How inside sales reps can generate leads with LinkedIn

by Steli Efti
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When it comes to lead generation for your business, LinkedIn is the place to be.

It’s where the top executives go to find high-quality content. In fact, 91% of marketing executives list LinkedIn as the top place to find relevant content, and it’s the most-used social media platform by Fortune 500 decision-makers. That means the people you’re trying to reach are actively looking for the content you’re trying to reach them with.

Factor in that LinkedIn converts visitors to leads at three times the rate of both Facebook and Twitter, and that 80% of all B2B leads come from LinkedIn (compared to 13% from Twitter and only 7% from Facebook), and LinkedIn clearly stands alone as the go-to spot for business development and deal closure. You already see that potential though—that’s why you’re here!

In this post, we’ll talk you through what’s new in the world of LinkedIn and how to use the tools they offer to build better relationships with leads, increase your sales, and drive more results for your business.

What’s new with LinkedIn?

Since Microsoft purchased LinkedIn last June, the networking site has released plenty of exciting new tools for marketers and sales reps to play with, and updated existing tools to make them even more effective.

Updated user interface

The first and most obvious is the new user interface LinkedIn started rolling out late last year. They swapped out the previous (outdated) design for a more modern, Facebook-esque look. Simply put, they’ve upped the user experience and made it easier to access all the features they offer.

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As you can see in the screenshot above, it’s easier than ever to publish an article. And, as on Facebook, the righthand side of your feed showcases trending business topics tailored to you.

Support for native video content

With the rising popularity of video content on social media, LinkedIn has finally started giving users the ability to share native video content. Initially only certain influencers could post video, but the site is now slowly releasing the functionality to all users.

The best salespeople are using video content to establish themselves as experts in their respective spaces. Video is the perfect tool to provide valuable and insightful content on whatever your business specializes in, helping to establish you as an authority figure. If you can create a reputation for yourself or your company, your chances of closing a deal will be much higher.

Clickable hashtags

Hashtag functionality has arrived on LinkedIn. You can now include clickable hashtags when you share an update, article, or comment to increase the reach of your content.

Hashtags are searchable as well, which presents a few additional opportunities: First, if you include a specialities section at the bottom of your personal or company bio, anyone searching for those hashtags will see your page in the search results. Also, if you include a keywords section with a handful of hashtags at the end of an article you publish, that article will appear in the search results for each hashtag.

Advanced sales tools

Already established as the go-to for B2B marketers, LinkedIn has started rolling out some new and improved tools that sales reps can use to generate new business. For example, Sales Navigator and InMail have been around for some time, but they’ve both recently been given some TLC to make them even more effective for sales professionals looking to drive results.

Tools aside, when it comes to generating qualified leads and closing sales on LinkedIn, there’s one tactic that stands alone as the most important: Personalization.

Personalization is key

Back in 2015, technology market research company Gartner estimated that by 2018, organizations that have fully invested in personalization will outsell companies that haven’t by 20%. A study done by Demand Metric also found that 80% of marketers and sales professionals say personalized content outperforms generic content.

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To put it simply, personalization leads to an increase in sales.

Studies have shown that 90% of business decision-makers won’t respond to generic cold calls. The same can be said for generic cold emails and messages on LinkedIn. Executives can usually guess when a message in their inbox has been sent to dozens of other executives with nothing but a name change.

If you want to cut through the noise, you need to take the time to personalize the outreach messages you’re sending on LinkedIn. That said, you don’t necessarily have to sit down and write every single message from scratch. You just need to understand how to personalize effectively and efficiently.

The Content Marketing Institute defines personalization as a strategy that exploits visitor or prospect data to deliver relevant content based on the interests and preferences of the target audience.

If you can show that you did your homework on your prospect’s interests, and then create some common ground between the two of you, you’ll instantly jump ahead of the standard “I see you work for company ABC that does XYZ. I provide XYZ service. Let’s do some business!” message and put yourself in a great spot to get a reply.

