For many B2B salespeople, the whole sales process starts with a LinkedIn search. Why? Because it works: LinkedIn is the number one social platform to find and connect with B2B decision makers. With so many key B2B players spending time on LinkedIn, knowing how to search it effectively and efficiently will give you a significant sales advantage.
In this article, I will give you an easy to follow framework to improve your sales by optimizing your LinkedIn search. (If you’re still not convinced that LinkedIn is the right place for lead generation, check out: 4 Reasons LinkedIn Connections are Great for Lead Generation. Then, come back and read this one to find out how to do it right.)
Most salespeople miss a critical step when running a LinkedIn search: they don’t validate their search terms.
I know it sounds obvious, but I’ve yet to meet a salesperson (myself included!) who hasn’t made that mistake. At some point, we’ve all run a LinkedIn search using keywords or job titles that seemed right intuitively.
But the problem with using your intuition is that it’s often just a nice way of saying you’re guessing. And guesswork isn’t going to get you real results. For that, you need to take a more strategic approach.
So, how do you validate your search terms and know you’re looking for the right identifiers? The best way is to build a buyer profile based on your current customers (you know, the people who are actually paying you money).
Look up your customers on LinkedIn and write down how they self-identify. What are the job titles, industry affiliations, certifications, past companies, educational backgrounds, locations they list? However they identify, keep track of it in a spreadsheet, a Google Doc, or even on paper. Then analyze it. Look for patterns.
What you find could surprise you. You might, for instance, discover that many of your buyers use the job title “Founder” rather than “CEO”. Or maybe a bunch of them are part of the same LinkedIn group.
Whatever you find, you can plug it into your buyer profile. That way, you can look for the kinds of people who actually buy from you, instead of just searching based on a caricature of a buyer.
Once you’ve put together your buyer profile, you’ll be getting better results already. But there’s one more step you can take to really refine your search and find the best prospects.
When you’re looking over your list of identifiers, pick the one that is the most unique. Let’s say your typical buyer is a CEO. But if you run a search with “CEO,” you’re casting a really wide net and you’re going to get a lot of useless results.
Unfortunately, there’s no algorithm or magic formula for picking out unique identifiers, and it might take a bit of creativity. When I needed a passionate Chrome developer, I searched for the keyphrase “I love Chrome.” I didn’t get nearly as many results as I would have if I searched for “Chrome developer,” but every single person I reached out to from that search was exactly the kind of person I was looking for. And I didn’t have to click through page after page of irrelevant profiles. Talk about hyper-targeted results!
Once you have a buyer profile and have nailed down at least one highly unique identifier, it’s time to really get to work. Plug the information into a LinkedIn search and start reaching out to prospects.
If you’re new to LinkedIn or not yet comfortable with it, here’s a helpful video that walks you through the process:
Now that you’ve compiled a list of very promising leads, it’s time to reach out to them. With all the time you saved using your buyer profile instead of guessing your way through a search, you’ll be able to craft killer email messages (maybe even using the Hollywood Approach) and deal directly with prospective customers.
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