How To Use LinkedIn For B2B Sales

You tried a few LinkedIn posts but only got a handful of likes. You found a few prospects and added them. Some accepted. But your follow-up messages didn’t connect. You can see the opportunity to sell your solution but you don’t know how to do it. This is the ultimate guide to strategies used by LinkedIn masters to generate thousands of B2B sales leads.

The Most Effective LinkedIn B2B Sales Strategy

Paid promotion on LinkedIn is expensive. Especially compared to other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. While it provides a quick way to get noticed, it also means you will have to keep paying to get your message out. A better long-term approach is to use LinkedIn’s organic reach. Plus, it’s free!

The organic reach you get with each post is the most powerful feature on LinkedIn. It allows you to reach beyond your network to a massive audience of prospects. Above all, it establishes you as an industry authority. This will attract inbound leads and increase your direct message (DM) reply rate. Ultimately, this will allow you to start conversations and close deals.

How To Get More Views On LinkedIn

LinkedIn wants to build an insightful, happy community that regularly engages through conversations. They keep users coming back to the platform by promoting relevant, quality content.

Pete Davies, Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn, said they are prioritizing:

 “People you know, talking about the things you care about.”

How Does The LinkedIn Algorithm Work?

When you create a post the LinkedIn algorithm scores it. The score has three parts:

  1. The poster (you) – how many connections do you have? How detailed is your LinkedIn profile? How regularly do people engage with you? LinkedIn looks at this data to decide how much to promote your content.
  2. Your connections – these are the people who will see your post. LinkedIn gives them a score based on how many connections they have, how often they engage on LinkedIn, and how detailed their profiles are.
  3. The content – The LinkedIn algorithm matches the content to the audience. If it thinks the content is relevant to your network it will give it a high score.

Posts with a low score are quickly phased out. Posts with a high score are boosted.

Therefore, to get more LinkedIn profile views you need to:

  1. Improve your LinkedIn profile
  2. Build a network of connections in your target industry
  3. Create quality content for that network

How To Improve Your LinkedIn Profile

The first step to quickly building your network is improving your LinkedIn profile. Your LinkedIn profile is where people come to see who you are and what you do. Therefore, it will massively influence whether people accept your connection invite or reach out to you. By improving your profile you will boost your connection request success rate and get more prospects to browse your LinkedIn profile.

Your LinkedIn Profile Photo

Your LinkedIn profile photo should:

  • Be well lit – your face should be clearly visible without obvious shadows
  • Show your head and the top of your shoulders
  • Be friendly – a gentle smile gives you a warm, confident energy
  • Show you dressed in clothes you would wear to work
  • Not contain a distracting background
  • Be a high-resolution image
  • Show only one person – you

Your LinkedIn Background Photo

The LinkedIn background photo is a long thin strip 1584 (w) x 396 (h) pixels. If your image doesn’t match these dimensions you’ll have to crop it.

Highlight your achievements

This space is best used to highlight achievements that show you will be a valuable connection. For example, if you’ve written a book, spoken at a conference, or received an award, this is the place to show it.

Highlight your company’s achievements

Alternatively, you can show awards that your company has received. This can help establish trust in your organization.

If you don’t have any achievements, then showing a work-related hobby gives your profile more character. For example, if you participate in sports then a photo of you mountain biking or canoeing gives people another way to relate to you.

Highlight your location

Finally, if you’re selling locally, using an image of your city skyline is a good way to signal to prospects that you are nearby.

Your LinkedIn Headline

Your headline is important for catching the attention of prospects. In addition, it’s indexed by LinkedIn’s search algorithm so be sure to include keywords you want to rank for.

Your headline is for your prospects

What is the most important problem you solve? This is the key area that should be addressed in your headline. To make it easy, here’s a basic formula: “[insert job title]: helping X do Y.” X is your target audience. Y is what you do.

For example, “Sales Executive: Helping Smart Managers Keep Their Employees Engaged and Productive”

Use questions to call out common pain points

Questions can effectively call out problems your prospects are facing. They are a great hook to keep prospects browsing your profile or start a conversation.

Your LinkedIn About Section

This is the second block of text prospects will see when scrolling down your profile. It gives you an opportunity to address key questions for your audience:

  • Which problems do you solve?
  • How do you solve them?
  • Why should someone use your solution instead of a competitor’s?
  • Who are your top customers?
  • What do your customers say about you?

