Think you’ll never find qualified leads on a social media platform? Think again, because today, LinkedIn is one of the most powerful lead generation tools outside sales reps have at their disposal.
Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects, generating interest in your product or service, and converting them to buyers. Even sales pros who are already sold on the benefits of leveraging LinkedIn for lead generation may not be certain how to do it.
In the post, we’re going to talk about how (and why) you should use LinkedIn for B2B lead generation. We’ll also discuss some paid and unpaid LinkedIn strategies available to sales professionals.
LinkedIn Lead Generation: The Benefits for Outside Sales
LinkedIn doesn’t make splashy headlines like Facebook/Meta, but for professionals looking to grow their network and keep their finger on the pulse of their industry, it’s the best game in town.
With nearly 800 million members worldwide, LinkedIn is the number one social networking platform for business professionals. It might be the best and broadest access possible to your target customers.
Members log in day in and out to make new business connections, share their insights and react to others, source talent, and stay up to date on trends. 57 million organizations are active on LinkedIn, and there’s something new to learn every day for everyone, regardless of your profession.
Not convinced LinkedIn can help you with lead gen? Consider a few things:
Linkedin Members Make Buying Decisions
Four out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions. That includes 180 million senior-level influencers and 63 million decision-makers with the clout to say yes to what you have to offer.
LinkedIn is the Social Media Platform of Choice for Fortune 500 Companies
Chances are, the decision-maker of your dreams is a member.
For B2b Selling, Linkedin Blows Other Social Networks Out of the Water
Your Competition is Already Using Linkedin, With Success
96% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content, and 66% say it generates the best organic results for their organization. If you’re not using the platform to reel in those leads, your direct competitors will.
Linkedin is an International Networking Tool
Doing business outside of the United States? LinkedIn members span more than 200 countries and territories worldwide — all reachable at the touch of a button.
Free LinkedIn Social Media Strategies for Outside Sales
When you think about finding leads, you might immediately think of dollar signs. There are great paid strategies on LinkedIn — we’ll get to those in a minute — but first, we’d like to explore the many ways you can drum up interest for free.
You might already be using some of these tactics every day. With a little planning and a strategic approach, you can get more value for the time you’re spending on social media. Here’s a few ways to do lead generation for free on LinkedIn.
Expand Your Network With New Connections
According to SproutSocial, after following a brand on social media, consumers continue to engage in various ways. Eighty-nine percent will buy from the brand and 85% will recommend the brand. As a sales professional, you are the brand.
Request to connect with your current clients, and reach out to prospects. If a prospect accepts your connection, you have a much better shot at engaging them via LinkedIn Messenger. Joining LinkedIn Groups can also help you source leads and connect with potential customers in your industry.
Post Regular Updates
Demonstrate your knowledge of your industry by posting on LinkedIn regularly. Posts can include your take on recent industry news; links to relevant blog posts from your business; or updates on new products or services. You can also take advantage of existing organic content by repurposing social posts your company creates.
Try to post at least once 20 times per month, or once every business day. This cadence keeps you top of mind with your connections without overdoing it. Posting earlier in the morning will allow time throughout the day to respond to comments and improve engagement.
Write Thought Leadership Articles
LinkedIn and Edelman’s B2B Thought Leadership Impact Study revealed that 54% of decision-makers spend more than one hour per week reading and reviewing thought-leadership content. Writing articles and sharing them on LinkedIn is a great way to build credibility, establish yourself as a subject matter expert, and gain the attention of your prospects.
You can post directly on LinkedIn using LinkedIn Articles, or partner with your marketing team to publish on your company’s website or blog. If you’re not sure what your customers want to read about, ask! Use your existing followers to crowdsource topics of interest. Google Trends is another great free resource to find hot topics and keyword searches.
Engage With Member Posts
Take it a step beyond posting your own content and interact with posts from prospects and experts in your field. LinkedIn members will appreciate the engagement, and it’s one more way to make your voice heard without creating more original content.
Commenting, liking, and sharing posts creates a personal connection with the member, and also makes them more likely to engage with you on Messenger or via email. Additionally, interacting with thought leaders publicly demonstrates that you’re paying attention to your industry.
LinkedIn’s Paid Strategies For Lead Generation
There are multiple ad formats available on LinkedIn, but some are better for spotlighting products and events and raising brand awareness than for finding new customers.
For B2B sales reps looking to rev up lead gen efforts, put your focus on paid strategies like Sponsored Content, Sponsored Messaging, and Lead Gen Forms. All of the ad options allow you to zero in on the right customers with LinkedIn’s powerful targeting features.
