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LinkedIn Prospecting: The Ultimate Guide For Sales [2023]

In this article, you will find everything you need to become an expert at LinkedIn prospecting.

We will cover:

  1. How to optimize your LinkedIn profile
  2. How to find qualified leads on LinkedIn
  3. How to reach out to your leads to get meetings
  4. How to boost linkedin prospecting with linkedin marketing

I will also share some linkedin message templates and linkedin prospecting tools you can use to save time and get more replies.

Ready to go?

Let’s dive in.

What is LinkedIn Prospecting?

LinkedIn prospecting describes all the techniques that you can use to identify and contact your ideal clients on LinkedIn. It requires a set of different sales skills like list building, copywriting, and automation.

Should you prospect on LinkedIn?

It all depends on whether if your ideal clients are using LinkedIn daily and are thoroughly filling their profiles.

If your targets are digital and use LinkedIn daily, then you should definitely use LinkedIn as your main B2B lead generation channel.

If your audience is not so digital and don’t use LinkedIn so often, like traditional SMBs, E-Commerce brands, Health companies, this social media might not be the best place to prospect them.

Does LinkedIn work for prospecting?

Yes. Definitely. The reply rate to prospecting messages is usually higher with LinkedIn messages than with cold emails. It’s also a goldmine of prospect information, so it makes it easy to build qualified lead lists using LinkedIn search engine.

does linkedin prospecting work

In some of our campaigns, the difference is quite remarkable. You can see in this one that we get 48% reply rate on LinkedIn vs. 6% with cold emails.

Convinced?

Now let’s see how the best salespeople use linkedin for prospecting.

How to Use LinkedIn For Sales Prospecting?

Here are 12 ways to use LinkedIn for Sales Prospecting:

  1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for sales
  2. Use LinkedIn boolean search
  3. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  4. Export leads and find contact details
  5. Don’t add notes in connection requests
  6. Send hyper-personalized messages
  7. Always add value in follow-ups
  8. Identify Open Profiles
  9. Use paid Inmails as last resort
  10. Automate LinkedIn outreach
  11. Combine LinkedIn prospecting and cold email
  12. Scale LinkedIn outreach using multiple accounts

1. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for sales

Before you send any prospecting messages on linkedin, the first step is to optimize your linkedin profile for sales.

Would you spend money on ads to drive traffic to a landing page that is not optimized?

I guess not.

The same rule applies with your Linkedin profile. You never got a second chance to make a good first impression.

The first thing that people will do when they receive your message is visit your Linkedin profile. You need to make sure that it’s appealing and that your value proposition is clearly visible.

optimize linkedin profile

Here is a short checklist to make sure your profile is optimized before you send any message:

  1. Design an original profile picture and banner
  2. Write a simple and clear headline
  3. Detail value proposition in the About section
  4. Display social proof and links in Featured section
  5. Customize your Linkedin URL
  6. Detail job experiences and education

Now that your Linkedin profile is optimized, it’s time to search for leads using the Linkedin search engine.

2. Use LinkedIn Boolean Search

Linkedin make it easy to build lead list by providing a variety of filters like Job Title, Company Size, Company Industry etc…

linkedin prospecting search engine

But that’s not it. You can use boolean search on top of that to build even more targeted lead lists.

LinkedIn Boolean search helps you narrow or expand your keyword searches to help you find the profiles you are looking for. 

It uses logical connectors:

  • AND
  • OR
  • NOT

Combined with punctuation:

  • Parentheses
  • Quotes

Find out how it works in this video:

3. Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator

If you want to make Linkedin your main B2B lead generation channel, then you absolutely need a Sales Navigator license.

Sales Navigator is basically the advanced version of the basic Linkedin search engine, which make it super easy to reach your target audience.

use linkedin sales navigator for prospecting

It offers many more search filters and exclusive features to find and reach out to identify and target your ideal customer profile. Here is a video that will tell you exactly how to get the most out of Sales Navigator.

