7 DIY tips for SDRs to improve their LinkedIn prospecting game
If you were to magically teleport yourself to 1992, you would be surprised to see how little things have changed in the world around us.
And when you are back to the future, you will notice that customers still are wishy-washy about what they want, sales teams don’t take marketing seriously, and brands waste thousands of dollars on events rather than investing in high-ROI online marketing.
But one thing that’s there today that you wouldn’t find 30 years ago is the power of social selling. That’s because social selling didn’t exist before social media. And no other platform has contributed so much to social selling than LinkedIn—the best social media network for laser-focused business professionals.
In today’s digital-first economy, 80% of all customer journeys take place online. According to LinkedIn, sales teams that employ social selling attract 45% more opportunities and are 51% more likely to achieve their quotas.
Another survey, run by HubSpot, found LinkedIn to be 277% more effective for lead generation than other social media platforms. And of all leads generated from social media, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn—according to the same study. The numbers are likely to be high given that the study took place several years ago.
There’s no denying that LinkedIn is a great place to find prospects, nurture leads, and book more meetings.
Yes, LinkedIn is also full of fuzzy content about the hustle-and-grind, getting management lessons from a homeless man on your way to work—all of the charade. But if you can cut through the noise, LinkedIn is serious business. It’s a high-leverage lead generation engine that can help you land lucrative sales opportunities.
A lot of sales and business development reps (SDRs and BDRs) are active on LinkedIn to fish for new clients—so you have a lot of competition waiting for you. The good news is that not everybody is doing LinkedIn right.
Most SDRs, for instance, publish content that are centered too much around them or their product. Or, they pitch their product and ask for a meeting with a prospect as soon as they connect. That’s not how you do “social selling.”
Since LinkedIn is full of clichéd sales and marketing practices, you have lots of opportunities to experiment and make yourself stand out. If you are serious about leveraging LinkedIn as a lead gen magnet for your brand, here are 7 practical tips on how to go about it.
Polish your LinkedIn profile page
Your LinkedIn content strategy needs to have a trustworthy face. The LinkedIn profile page is like the clothes you wear to a networking event. Start by window dressing your profile page to make a great first impression.
If you search for “SDR” or “sales development representative” on LinkedIn, you will come across several profiles that don’t even have a profile picture. They have other details missing such as no description text in the ‘About’ section, lacking text or image on the banner, or a total lack of featured posts.
How can you, as an SDR, expect prospects to accept your connection request or engage with you when you don’t even have basic, verifiable information about you?
In the world of social media, every small detail matters—from your profile pics to the endorsements you have earned from your colleagues. Use your LinkedIn profile page like a valuable real estate to communicate everything you want your prospects to know even before you say “hi” to them.
So put up a smiling, confident-looking profile picture, complement it with a banner image (preferably about the brand you represent), and fill in all the important details that prospects can read when they skim through your profile page.
My favorites are salespeople who use the banner space to talk to you directly, like Grégoire here does with the call-to-action (CTA) in French that says: contact me for a demo or a quote.
Having a thoroughly complete LinkedIn profile helps you build credibility and create a “halo effect” of sorts—i.e. a mental heuristic that makes people judge you favorably.
For example, let’s say you recently wrote a LinkedIn post about how Joe Ades became a millionaire by selling potato peelers for $5 each on the streets of New York City. Your prospects are likely to find you more personable to talk to if you have pinned the post as one of your featured posts and if it’s intriguing to read.
LinkedIn has one more underutilized area that you can leverage to improve your prospecting. For instance, did you know that you can create a customized CTA link right below your contact info?
Here’s how Carl Ferreira, Director of Sales at Refine Labs, uses the space to link to his company’s podcast.
You can use the section to link to your company website, signup page, demo page, pricing page, or the calendar booking page.
The moral of the story—leave no stone unturned on your LinkedIn profile page to start your sales prospecting on a high note.
Follow the 10x3x1 framework
When it comes to making their presence felt on LinkedIn, the biggest problem that most people—and not just SDRs—face is not being able to produce relevant content consistently.