You can still use a message template that’s proven successful in converting cold prospects into warm leads—like these five email templates.

For example, if you’ve seen a lead sharing content about the importance of having a CRM to manage sales efforts, and you notice you’re both in a CRM-focused LinkedIn group, you can tailor your standard message to include a conversation starter about your common interest in CRM.

How do you find that info? LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator platform is a great place to start.

Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator

With Sales Navigator, you can monitor all your leads on a separate LinkedIn dashboard and get in-depth information on what they're interested in, how to connect with them, what kind of content they’re sharing, and more.

It’s a sales professional’s best friend when it comes to building a relationship with a lead.

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When setting up your Sales Navigator account, you’ll be able to upload any existing leads you have and use the platform’s advanced search filters to find other prospects to follow. You can look for users that follow your company or a competitor, have shared an article or update within a certain timeframe, have a group or skill in common with you, and more.

Once you’ve built a list of potential leads and prospects, you can start engaging with the content they're sharing in order to get on their radar and set yourself up for a warmer outreach in the future.

Sales Navigator even gives you the option to filter your feed based on who’s been in the news recently, started a new job, received a promotion and more.

PRO TIP: Social Media Examiner has published a great step-by-step guide on how to get started with Sales Navigator, from importing existing leads to reaching out to your most qualified prospects.

So you’ve started engaging potential leads to warm them up—now how do you actually reach out to start the conversation? Use LinkedIn’s InMail tool.

How to use InMail to increase sales

When it comes to email marketing, the numbers don’t lie.

On average, for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $38 in ROI. While we believe that traditional email outreach is still a VERY important part of the communications mix, we also see InMail as an opportunity for establishing and nurturing new relationships.

Why?

Because InMail is LinkedIn’s in-app version of email marketing.

You can use InMail to send a sponsored message to another LinkedIn user’s direct message inbox. By hosting the conversation on LinkedIn, you move away from the noise—and competition—that crowds your prospect’s email inbox. Since LinkedIn also restricts the number of sponsored messages a user can receive over a certain period of time, the chances of your InMail messages being opened are much higher.

Once you’ve identified a potential lead, send them an InMail message to start your sales process. When you’re constructing the message, follow the same ideas that apply to getting more cold email opens and crafting the perfect initial outreach email.

Here are a few things that you can do to send the perfect sales message on LinkedIn:

  • Start with personalization: As we said earlier, personalization is key. Why are you reaching out? What’s your connection? Can you get an introduction first and foremost? Use their first name!
  • Start with value: What value do you bring to the table? Can you offer value to the prospect with a simple tip or an insightful report? Give before you take.
  • End with a single question: Don’t leave them with 30 questions to answer. Be specific with your request and ask them to do one thing. Not three. Not four. Just one!

Always provide value first, and offer something you think they’ll be interested in based on the research you’ve done. Don’t just send everyone the same ebook and call it a day—do your homework and understand what this individual would find valuable in their career.

PRO TIP: Since InMail uses a credit-based system where you can only send so many messages before you run out, try to engage with prospects organically first. Keep an eye on the content they’re sharing and jump in when you can. Even if your goal is connecting with them to send them a free direct message, putting yourself on their radar will help get your message read.

If you can warm them up to you beforehand, you can save an InMail credit for a lead that’s tougher to engage with.

Now over to you…

LinkedIn can help you increase sales exponentially if you properly utilize all the tools they offer.

If you’re not already using Close.io, you’ll be glad to have this one-two combo. Our inside sales CRM with integrated calling and emailing plus LinkedIn Sales Navigator can create great results for inside sales reps. Together, they provide the perfect tools for identifying leads, making connections, nurturing relationships, and closing deals.

Want to double down on lead generation? Pair these LinkedIn tactics with a strong cold email campaign. Get 8 CRM-ready cold email templates right now.

Download your free cold email templates