, 5.4 buyers in the B2B sales process. And when you include the key influencers, there are probably closer to 10 people influencing the buying decision.”[ii]
Search: To find new prospects, use the LinkedIn Advanced Search feature to look for people that match your customer profile. You can search by title, company, industry, location, university, etc. I find it effective to search by title and then reduce this list by focusing on the universities I attended or by the city I’m living in. This gives me the best chance to have an immediate personal connection with the prospect. An added benefit of being in the same city allows me to have a face-to-face conversation sooner rather than later.
The main search bar is at the top of your profile page. To expand the search bar into an advanced search query, just simply click on the word “Advanced” next to the search box. There is also the ability to save searches. The huge benefit here is when a new prospect matches your saved search query, LinkedIn will email you. LinkedIn will actually be sending you prospects via email! Yep, it’s that easy.
LinkedIn Pulse: Reading industry-related content via LinkedIn Pulse is crucial to staying on top of the competition and current trends. It can also be ideal for finding customers. Next time you read a post on LinkedIn, click the expand button to see who has either liked or commented on the post. This window makes it easy for you to discover like-minded people and prospects. Most importantly, it gives you a natural opening to begin an online conversation.[i]
A quick reminder that connecting authentically is key and will positively help your prospecting.
Find the Influencers: Identify who the influencers are within your industry, learn who is engaging with them and why. Peter Thiel, author of Zero to One, discusses the advantages of using a very focused or niche strategy to stay ahead of the curve in business. Below is a guide on how to use the same strategy for social selling.
- Focus on active profiles and thought leaders in your industry and determine what they have in common: any interests, groups, skills, posts or mission statements. This will help adjust what your online profile and contributions look like. You can see what is working for most of these thought leaders and borrow items that make sense for you.
- Look at the profiles of the people engaging with these thought leaders. Patterns and characteristics will begin to emerge and you’ll soon have a new digital customer profile. Many will even ask for help from these thought leaders. Those asking questions have just self-identified a need for your product—they are literally raising their hand and saying, please sell me a solution that will help me!
- It’s not always this simple. Many in need of help will not openly ask for it. However, if you see people actively engaged around a certain challenge, it’s a good bet that’s the challenge they are also wrestling with.
Do More Research: Successful prospecting is driven by “the strength of your list and the precision of your targeting.”[i] Spend time understanding where your current customers came from and why they’re working with you. Great questions to ask your best customers over lunch are “how did you find us and why do you work with us?”
Compare your network with your competitor’s network. How are they different and how do your customer bases vary? Remember that it’s key to identify and understand the viewpoint of your customers. Find the most valuable item for them as a result of doing business with you and accentuate this in your social selling approach.
People Also Viewed: The “People Similar to” and “People Also Viewed” sidebars should be your best friends. These sidebars show profiles similar to those you are viewing. In essence, LinkedIn has pre-identified potential profiles that could be of interest to you. This is similar to Amazon’s or Netflix’s recommendation engine but for individuals on LinkedIn.
Keep an eye out for when prospects switch jobs. This is an ideal time to send a congratulatory note and follow-up. They are most likely going to try and make an immediate impact at their new job and you can be their trusted advisor to make it happen.
“People will try to tell you that all the great opportunities have been snapped up. In reality, the world changes every second, blowing new opportunities in all directions, including yours.” ~ Ken Hakuta
If needed, you can purchase an extra 10 InMails a month. Use tools like Attach.io to track engagement with your sent messages. Attach.io will tell you if a prospect opened your message, if they’ve forwarded your message and more.[iii] The most robust tool that LinkedIn offers is Sales Navigator, which will be discussed later in the book. If you don’t have the budget for the premium tools, don’t fret, almost every tactic and item we recommend can be done with the free version.
[i] Doerr, John. “6 Keys to Prospecting Success.” Rain Group//Blog. Accessed July 22, 2016. http://www.rainsalestraining.com/blog/sales-prospecting-6-keys-to-success
[ii] Braton, Anna. “Ten Tips For Using Linkedin For Sales Prospecting.” Salesforce UK Blog. December 3, 2015. Accessed May 11, 2016. https://www.salesforce.com/uk/blog/2015/12/ten-tips-for-using-linkedin-for-sales-prospecting.html
[iii] Attach. “Can I Use Attach to See Who Engages with My LinkedIn InMails? – Attach.” Attach. Accessed June 27, 2016. https://attach.io/blog/help-center/how-do-i-use-attach-in-linkedin-to-see-who-engages-with-my-inmails/
[i] Brudner, Emma. “7 Little-Known Ways to Find New Prospects on LinkedIn.” September 28, 2015. Accessed May 15, 2016. http://blog.hubspot.com/sales/little-known-ways-to-find-new-prospects-on-linkedin#sm.0000q448lta3pfb8yux2ctvs3pu2u
[i] LinkedIn. “SBI’s 7th Annual Research Project.” LinkedIn SBI Sales Research Report. 2013. Accessed June 29, 2016. https://business.linkedin.com/content/dam/business/sales-solutions/global/en_US/c/pdfs/linkedin-sbi-sales-research-report-us-en-130920.pdf
[ii] Bill Carmody, “4 Ways to Boost Your Social Selling Profile (Courtesy of LinkedIn),” Inc.com, Accessed August 5, 2016, http://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/the-4-secrets-of-social-selling-revealed-by-linkedin-s-vp-of-sales-solutions.html