Sales success doesn’t happen by accident. So, when I finished at 112% of quota and landed in first place on my team, naturally my manager wanted to know what I was doing differently.
My answer was simple: I was using LinkedIn to prospect.
This was 2011, long before Sales Navigator, but the value of LinkedIn was still very much there.
Back then the key way I prospected was finding people based on their region, and seeing who I knew.
I remember our VP of sales told me he wanted meetings in Dallas, and I ran a quick LinkedIn search and found 15 retailers to prospect. I had a “mutual connection” to every one of them.
I got 10 out of the 15 retailers to take a meeting, all because I played the “mutual connection” card. Life was good.
Fast forward a couple of years, and the work I did to pioneer social selling in my first sales role took off and the key principles I implemented are still being used today.
I’m consistently referred to as “Lindsey Boggs, you know, the LinkedIn guru.” It’s what I do, and I’m proud of it.
I paved the way for many sales reps and am thrilled I’m looked at as a thought leader in the social selling realm. I even shared a stage with Shaquille O’Neal at LinkedIn’s Sales Connect in Las Vegas because I had the highest Social Selling Index score at the conference.
Personalized InMails through LinkedIn and personalized emails continue to be my pathway to success. Below I’ve outlined keys to successful InMail and email cadences that have scored me over a 60% response rate.
Set up a legitimate profile
This is the easiest part of the process that a lot of people get wrong. While your children are adorable, and your cropped-out spouse’s face sure is charming, they’re not what you want in your profile picture on LinkedIn.
- Get a professional photo. I promise it makes a difference. This is your brand. This is the first thing prospects see when you send them an InMail, so make it count.
- Make sure your summary reflects your personal brand as well as your current company’s offerings. Talk about major successes you’ve had in your career. Mention companies that have had a big impact on your career. The more your profile is filled out, the more rapport you have with your prospects. A blank profile does not look professional, nor does it look inviting.
- Get recommendations. If you have mutual connections, you’re already a step ahead, and bonus, if you have a recommendation from a mutual connection, you’re well on your way to getting a response. Ask your colleagues for a recommendation. It will help build out your profile.
I’ve recently done some podcasts and spoken to a lot of sales and marketing leaders who are using Sales Navigator, and their teams aren’t using InMails. A travesty! They said they didn’t know how to get started, and needed help. This is my bread and butter, and I’ll share some key principles for getting started below.
- Most people on LinkedIn have their account synced with their personal email address. Don’t look at this as another way to batch and blast emails, it’s not effective. Treat this InMail as if you’re sending them a note to their personal email address.
- Find something you can relate to on their profile. College football, NFL, hobbies, interests, groups, and the most important: mutual connections. Using the phrase “mutual connections” will most definitely get attention.
- Be genuine. If you’re a huge fan or customer of their brand, tell them. If you saw them in an article recently and loved it, tell them that as well. People love to talk about themselves, so research them. It’ll go a long way.
Keep it short
- I think about it in terms of a ‘1-2 swiper’ on an iPhone. Take your thumb and move up an email two times. It should be no longer than that. Why? No one wants to read a thesis. No one has time for a thesis.
- Always start with something personal and build from there. After the personal intro, add your reason for reaching out and close with a call-to-action.
Use an eye-catching subject line
- Which subject line gets your attention? “Drive more revenue with XYZ company” or “Go Noles! Huge fan – mutual connections // connect?”
- Find a creative way to write a subject line that cannot be missed. I always make my subject lines personal. Always.
- You know the “sent” folder in your LinkedIn inbox? Use it. It’s there for a reason.
- Just because they didn’t respond in three days doesn’t mean they won’t. My typical timeframe for reaching back out is three to four days. Go to your “sent” folder, and message them again with a one-liner to see if they’re interested in connecting.
- It typically takes 16-20 touches (email and phone) to get a response. With LinkedIn, I typically hear back after three to six touches. It works.
- Sales Navigator makes it so easy to follow posts without even being connected to that person. “Like” and “share” as many posts as you can from your prospect. It shows that you’re genuinely interested in that person.
- Save accounts and leads on Sales Navigator. When there’s a job change at the company, Sales Navigator let’s me know without having to connect with anyone. It saves so much time and leaves more room for prospecting.
- While I’m not an avid user of Twitter, I’ve been able to accomplish some pretty amazing prospecting from following prospects. Try it.
- Post often on LinkedIn. Whether it’s a blog your company just wrote, or an inspirational quote, getting noticed in the feed will allow more prospects to see you, even if they aren’t connected with you.
Use an email cadence in tandem with InMails
InMails are great on their own, but when you add an email cadence in tandem with an InMail, they go a long way.
Don’t have your prospect’s email address? Check out etailinsights — shameless plug for my current employer — a data commerce platform. Not only do we have executives’ emails and phone numbers, we also have their websites’ commerce providers, and much more.
Reference the InMail
- Use a subject line like: “Check your LinkedIn inbox / Lindsey Boggs / Go Noles!” or “Follow up to LinkedIn InMail – Go Noles!”
- In the body of your email, reference the InMail and be brief and concise.
- “Hi Mr. Prospect, I sent you an InMail the other day regarding XYZ. Let me know if you’re interested in connecting either way. I appreciate the candor.”
- Set a cadence. Maybe it’s every three days you send an InMail and every two days you send an email. Maybe there’s more of a gap. Everyone is different. A/B test your own stats and get your cadence down. You’ll be glad you did.
One thing I see people do incorrectly all the time is name dropping. Why? Because they aren’t doing it!
Do you have a mutual connection? Ask them if they’re comfortable with you using their name. I do this at least once per day.
Typically, I’ll send them a text or message on LinkedIn asking them how they know X prospect, and if I can use their name. When they say yes, I use a subject line for my InMail or email that looks like this: “Referred by Joe Smith – connect?” or “Referred by Joe Smith – Go Noles!”.
It works 90% of the time for me.
Ask to name drop, it’s the lowest hanging fruit out there!
Think about how you would receive the InMail or email. If you saw that you had a mutual connection that you respected, would you respond? The answer is likely yes. Put yourself in the prospect’s shoes before you send the InMail/email.
Post and share content
Post often on LinkedIn. Whether it’s a blog your company just wrote, or an inspirational quote, getting noticed in the feed will allow more prospects to see you, even if they aren’t connected with you. Try publishing an article on LinkedIn on a topic you’re an expert in. You’d be surprised how much rapport that builds with a prospect.
There’s certainly more to cover, but this will get you started. If you practice these proven strategies, you will quickly see your response rates soar.
I’m happy to connect – find me on LinkedIn!
Guest blogger Lindsey Boggs leads enterprise sales and managed services at etailinsights.
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Realize greater sales results by following social selling tips from executives at LinkedIn, Vorsight, and XANT.