How to Effectively and Authentically Engage With LinkedIn Leads as a Sales and Marketing Professional

Oct 20, 2019 | Social Media Marketing | 0 comments


Ahh, another week. Another goal. You are tasked with finding yet another 20 (or 50) leads to connect to this week. Great! Time to crank out the music and coffee, and get to work.

You do some light research on LinkedIn based on personas your team has established. You put in the right criteria into LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator. And just like that, you have 3,452 potential sales! You speed through connecting to each one, and copying/pasting the same general note in the Invitation to Connect. After a few quick hours, you get up, stretch, and grin with dollar signs sparkling in your eyes. Another task checked off the list!

But wait. How many of these potential leads are turning into prospects? More importantly, how many of these leads are turning into revenue? The answer: (You already know).

1. People know a contrived engagement when they see it.

As a Sales Enabler, it’s my job to help make sales teams more efficient and effective in their interactions with prospective clients. And so when I see, and many times experience, an outreach from a sales rep that is poorly conducted, I cringe. These are the LinkedIn notes I have received in the past month from sales reps attempting to sell / connect with me on LinkedIn:

“I’d love to learn more about your sales process. Let’s Connect!”

“We both went to UA. Let me tell you about my product!”

“You like puppies too? Let me help maximize your revenue results with your company!”

The last one was more of a satire. But from a Lead’s perspective, these are pretty painful to read. Let alone, a Lead who is seasoned in Sales Enablement. We are so tough to sell to because we can often see right through you.

So, if these “cold connections” aren’t working, then what does? I’ve drummed up my colleagues over at SESociety to help sales reps approach this more mindfully.

2. People don’t like InMail.

Leads have learned to equate InMail to the “Spam Folder”. In terms of connecting authentically to someone, this very well demonstrates the opposite. What do Leads do? They mostly ignore these. However, others get more emotional with the notification and will remember your company as an annoying pest. Take that far enough, and you might just end up in their block list.

Consider email, phone, and other ways to reach out to your Leads. Different modes work better for different Leads. If you must use InMail for a connection, do so mindfully. Professionals often enjoy exchanging ideas and healthy discussion. But be warned: the sooner you sound pitchy, the sooner professionals will ghost you.

Instead, use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator as a research tool. Get to know these Leads. Follow and react to their posts, join relevant groups, and contribute some thought leadership.

Think: relationship. Think: quality over quantity. Don’t think: Checklist.

When a Lead receives a connection request from someone who read their profile and has an idea of how you can work together, their interest will go up. Otherwise, you’re merely hoping that your “efficient lead outreach process” will coincidentally (or luckily) catch Leads on a good day when they click “Accept”.

3. People demand credibility.

Some would argue that cold-calling and cold-emailing have never really worked as legitimate selling techniques. But that truth is clear now more than ever. People demand credibility. And credibility takes effort to build. Your sales team should be mapping out various personas and buying journeys to better understand where your sales team has an opportunity to connect and attempt a sale.

Let’s assume you made some connections with Leads on LinkedIn. Now what? Most B2B Leads live in “Status Quo”, where they are not seeking to solve any problems through a vendor. Certainly, if they don’t see a problem worth solving, you are wasting your time pitching to them. Your first few interactions with the Lead should not be promotional.

Instead, follow the Lead and get to better understand their world.

Start posting what you think they would find interesting and relevant, even if it is not directly tied to your company or product. Engage them in discussion. @mention them and ask their opinion on a genuinely interesting post, article, or discussion board.

Come up with a list of possible pain points after researching the Lead’s LinkedIn profile and their company website.

Leverage tailored pain points to place a Trigger Event into the Lead’s Status Quo.

The tricky thing is, for most sales teams you don’t ever really know if the Lead is looking for a vendor’s solution. However, the more you present tailored pain points, the more you encourage the Lead to, at a minimum, think about and possibly prioritize their pain points.

As you go about engaging with Leads, be mindful of your LinkedIn profile and your perceived credibility. Does everything spew BUY MY PRODUCT and I HAVE THE GREATEST COMPANY? If so, Leads will be less likely to engage with you. You might appear impressive to your colleagues and manager, but those people won’t be buying from you. Your Leads, Professionals, want to engage with other professionals. The more you come across as a human with real interests, passions, and ideas – the more likely Leads will engage with you and even allow you to nurture them.

4. People like to scroll.

Remember when Facebook came out with its news feed? It had some mixed reviews on the initial roll-out. But fast forward to now: nearly every social media and news platform has a scrolling function to quickly skim through and digest content. As you connect with Leads and Colleagues on LinkedIn, routinely post a medley of posts to engage and inform your network connections. A “like” or a “comment” can be a window of opportunity!

From a marketing perspective, a scrolling newsfeed has an almost 100% open rate (if your post lands on a Lead’s newsfeed) and a near-0% unsubscribe rate. That’s a lot of visibility.

Scrollers typically don’t “unfollow” or unsubscribe. It’s faster and easier to just keep scrolling when a post seems irrelevant or dull. However back to Point #3, people also demand credibility. If you’re posting about your product and company around-the-clock, do not feel surprised to discover that you are getting “unfollowed” by the Leads you worked hard so hard and tactfully to connect with.

5. People want to know what’s in it for them.

This relates to just about everything in life. People are less likely to engage with something they perceive as not serving them, their current needs, and their current interests. There is a way to change that upfront perception. This, however, requires bit more more of an organizational village effort.

Work with Marketing, Sales, and Product Teams within your company to develop a story that can communicate value up front. 

This isn’t easy, and it does take research on the front end by the sales rep to personalize it. But from the field, we hear that this approach works. And the pipeline numbers in the CRM are not lying.

6. People love jokes.

Contributed by Jon Selig.

As the cliché goes, we get one chance to make a first impression. You have small windows to show leads that you’re credible, while being memorable, in order to get a conversation going.

You need to show subject-matter expertise about the professional world in which those leads inhabit, all while putting a human spin on their insights. The reality is that you as a sales rep likely never had your prospects job, worked in their industry, or needed to use your company’s solution. So, you need to find a way to be relatable.

A good joke aimed at the right audience can show in-depth subject matter mastery, in a relatable way.

Craft the Joke

  • Design it specifically to the problem your company can help the Lead solve
  • Craft it in a way that requires context and industry / role understanding
  • Make it acknowledge a truth that’s clever and funny
  • Have it tailored for a specific audience or persona

When you do this right, jokes can be repeatable and scalable.

In Close: Strap these tips onto your Prospecting Tool Belt.

However you go about it, be intentional with each interaction and dialogue with your Leads. Have a goal in mind, whether it’s to learn more about your Lead as a person (and vice versa), or to move them along your qualification pipeline.

Keep these tips on your Prospecting Tool Belt, and tap into them before you click that SEND button to connect or engage with a prospective client. You’ll find it easier to have dialogue with Leads, and over time you will see more and larger sales. Happy Selling!


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