Top LinkedIn Lead Generation Tactics and Best Practices

LinkedIn has become the most popular online platform for professionals in the last decade and has become one of the most powerful tools for B2B sales professionals who know how to utilize it well. 
 
Formulating a LinkedIn prospecting and sales strategy is fraught, however, with danger. It’s like any power tool. If you mishandle it, you can seriously hurt yourself. But if you are trained, disciplined and careful, it can save you a ton of time and energy and take your production exponentially to another level. 

After a decade of using (and misusing) LinkedIn for my sales efforts, here are some tactics and best practices that have been helpful, as well as a few things that have been hurtful that you can take to heart as a cautionary tale, i.e. don’t do them! 

LinkedIn Lead Generation Strategies

Prospecting is the hardest part of B2B sales. If we had an endless amount of leads, we would all be filthy rich, no matter how bad we were at sales. LinkedIn is a great way to do B2B lead generation. 

Here are some LinkedIn lead generation best practices that have worked well for me. 

1. Marketing Platform 
Your LinkedIn profile is one of the most powerful selling tools in the world, if you set it up properly and utilize it strategically. Here are some tips and best practices for making your Linked profile into a marketing platform that generates leads. 

Use Your Profile to Sell 
Instead of making your profile all about YOU, make it about what you’re selling. Use it as a sales tool for your offerings not about selling you as a professional. 

Instead of listing your experience or job duties, why not talk about how great your product or service is? Instead of listing your experience, why not list the experience of your company? 

Share Well 
Also, make sure to post strategically. Don’t spam post information that is purely self-promotional. Find and share content that will add value to your prospects and clients. 

Lead Generation Forms 
That being said, that doesn’t mean you can’t pitch or sell at all on your LinkedIn profile. Social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk wrote a best seller called “Jab Jab Jab Right Hook”, where he lays out a great strategy that you can adopt to LinkedIn. 

Basically, the “jabs” are valued added content. The “right hook” is your self-promoting call to action. But whatever your call to action is, it better be good. 

That means you need to have a lead generation form that will be enticing and interesting enough for people to fill out the form. Make sure you have a great value-add offer to capture the lead. 

2. Do Your Research 
LinkedIn has one of the most powerful research tools available, and the best part is that it’s free! Assuming you have a list of target titles, know what territory you’re targeting and what companies you’re pursuing, LinkedIn can instantly produce hundreds of potential prospects for you to target. 

Even though LinkedIn doesn’t post people’s emails or phone numbers, it’s fairly easy to dig up the contact information if you have a name and title. 

Any telesales professional worth his salt knows how to call a corporate number or regional office number and use the dial-by-name directory. If you’re lucky, you’ll reach a receptionist who is usually more than happy to transfer your call if you have a first and last name. 

Also, once you have a first and last name, it can also be easy to figure out their email addresses as well. If you are at least one or two email addresses from that company, it can be easy to figure out the naming conventions for their emails. 

For example, here are some common ways companies format their email addresses. 
-FirstName.LastName@company.com 
-FirstInitial.LastName@company.com 
-LastName.FirstInitial@company.com 

3. Cold Calling is NOT DEAD! 
Once you have their contact information, it’s time to pick up the phone and starting dialing! 

I’ve read several articles and books over the years about how cold calling is dead. They argue that because of technology, when someone needs something, they google it or click on an online ad. Most sales professionals now know, this is a bunch of bologna. 

Cold calling still works! If you don’t believe me, ask all of the tech companies that have armies of cold callers that they call Sales Development Representatives. There is now a whole new (well not really new, just a new name) industry around cold calling and scheduling sales appointments over the phone. 

4. Sales Cadence 
Research shows that a prospects needs 8-9 touches in order to respond. That means you have to reach out several times before a prospect will even get back to you. Most telesales people give up after 1 or 2 tries. 

If you have both a phone number and email, try creating a cadence where you call the first day, send an email the second day, call again the third day, and so on. After two weeks of reaching out, you can cross them off your list. 

I usually work in bulks of 25 prospects at a time and add on as I start crossing people off, or better yet, they get converted into qualified leads and opportunities. 

5. DO NOT LIST 
I would be irresponsible if I didn’t include a list of “do not’s” when talking about LinkedIn lead generation best practices. So here are my Ten Commandments of Do Not’s. 

1. Do not do self-promoting posts every 5 minutes 
2. Do not share political or religious opinions 
3. Do not use an unprofessional headshot 
4. Do not mass ask your current connections for introductions 
5. Do not upgrade to the paid version without a clear strategy 
6. Do not upgrade to mass InMail people 
7. Do not be salesy or self-promoting when commenting on posts 
8. Do not NOT use LinkedIn as a part of your B2B lead generation strategy 

Messaging That Sticks

Next, I want to talk about creating messaging that sticks. When you’re cold calling leads, you don’t have the luxury of a long 20 minute pitch. You have to be punchy, grab their attention and get to the point in a matter of seconds. 

My philosophy for messaging is that you can a split second to convince your prospect to keep going for the next split second. At any point along this split second chain, you can lose them. Here is how I structure the messaging for cold calling scripts and cold email marketing scripts. 

Cold Call Script 
I always do a really quick introduction. Then I want to build credibility as quickly as possible as I tell them what our company offers. Then I ask who the appropriate person is. It goes something like this. 

Sample Script 
Hi Jim, 
My name is Harold Simpson with Acme Services. We’ve worked with companies like Coca-Cola, Proctor and Gamble and GE to provide safety training for over 20 years. Are you the appropriate person to speak with regarding safety training? 

Even if I don’t get the person live on the phone, I use a version of this script to leave a message on their voicemail. 

It’s a simple script. It’s short and sweet and gets right to the point. Then I give them the option of sending me to the right person right away instead of giving them a chance to say they’re not interested or tell me they’re not the right person. 

Cold Email Marketing 
I say virtually the exact same thing in my cold emails. If it takes 8-9 touches or impressions in order for a prospect to take action, saying the same thing over and over again doesn’t hurt. It actually helps the prospect remember you and what you do. 

In a very busy day with thousands of distractions, repeating yourself will help your prospect remember you and take action. Remember, telling you ‘no’ is taking action too that will save you time and energy over time even if it’s not fun to hear. 

Bonus Tip: On the second cold email I send them, I usually reply to my first email instead of sending a brand new second email. That way, your first touch is recalled. Also, the “re: subject” will show up on the subject line of the email. That’s a nice like hook to get their attention and get them to open. Even if it’s just a “not interested” at least now I’m getting it on the second email rather than on my 7th phone call, thereby saving a ton of time. 

I hope this information on LinkedIn lead generation has been helpful to you. Whether its finding contacts to cold call, capturing contacts on lead generation forms or reaching out through cold email marketing, LinkedIn can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare when selling. Don’t fall into the traps that handicapped me and burned leads for me. Now go out there and the take on the world of LinkedIn and sell your heart out!

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