Talent Acquisition

A Step-by-Step Guide to Prospecting on LinkedIn

“Whenever you’re doing any kind of prospecting, you have to first go where your prospects are hanging out. I have not yet met a professional recently that hasn’t at least heard of LinkedIn. And most of them are at least on it minimally, which means you can find them”.

Brynne Tillman is a LinkedIn and sales trainer at PeopleLinx (guided social selling / sales platform). I interviewed her to get the inside story on social selling using LinkedIn, and she gave us some awesome tips.

“I would say the number one pitfall is sending a non-personalized connection request. The number two pitfall is when someone connects with you, and you don’t send a welcome note. You connect and forget. Number three pitfall actually is ignoring your first degree connections; the people you’re already connected to.”

Have a listen to the podcast version on iTunes or SoundCloud, or read her guide below:

What’s the step-by-step guide to LinkedIn prospecting?

  1. So the very first thing, when I’m working with folks, is that we have to begin to identify the Boolean search, the search criteria of the types of people you’re looking to have conversations with. And this could take a little while initially. I mean if you really understand your prospects and your potential buyers, it could be a 15, 20 minute process. If, you know, you’re the kind of person right now that says, “Everyone needs what I have,” drilling down to those right people can take a little bit longer. But once you’ve got that, which are the…like for me, it’s vice president of sales, director of sales, vice president of marketing, the CMO, sales enablement. So I have my list, and I’ve created it in a way that makes searching for these people on LinkedIn very simple. And so that’s the number one step.
  2. Now, it depends on if you’re account-based marketing or if the world is your oyster. If you’re account-based marketing and you have been assigned 100 accounts, then that’s where you would begin. You’d look up those companies, plug in your now new Boolean search, and see who in the organization is it that you need to be working with or talking with and then who can help you get there if possible.
  3. If you’re not account-based, even geographically based, if you have Sales Navigator, it’s called Lead Builder. If you have regular, it’s called Advanced Search. But creating your advanced searches based on that Boolean search is the next place to go. See who comes up on that list and strategically reach out to your shared connections, whether it’s email, text, phone call, tweet, whatever your normal process would be. Just say, “Hey, Joe, I notice you’re connected to Fred at ABC Company.” Try to get in touch with him. How well do you know him? Can we have a quick call? Can we talk about this? And so that becomes really the next step is going through your warm market.
  4. If you don’t have anyone in common, it seems like it’s going to be a cold reach on LinkedIn. There are things that you can do prior to doing that. You can follow them. You can like or comment on their recent activity and start to build a rapport before you ask for a connection. Once you’ve done that… Or maybe you comment on an article, and now you connect, “Anne, great article that you posted. I really enjoyed it,” she knows that’s true because you liked it, and you commented already, “Would love to connect with you and explore ways we might be able to work together.” And so you’re relating that back to them.
  5. The next process after that is now they connect. And this is where almost everyone drops the ball is you need a welcome message. I have two welcome messages, one that asks for a phone call and one that just provides more value. So if I’m not necessarily looking for a phone call with that person now but they’re someone that I want to nurture over time possibly, I’ll say, “Thanks for connecting on LinkedIn. Not sure if you’re using LinkedIn for sales, but here’s some templates I’ve put together that might be helpful.” And it’s one of the most valuable pieces of content I have. So if they are using it for sales, which kind of qualifies them in for me, then they download these, which I have a gatekeeper, so I know who’s actually downloading them. And I bring them incredible value from the very beginning.

Now, if I want a phone call, I can still share that. But I’ll also say, “I’d love to set up a brief conversation to explore ways we might be able to work together. Here’s a link to my calendar.” So you got to take it all the way through the process. Even when you get there to that welcome note, you’re only going get 3 out of 10, 2 out of 10 conversations. So now, you’re connected to a lot of the right people, but you haven’t had conversations, you need to consistently nurture them over time and provide value. And so when the timing is right, they know that you’re the vendor to call.

What type of technology should social sellers be using?

So the sales stack, that is such an interesting question. It’s really hard for me to say blanketly what everybody needs. I will tell you what I use to answer that question. It’s not nearly as comprehensive as if I were in, you know, a Fortune 1000 company with some of the huge tool opportunities. So I’m going to tell you the ones that I use and that I love.

So let’s start with the CRM. So as a company, we use Salesforce. I love Nimble, it’s a social CRM that lives inside of my email and feeds in real time social interactions based on the emails that I’m getting. So I get an email from someone. It matches it up to their Twitter and their Facebook and their LinkedIn or Instagram. And I can see real time what that person is talking about, and I can engage. It’s very powerful.

Next piece that I absolutely can’t live without is Calendly. And it’s a simple $10-a-month calendar sync. So I can give a link to anyone, and they can get on my calendar. I use that everywhere, and that transformed my business.

I use a couple of Chrome extensions. I use Text Expander, which is a free Chrome extension, where all of my templates live, so I don’t have to retype or even copy and paste from somewhere. It’s just short codes. You can do that on your phone too in short codes. Any smartphone has it. I feel I can’t work without it, absolutely vital.

And I could go on. I have a ton of other little extensions that are really powerful. There’s SalesLoft, which is the email cadence tool. There’s Octave, which is sort of a presentation tool that can help you identify who’s opening your stuff and forwarding your stuff, and it’s a trackable. ClearSlide also, some great stuff. So there’s so many. I can go on and on and on about the tools that are out there. But it really depends on what you’re looking to achieve.

So the last tool that I use every single day, of course, I have to say is PeopleLinx. And that’s where PeopleLinx really helps, because PeopleLinx will remind the sales rep every day what they should be doing either on or Sales Navigator, so you don’t necessarily miss opportunities, and you’re making the most. It’s like someone literally driving to your house, picking you up, and dropping you off in front of the gym. So we can’t make you do it, but we can get you there every single day.

Subscribe to Social Media Know-How

By Jörgen Sundberg

Founder of Undercover Recruiter & CEO of Link Humans, home of The Employer Brand Index.