How to Use LinkedIn for Successful Sales Prospecting

Published: | By Hanson Cheng

As a business owner, you probably realize that LinkedIn is a powerful tool for sales prospecting, but do you know how to use it to its fullest potential?

Most people only use a fraction of LinkedIn's features when they could get much more out of it. This can generally lead to frustration and the feeling that LinkedIn isn't worth their time.

If you're stuck in a rut with your LinkedIn sales prospecting, then this guide is for you.

We'll show you the best lead generation ideas for small businesses for those that want to use LinkedIn to its fullest potential, allowing you to maximize your sales prospecting and close more deals.

Let's get into it.

Using LinkedIn for Successful Sales Prospecting

Here are the top ideas to consider when it comes to LinkedIn prospecting.

"People Also Viewed" sidebar menu

What if you could find similar prospects to the ones you're already targeting? LinkedIn gives you this ability with its "People Also Viewed" sidebar menu.

The sidebar menu appears on a person's profile page and lists other similar profiles that LinkedIn believes might interest you. You can use this feature to find more people like your current prospects who might be interested in your offer.

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To use this feature, go to a person's profile page and look for the "People Also Viewed" sidebar menu. Click on any of the profiles listed there, and LinkedIn will take you to their profiles.

Suppose your business focuses on high-velocity sales and uses a proven funnel that guides people down the path to becoming a customer. In that case, you can use LinkedIn's "People Also Viewed" sidebar menu to find more prospects who are likely to be interested in what you offer.

One can apply this logic to any small business industry.

Consider people that start a new job role

When people have been in the same role for a while, they tend to become complacent, and their motivation starts to wane as they go through their day in a specific way.

But when someone starts a new job, they're full of energy and eager to make an impact in their new role.

This can sometimes mean saying yes to new opportunities, making them the perfect prospect for salespeople.

If you want to find people who have recently started a new job, you can use LinkedIn's notifications feature that lets you know when someone in your network starts a new job.

LinkedIn will send you a notification asking you to congratulate such people in your network. In addition to giving your congrats, this is a great time to chat with them and see if there's anything you can do to help them in their new role.

Your competitor's network is not your competition

When customizing your marketing strategy based on your industry, having access to your competitors’ network is great.

In addition to seeing who your competitor's employees are, LinkedIn allows you to see their 2nd and 3rd-degree connections.

You can use this information to your advantage by targeting people connected to your competitors and finding ways to deliver better value.

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For example, if you sell marketing software and your competitor is a marketing agency, you can target the people connected to your competitor's employees.

These people are likely to be interested in what you have to offer, and they might not even be aware that your product exists.

To find your competitor's network, go to their company page and click on the "See all" link next to their employees. This will take you to a page where you can see all their employees and their 2nd and 3rd-degree connections.

Scroll through skill endorsements

Finding people who have taken the time to give their colleagues skills endorsements is a great way to find prospects that may be interested in what you have to offer.

Chances are that the people who endorse others' skills are somewhat interested in (or might even have) those exact skills themselves. This makes them a great target for salespeople that can offer them the right products/services to enhance such skills.

Using endorsed skills when reaching out can also be a good icebreaker when starting a conversation.

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To find people who have given skills endorsements, go to the "Skills" section of the LinkedIn profile in question. Scroll down and click on any of the skills listed there. You can then see the person who endorsed that particular skill.

Help, don't sell

One essential tip to always mention when it comes to successful sales prospecting is to help -  don't sell.

When you are helping someone on LinkedIn, they are not focused on what you are trying to sell them, which creates a more relaxed conversation that may eventually lead to a sale.

You want to be viewed as a helpful resource, not just a salesperson trying to make a quick buck.

When you are helping someone, they are also more likely to remember you when they are ready to buy, and are also more likely to refer you to their friends and colleagues.

To find people that you can help, search for keywords that relate to the problem that your product or service solves. For example, those selling marketing software can search for keywords like "SEO" or "social media marketing."

You can also use the LinkedIn's "Groups" feature to find people you can help. Groups are a great place to network and connect with people who have similar interests.

Once you've joined a few groups, take some time to introduce yourself and see if there are any ways that you can help the members of the group.

LinkedIn is a powerful tool that one can use for sales prospecting, but it's essential to use it the right way, helping others with your solutions.

Use the alumni search tool

The LinkedIn alumni tool will show people who have attended the same educational institute as yourself.

This means that you already have a similar point of interest, another icebreaker that can be used when reaching out to them. 

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See who's commented on your prospects' posts

Let's say you're in the cybersecurity industry, and one of your clients created a resource guide for small businesses to help them evaluate cyber risk.

This type of LinkedIn post will attract people interested in cybersecurity, with many commenting, liking, and sharing the post. These people are potentially ideal prospects for you.

By going through the comments, you can find people who may be interested in what you have to offer and you can start a conversation with them.

A huge role in the success your attempts play are proper data protection, your preparedness to DDoS attacks, and any other cyber attacks that can potentially damage your plans of attaining new sales prospects.

Browse users who have interacted with your profile

Seeing who has checked out your profile is a goldmine for sales prospecting.

When you know someone is interested in what you have to say, it is much easier to start a conversation with them.

