LinkedIn Strategies for B2B Sales Prospecting
B2B sales prospecting, lead generation and sales conversions are easier said than done, as any sales or marketing professional can tell you. Finding and engaging with new prospects is difficult and most people, even professionals, shudder at the thought of it.
Let’s discuss some B2B prospecting and lead generation strategies and how a platform like LinkedIn can help boost your sales prospecting.
How Effective is LinkedIn for B2B Prospecting?
As an online professional networking service with a plethora of professionals and companies, LinkedIn is as good as it gets. You can potentially find any and all B2B prospects and leads that constitute as highly qualified leads for your business.
This makes LinkedIn an invaluable resource when it comes to B2B prospecting and lead generation. There are more than 170 million active LinkedIn users in the US alone, which makes it an excellent platform for generating qualified leads and reaching out to convert them.
The best part is that LinkedIn allows you to research these users (companies and people) before you make your initial approach. You can search and connect with users based on:
- Company – past and current
- Job titles
- Geographic location, and more
Constant custom marketing which caters to each individual prospect can be a hassle and expensive. LinkedIn can help alleviate the costs and efforts involved for such tailored marketing. It lets you target, research and approach prospects without additional costs, time and efforts required otherwise.
Effective B2B Sales Prospecting and Lead Generation Strategies
Defining your targeted ICP (Ideal Client Profile) and goals will help clarify your objectives and what you hope to achieve from your prospecting and lead generation efforts. You should set goals for how many new, quality leads you want, how much business (revenue) you will generate and how many new customers you want this month, quarter and year.
Setting goals is essential because it helps you identify targets and measure your efforts at the end while also comparing them with changing strategies.
Communicate with your best customers
Getting to know your best customers will help you understand your B2B sales prospecting targets better. You should communicate with them, preferably over telephone calls, and ask questions that help you identify your top attributes.
Ask questions like:
- How has their experience been working with you?
- How has your work improved their business?
- Why did they initially choose to work with you?
- Why did they choose to repeat business with you?
- Would they recommend you to others? Why/Why not?
Now you can leverage this information to identify better leads and create improved custom solutions for your prospects.
Create ideal customer profiles
This is by far the most important thing you can do for prospecting in your B2B business. You start creating ideal customer profiles by identifying your best customers, see what brought them to you in the first place and analyzing what they have in common.
Accurate ideal customer profiling of companies and individuals helps you understand the kind of prospects you want to target in your prospecting efforts. This helps make your prospecting more targeted, efficient and increases sales without having to increase your budgets.
Quality over quantity
The quality of leads is a rising concern for B2B professionals, and you are filling your sales funnels with quality leads and not just going for quantity. Quality leads are more likely to convert and poor leads only waste time and create problems down the road.
Additionally, poor leads take up your time, energy and effort which should otherwise be spent on quality leads that convert. This does not mean that poor leads never convert but there is an obvious difference in conversion ratios between the two.
Outsource cold calling
Most businesses and sales professionals fail to prospect and follow the correct framework to set warm sales appointments with well-qualified leads with cold calling. If you want to successfully close deals, your sales team needs to be free to do so and so it can be highly beneficial to outsource your cold calling to professionals who provide warm appointments.
Your business should not have to struggle to generate well-qualified B2B prospects and leads for your sales team.
Use social media
Social media has evolved to become more business-friendly than ever before. Social media platforms were a good B2B lead generation tool before and they are only getting better! The modern world of business has moved online, and social media platforms have adapted accordingly.
Implementing digital marketing and social media strategies are a must for modern lead generation and sales prospecting. Especially on platforms like LinkedIn, which are a great resource high quality lead generation.
Leverage LinkedIn for B2B Sales Prospecting
Sales prospecting is all about looking in the right places to target B2B businesses and individuals as quality leads to improve your close rates and increase your sales. LinkedIn is at the frontier of connecting B2B businesses with each other and generating sales.
Here are a few strategies you can use to best leverage LinkedIn for your B2B sales prospecting and lead generation.
Strategically build relationships
LinkedIn has industry-specific groups where you can engage in discussions and become an active member. You need to ask relevant and educated questions in these groups to spark interest in users and prospects and provide valuable content and insight.
This helps build your professional brand and establish yourself within your industry and niche. You can keep up with the latest news about prospects’ businesses by joining groups on LinkedIn to stay up to date with any concerning or relevant discussions.
LinkedIn also allows you to connect with prospects where you can see their interests and activities. This provides an opportunity to identify what they like, and share industry related publications to build trust and rapport.
