Using LinkedIn to Build Pipeline

Social Selling via LinkedIn

Every sales rep should be worried about the size of their pipeline. When a sales rep allows their pipeline to dry up, it’s like allowing your car to run out of gas. You are left stranded in no man’s land hoping for someone to show up and rescue you. Not a good place to be in sales, or your car. The best way to maintain a full pipeline is with consistent prospecting activity. One of the best platforms to prospect on is LinkedIn. In this article, we explore how sales reps can minimize their time and maximize their pipeline results utilizing LinkedIn.  

Target Right Connections

Building a pipeline with LinkedIn starts with connecting with the right people. With LinkedIn, it’s easy to target your ideal customer. You can create a search using title, industry, and location. For example, suppose your ideal customers for your product or service are the owners or founders of organizations in the marketing and advertising industry, located in the United States. A quick search on LinkedIn revealed 30,000 such individuals listed on LinkedIn.

Using LinkedIn to Build Pipeline

At this point, you want to send a connection request, not a follow request to these ideal customers. The connection request allows you to send messages directly to the connection’s inbox. A follow will require an InMail credit. Once your ideal client accepts your connection, go to their personal profile page. Then, click the bell icon so you are notified when this connection posts content to LinkedIn. This will be key to easily engaging with your ideal customer’s content when they post on LinkedIn. 

Pro-Tip: Don’t waste your prime selling hours sending connection requests while at work. This is not the time for this type of prospecting. Instead, focus on building your connections during off hours. For example, with the LinkedIn app for your phone, you can send connection requests while waiting at Starbucks. Or send requests during commercial breaks of a football game. The point is, if you show up to work and spend an hour with connection requests and consider that sales activity, that is not the best use of your time. Also remember, LinkedIn will limit the number of connection requests you can send weekly. Therefore, max out your weekly allotment to maximize your growth. If you are not seeing the “You’ve reached your weekly limit,” you are not maximizing your network opportunity. It resets every week, so why not maximize?

Target the Right Companies

In addition to targeting the right connection, you can improve your results by targeting the right companies. The reason you want to follow companies on LinkedIn is because once you do, their content will show up in your LinkedIn feed. After you send a connection request to a founder and they accept it, your next step is to follow their company. Why? Because this will turn your LinkedIn feed into your ideal customer update feed. By doing this, you have an easy way to stay top of mind with clients you want to do business with. When you log into LinkedIn and your entire feed is filled with your ideal customer content, all you need to do is like and comment on their content, and they receive a notification that you engaged with their content. Having a feed full of your prospect’s content will save you hours looking for connections to engage with. Too many sales reps are connected with the wrong people, and their feed is filled with useless content. Don’t make that mistake.

Do you think founders of companies are interested in who is commenting on their company’s content? Of course, they are. Therefore, if you are the sales rep who is consistently commenting, you will be top of mind. The best part of this strategy is that the majority of people only like the content. So when you comment on your ideal customers’ content, your photo and LinkedIn headline get displayed next to your comment.  

Pro-Tip: Most companies post the same generic content to their LinkedIn company page. I’ve noticed six main themes:

  • New hire announcements
  • Staff member promotion announcements
  • Hiring announcements
  • Launch of new products
  • New thought leadership content
  • Community service-related announcements

To save time writing comments, you can use a Google Chrome extension called Canned Response. This is a productivity tool that lets you manage replies without manually typing. You create the snippet, and right click in the comment box of LinkedIn, and a custom reply complete with emojis can be posted. It takes only a few seconds to reply to your best prospects and it looks like you took the time to manually write the comment. With this simple strategy, you can easily comment on a few dozen ideal customers in less than 20 minutes. Do this daily and watch what happens.

Track Micro Engagements

Annoying sales reps reach out to a connection and pitch their product or service as soon as the connection request is accepted. Do not be that sales rep. Instead, focus on micro-engagements. This is the key to building a pipeline with LinkedIn. A micro-engagement is anything a connection does on LinkedIn that shows engagement with you. It starts with them viewing your profile, then accepting your connection request, then liking or commenting on your content, endorsing your skills, and then sending or responding to your direct message. 

Sales reps that want to build pipeline with LinkedIn need to be proactive with micro-engagements. For example, if you notice a connection viewed your profile and accepted your connection request, you can then go to their profile and endorse them on a skill or two. This will immediately send a notification with your name and photo to the connection. Again, staying top of mind. About half of your ideal connections will thank you for the endorsement (another micro-engagement), and now you are building familiarity with your ideal clients. This is how you add value to your network instead of being the annoying sales rep, pitching products. 

Simplify Content Creation

If you are not generating inbound sales opportunities from your LinkedIn connections, the problem is likely with your content. Most sales reps struggle with the content aspect because they think like a sales rep. Instead, think about how your solution impacts your clients that can’t be discovered with Google. This is the nuance of your content strategy. Dropping nuggets of info will pique your ideal client’s interest. LinkedIn is a better content platform than a sales platform, so stop selling on LinkedIn. Instead, focus on educating your audience with content.

When you educate daily, you will see your audience engaged with your content. When they do, now you have hand raisers that make sense to contact. Do you want to reach out to a new connection who recently accepted your connection request, or the connection who has a half dozen micro-engagements and engaged your content? This will change your cold outreach into warm outreach which will improve your pipeline significantly.

Pro-Tip: You do not have to reinvent the wheel with content creation or spend hours and hours researching your post. If you need inspiration, join a few Facebook or LinkedIn groups based on your industry and find the most popular threads. You can also use Reddit as a content inspiration source. Once you find popular threads with high engagement, you can repurpose the content in your own words for your LinkedIn post. If it’s a hot topic on one platform, it will likely be a hot topic on LinkedIn. The point is, you don’t need to guess what topics will drive engagement if you use this strategy. Plus, you can curate all the best responses into one super post and position yourself as the subject matter expert.

In Conclusion

LinkedIn should be one of the most valuable pipeline sources for sales reps. It provides the ability to build a personal brand, establish yourself as a subject matter expert, and generate pipeline. However, it will not happen without a plan and consistent effort. If you follow these basic tips, you will be on your way to leveraging the power of LinkedIn for pipeline generation.

Keep in mind that LinkedIn is constantly evolving. Every month, LinkedIn launches new features that can be used by the proactive sales rep to build their pipeline. Therefore, you want to avoid the “I know everything” mistake and remain curious. What is important is that you create a habit of investing about 30 minutes a day with LinkedIn. Over time, your LinkedIn investment will grow like a snowball rolling downhill. It may start small but will turn into an avalanche. The key is consistency and quality content.

If you liked this content, consider sharing it with your peers on LinkedIn. In can be the first important step towards prospecting smarter with LinkedIn.