The advanced search features that Sales Navigator offers are clearly a must-have for a high-performing sales organization.

4. Export leads and find contact details

The only drawback of LinkedIn Sales Navigator is that it doesn’t allow to export your leads into a CSV. Hopefully, there is plenty of 3rd party tool like Evaboot that make this step effortless.

You simply need to download the Evaboot Chrome extension to have access to a new button, “Extract With Evaboot”. Just click on this button to export your search results in one click.

export leads from linkedin sales navigator for prospecting

You can also use Evaboot to get the emails of your prospects, so at the end of the process you end with a read-for-outreach file like this one

build prospecting lists from linkedin

If you want to add cold calling to your sequences, you can also use tools like Datagma to find phone numbers from linkedin.

5. Don’t add notes in connection requests

Ok, great.

Now you have your lead list, and it’s time to start the outreach.

You can’t send direct messages to your 2nd and 3rd degree connections on Linkedin, you must send a connection request first.

linkedin connection request

My advice is that you don’t add notes in your connection requests, except if you have a super relevant icebreaker, like mutual connections.

note linkedin prospecting

Several studies are showing that connections request without notes get on average 3.5% edge on connections request with notes.

So if you don’t have something super relevant to add your notes, simply send a plain connection request, that will do the job just fine.

6. Send hyper personalized messages

We are all receiving awful prospecting messages on linkedin every day… yes, I’m talking about this:

bad linkedin prospecting messages

You can see from a mile away that this message has been blasted to thousands of people without doing any research on anyone.

linkedin prospecting messages bad example

You can expect replies from your prospects if you don’t provide any effort, you must deserve these replies.

That is why you need to show your prospect you did your homework. For that, here is a template you can use. I call it the RABT Formula. The structure of the message is the following:

  1. Reason for outreach
  2. Ask a question
  3. Backup with data
  4. Tease your solution

Here is a message we use to send that get 28% reply rate.

linkedin prospecting message example

Let’s analyze all the steps in details:

  1. Reason for outreach: clearly tell your prospect why it’s relevant for him to read the message. It can be a generic icebreaker for all your list, or you can also write a personalized icebreaker for everyone in your list.
  2. Ask a question: find a question to qualify your prospect. 99% of the time, that will be: “Do you have the problem my company solves?”
  3. Backup with data: Show your prospect that you did your homework and that you asked this question for a specific reason.
  4. Tease your solution: Tease the benefits of your solution without telling how it works. Here we want to focus on outcomes. If the prospect is interest, he will ask you about the “How” later

If you follow this template and fill it with relevant information, you can be sure that you will get replies.

7. Always add value in follow-ups

When you are sending linkedin prospecting messages, make sure to add value every time you send a follow-up.

Most people simply repeat their proposition value and ask for a meeting again.

There is no added value for the lead in this type of messages.

follow up on linkedin

In this message, the person asks for a meeting whereas the prospect has not even shown interest for the proposition value yet.

Instead of just repeating your proposition valuetry to bring new arguments to the table.

You can for example send content you created on the topic to show your expertise.

Client testimonials are gold for following up.

good example of a linkedin follow up

It also shows proof that you are legit business, and you already created value for similar people.

8. Identify Open Profiles

Inmail messages are premium linkedin messages that allow sales reps to skip the connection request step and directly send messages to 2nd and 3rd degree connections.

linkedin inmails for prospecting

Open Profiles are a great opportunity on Linkedin because you can send them free Inmails.

Given that the number of connection request you send with your linkedin profile is limited to 200 per week, Open profiles are a great way to increase the volume of messages you can send.

free inmails open profiles

There is no way to filter your search on Open profile using linkedin search engine or Sales Navigator.

detect open profile linkedin prospecting

However, you can detect who are the Open Profiles in your list using Sales Navigator and Evaboot.

prospect linkedin open profiles

In the Evaboot extraction, there is a column named “Prospect Is Open Profile”. Simply filter on TRUE to get all the open profiles in your list. Here is the process:

  1. Make a search on LinkedIn Sales Navigator
  2. Export your search into CSV with Evaboot
  3. Look into the column “Prospect is Open Profile”

9. Use paid Inmails as a last resort

If your prospect is not an Open Profile, you can still send paid Inmails.

