LinkedIn can be a gold mine for growing your B2B customer base. At last count, 61 million users were considered senior-level influencers, and 40 million were in decision-making positions.
But finding the gold isn’t always easy. Where does most LinkedIn prospecting go wrong? Not spending your time on the people who are most likely to buy, according to the experts at LinkedIn Sales Solutions. They say that “the ability to focus on the right people and companies daily is what separates those who prospect smarter.”
The trick to finding the gold with LinkedIn prospecting is knowing where to put your effort. Fortunately, you can solve that with lead scoring and sharing your team’s network connections.
The LinkedIn prospecting dilemma
In sales outreach, there’s a tension between volume and quality.
Many people think they need to reach out to a high volume of prospects on LinkedIn to produce leads. But this failure to define and prioritize your ideal prospect before reaching out is one of the biggest LinkedIn prospecting errors. It results in generic messages to people who may or may not be ideal targets — a shot in the dark — like this example from Cleverly.
Without some kind of structure to guide your research, it’s hard to know whether it’s the best use of your time.
Lead scoring lets you quickly single out the prospects who are the best fit for your company or product. Then, if you can leverage your team’s connections, you can get your foot in the door with warm outreach.
Use lead scoring to pick the best prospects first
Lead scoring is the process of assigning a score to each prospect according to how likely they are to buy your product. This score helps you know which prospects to spend the most time on, so you get the biggest payoff from your outreach. In fact, scoring your leads can give you a 77% increase in return on investment (ROI) from your lead generation.
Lead scoring might appear complicated at first glance. But it doesn’t have to be — a simple spreadsheet can put you well ahead of the game.
If you don’t have a lead-scoring system in place yet, consider setting one up with these steps. Keep in mind, though, that the devil is in the details. Evaluating every target against each criterion can be tedious and time-consuming with even the simplest of systems.
Tip: Want to skip the tedious work of manual lead scoring? See how a Clay template can pull data and score leads for you.
Step 1: determine the characteristics of your best leads
The first step is to determine the criteria you’ll use to evaluate each prospect. What characteristics do your best customers share? These are the criteria that make a company more likely to buy from you.
Lead-scoring criteria may include the company’s industry, the technology it uses, the patents or trademarks held, and yearly revenue, as well as prospects’ demographics, such as their age and location, their social media engagement, and so on.
You may know this information from your direct experience or be able to suss it out from your CRM. You also can collect input from your team using this lead-scoring worksheet from Marketo.
Let’s imagine your company sells a SaaS tool to finance departments at small to mid-sized businesses. Your product is gaining popularity among companies with 50–500 employees, and the controller is usually the person looking for the solution. Certain industries have also proved to be easier to sell into, especially those in medical fields. These are some characteristics you can set as criteria for LinkedIn prospecting.
Step 2: Assign a value to each characteristic
Next, assign a value to each criterion that reflects its importance. Some companies assign points, while others assign rankings like A, B, C, D, and still others use descriptors like “hot,” “warm,” and “cold,” according to Marketo. The idea is to create a formula that will yield an overall score for any prospect in your spreadsheet or database.
We could assign values to the criteria in our example above like this:
- Number of employees: 101–500 (30 points), 501–1000 (25 points), 50–100 (20 points), 1,001–5,000 (15 points), 5,001–50,000 (10 points)
- Type of organization: laboratory (30 points), medical device manufacturer (25 points), hospital or clinic (20 points)
Step 3: Score each lead
Now you can score each target company based on the criteria they meet.
In our example, the hospital with 2,000 employees will have a lead score of 35, and the medical device company with 400 employees will clock in with 55 points.
Tip: You would normally need to evaluate every company manually, but Clay can help you automate this process.
Step 4: Rank your prospects
Once you have a score entered for each lead in your spreadsheet or database, you can rank all your prospects. Then, you can target your efforts for each prospect according to their score.
In our example, we can see that the second target company has 55 points, which means it’s more valuable than the first, with a score of 35.
Tip: If you use a Clay base to score your leads, you can assign scores, filter, and sort all the prospects in seconds.
