Why LinkedIn is One of the Top Sales Prospecting Tools

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Have you joined the thousands of sales professionals who are now using social prospecting? If not, it’s time to start. In this post, we tell you why LinkedIn is one of the top sales prospecting tools and how you can use it to build your pipeline.

Top Sales Prospecting Tools

Back in the day, the life of a sales professional meant cold calling on prospects they’d identified as having the potential of being converted into clients. Cold calling outcomes can be dismal and likely contributed to the hesitation many young professionals feel about starting a career in sales. Today, sales professionals use social media and other online tactics as their top sales prospecting tools. And few channels can beat LinkedIn. According to HubSpot Blog Research, sales professionals rank the following sites as effective for prospecting:

  • LinkedIn 74%
  • Facebook 65%
  • Instagram 60%
  • Twitter 45%

What to Look for on LinkedIn

You should be regularly monitoring your industry and target companies on sites like LinkedIn. With a tool like SalesCred, you can also keep track of news releases about specific companies. You also need to develop a list of contacts within those companies. Using LinkedIn, you should identify the primary decision-​makers for the type of product you’re selling. You also need to know who the company’s influencers might be, as well as the stakeholders. Long before you attempt to connect with these people, take the time to read their corporate bios and learn what you can about them on other social sites.

Engaging in this type of detective work allows you to learn about prospects, such as where they went to school. Look for shared connections, such as an interest in coaching youth soccer. The information can serve as a way to connect.

When one of the people on your list posts an article to LinkedIn, comment or ask questions. Opening a conversation can initiate an exchange. Don’t be in a hurry to send a friend request. Doing so may turn them off or cause them to block you. Allow several days or weeks to pass. In that time, making additional comments about their latest posts should be at the top of your activity list. At that point, you can send a friend request without seeming too obvious.

What Prospects are Searching for on LinkedIn

While you’re busy conducting research on social sites, prospects are checking you out. The Voice of the Buyer survey by SalesFuel shows that 63% of prospects look at a sales rep’s social media presence before they meet with them. The review includes the LinkedIn profile, other social posts and results of general online searches.

If they don’t find information on you, they may hesitate to agree to a call or meeting. Prospects mostly want to see the years of experience a sales professional has (43%) and number of years in the industry (36%). Even worse, if they find something they don’t like, they’ll back off completely. Buyers don’t want to do business with reps who have a history of illegal drug use or criminal activity that extends beyond speeding and parking tickets (46%). They’re also turned off by drunkenness (34%). If you’re not sure what a prospect might find about you, consider paying for a social media audit, such as the one offered on SalesCred.

The Power of Content Creation on Top Sales Prospecting Tools

Content creation can also serve as one of your top sales prospecting tools. Long before a prospective buyer reaches out to an organization that may have a solution to their problem, they’ve been online: researching. If you have been posting content about specific problems in an industry and discussing solutions, it may show up in the prospect’s search. Your content gives them an additional reason to consider your company as a solutions provider.

Sales prospecting on social media may seem a little like the Wild West. Don’t let it intimidate you. Savvy use of these sites, along with a solid SEO strategy, can help you find prospects and present yourself as a credible professional. And keep the following advice from Sales CEO C. Lee Smith in mind. “Too many sales professionals create their LinkedIn profiles to impress their next boss. What they should be doing is updating their profiles to attract the attention of prospects.”

Photo from Tracy LeBlanc on Pexels.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.