Using LinkedIn To Make Better Prospecting Decisions

One of the books that I read over the Christmas break was “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konnikova. The book is about her experiment taking up professional poker to see if her background in psychology (she has a PhD) would help her decision making in playing poker. The book is outstanding and I have re-read it twice in the past three months to just take it more slowly and let it soak in.

Besides being a good read, with a lot of good stories, a lot of what Konnikova has to say can be applied to sales and to LinkedIn. I think the whole idea of using LinkedIn to help us make better decisions applies. Here are some examples.

Use LinkedIn to find the right people

One of the great things I like about LinkedIn is it helps avoid the “anyone who” problem. This is the idea that salespeople draw too wide a net in order to drum up sales prospects, as in “We sell to anyone who builds medical devices.” or “We sell to anyone who uses LinkedIn for sales.”

If you have the ability to use LinkedIn search appropriately (and that can be a big “if”), you can hone in on the exact people who are the best fit for you. I have a client who manufactures printed circuit boards. Based on my research there are around 17,000 companies in North America who buy printed circuit boards. So nominally, they have 17,000 prospects they can find through LinkedIn. But…they have two applications that are their specialty. Using LinkedIn they can identify the hundred or so companies who are the best fit for their two specialities.

They use LinkedIn to make better decisions as to who to go after first.

Using LinkedIn to identify possible options

There are three ideas under this umbrella.

The first is that LinkedIn can show you paths to people you would like to meet. LinkedIn will show you which of your connections (if any) are connected to someone you would like to meet. Often these are hidden pathways you would not know about otherwise. Quite often I will come across someone’s profile and see I share five connections with that person, all of which are a complete surprise to me.

The second is finding alternate paths, if the first one you try doesn’t work. No pathway to the VP of Manufacturing? Ah, look, there is a pathway to the Director of Quality, or the Supply Chain VP or a key Product Manager, all of whom could lead you to the VP of Manufacturing.

And perhaps most important of all, LinkedIn can show you the times – and they are more the rule than the exception – when LinkedIn is not the best way to approach a person and you’re better off finding another means like email.

Using LinkedIn to unlock the doors

Using LinkedIn you can often find the keys to unlock the doors. LinkedIn can be a treasure trove of information that you can use in outreach and to seed initial conversations with people you reach out to. Between their profiles, their activity, and their company pages you can find information that will often surprise the person you are messaging. Nothing elicits a response more than someone asking themselves, “How the heck does he know that?”

There’s a lot more information available to you on LinkedIn than you may realize. Find that information and you can make better decisions in going after your prospects and leads.

The obligatory disclaimer: I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month.