Using LinkedIn for Sales Leads
Although LinkedIn discourages selling in your personal profile posts, there are several ways in which LinkedIn enables us to find sales prospects within our connections or groups.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
is a service LinkedIn provides at additional cost. This offers additional reach, advanced search capabilities and more, for either individuals or teams. LinkedIn also offers an
to generate leads at an additional cost.
There are ways in which you can use LinkedIn to generate leads without paying for an additional service. Here's a process you can try before paying for LinkedIn's marketing and advertising services:
Finding the Right Contacts
A standard LinkedIn user can search for people, titles, companies, schools and geographic areas. A Premium member can also narrow the search to companies within specific industries. LinkedIn does not currently offer a way to export a list or send a message to a selected group of people, so once you identify your prospect, you will need to contact them individually.
Be aware that you're not looking for a sale just yet - in the first message, you're trying to make a connection. Create a short message telling the contact why you want to connect and what you believe you can do to help them. It's rarely appropriate to just hit the "connect" button and invite someone to connect without some sort of introduction. Make sure to click the button for a custom message and let them know why you think connecting can make sense.
- Identify your prospects: geographic area, job title, industry (if you can).
- Go into their profile to click on "connect", and include your custom note. Let them know why you are interested in connecting (there appear to be synergies between our companies...I'll be sharing articles that may be of interest to you or your customers, etc.)
- If you have a particular individual prospect in your sights, check LinkedIn to see if you have any connections in common, or 2nd or 3rd connections (friends of friends) that can introduce you. If so, send them a private message requesting the introduction and telling them why you'd like to connect with that person.
- Once they have connected with you, send a useful article or something that relates to their job responsibilities - no selling yet!
- After you've sent a few helpful items (or sooner if they engage with you), it may be time to ask for a brief phone call, and/or permission to add them to your mailing/newsletter/blog list.
- Once on your mailing list, you can still continue to send appropriate content to them via LinkedIn, but they'll now also be part of your regular customer relationship management program.
- If you do not have a formal CRM program, make sure to follow periodically with your LinkedIn prospects so that you stay on their radar screens when they're ready to use you or refer you to someone else.
Post to Groups
LinkedIn no longer allows us to post to many groups at once, so you must go into each Group to post. You can cut-and-paste a message to use with each group, if appropriate. Most groups do not allow sales messages, but they do appreciate messages or articles with useful information that their members would appreciate. This is an excellent way to extend your reach beyond your connections.
Attracting Inbound Leads
You can also use LinkedIn to attract inbound leads: include a call-to-action in your Summary. A free eBook, checklist, webinar registration or other enticement that takes them to a landing page to collect a name and email is also very effective.
LinkedIn can be a powerful online network that can help you identify prospects as well as strategic partners or other professionals with whom you can connect. It just takes a little thought and effort to identify the right connections, and then share appropriate info with them. Good luck!