You got 50 Inmails per month if you have a Sales Navigator subscription.

Linkedin Inmails are a unique opportunity to get into your prospect’s linkedin inbox, so you would rather not waste them.

My advice is that you keep these Inmails as a last resort to contact your prospect.

Proceed like this:

  1. Send a connected request
  2. If it’s not accepted, find the email address of your prospect and write a cold email
  3. Follow-up 3–4 times via email
  4. Send an Inmails if you don’t get a reply to your emails

With this process, you are sure to maximize the value of your Inmails credits.

10. Automate Linkedin Prospecting

Some tools like LaGrowthMachine or Linkedin Helper can help you automate your linkedin prospecting messages and your follow-ups.

They are huge time savers, and you use them to build specific scenarios like this one:

automate linkedin prospecting

The best part?

You can use custom variable in your messages to personalize your messages at scale.

Let’s say you want to write a personalized icebreaker for all your prospects, simply add these icebreakers into your CSV file and then upload it to your outreach tool.

custom variables linkedin prospecting messages

Your icebreakers will be automatically placed at the beginning of your messages along with other variables like first name or company name.

11. Combine LinkedIn prospecting and cold email

It’s not because you want to focus on linkedin prospecting that you should totally forget cold emails.

combine linkedin prospecting and cold email

Combine both channel can actually make your prospecting process 10x more efficient. This strategy is called multichannel cold outreach.

multichannel cold outreach

If you are keen to learn more about how to combine linkedin prospecting and cold emails to get more replies, you can take a look at this video:

12. Scale LinkedIn prospecting using multiple accounts

If you start having good results with linkedin prospecting on one account, you might want to apply the same strategy to multiple accounts to get more replies.

LGM makes it super easy to manage multiple linkedin accounts within the same platform

manage multiple linkedin accounts linkedin prospecting

You can even manage all the replies to your campaigns at the same place using the shared inbox feature

manage multiple linkedin accounts inbox

7 LinkedIn Sales Prospecting Message Templates

Here are 7 LinkedIn prospecting messages templates methods you can use to get more replies

  1. Reach out to LinkedIn event attendees
  2. Reach out to competitors’ post commenters
  3. Reach out to competitors’ followers
  4. React on company news
  5. Reach out to LinkedIn group Members
  6. Leverage your existing clients
  7. Contact client’s alumni

1. Reach out to LinkedIn event attendees

Attending to a Linkedin event is a great sign of interest for a topic. If some companies in your niche or your competitors create a Linkedin event, you can totally steal all the people who signed up to it.

how to use linkedin for prospecting event attendees

First, look for event in your niche

Find an event from which you want to extract the attendants

linkedin event search results

You must register to the event if you want to have access to the list of attendees

add to see linkedin event attendees list

You now have access to the list of participants

access linkedin event attendees list

Once you complete these operations, you can now go to Phantombuster and look for “LinkedIn Event Guests Exporter”

how to extract linkedin event attendees

Simply copy-paste the linkedin event URL into the field. You will get a CSV with all event participant information.

You can now import this CSV into LaGrowthMachine and repeat the process described in part one. Here is an example of a prospecting message you could send after the event.

Message

Hello <first name>

I’m trying to collect feedback on the webinar {{webinar_name}}.

Did you attend to it?

Interested in your thoughts

Best, JB

Many people sign up for the event but never show up so make sure to ask if they did participate in the event.

2. Reach out to competitors’ post commenters

Commenting a post is a great sign of interest for a topic. And all post comments are public.

Why don’t you steal post commenters from a post related to your niche?

how to search for linkedin post for sales prospecting

Thanks to the linkedin search engine, you can look for post in your niche and extract the commenters.