When most people notice that someone has visited their profile, they simply return that visit without doing much else.

However, being a social network, LinkedIn is a great place to start a conversation that identifies areas where you can help prospects improve.

As a result of being selective and deciding who to reach out to, you can create a much more targeted list of prospects interested in what you have to say.

Make use of search alerts

As a LinkedIn recruiter, you can use search alerts to be immediately notified whenever a new lead meets set criteria. This way, you can pounce on new opportunities as soon as they arise.

A saved search is (only) run every 24 hours, so you don't have to worry about your inbox being flooded with results.

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It also means you'll get first pick of the prospects you're interested in, and you can then start building a relationship with them before anyone else does.

Customization is critical

Your profile is one of the first places prospects will look when considering doing business with you.

When it comes to prospecting, it's essential to ensure that your profile is up to date and provides accurate information about your skills and experience.

Your profile should also be tailored to the specific needs of your target market.

For example, your profile should highlight your experience working with specific types of businesses, clearly identifying how you helped such companies in the past.

On the other hand, if you're selling to enterprise companies, your profile should highlight your experience working with similar companies.

Customizing your profile will make it more likely that prospects will find you when searching for someone with specific skills and experience. It will also help them become more aware of how you can help them with their goals.

Follow up

Whether you've just connected with someone on LinkedIn or conversing with them for a while, it's essential to follow up.

Following up shows that you're interested in the person and believe that your solutions can help them get better at what they do.

It also allows you to build a relationship with them and learn more about their needs.

Moreover, while the initial contact with a prospect might have been on LinkedIn, don't think you have to stay on the platform forever.

To this extent, there are several cold email software tools that allow you to run automated LinkedIn follow-ups.

While you always want to ensure that you are being strategic about your follow-ups, a set- it- and- forget- it type of automation can take most of the tediousness out of the process.

By following up with your LinkedIn connections, you can turn them into warm leads who are more likely to do business with you.

Sales Leads vs. Sales Prospects

Many small business owners understand that sales are essential to the success of their business, but they often don't know where to start.

One of the most common questions is, "What's the difference between a sales lead and a sales prospect?"

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Sales leads are potential customers that have shown some interest in your product or service.

They might have visited your website, subscribed to your newsletter, or downloaded a white paper.

A sales prospect is a sales lead you have contacted and qualified as a good fit for your product or service.

To qualify a prospect, you typically need to know more about their specific needs and whether they have a budget to make a purchase.

The importance of knowing your audience comes into play here – if you're not targeting the right people, you'll end up qualifying prospects that will never convert into customers.

It's important to remember that not all leads will turn into sales prospects, but all sales prospects were once leads.

Lead generation aims to create a pool of potential customers (leads) that you can then contact and attempt to sell (converting them from prospects into customers).

What Are the Benefits of Sales Prospecting?

Sales prospecting is a vital part of the sales process.

You are able to find and contact potential customers, build relationships, and eventually close deals.

Sales prospecting can be used to find new customers, upsell existing customers, or even cross-sell into other departments within a company.

Some of the critical benefits of sales prospecting include the following.

More customers

Customers are the lifeblood of any business.

Without customers, you wouldn't have a business.

Sales prospecting is a great way to find new customers and expand your customer base. Later, you should integrate unified communications solutions to provide excellent customer service.

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By reaching out to potential customers and building relationships, you can increase the number of customers that you have.

ROI Increases

More customers will lead to more revenue. Increasing the number of customers you have will improve your top-line revenue. In addition, sales prospecting can also help you increase your ROI (return on investment).

By building relationships with potential customers, you can increase the likelihood that they will do business with you when they're ready to purchase.

Improved brand awareness and reputation

Sales prospecting can also help you improve your brand awareness and reputation.

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You're effectively introducing them to your brand when you reach out to potential customers and build relationships.

The better your relationships with potential customers, the more likely they will think of you when they're ready to make a purchase.

Additionally, down the line, if you provide good customer service and treat your customers well, they will be more likely to recommend you to others. This word-of-mouth marketing can help you improve your brand awareness and reputation.

More customer insights

Another benefit of sales prospecting is that it can help you gather more insights about your customers.

You can learn more about their needs, wants, and pain points by talking to potential customers and building relationships. This information can be invaluable as you look to improve your products or services.

By understanding your customers better, you can create more targeted prospecting messages that are more likely to resonate with future prospects.

Gathering insights can help you whether you are selling to customers through various channels such as email, social media, or in-person. It can also help you if you sell your online course.

Specific insights can be combined with the tools offered by online course platforms to create effective courses that solve the needs of your audience.

If you’re looking for long-term success, proper customer insights are key.


Sales prospecting is a vital part of the sales process. It allows you to find and contact potential customers while building great relationships with them.

While there are various methods of prospecting, using LinkedIn can be a great way to find and connect with potential customers. Using LinkedIn's various features, you can target specific companies or individuals likely to be interested in your products or services.

This will get your foot in the door when trying to establish contact and take the first steps in building a relationship. When used correctly, LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for sales prospecting and help you increase your overall customer count, total revenue, and ROI.

Author Bio

Hanson Cheng is the founder of Freedom to Ascend. He empowers online entrepreneurs and business owners to 10x their business and become financially independent. You can connect with him here.

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