If you’re a business professional, then chances are you’ve heard of LinkedIn. It’s the leading social media platform aimed specifically at the business community and now has more than 467 million members in over 200 countries and territories.
LinkedIn’s potential for successfully generating sales leads is something many B2B sales teams are now capitalizing on. But if you’re a busy sales rep and just want a few quick-hit ideas for getting the most from the platform, then you’re in the right place.
Here, we’ve pulled together the key steps you could be taking each day to boost your lead generation success.
How to use LinkedIn to generate sales leads
1. Make sure your offline connections are also online
Search for all your contacts on LinkedIn and request to connect with them. This should include people you may have met networking, at events or shows, and through other offline activity.
Add a quick reminder in your message of where and how you met, to help jog their memory. If you had a conversation then summarize it, or refer back it in some way too.
The easiest way to make this a habit is to carry a pen and notepad with you at all times, or to use a notetaking app. Make quick notes about all your conversations. Even better, if you can then make these notes on the back of the person’s business card. That will make it even easier when you come to remember who was who, and what you talked about.
2. Have a list of hot targets
Make a list
Depending on your current pipeline and how fast you need to refill it, try and pull out a number of people who you want to actively target. The aim here should be to form a connection.
For example, you may come up with 20 hot contacts you want to nurture along and build a relationship with. They should be people you could potentially be of service to and a possible future customer.
Keep this list within easy reach (perhaps tag the contacts in your CRM) and maintain it daily. Take off anyone you no longer want to pursue, or who becomes a lower priority and add in any new ones who come up.
The next step is to find them on LinkedIn and see what information you can gather about them that may be useful to you. Check if they’ve made any changes to their profiles recently and what their latest updates may be. Look for talking points and insights.
Be where they are
Have a look at the different groups they may be part of and join them too – if it makes sense for you to be there as well. Monitor them to see if they actively comment or post anywhere. If it feels natural, then take part in the conversations.
How can you help them today?
This is the magic question to ask yourself as you work your way through your list.
Instead of focusing on how you might get close enough to land the sale, turn it around and instead think how you may be able to help them today. How can you make their life easier right now? (We don’t mean by selling them your product!)
Check their social media timelines for clues. If they discuss a topic or ask a question, think whether you can provide relevant information, or introduce them to a contact who could be useful to them.
3. Check activity streams for any changes
Monitor your connections to see if there are any changes in job roles, or movement to a new company, etc. All these updates can be valuable insights you may be able to use to your advantage, to start conversations or spot new opportunities.
4. Wish contacts a happy work anniversary
LinkedIn makes it super easy to congratulate connections on career milestones and other achievements. It’s a great excuse to make yourself visible to a contact in an ‘unsalesy’ way. However, try and avoid using the standard default wording provided. Instead, draft a short personal message and make yourself stand out.
5. Make sure you’re using the ‘free’ version to the full
Update your profile
There are lots of ways you can now enhance your LinkedIn profile. Think whether there are any documents or digital media (such as a presentation) that you could add. Are your descriptions and details up-to-date and fully filled out?
Use a professional photo
Make sure you have a photo on your profile. If you already do, then think when you last updated it (if it was a decade ago, then it’s probably time for a revamp). We all have photos we like but make sure it is a professional shot. It needs to be in focus, close up, with a neutral background and showing you in the right kind of setting. What impression does it give of you? What assumptions may people make based on it?
Post updates regularly
As with any social site, you need to be active regularly if you’re to make any kind of impact. Post something interesting and explain why you’re posting it, don’t just put the link-up. What it is about? What do you think about it? Giving an opinion will encourage debate and conversation.
6. Aim for engagement
Engage with other people’s updates
Like, share and comment on any posts where it feels natural for you to do so. Prioritize the top contacts on your ‘hot list’ who you’re working away at.
Make the most of group engagement opportunities
LinkedIn groups are a great place to start relationships, just avoid posting your own stuff all the time. Find the communities that are active and have some good discussions going on. Take part and show off your expertise by helping people out where ever you can.
Check out LinkedIn suggestions
LinkedIn is bringing out improvements to its portal all the time, which aim to help make it even easier to connect. It will now make suggestions about who you may want to contact and about what. See what these suggestions are.
7. Write some articles
LinkedIn’s publisher tool is a great way to put your thoughts out there and to position yourself as an expert. Don’t use overly corporate-speak, make sure it’s accessible and interesting. If humor is your thing then make it witty, or if you have a strong opinion then dare to be controversial and stimulate conversation. Articles are indexed by the search engines, meaning you can also be found that way.
8. Monitor who looks at my profile
Check this tab every day and look at the profiles of those who have looked at yours. When someone has looked at your profile, it could signal that it’s a good time to engage or try and connect. This can work in reverse too, as long as your settings aren’t set to invisible and people can see you’ve looked. Think about using a snappy by-line next to your name too, as that will help you stand out.
9. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Uncover key decision-makers
If you upgrade your account to use the Sales Navigator tool, then make it part of your daily routine to check LinkedIn’s suggestions and go through your extended searches to try and uncover new opportunities to do business.
Keep your top target list up to date
With the paid version of LinkedIn, it is easy to see who is working with who and how they all connect to each other. This can be incredibly useful when you’re working away at a specific account and looking to find out who you need to be talking to. Go through your list and make sure you’re always targeting the most appropriate person.
10. Stop selling!
It may seem counterproductive, but when you’re using LinkedIn (or any other social media platform) then direct selling should be the last thing you aim to do. Instead, make building relationships your focus. In the past, you’d have used all sorts of methods to stay in contact and you still need to do that. The difference is that you don’t necessarily have to leave the office or even to pick up the phone anymore. That means you can also scale up your relationship building and work on an even bigger list.
11. Company browsing
Don’t just look at individuals, remember to check out company pages too, for even more valuable information and insights you can use.
12. Use InMail messages
InMail can also be a helpful tool, if you use well-crafted and highly targeted messaging. Just be aware that the minute a message sounds salesy, generic, or starts coming across as spam, it won’t work and could be damaging for your reputation.
13. Lead Forensics users
Set up alerts for key connections
As a Lead Forensics user, you have even more tools available to you that can help maximize your LinkedIn lead generation success.
Make sure your target list in LinkedIn is included in your Lead Forensics portal. Set up an alert to go out to you whenever anyone on that list visits your website. That way you can interact with them immediately, which is proven to help increase conversion rates dramatically. It allows you to speak to your prospects at the exact moment they’re thinking about you, helping you achieve that all-important perfect timing.
14. Keep on top of new developments
And finally, LinkedIn continues to evolve and introduce new tools. Make sure you’re keeping an eye out for these new developments and any other enhancements, as they could help you strengthen your daily activities and aid your ongoing success.
Lead Forensics can help you identify anonymous website visitors and turn them into customers. Find out how with a free demo.