Simply type your keywords and select “Past week” to be sure people will remember having commented this post recently

Just repeat the process describe in the part 1.
Here is an example of results I’ve gotten with this strategy.

example of linkedin prospecting campaign on post commenters

Here is the message I sent:

Message

Hello <first name>,

I saw that you commented <competitor>‘s post regarding the generation of icebreakers via AI.

I’m doing a webinar with WeClose on the subject next Tuesday 2 p.m.

Here is the link: <your link>

Most of the tools that do this today are English and do not work well on the French.

WeClose’s AI is trained on French, so I thought it might be relevant for you?

Best, JB

3. Reach out to competitors’ followers

There is a hack to steal your competitor’s followers on linkedin. These people are a great target for a linkedin prospecting campaign.

As they follow your competitors on Linkedin, you can be sure they are interested in your topic.

Pro-tip: make sure to exclude employees and founders from the followers list.

Here is an example of a campaign you can use:

Message

Hello <first name>,

I’m reaching out because I see you are a follower of <competitors>.

Is it a product/service you are using? Or you simply like the content they post?

The goal here is to start conversation and to gather information on your prospect.

4. React on company news

This one is a classic. One company event is a great opportunity to reach out to someone, as people love to be congratulated. Any good news like a fundraising is a good opportunity.

Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an efficient way to detect them.

linkedin sales navigator prospecting

Here are message templates you can use:

Message

Hello <first name>

I’m reaching out because I came across a post mentioning that <company news>

Just wanted to say congrats. Great job you guys have done there.

This is completely disinterested. Give an honest “good job” is always a kind gesture.

5. Retarget LinkedIn group Members

Being part of a group is a good sign of interest. It means the person is interested in the topic and want to get content about it or exchange with other people in the community.

Contacting people that are members of some linkedin groups in your niche, definitely worth a try. So, how to get them into a CSV?

You can use Sales Navigator to prospect group members, but it is not mandatory.

You can also use the basic search engine and Phantombuster to do that. Look for a group with the LinkedIn search engine.

how to use linkedin for prospecting group members

Join the group by clicking on Request to join

how to join linkedin group for sales prospecting

Warning: You will have to wait for the admin of the group to accept your request to go through the next steps. Otherwise, this error will show up

warning linkedin group extract

Once you get accepted into the group, look for the Group Extractor Phantom. Copy-paste the URL into Phantom Buster

A few minutes later, you get all the group members into a CSV! You can now import this CSV into LaGrowthMachine and repeat the process described above.

Here is an example of a prospecting message you could send:

Message

Hello <first name>,

I just joined the <group_name> linkedin group, and I’m reaching out to members to exchange about <topic>

Are you still interested in this topic?

Best, JB

Most Linkedin groups are dead, full of spammers, and people don’t even remember having joined them. Make sure that your prospect is still interested in the topic.

6. Leverage your existing clients

People always like to hear about what their competitors are doing. If you already have clients, and you have authorizations to work with similar companies, you can use that as a leverage.

Message

Hello <first name>,

I’m reaching out because we have started to work with <client>, it’s one of your competitors.

We help them <the problem you are solving> and they are pretty happy with it.

Do you have the same issue at <company name>?

Before sending any sales pitch, you want to make sure that your prospect has the pain points as your client. No problem. No sale.

You know how to write linkedin prospecting messages, you have the right message templates, but you are not done yet. Before you start sending your first prospecting messages, there are some things you must do.

7. Contact your clients’ alumni

There is a high chance of some people that used to work with your clients have moved to potential customers.

Here is a quick way to find them on Sales Navigator:

  1. Use the filter “Past Company”
  2. Add your clients
  3. Add other filters to find decision makers
find client alumni

You can send a message like:

Message

Hello <first name>,

I’m reaching out because I saw you used to work at <client name>, it’s one of our clients.

I see that you are now… <new position occupied>.

I wondered if <new company name> could also benefit from our solution.

<client name> is currently achieving <benefit of your solution>

Would you be interested to get the similar results with <new company name>?