Additionally, you should use common connections or referrals to connect with prospects, identify their challenges and then begin to offer solutions (not products) to further build trust.
It’s highly effective to build a strong personal brand and be an active member of your industry. A strong personal brand that has an active online presence will allow you to get inquiries from prospects and more responses from your communications. LinkedIn prospecting starts with building rapport and trust before anything else.
Research your prospects
Most sales and marketing professionals know that researching prospects on LinkedIn is the best place to start. With so many professionals on the platform, it is an essential digital gold mine of prospects for any B2B business.
LinkedIn members use ‘Advanced Search’ to search for relevant prospects using keywords such as name, title, industry, company, school, location and more. They can also use the ‘Advanced People Search’ options to further filter their searches based on:
- 1st, 2nd or 3rd level connections
- Current or past company
- Industry and much more
The company profile pages on LinkedIn are a great resource when researching prospects because you can find relevant information about B2B companies that help you further filter for quality prospecting efforts.
One major positive aspect is the quality of the leads. Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn company pages are directly maintained by companies themselves, so are very relevant and up-to-date.
Companies publish relevant information on LinkedIn including interests, news and updates, as well as tons of content. The best part is, you can conduct this research even if you are not a LinkedIn member.
If you are serious about B2B lead generation and prospecting you’ll likely want to look at one of their premium subscriptions such as Business Premium or Sales Navigator.
Review the differences between LinkedIn free accounts and premium subscriptions to identify which level will best support your goals and objectives.
Additional Reading: LinkedIn Membership Levels: Free vs Premium Business vs Sales Navigator
Following are some features of LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool, which allows improved and more effective B2B searches and sales prospecting:
- Real-Time Sales Updates
To get relevant insight into your accounts and leads, including job changes, news mentions, and new potential leads.
- Lead Recommendations
To help discover more users in your target accounts using custom suggestions.
To help connect you with prospects through your company’s network.
You can use InMail to contact decision makers in a credible way, even if you are not connected to them.
- CRM Widget
You can add and view LinkedIn contact information in your CRM, where you are already tracking your sales activity.
Sales Navigator features significantly boost your prospect research efforts on LinkedIn where you can get Lead Builder, increased daily profile views, advanced search capability and many more features that are not available to free members.
Another great, and free, feature on LinkedIn is their Social Selling Index (SSI), which can be handy for B2B sales prospecting.
Social selling on LinkedIn
Social selling is the process of developing strong relationships with others as part of the sales process. The LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) is a metric that helps understand your ROI per salesperson from social selling programs. The SSI score ranges from 1 to 100, with 100 being the highest.
SSI will give you a brief analysis of how well your LinkedIn account has been used for social selling in the following areas:
- Establishing your professional brand
- Identifying and finding the right people
- Engaging insights into your prospects
- Building relationships
It will also tell you your industry SSI rank and your network SSI rank.
Additional Reading: 5 Crucial Steps to Mastering LinkedIn Lead Generation
ABC – Always be connecting
LinkedIn offers you networking unlike any other platform on the internet today. It is crucial for successful prospecting and sales. Primarily because B2B businesses like to do business with other businesses they know, like and can trust. LinkedIn provides an incredible platform to build that trust.
Leveraging your mutual connections on LinkedIn to vouch for you can build immense trust quickly in prospects. If you are constantly expanding your network and engaging others with relevant and valuable information, you will make important connections that help earn referrals and warm your path to prospects.
Be smart in your approach and lead with strong, compelling reasons for prospects to meet and connect with you. There are no second chances, and you want to make your initial invite and interaction memorable. Prior research on LinkedIn will help you stand out, build your network and win more business.
Additional Reading: 17 LinkedIn Ninja Tricks Experts Haven’t Taught You Yet
Wrapping up: LinkedIn strategies for B2B sales prospecting
Leveraging LinkedIn for B2B sales prospecting and lead generation is one of the best things you can do for your business. If your sales and marketing team has not been doing this, it is time you start to take advantage of its power.
An important distinction to remember is that a platform like LinkedIn is not for making sales. Instead, think of it as a tool to warm up prospects and get them to meet you off the platform, where you can start a conversation.
You will not get far selling your products or services on LinkedIn. In fact, it will only harm your presence on the platform in the long run.
LinkedIn should be seen as your first step toward connecting with prospects, not as a platform for closing deals. You want to use the network of trust you build on LinkedIn to strategically move ahead and not jump to the end goal.
John Dubay is the Managing Partner at Leads at Scale, an outsourced sales support company that helps B2B companies generate well-qualified leads at scale, ready to be closed.