Finishing Your LinkedIn Profile

Finally, it’s important to put the finishing touches on your profile.

  • Include a full work and education history going back to your high-school
  • Use the job description section to explain what you did in previous roles and why it mattered
  • Add at least 10 interests relevant to your prospects
  • Include any qualifications you’ve received
  • Ask colleagues and friends to endorse you in the “skills and endorsements” section

Improving your LinkedIn profile with these steps will increase your connection request success rate and get more prospects browsing your profile. In short, this is going to help you generate more B2B sales leads.

Build Your LinkedIn Network For B2B Sales

Now that your profile is ready, you can start connecting with prospects in your target industry.

For example, if you’re selling cybersecurity software for hospitals you need to start connecting with IT managers and decision-makers at hospitals. Ultimately, you will be posting about cybersecurity issues that affect hospitals so you need to build an audience that will find your content relevant.

If your network is small, your posts have fewer opportunities to receive engagement. If you’re only connected to a few people in your target industry, your network is unlikely to find your posts relevant.

Therefore, you need to connect with at least 200 people in your target industry. Your target industry audience should also be at least 35% of your network.

For example, Killian starts with 500 connections. He needs to add 270 connections in his target industry to meet the 35% target. (X*0.65=500)

Some people might be tempted to create a new LinkedIn profile to make this easier. LinkedIn’s official policy does not allow you to have multiple accounts. Nevertheless, we’ve seen marketing agencies abuse this rule frequently. The decision is up to you.

How get more LinkedIn connections

In an ideal world, you would attend lots of industry events, gather business cards, and add people on LinkedIn. However, this is hard to scale. A faster way to build your LinkedIn network is to find and add prospects using LinkedIn’s search. Always add a personal message when connecting with someone.

Productivity tools like we-connect which can help you speed up this process.

Share industry knowledge

Delivering value is a great way to start a relationship. If your company has recently done some market analysis or research, share it with prospects.

“Hi Sriwan – noticed you’re a cybersecurity architect at ACME. A new Skype bug is letting hackers target Windows systems remotely. Would you like me to send the full free report? Thanks”

Mention their online activity

Check your prospect’s LinkedIn activity and Google them. If they’re active online, you’ll be able to find conversation starters.

“Hi Ann, I read your article on how the e-sports market is expanding in developing countries. Really good point about how this is an untapped market for most advertisers. I’m also in advertising. Looking forward to reading more of your content. Thanks”

Make sure the note has a specific reason for why you added this person. Do not write generic messages such as:

“Hi Ann, I love your work and all the content you’re posting on LinkedIn”

Ask for advice

One of the best ways to connect with prospects is to be vulnerable. Let them know you’re new to the industry. Ask about what they value in you or how they differentiate between companies in your space.

“Hi Doug, great research on the US-China trade war. Would you be open to sharing which data visualization tools you’re using and why? Many thanks in advance.”

Use your connections

When someone in your target industry accepts your connection request go to their profile and click on their connections.

By following the link you’ll be able to browse your contact’s connections. Here you can find and add related prospects in your target industry. Your chance of successfully connecting with these prospects is higher because you will show up as a 2nd or 3rd-degree connection.

Create Content That Generates LinkedIn B2B Sales Leads

Post relevant content that adds value to your network

Post about topics your target audience is interested in.

From LinkedIn: “we know from our data that members are more interested in going deep on topics they’re interested in. Consistently we see better conversation around niche ideas.”

When your posts get low engagement it tells LinkedIn that you create low-quality or irrelevant content. Unfollows and negative engagement will also decrease your reach. We know that at least 200 connections or 35% of your audience will find your content relevant because they’re in your target industry. So that’s a good start. Other good questions to ask yourself before posting are, is this post:

  • useful?
  • eye-catching and engaging?
  • trustworthy?

Common content themes preferred by LinkedIn

Help your prospects get a promotion

People want to know how they can be better at their jobs. They want to be promoted or get a raise. Helping them is an easy way to get likes, shares and engagement. Providing this value also positions you as a thought leader and someone worth connecting with. Ultimately, this will start conversations and attract B2B sales leads.