Here you are telling your prospect that people closed to him are achieving good results with your product/service. That might trigger it curiosity.


How To Boost LinkedIn Prospecting with LinkedIn Marketing?

5 ways to boost linkedin prospecting with linkedin marketing

  1. Post on LinkedIn daily
  2. Engage with post commenters
  3. Engage with other linkedin posts
  4. Run LinkedIn Ads on prospecting audiences
  5. Use a Linkedin Account-Based Marketing Strategy

1. Post on LinkedIn daily

People are was more comfortable to start conversation with people they are familiar with.

If you receive an email from Salesforce SDRs tomorrow, you will at least read it because they have a strong brand and everybody knows their name.

linkedin posts strategy

That is why it can be really efficient to position yourself as a thought leader on Linkedin while you are prospecting.

Because your future clients might be your linkedin post viewers, likers, commenters.

create feeling of familiarity

Someone who came across some of your linkedin post is much more likely to accept your connection request if they have seen post relevant content.

So posting on Linkedin is all about warming up your potential prospecting audience while you are sending messages to increase your reply rate.

2. Engage with post commenters

Linkedin prospecting is about starting conversation. But the inbox is not the only place you can have conversations on Linkedin. Linkedin is above all else a social selling platform.

prospecting with linkedin posts

You can also interact with potential customers in the comment section of your posts.

It’s critical to reply to all the people commenting your post to start as many conversations as you can and increase the reach of your posts to get even more comments.

If you want to scale that technique and automate your connection request sending to all the people commenting your post, you can also use Phantombuster.

how to extract linkedin post commenters

Go on Phantombuster and select the post commenters extractor to extract all post commenters into a CSV.

3. Engage with other LinkedIn posts

Your comment section is not the only place to leave comments, you can also comment on other linkedin posts in your niche.

comment on linkedin post

This provides 2 benefits:

  1. You get visible: if your comments get some likes, it is likely to be put forward on linkedin at the top of the comment section
  2. You create a relationship: commenting on someone’s post is a great way to create a first interaction before sending a connection request or a message.

My advice is that you block 15 min in your calendar every day to spend some time commenting on Linkedin posts in your niche.

4. Run LinkedIn Ads on your prospecting audiences

Another way to warm up your prospecting audiences on LinkedIn is to run ads on the people you are prospecting.

But how to target the people you are prospecting with LinkedIn Ads?

Well, this much easier than you thinks if you use Sales Navigator to hack linkedin ads. Here is a tutorial:

There are 3 techniques

The warmup Ads: The goal here is too run ads BEFORE the SDR’s start sending emails to maximize email replies and connection request acceptance rate on Linkedin.

warmup linkedin ads abm targeting

The Cover Ads: You also want to run ads on leads WHILE SDR’s are sending messages to them. This way, you stay top of mind in their head.

cover linkedin ads abm targeting

The Wake-Up Ads: You can use this type of Ads campaigns to stay top of mind among people that have not replied to your SDR campaigns.

wakeup linkedin ads abm targeting

5. Use a LinkedIn Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Combining linkedin marketing and linkedin prospecting is called linkedin account-based marketing.

linkedin account based marketing funnem

Linkedin Account-Based-Marketing (ABM) is a sales-oriented marketing approach. Marketing teams doing ABM focus on the quality of leads, not the quantity. They work hands in hands with Sales teams to convert targeted lists of accounts into customers.

Here is a complete tutorial to implement linkedin ABM in your company

People often opposes linkedin prospecting and linkedin marketing, but the truth is that the best thing to do is to combine both techniques.

When you add Sales Navigator to the mix, this strategy is even more powerful.

7 Tools To Supercharge Your LinkedIn Prospecting Strategy

Here are 7 tools to supercharge your linkedin prospecting strategy:

  1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator Advanced
  2. Linkedin Smartlinks
  3. Taplio
  4. Lempod
  5. Evaboot
  6. LaGrowthMachine
  7. Linkedin Voice Messages

1. LinkedIn Sales Navigator Advanced

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Advanced is the upgraded version of Sales Navigator Core. It offers features that can save you a lot of time, like account file upload.