That’s a valid problem, albeit not fully thought-through. You see, being active on LinkedIn doesn't just mean just posting content 4x a day. It’s also about connecting with the right people, following the right accounts, and building relationships.
For instance, even if you can't create a new post every day, you can engage with the right handles. Anybody can take out at least 10 minutes of their time to do that—no matter how busy you are.
To that end, the 10x3x1 framework offers an easy solution. Here’s how Yaagneshwaran Ganesh, Director of Content Marketer at Avoma, explains what the framework is all about:
The 10-3-1 framework is simply a way to structure your LinkedIn activity by sending out 10 targeted connection requests, commenting meaningfully on 3 posts, and making one 1 post on LinkedIn every day.
This is a great way to increase your prospecting surface area, engage with your ideal clients, and create a sustainable routine to post regularly on LinkedIn without any excuse. Just take 20–30 minutes of your time to follow this framework and you will see great traction in no time.
In the beginning, you might feel a bit awkward or might find it tough to find the right people to send connection requests to. It’s okay to feel that way when you are starting—you will overcome the mental hurdle pretty quickly. And connecting with the right people is easier than you think.
Here’s an example: log in to your CRM and find the top five customers that were pretty easy for you to talk to, engage, and convert into leads. All you need to do is expand the pool of people who work in similar companies, hold similar job titles, and face similar challenges.
Thankfully, Linkedin has cool search functionalities to help you do that. So if you were to engage with more people, you can do a couple of things:
Search for a company page, select “People,” and send connection requests to the ideal people from the list.
Go to the “My Network” tab. LinkedIn will recommend new connections under the “People you may know with similar roles” section based on your recent LinkedIn connections.
When you are viewing someone’s LinkedIn page, find potential connections from the “People also viewed” section in the right panel.
Find people to connect to under the “People you may know” section.
Don’t just connect with anyone and everyone for the sake of growing your network. Make sure they are prospects you want to nurture or people who you can learn from.
Deepen relationships with your first-degree connections, find new second-degree connections to turn them into first-degree connections, and filter out people incompatible with your strategy.
Remember, the people you are sending a connection request to might be getting dozens of requests every day from random strangers. A rule of thumb is to send a connection request with a personalized note to people. When you personalize your connection request, it disarms the recipients and helps you stand out from the dozen other connections.
If you have the right context, use that to personalize your outreach further. Did you find them on a webinar? Was it one of their viral posts on LinkedIn posts that drew you to them? Did they download an ebook from your website? Or did someone refer them to you? It’s all in the context—mention it to introduce yourself better.
The part about posting 3x comments is pretty easy to follow. You can either comment on posts that appear by default on your feed or look for relevant keywords and hashtags to find posts relevant to you.
But make sure your comments add depth and elicit meaningful responses. Steer away from making superficial comments like “Love this!” or “Thanks for sharing” or “Always great reading your posts” that make you sound like a bot. Leave it to members of LinkedIn pods.
Finally, creating one post each day can be tough—at least in the beginning. But you can train yourself to be good at it over time if you start channeling the storyteller in you. In the next section, let’s look at the different kinds of content you can create.
Find what content works for you
Every social media platform’s algorithms favor certain types of content. Facebook is most famous for personal rants and vacation pics, Twitter loves bite-sized tweets, Instagram is glorified Facebook (but for Zoomers), and TikTok is for people who are always camera-ready.
In general, LinkedIn favors text-only nuggets of wisdom. That’s not to say that other forms of content don’t work on LinkedIn at all. They do—which is why blog-like posts, native videos, images with descriptive captions, infographics, opinion polls, carousels, and even memes are equally common on LinkedIn.
But nothing gives you as far-ranging organic reach as text-based story posts. This is good news for SDRs for three reasons:
It takes less time for you to create text posts between your busy schedule of managing lead lists, cold calling prospects, attending meetings, and following up with warm leads.