You can add value by providing:

  • Tips
  • Market research
  • Studies
  • Polls
  • Best practices
  • Guides
  • Breaking news
Rand provides great tips to help digital marketing specialists

Use questions

Questions naturally drive engagement. A good question connects with a problem your audience regularly experiences or highlights something they didn’t know. In addition, people like to give advice. For example, you might ask:

  • Which marketing trends do you think are overhyped?
  • Can you recommend any marketing tools?
Sarah asks a simple question most people feel qualified to answer

Other LinkedIn content themes

The following content areas also attract good engagement:

  • Feel-good – stories about people doing charity work or helping good causes
  • How to grow your career advice
  • Achievements/promotions – work, work-related or sports accomplishments
  • Heart-tugging – stories about people overcoming tough situations
  • Deeply personal – stories about overcoming personal problems
  • Entertaining – funny videos, or work-related stories
  • Event coverage – posts from live events like conferences

How To Maximize Your Reach With Every LinkedIn Post

Use a maximum of 3 hashtags

Using hashtags can increase your reach by 50% as anyone searching for the hashtag will be able to see your post. LinkedIn recommends a maximum of 3 hashtags per post. Above all, they warn that spamming hashtags has a negative effect on engagement and reach.

Use your LinkedIn search bar to see what people are posting about in your target industry. Search for “#keyword” and enter in popular keywords and phrases for your niche.

Tag a maximum of 5 people who are likely to respond

Tag a company or person but only if they are likely to respond. However, be warned. If they don’t respond or if they remove the tag, your reach for that post will decline. Use @personname or @companyname to set up the tag.

Engage with your contacts often

The more you comment and like the posts of people in your network, the more likely you are to receive engagement in return. Take a few minutes each day to engage with people in your industry. Of course, influencers are the most valuable people to get engagement from so interact with them as often as you can.

Don’t share

Shares receive lower reach which leads to lower engagement. So if you’d like to share something it’s best to copy the content, repost it, and tag the author. If you’re trying to boost a friend’s post comment on it. Don’t share.

Try the “Broetry” formula

Josh Fechter figured out that users liked posts that:

  • Begin with a hard to resist hook that highlights a problem, significant change, announcement, or credibility
  • Are easy to read (use short sentences)
  • Have lots of white space

This posting style got Josh banned from LinkedIn and the company supposedly updated the algorithm to counteract the effectiveness of this approach but it still works.

Build social proof

The term “social proof” – was created by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence. Social proof is the concept that people will follow the actions of the masses. If your posts receive a lot of likes, shares, and engagement it signals that you’re trustworthy.

At first, it’s going to be very hard to attract any engagement. However, as you keep adding connections and posting valuable content you’ll start to get engagement. This has a snowball effect so keep at it! Do not give up!

Use text + attached documents

LinkedIn wants to keep members on the platform. As a result, they give posts more or less reach depending on the content. Below is a table showing how this works.

Post TypeEffect On Reach
Text + Attached Documents/Images+50% to +80%
Native Video (Including Vimeo)+20% to +70%
Text Only+20% to +50%
YouTube Video-10% to -40%
Text + External Link-25% to -50%
External Link Only-50% to -80%
Articles-150% to -250%
The effectiveness of different LinkedIn post types

By using the top 3 formats you can significantly increase your LinkedIn reach. For example, by posting a PDF report, tutorial video, or text-only story more of your connections will see your content.

Post external links as the first comment

Again, LinkedIn wants to keep users on the site. It will punish you for posting external links by giving your post a low-quality score.

If you need to post an external link, post it as the first comment. This will minimize the negative effects. If you’re connected with any LinkedIn influencers you’ll see they very rarely post links directly.

The first hour after posting

LinkedIn modifies the quality score of the post depending on user engagement. If lots of people engage, the post gets a good score. However, if few people engage the post gets a bad score and is phased out.

If possible, get your contacts to follow up with comments within the first hour of posting. Do not keep asking the same people to comment on your posts as the algorithm will recognize this and reduce your reach. This strategy is easiest to implement if you have a large pool of colleagues.

Comments are more valuable than likes and shares

Comments are the most effective tool for boosting posts. Likes are 50% as effective. Shares are 25% as effective. Take advantage of this by adding a comment to your own post. Your comment could:

  • Explain why you chose to share the post
  • Tell people why the post content is worth reading/watching
  • Provide further details about the content

Do not just write “great article” or “very interesting”.

Respond to every comment you get with another comment. Try to keep the conversation going.

When Should You Post On LinkedIn?

Post when your audience is online and engaged

Since the goal here is to maximize engagement you’ll want to post when most of your network is online.