Here are just a few ways you can specify who sees your ads:
- Geographic location
Sponsored Content is one of the most commonly used ad formats LinkedIn has to offer, and for good reason. Ads appear directly in a member’s feed, and look like organic LinkedIn posts. That’s why they’re also referred to as Native Ads.
Sponsored Content may be the right choice if you want to:
- Personalize and test ads for specific audiences, without publishing on your LinkedIn Page.
- Include a Lead Gen Form to collect leads.
- Measure your campaign performance and see the demographics of who is interacting with your ad.
- Experiment with different visual formats like videos, graphics, and swipeable carousel ads.
Keep in mind that while Sponsored Content won’t appear on your Page, members can see ads a Page is running (including ads that were reported and later rejected) by using the Ads filter at the top of your Page.
LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms
Lead Gen Forms can be attached to Sponsored Content and Message Ads. When a member clicks on your ad’s call-to-action (CTA) button, they will be prompted to fill out a form.
LinkedIn increases the likelihood that a member will submit the form by making it extremely easy; they automatically pre-fill the form with info they already have, like the member’s name, job title, and contact info.
After members click submit, they’ll see a “thank you” page that takes them to a destination you choose, like your website or a piece of content.
Forms help you demonstrate ROI for your money by tracking cost per lead, lead form fill rate, and the number of leads you’re getting from specific professional audience segments.
You can choose to have your leads sent to your email, or download them from LinkedIn’s Campaign Manager. You can also connect them to your company’s CRM system or automation platform.
Sponsored Messaging or Conversation Ads allow you to send short notes directly to a member’s inbox using LinkedIn Messaging. Like other ad formats, you can include a CTA or a lead gen form. LinkedIn charges on a Cost-Per-Send basis.
LinkedIn lets you play around with different variations of messages. For example, you can test having messages come from people at your company with different job titles, pictures, or names to see what gets the best engagement. You will need to send a permission request to a 1st degree connection to send a Sponsored Messaging ad that appears to come from another member’s account.
Tools to Boost Your LinkedIn Efforts
There are a number of tools and apps you can use alongside LinkedIn to help you gather and organize prospect data and leverage new connections. To get the full benefits of using LinkedIn as part of your sales team’s prospecting tactics, here’s a few options to consider.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator
Sales Navigator’s integration with CRM systems like Salesforce allows reps to research their market, network, identify key insights on prospects, and actively prospect while staying within their current CRM system.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Cost
Sales Navigator offers monthly or annual plans with the ability to cancel at any time. With its Core Plan starting at $79.99 per month, Sales Navigator is pricier than other sales tools. Smaller companies with limited budgets may see Navigator’s barrier to entry as too high.
However, Sales Navigator does offer demos and a 30-day free trial for anyone who wants to test it out before making a commitment.
LeadBoxer is a lead generation platform for B2B sales teams that gives you real-time information about companies and people that visit your website.
If you’re using LinkedIn to drive prospects to your website, installing the platform’s Lead Pixel on your site can help you calculate their value as a lead and then retarget them with paid advertising on LinkedIn.
Map My Customers
Map My Customers is a next-level platform for outside sales that pairs with CRM systems like Salesforce. It allows sales reps to take information gleaned from LinkedIn and visualize your companies, contacts, deals and more on an easy-to-use map, painting a clear picture of your entire sales landscape.
In other words, once you have identified prospects on LinkedIn and strategized your approach, Map My Customers helps you take that crucial next step into selling efficiently in the field. Its mobile-friendly design makes it a perfect pairing for outside sales professionals on the go.
The Lead Finder feature within the platform enables reps to optimize their prospecting efforts like never before. They can search the map for new leads that may be near their current location, along their sales route, or near current customers that they are visiting that day. These new leads will show as pins on the map and can provide detailed business info in just a tap. They can then be easily imported into your account and synced back to your CRM.
You can get a guided demo of Map My Customers for free.
More LinkedIn Ads Management and Marketing Tips
LinkedIn is a gold-mine for lead generation, but it’s also a highly competitive landscape. Here’s a few quick tips to give you a competitive edge.
- If you’re considering paid ads, leverage LinkedIn’s extensive resources on Campaign Manager (its free advertising platform) and other marketing best practices.
- Create custom audiences using Matched Audiences, and target customers who have already shown an interest in your products and services.
- Improve your odds by getting your house in order before you begin marketing and selling up a storm on LinkedIn. Optimize your LinkedIn profile for sales, making sure it’s complete and polished.
- Don’t be spammy. Make sure your posts and outreaches are thoughtful and intentional, and aim for quality over quantity.
So what are you waiting for? Get ahead of the competition and start generating new leads like a boss on LinkedIn today. Good luck and happy social selling!