Most SDRs are naturally good at writing—thanks to their killer cold emailing skills. If you can deliver a solid elevator pitch, you certainly can wax eloquent via LinkedIn posts.
The production complexity of writing text-based content is way lower than creating videos, photos, infographics, or carousels.
But text is just a format, but what about the content topics? It’s a million-dollar question every marketing team wants to know. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. You just have to experiment with a bunch of content topics to identify the content niche that serves you well. Play around with all kinds of content and stick to a few topics that you’re good at and confident talking about.
For instance, here is a list of topics that sells like hot cake on LinkedIn:
Industry trends and insights
Brand strategy breakdowns
Redemption stories from failure to success
Whatever content topics you choose, make sure you build strong story narratives around them—because stories are what differentiates your content from the gazillion of other LinkedIn posts. Tell the stories in a way that strikes a chord with your audience. If you can map them to your target audience's problems, you'll hit a jackpot!
A fundamental problem that most people on LinkedIn make is they make their content too meta. For instance, designers craft eye-popping carousels to talk about design. Freelancers are obsessed with all-things freelancing. Founders have great insights to share about funders and vice versa.
Do you notice a pattern here? Everyone talks about themselves, which might end up attracting the wrong set of audience. Nobody is talking about the most important stakeholders that their business serves—the customers.
As an SDR, that’s a path you certainly don’t want to follow. Your top priority—within and outside of LinkedIn—is to tap into your prospects’ burning problems and position your brand as the solution to those challenges.
Basically, you are proxying content marketing, but don’t let your colleagues in the marketing department know that.
Avoid being a “fluffuencer”
For a lot of people, LinkedIn is a cesspool of try-hard, wannabe influencers who post trite content that does more harm than good. The sole aim of these LinkedIn creators is to appear smarter than they are, self-congratulate themselves on their smallest achievements, and add “LinkedIn Top Voices” to their bio.
Their content is full of fluff and lacks actionable takeaways. They are, thus, aptly known as “fluffuencers” in mature professional LinkedIn circles.
Here are a few examples of the generic fluff that fluffuencers post on LinkedIn:
“Today, I met a monk-turned-Uber driver who imparted the wisdom of life to me.”
“Last week, I bagged a $30K deal with someone who I met for 15 minutes in the O'Hare airport.”
“Today is my 30th birthday. Here are 30 lessons I’ve learned over the years.”
“I fired the top-performing sales rep because she missed her quota once.”
“I don’t waste time sleeping on Sundays. I work 24/7 and so should you.”
“Just get started. You can do it. Be yourself. Be authentic.”
Why am I telling you all of these? Because it’s important to know how not to ruin your LinkedIn content strategy by going in the wrong direction. If you are someone who works till 2 am and wakes up at 4 am to grind at the gym, please keep the story to yourself.
The irony is that your content might actually get a lot of visibility and engagement if your content matches the platitude standards of an average fluffuencer.
Once, Alexander Cohen, Director of Product at Carbon Health, took a jab at the cringy LinkedIn culture and shared a fake story about him meeting Jeff Bezos and the LinkedIn crowd lapped up his content with over 60K views and hundreds of serious engagements. Later, the LinkedIn team removed his content for spreading lies.
A lot of LinkedIn users are already complaining about LinkedIn slowly turning into Facebook with the growing share of inspirational quotes and general toxic positivity. The least we can do is—not add any more filth to LinkedIn than is already there.
A couple of things can happen if you start churning out fake motivational posts regularly.
You will distance yourself from sensible people (including your prospects) who see through your corny content.
You might attract the wrong traffic to your profile and business. It will end up becoming a colossal waste of your time.
LinkedIn’s algorithm will trick you to believe your content is working and you will be distracted from your main goal, i.e. prospecting.
Keep your content focused on what helps your customers—or what your product solves for.
Posting fluffy content on LinkedIn holds no water in front of the huge cringe that’s “pitch slapping.” It’s the worst kind of sales technique when a random salesperson will try to pitch you something in the guise of having a normal conversation.
