October 4

Using LinkedIn For Painless B2B Sales Prospecting

I’m learning to love LinkedIn more and more as a B2B sales prospecting tool. But the more I use it, the more I wish someone at LinkedIn would get off their ass and make the platform what it could be versus what it is. Right now LinkedIn is a great tool for networking but leaves much to be desired as a social selling¬†tool. Yes, I think there is a distinct difference between prospecting and networking. Networking is asking someone you know to introduce you to someone they know. It’s a form of prospecting and certainly a powerful one for industries like real estate, financial advisors, and such. Prospecting is systematically using data to identify, target and reach out to high value people or companies that you don’t necessarily have any level of connectivity with right now.

5 Features That Would Make LinkedIn a World-Class Prospecting Platform

People You Wish You Knew

Right now LinkedIn will gladly show you people you may know. But aside from turning 2nd and 3rd Connections into 1st Connections, it’s really not all that helpful for folks that want to prospect versus network.

Why not give me a daily or weekly email of people I wish I knew? Let me punch in key criteria and then based on that criteria, and my network, show me folks I don’t know exist but based on my criteria probably would like to know exist. This goes well beyond the saved searches you can do currently.

LinkedIn Today

Encourage users to sign up to receive targeted, high-value content on topics they care about. I’m not talking about what LinkedIn has today. I’m talking about giving everyone on LinkedIn the opportunity to apply to become a writer for LinkedIn Today, as in a proprietary content platform owned and operated by LinkedIn.

Contributors and their contributions would be vetted and constantly scored. Thus, recepients of the information would be ensured of getting helpful information versus linkbait.

Contributors would provide the content for free in exchange for data in the form of notifications of who read their content.

Ideally, LinkedIn would track all of the content a person reads and roll that up into a profile that I as a contributor could access — but only if the member had read one or more of my articles. How would that be for an incentive to write awesome content?

Video Greeting

People do business with people they like. Video is the ultimate tool to convey the true personality of a person, so why doesn’t LinkedIn give us the ability to have a simple one minute or 90 second video greeting on our profile? This gives the prospectee a chance to show themselves off a tad and the prospector a chance to better qualify which prospects are good vs bad fits and target accordingly.

LinkedIn Knowledge Base

The current Answers section is a start but it suffers from a few big problems. First, I have to go in search of questions to answer. Yes, you can subscribe to a category feed, but that can quickly become overwhelming.

Second, there needs to be a way to grade questions and those that post the question. Far too many of the “questions” posted in the Answer section are outright advertising or just plain stupid.

Instead, create a true knowlege base where every LinkedIn user can sign up to answer questions in up to five categories. The categories should be hyper-niched, thus forcing folks to focus on those areas where they have really deep knowledge vs trying to be a jack of all trades.

Members could have three settings — send me no questions (I’ll log on), send me all questions in my categories or just send me questions posed by users in key industries or from my prospect companies.

For those users that want LinkedIn to be a really targeted prospecting tool, the last option creates one hell of a Top of the Funnel prospecting tool.

LinkedIn Matchmaking Service

When someone is in the market for something business related, whether it be to hire a social media agency, locate a mobile web developer or maybe even hire a new employee, LinkedIn could be the match.com of that world.

Right now you can do pretty powerful searches on LinkedIn, but they’re not perfect. Further, after that you’re on your own. How much more efficient would a search be for both the buyer and seller (and that includes employer and prospective employee) if LinkedIn created a toolset within LinkedIn that made the sourcing, evaluation, meeting and even hiring/awarding of work a seamless, painless process within LinkedIn?

Painless Prospecting Is The Future

Technology, the economy and culture are combining to create a perfect storm. Today’s sales person not only wants, but needs to know that every time they get on a call or attend a meeting with a prospect, that the prospect is already in buy mode and wants to buy what the seller is selling. Inefficiency means you have to give up something you love to spend more time doing something you probably don’t love — sales prospecting.

Technology and data can and do make this dream a reality. We’ll talk more about that reality in future posts, and in my book, The Invisible Sale, I explore various methods of Painless Prospecting in great depth. But for now, I can only hope that the biggest business platform in the world — LinkedIn — gives this post a read and finds a few items they can get behind and implement sooner rather than later to help make prospecting on LinkedIn a bit less painless.

So what do you think? Was this helpful?

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B2b Sales Prospecting, b2b social selling, Linkedin, sales prospecting, social selling, social selling keynote, social selling workshops

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  1. Hi Tom,

    There is some debate in my mind (and this may be true of others as well) as to what criteria is followed in developing one’s network of connections. In the beginning of my work on LinkedIN, my criteria was that I had to have met my connection in person. If everyone of my connections was going to potentially have an opinion of me then I wanted that opinion to be based on my face-to-face demeanor and not my virtual persona. Lately, due to the fact that business travel has been strongly curtailed and I tend to meet more people on the phone than in person, I have been relaxing that criteria. I am uneasy about development because I don’t want to dilute the value of the business people who are my most loyal fans.
    You brought up the idea of a short video profile in LInkedIN and I’m not sure I would place such a contrivance even halfway along the continuum between a phone conversation and an in-person meeting. Skye and Face Time are two video chat technologies that I might place closer to the halfway point versus a pre-recorded video.

    1. Grant,

      I think one’s approach to connecting on LinkedIn is probably driven by LinkedIn’s role in your networking. For me, LinkedIn is certainly a place to keep in touch with contacts but it’s also a place to “meet” new contacts that may become clients one day or just supporters. Thus, I’m a fairly lenient in my connecting on LinkedIn. I’ll accept most folks connection requests, so long as they’ve actually taken the time to craft a personal request to connect. If I get the standard LI “let’s connect” message, that pretty much equals a “not going to happen” in my book.

      You seem to favor the platform more as a true social network, which is a perfectly good and acceptable IMO use of it.

      So then, it would also make sense that you favor real-time video chats vs recorded video introductions. Again, if one is using the platform to “prospect” the recorded video might be just fine and if a person is using the platform to find resources, here again I’d think a recorded video is fine.

      On the point of loyal fans… I must say though, I’ve never met some of my most loyal fans face-to-face — and some I’ve never even spoken with on the phone. Yet, because of our interactions via social media, we have developed a firm bond. That said, it is the exception not the norm. Over the years I have definitely found that as I have become more loyal to a person online there is a need on my part and theirs to meet either virtually (video conf) or in the real world face-to-face or via phone.


  2. Great article Tom. It would be interesting to understand whether you use tools such as Found.ly which work well with social networks such as Linkedin to find and build targeted lists of leads and then their associated email addresses, contact details so your sales team can actively engage with them?

    We’ve historically been profiling on Linkedin for a long while and tools such as this have 10x our efficiency levels.

    Also CRM tools such as pipedrive, Streak to name a few (zoho is another top quality one) efficiently manage our sales funnel through to customer.

    1. Thanks… I don’t use Found.ly mostly because our Painless Prospecting approach is based on seduction vs interruption… so our strategies and tactics are designed to improve our ability to be found and sought out by prospects vs actively calling on potential prospects.

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