This feature is really useful because it allows to import data from other B2B databases like Crunchbase, Wappalyzer or job boards into Sales Navigator.

Instead of searching for target companies one by one with the search engine, you can bulk upload your excel and save a huge amount of time.

account csv upload sales navigator

2. Linkedin Smartlinks

Another feature of LinkedIn Sales Navigator Advanced is Linkedin Smartlink.

Sales Navigator Smart Links allows creating Sales presentations aggregating files and websites, and then easily share and track your prospect’s interactions with this content.

what are linkedin sales navigator smart links

Each time someone will open your link, you will be notified and will receive a detailed tracking of your prospect behavior on your document

It tells you how long the person viewed the material and the date/time they clicked on it

smart links sales navigator

3. Taplio

There will be times when you won’t have the inspiration nor the energy to create linkedin posts.

To anticipate these moments, you can do 2 things

  1. Batch linkedin posts creation
  2. Use a scheduling tool to program publications for next weeks

I, personally, use Taplio for that.

The tool is simple to use and saves a lot of time.

schedule linkedin posts

Every month, I take a few hours to write all my linkedin posts for the month.

I program their publication using the scheduling tool and I don’t need to worry about anything.

Only need to connect to reply to the comment.

That saves so much time compared to connection to Linkedin every day and write the post on the platform.

4. Lempod

Engagement pods allow you to automatically get likes and comment from members of the pods.

They are often used to give linkedin post an initial boost to increase their chances of getting viral.

They have a bad reputation, has many people completely abuse of them to add thousands of fake likes to their post. 

linkedin engagement pods

However, there is a smart way to use them. The condition is that you can create engagement pods with people you know.

Here is how to process:

  1. Create a pod
  2. Invite your friend and colleagues
  3. Add your linkedin posts link to the pod
  4. Your friends and colleagues will automatically like the post

That way, you don’t have to send DM’s to all your friends and colleagues every time you publish a new post on Linkedin.

5. Evaboot

Combined with Sales Navigator, Evaboot allows you to create a list of potential prospects and find their emails in seconds.

Here are all the operations realized by the tool:

  1. Extract search results
  2. Extract all profile information
  3. Extract all company page information
  4. Clean names and company names
  5. Filter false-positives in your search results
  6. Find the emails
  7. Verify the emails

In one click, you produce a read-for-outreach prospecting file that you can directly import into your favorite outreach tool.

6. LaGrowthMachine

LaGrowthMachine is for me the best linkedin automation tool out there for several reasons:

  1. UX is dead simple
  2. It’s 100% safe as automations are launched from your desktop
  3. It’s technically robust
  4. It has an API
  5. You can manage multiple linkedin accounts with it
  6. It can connect to your CRM
lgm multichannel sales sequence builder.png

I use it for all our outreach campaigns, and I’ve never been disappointed. If you want to benchmark with other solutions, you can also take a look at:

  • Lemlist
  • Expandi
  • Waalaxy

Remember to always test your messages manually before adding any automation into your prospecting efforts.

7. Linkedin Voice Messages

Linkedin voice message can get up to 40% reply rate. That’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss for Linkedin prospecting.

If your prospect is not responding to your Linkedin DMs, try to follow up with a linkedin voice message.

linkedin voice message

When you follow up, it’s always good to switch channels or switch the format of your messages to surprise your prospects and trigger curiosity.

The best part?

You can also automate voice message sending with LGM:

follow up linkedin voice message

Last Linkedin Prospecting Tips

To conclude this article, I’d like to remind you that selling is about building relationships and starting conversations.

Templates, techniques, and tools are only useful if they serve this purpose.

It can be achieved using outbound and inbound strategies no need to pick one side and discard the other.

There are some actions that won’t provide ROI immediately, but eventually, building a high-quality network of relevant linkedin connections will always beat any short-term hack.

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