13 of the Best Tips for Prospecting on LinkedIn

By Janice B Gordon | sales training

Aug 29
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A salesy person is self-centred and not genuinely interested in building relationships and adding value for their prospects that may or may not lead to a referral, sales or recommendation.

 The typical poor connection request includes:

  • “I was looking to expand my network and came across your profile.”
  • “I help people who xxx”
  • “We have several mutual connections”. 

 There is nothing that indicates that the sender has even read the prospect’s profile it’s all spam (irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the Internet, typically to many users, for advertising, phishing, spreading malware).

Saying that people are social animals and do want to connect and engage, the problem is people are lazy and use standard, impersonal and sales disguised connection request.

  1.  The first thing to note when prospecting is not to sell and not to rush building access to a connection.
  2. The second thing to remember is that everyone is busy, and your priority is not the prospects priority.
  3. The third thing to consider is that you must do what feels comfortable to you, your comfort level reflects your personality.

 Prospecting in a way that is not aligned to your values, will attract clients not aligned to your values. Either way, the relationship will not go well.

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 Put yourself in the prospects shoes of receiving many of the cut and paste connection requests. If there received several of the same or similar worded connection requests, what does it say about you? Many people will disconnect, ignore or politely decline the offer. All this has tarnished the prospect’s opinion of your connection. It is time to rethink your connection strategy.

Do what is comfortable and authentic to you online as you would offline and rather than follow the crowd create a prospecting process that works for you.

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Here are some of my strategies and tactics I use to help sales professionals master social selling, and I stress it’s best to create what works for you:

  1. Research the hell out of the people you want to get in front of to create a personalised and compelling value proposition. The value proposition states why the prospect should connect with you.
  2. You must get your own house in order first. The first thing any prospect will do is check you out to see if you are worthy of the connection. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is easy to read, tells a story and helps facilitate the first conversation. Ask yourself, is your profile message of what I do for the prospect uniquely compelling?
  3. After tailoring a LinkedIn search that identifies targets, save the search, so LinkedIn notifies you of other people who match your search criteria. Then, check out their profiles. 
  4. Research the prospects and comment on their postings regularly, this way, they are more likely to ask to connect with you instead of you asking them, and you will be more memorable. Adding useful comments helps you stand out from the spammy connection requests.
  5. Do a second level search to see who in your current network knows the individual/s you want to contact and ask for an introduction. 92% of buyers trust referrals from people they know. 91% of customers say they would give referrals. Only 11% of salespeople ask for referrals. Buyers engage with people they know, which means you should look for opportunities to get introduced.
  6. Personalise your connection request. Avoid the above connection examples. You need to state relevance so read the prospect profile and posting and pick up on some recent quote or same employers or same university. Example connections “I work in the same industry as you and I are keen to deepen my knowledge by reading your updates or I have deepened my knowledge by reading your blogs. Shall we connect?”
  7. Map out the buying committee and your connections to them. The average number of stakeholders involved in a B2B sale has climbed to 6.8,each stakeholder has an influence on the final buying decision and is valuable connections. Your strategy for finding prospects with real influence should trace a path to the people who have a say in the buying decision. 
  8. Interact with people who viewed your profile and “thank them for viewing or checking out your profile”. Prospects are more likely to check you out and connect with you when you acknowledge them. 
  9. Post articles and see the people who have interacted with your posts, you never know which of your newest followers might be a great new prospect.
  10. join groups where your prospects hang out to enrich their knowledge, then hang out with them and add value to the conversations, never sell!
  11. If prospects connect with you, start a conversation with small talk (polite conversation about unimportant or uncontroversial matters) “Thank you for connecting. Will you be attending XX independent conference on XX? Yes/No response: “I was hoping to meet the person who wrote (quoting them)
  12. Then carry on small talk (common areas of interest) be curiously interested and humorously interesting. “Great it would be great to catch up sometime for a coffee or video chat to see if there is an opportunity to collaborate?” sign off
  13. Your aim is to take online offline and lead to a phone call where you can find out more about the individuals’ priorities. You want to start a conversation to build a relationship rather than make a sale. This conversation may be the right time to mention the results of what you have achieved for similar clients.

Do not send LinkedIn private messages instead of a marketing email. It is still spamming unless the prospect has requested the material.

Like Gary Vaynerchuk mentioned give, give, give and earn the right to ask, make an offer, ask advice or ask for help. Jackie Barrie said “Selling too soon is like running into an event wearing a sandwich board, waving a flag and shouting, ‘buy my stuff!’ People will point and laugh or hide in a corner. They are unlikely to want to buy from you”.

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 Trying to create a one-step sale when you need to take at least eight steps or touchpoints to build credibility, is lazy selling. Always build the relationship first, so you understand the prospect need to ensure your value proposition will add value to them.

 In the same way, never pitch on an initial phone call, an initial conversation, whether online or offline or anything that can elude to you wanting to sell. Rushing to sell only leads to prospects disengagement. Never take a short cut in the relationship-building process you will pay for it down the line.

 Whatever strategy and tactics you choose, you must do what is comfortable and authentic to you online as you would offline. Research the hell out of the people you want to get in front of and your value proposition. Only when they respond to your connection request, which will be those that find your profile compelling and relevant to them.

 Work out the leading steps (journey your prospective customer must go through to trust you enough to want to have a conversation and then prepare and place the relevant content along with the steps.

Let me know how these tips work for you 😊

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About the Author

Janice is a Visiting Fellow at Cranfield School of Management. She is passionate about helping companies adapt their sales approach to the economic, social and technological challenges. This has led her to create the popular the sales enablement system, Scale Your Sales. Janice is the international Strategic Account Sales Speaker, author and consultant, achieving many noted accolades including Sage Top100 Global Business Influencer 2017. Contact Janice today about Scaling your Sales