Now it’s time to get your foot in the door with personalized outreach to the right people at the most valuable target companies.
Next, dig up valuable connections you didn’t know you had
Forget cold outreach templates with your most valuable targets.
Research tells us that you’re overwhelmingly more likely to create a favorable impression and start a conversation with a warm introduction. In fact, only 4% of respondents to a survey by LinkedIn felt positively toward a salesperson who reached out to them cold.
When a colleague can introduce you or you can name drop a mutual connection, you’ll start out miles ahead. Then, you can put in the time and care into nurturing the lead.
But finding common connections among your colleagues and executives at your company isn’t as easy as you’d think.
🚨 The problem: Team connections are difficult to find
Unfortunately, most sales reps don’t have an easy way to see who their colleagues and company executives are connected to on LinkedIn. They may be able to download some data, but it’s usually incomplete.
Too often, reps are surprised to find out an executive at their company has a connection at a target company — after they’ve already spent considerable energy scouring LinkedIn to find a way in. They could have had a warm introduction in minutes. But asking your executives about new connections every time you do prospecting is just not a sustainable way to work.
🙌 The solution: Create a shared base of LinkedIn connections
Clay gives you the tools to collect all your team’s LinkedIn connections in one central spot. All you have to do is download the CSV file from LinkedIn for each user and add it to a base in Clay. Then, Clay gets to work enriching the data, searching the web and pulling in whatever details you tell it to.
Want to add email addresses and phone numbers for every contact? Check. Length of time at their current job? Check. Fundraising status for each company? Check. See how to import, enrich, and segment your LinkedIn network connections in Clay.
Start with one of the Shared Linked Network smart template so you can just point and click to create the columns you want to fill with information. Then, let Clay search and find all that data for you.
Finally, you’ll have a complete list of everyone’s contacts, so you can then run it against your LinkedIn prospect list to find an “in” with your most valuable prospects.
Clay creates a LinkedIn prospecting treasure trove for your sales team
Collecting data should be the easy part of LinkedIn prospecting. And it is — with Clay.
Just grab the data you need, and pull it into a “base” you can enrich, manipulate, and combine. Our handy templates do the work, populating fields and performing actions while you watch.
You’ll have your best leads sorted and cross-checked with company connections within minutes.
1. Mine LinkedIn for data and then enrich it
Search for specific keywords, such as current role, location, industry, etc., and pull the data you want into a “base.” Then, Clay will enrich the leads by pulling in additional data. Our templates come with built-in web scrapers and integrations with tools like Clearbit and Hunter, so you don’t have to lift a finger.
Watch how Clay pulls in various types of data from around the web for you.
2. Score leads so you can sort and filter
Clay can then evaluate and score the entire base of leads according to your criteria.
In the example targeting medical finance teams, above, you’d have to manually evaluate and score each of those leads yourself. But Clay can do this automatically, saving you HOURS (and your sanity) and empowering you with the info you need to upgrade your prospecting game.
Then, your sales team can sort and filter leads so they can see which prospects are most important.
3. Cross-check leads against your team’s connections
Once you have your target list of scored leads, you can run it against your company’s LinkedIn team connections. You’ll see which existing connections you can leverage to get your foot in the door at target companies.
No connections to work with for some target companies? You can still use Clay to find the right people to reach out to. Just use the Clay extension for Chrome to pull in prospects from LinkedIn searches automatically.
Make all your prospecting easier
Prospecting on any platform takes a lot of legwork. Some companies outsource their data collection to low-wage workers offshore. Others use tools to automate parts of it. Regardless, you rarely ended up with more than part of the picture.
Clay scours the web and pulls in the information you need, all thanks to integrations with the tools you might otherwise need to juggle one by one. With Clay, you don’t even need to sign up for accounts with other tools — the Clay “base” simply pulls the data you need. Then, you can analyze it by running formulas right in the sheet.
That’s how we make short work of your LinkedIn prospecting, including lead scoring and cross-checking for team connections. See all the ways that Clay can help your sales process, and try it out yourself today.