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How LinkedIn Can Build Your Sales Teams Pipeline Featured Image

How LinkedIn Can Build Your Sales Teams Pipeline

Building your sales team’s pipeline is critical to any sales rep that wants to hit their target. Yet, large and small companies struggle to build and sustain a strong pipeline of future business. 

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The issues relating to pipelines can be varied but the common reasons include…
  • Optimistic estimates of close rate on behalf of the reps (unrealistic optimism)
  • Excessive focus on short-term conversion (at the expense of pipeline development)
  • Motivation – some reps are wired for hunting for low-hanging fruit 
  • Minimal focus on relationship development 
  • Economic and corporate shifts which disrupt activity 
  • Disconnected sales and marketing activity

Whatever the reason, a business needs a strong pipeline. 

Sales leaders and marketing departments come under increased scrutiny and pressure when numbers are not being hit.

In this article, I want to share some ways LinkedIn can help sales reps and marketing teams to ensure that lead flow and pipeline are strong. 

Leverage LinkedIn Buying Intent 

Since the development of LinkedIn in the late 2010s, there has been a focus on building a platform which connects marketers and sales professionals with decision-makers. Many think of LinkedIn as a big searchable database for prospecting, but recent innovations have brought tools which can align sales and marketing goals.

Inside LinkedIns subscription service Sales Navigator, there are features available for sales teams that allow them access to score prospect lists and discover companies which high buying intent. From this, you can design an engagement, paid advertising and outreach strategy. 

Imagine if…

  • Your sales reps had the resources to tell if a CEO was showing buying signals.
  • The marketing team knew that 25 of your top accounts were expressing buying intent.

How would this influence your ad targeting?

With Sales Navigator, you can upload lists from your CRM or search the network itself for people with high buying intent. This means each week your reps have fresh leads who are showing buying intent.

While this excites reps and marketers, they usually don’t know how to approach those contacts and ‘warm’ them up. This ends with many of those opportunities getting lost simply because the reps go in for the kill.

Here is a screenshot of what it looks like in the reps dashboard:

LinkedIn will also share up to 100 people each week with reps as well as sharing specific individuals who are expressing buying intent. These present prime opportunities. 

Some companies have dismissed the buying intent features on LinkedIn as they claim it shows the wrong targets. I recently spoke to one sales leader who told their reps to ignore it. I was incensed, so I did some digging.

After doing some research, I found that one of the key reasons they were getting the wrong leads was an easy fix. Most reps rarely update the backend of their profiles, so their prospect preferences and as a result, LinkedIn is feeding them leads which match their old role and prospect criteria. 

Buying intent on LinkedIn is the future and the quicker reps get using it, the fuller their pipelines will be. 

Combining ABM And Social Selling

The concept of ABM is not new and neither is social selling. As sales and marketing align, teams can create a more strategic approach to accounts. Reps can align their activity to build relationships whilst marketing provide value through content and paid ads to perfectly warm up prospects. 

In many cases, ABM comes apart during the sales process. 

Prospects bite and access content, engaging with ads and download resources, but often they fall into an email list or get followed up by a rep with little success. 

The key is relationship development by the rep at the same time as the content and ads are running. 

This kind of hybrid approach requires sales and marketing to collaborate and coordinate so that activity is dovetailed together. 

The result?

Reps talk to more prospects and get more meetings booked. 

In a recent conversation, I was speaking with a sales leader who was complaining about the quality of their leads. Their complaint was that “marketing hadn’t sent any goof leads.” This company was generating more than 1000 whitepaper downloads per week. When the Enterprise Sales Team tried to follow up the leads from their target accounts, they were ghosted. 

As I looked at it, I spotted a few things…

  • The lead magnet didn’t speak to a pain point – so the downloads had no buying intent signals. Nor did it have any conversation hooks for following up with prospects.
  • Sales reps didn’t even read or know what the lead magnet written was. So their follow up was generic.
  • It took more than 10 days on average to get the leads filtered and followed up 

This is a case where quality will trump quantity. 

Instead, we looked at the major accounts they wanted to target and divided them up by rep. The reps read and understood the pain points of the lead magnet and instead, marketing ran a campaign per rep. 

The PDF was customised and the delivery email came from the rep. 

But here is the clincher…

Prior to doing all of this, all the reps went on a relationship building exercise with their target accounts. Not pitching, just building relationships with the prospects on LinkedIn. 

As the downloads came, the reps sent messages like this:

“Just spotted you downloaded the [X] PDF from our site [firstname]

Did the email get through okay with the doc?”

As a result, prospects would reply and thank them and confirm receipt.

This kind of low-key relational message only works if you have ‘primed’ prospects by building relationships on LinkedIn beforehand. 

The rep would then be in conversation from the get-go and had an easy way to follow up. 

The whole process end-to-end from marketing to sales was focused and effective allowing reps to talk to prospects faster. 

Once you combine ABM and social selling, getting the call becomes more straightforward, more relational meaning the reps are less likely to be ghosted.

This kind of strategy is helping reps have more successful meetings and spend less time pursuing prospects who end up ignoring them. It’s a strategy which needs planning and marketing and sales to work together to achieve a result. 

In 2023, your pipeline of business will be under more pressure, with cutbacks and economic uncertainty. This means not just doing more of what we’ve always done. It means doing things in a more joined up and effective way to ensure that no opportunities slip through the cracks. 


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