According to Hootsuite, the best times to post in the USA are:

  • 7:45, 10:45, 12:45, and 17:45 (EST)
  • The best day for B2B brands to post on LinkedIn is Wednesday, followed by Tuesday.

Every audience is different so A/B test with your network to see when you get the most engagement.

Use the connection window

LinkedIn favors showing your content to new connections. If new connections engage with your content they are more likely to be included in your organic reach when you post again. In order to take advantage of this, post consistently and frequently invite people to connect.

Post 20 times a month

Posting more than 20 times per month has diminishing returns as LinkedIn will start hiding your posts. There are exceptions for celebrities and other entities that attract very high engagement like viral news site Cheddar.

By posting 20 times per month 60% of your network will see at least one of your posts. If you post less than 20 times per month your reach within your network will drop below 60%.

How To Go Viral On LinkedIn

Want to go viral on LinkedIn? Get 20+ likes and comments within the first hour.

LinkedIn influencers often use the lead magnet strategy. They create a lead magnet (eBook, course, guide etc…) then tell people to comment if they want a copy. Video posts to introduce the lead magnet work well. These posts often go viral as a result of all the comments. Be warned tho, the lead magnet must be valuable and you need a large, engaged audience.

If you use this strategy, you can scrape the comments using data-miner.io and ask for an email address to send the eBook too. This is a quick way to gather LinkedIn B2B sales leads once you have built out your network.

Advanced Tips and Tricks For Getting LinkedIn B2B Sales Leads

Connect with influencers

Connect with 20 top influencers in your industry. Build a long-term relationship with them and invite them to collaborate on blog post, podcast or eBook. Creating these relationships is very important so be sure to thoroughly research the influencers beforehand and send them highly personalized messages.

Share your LinkedIn post outside the network

Sharing your posts on Slack, email newsletters or other channels can bring people back to LinkedIn and boost your post’s engagement level.

See how to embed a LinkedIn post in your newsletter.

Increase your SSI and become a LinkedIn All-Star

People with a high social selling index (SSI) or LinkedIn All-Star status are rewarded with (about 30%) more organic reach. You can find your SSI breakdown here. See where you need to improve and start climbing the ranks in your industry.

LinkedIn research results

In July of 2019, Richard van der Blom published the findings of his algorithm research based on his analysis of more than 3,000 LinkedIn posts. We’ve included his most important findings in the article above. You can find the full slide show below.


Conclusion – How To Use LinkedIn For B2B Sales Leads

LinkedIn has traditionally been seen as a recruiting platform. However, savvy marketers and salespeople have started to use it to generate thousands of B2B sales leads. By improving your LinkedIn profile, connecting with your target audience, and creating valuable content you can effectively use LinkedIn for B2B sales leads.

Here’s a quick summary:

  • Improve your LinkedIn Profile
  • Connect with prospects in your target industry
  • Post relevant content that adds value to your network
  • The “Text + attached documents/images” post type gets the most reach
  • Use a maximum of 3 hashtags
  • Tag a maximum of 5 people who are likely to respond
  • Engage with your contacts often
  • Put external links in the first comment
  • The first hour is the golden window for engagement – more engagement will give you more reach
  • Comments are the most valuable form of engagement you can get
  • Post when most of your network is online
  • Post 20 times a month

FAQ – How To Use LinkedIn For B2B Sales Leads

But when will I start getting leads?

This strategy requires time and effort. Building your LinkedIn profile and network takes around 50 hours. Thereafter, posting takes around 30 minutes a day. After posting valuable content every day for 3 months prospects will start to engage you with sales related questions. You’ll also notice an increase in your direct message success rate.

Should I use my LinkedIn company page instead of my LinkedIn profile?

No. LinkedIn is focused on growing communities of people. You will get more organic reach, growth, and ultimately LinkedIn B2B sales leads if you use your personal profile page.

What if I’m feeling self-conscious using my LinkedIn profile for B2B sales?

This strategy uses soft selling. It’s not about spamming your connections with discount offers or soon to expire deals. Rather, it’s about genuinely helping your network. You should know your target industry well. You know what problems they struggle with. Go out and help them. Thereafter, the sales will come as a byproduct of being genuinely useful.

How do I follow up with new LinkedIn B2B sales leads?

Polished helps you write perfect sales emails. It increases your reply rate by helping you write clear, empathetic, personalized messages.

Check out our other guides here.

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