02 Jan 2013

Breaking Through: How to Crack into Any Account

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Using LinkedIn to Find Target Prospects

Prospecting has changed. There is no denying that the same tried and true methods that worked 3 years ago, have lost their luster. Companies are guarding their employee data like never before, so finding the right person to call is tougher than ever. Gone are the days when you could call into a switchboard and ask for “the person responsible for X”, Without a name, you may be stuck at the gate indefinitely.

Many databases exist out there (Data.com, Hoovers, OneSource to name a few) claiming to provide the most up-to-date information on the prospects and companies
that matter to you. While some of the information may be good, it quickly becomes dated. What we really need is for prospects to update their own information
– which they do, in LinkedIn. Many sales reps use LinkedIn to look up prospects, and to build their network, but few have mastered it as a prospecting tool. This guide will show you how to use LinkedIn to find a way into virtually any company.

Getting started:

  1. Expand your view beyond your network – It is critical that you upgrade your LinkedIn profile to a professional business subscription. By upgrading, you will be able to search and view profiles that are outside your network on LinkedIn. It costs roughly $50/month, which hopefully your company will cover for you, but if not, consider it a small investment to increase prospecting success.
  2. Build your personal brand within LinkedIn – Once you start identifying prospects and calling on them, chances are they may look you up. Build out your LinkedIn profile by providing a description of your role, and what your company does for their
    customers. Share real metrics for success. Share helpful links and resources on your LinkedIn wall. All of these activities will help you appear as the credible professional you are.
  3. Increase your network the easy way – You should be connected to every employee in your company, including board members, advisors, and executives. If not, start by sending LinkedIn connection requests to each person. A connection to a prospect is always going to be a warmer call.
  4. Join relevant groups – Search for Groups that are relevant to your industry, your prospect’s functional role, related associations, etc. Often you can find a gold mine of prospects just by looking at the member list for a group, which you can only do if you are a member of the group. Just be discreet, don’t spam the group with pitches about your company, or you may be asked to leave the group.

Searching for prospects in your target accounts: Use the advanced search to look up prospects (locate the “Advanced” search tool to the right of the search box in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn page). See screenshot #1 below. I recommend searching by:

  • Company Name – enter the company name into the box on the right-hand side of the page
  • Keywords – enter titles and functional terms here rather than in the title box. It will give you a wider potential for results (more on that below).

Screenshot #1 – Using Advanced Search
Screenshot 1

How to Get the Most from a Prospect’s Profile:
Once you get your search results, look for anyone closely related to your ideal prospect. For example, if we are targeting the Director of IT, I may want to look for any results that are related to Sr. IT Manager, Director of Operations, or VP IT as a way to break into the account.

  1. Click through to an individual profile
  2. Review the person’s background
  3. See “How you’re connected to _____”, also on the right-hand side of the page, to see if there is any potential for a warm introduction.
  4. Review “Viewer’s of this profile also viewed…” on the right-hand side of the page, usually about 1/2 down the page. See if there any related prospects that might be worth pursuing as well.
  5. If the profile is strong and you want to view it later, save the individual to your profile organizer. See screenshot #2 below.

Note: Do not pitch prospects using InMails. If the prospect perceives your mail to be spam, it will lower your InMail feedback rating, and potentially restrict your profile’s activities in the future. It is better to seek out a common connection and request an introduction to that prospect, or just to cold call the company to see if you can reach the prospect or someone in their organization.

Screenshot #2 – What to Do with Prospect Profiles

Screenshot 2

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