Think of the time when you received a new connection request on LinkedIn. Seemingly harmless, happens all the time—right? That’s what you thought when you accepted the request and five minutes later the person sends you the following direct message:
Pitch slapping might be well-intentioned, but it’s just the worst. And bad sales pitches float around on the LinkedIn ether most because most sales teams don’t have a social selling strategy. Bottom line—don’t sell your brand or product, neither in your LinkedIn posts nor through DMs.
It’s true, the actual networking on social media happens on DMs—but that doesn’t mean you have the freedom to DM anyone and everyone just because it’s there. Don’t DM people right away after you exchange your pleasantries for the first time; it makes them awkward and be on their guard the next time you reach out to them.
It’s tacky to talk about your product or brand as soon as you introduce yourself to a new connection. You sound like a telemarketer who spouts their sales pitch without the other person’s permission. If you don’t like telemarketers doing that to you, imagine how your prospects might feel about getting random pitches on their LinkedIn DM.
LinkedIn is not a marketplace—you’re not selling there anywhere, at least not in the conventional sense. You’re there because you want to put your brand in front of the right audience, build trust with them, increase your brand awareness, offer help, and attract the right people to do business with you.
Being visible on LinkedIn so your potential customers can discover you is called “social selling” for a reason. The hint is right there in that term—to be social!
Instead of pitching prospects at the drop of a hat, you should look for opportunities to promote ideas and values—not your product. For instance, we at Avoma believe that all-in-one solutions are the future of SaaS buying. So a lot of us—including our CEO—take a strong stance in spreading that idea to our network on LinkedIn or have strong opinions when that topic comes up in our feed.
Having a point of view doesn’t just help you stand out, but it attracts genuine engagement and meaningful criticism from people who might not agree with you. And that’s a good thing—you position yourself as an original thinker who doesn’t conform to the same thoughts around them and can earn top mindshare among prospects who align with your point of view.
The only caveat—it’s good if your perspectives match the values of the product or the brand you represent. Otherwise, you will be rowing the boat in a different direction than your company.
Here are a few other things you should do instead of trying to sell your product:
Consistently post or share content that your ideal audience will find interesting.
Use past failures as an opportunity to tell a story. LinkedIn loves vulnerability.
Enable networking between the right people. Make warm intros, and give the right shoutouts—without expecting anything in return.
And next time somebody pitch-slaps you on LinkedIn, point them to this blog. Maybe they will appreciate you for it.
Use automation sparingly
On the topic of LinkedIn, there are two types of automation: one that helps you scrape off user data and the other one that lets you schedule your content publication.
Here, we are talking about the second kind. Plenty of tools like Hypefury, Loomly, SocialPilot, and OneUp offer free forever and affordable paid plans for you to automatically publish content from your LinkedIn handle ahead of time. Plus, most of these tools also offer analytics to help you refine your LinkedIn content strategy.
Scheduling tools are great if you are strapped for time or if you don’t have the self-discipline to post regularly. If you have absolute clarity about the kind of content you want to publish on LinkedIn, use these apps to delegate the manual labor that goes into publishing each content and give you the luxury to build a content pipeline that can last for weeks or months.
You can leverage the scheduling apps to post consistently without having to worry about the next post idea, scale your content outreach without stretching yourself thin, and repeat the process many times over.
But be wary of over-automating your LinkedIn content strategy. Automation is your friend when you use it in moderation. It can backfire if you let it loose. For instance, automating too many posts in a day might come across as spammy—especially if you don’t respond to the engagements that you might get on those posts.
Automated posts can sometimes go haywire in their formatting—making you appear amateur. If you were to post it first-hand, you can fix these problems almost in real-time. But if you had scheduled a post to show up at 4 am, you can’t really do much until the time you see it.
By design, automation helps you set it and forget it. Sometimes, that can be a problem too. Take for example the predicament of people who had scheduled memes or social media posts to talk about sales stats attributed to Super Bowl ads or the future of cryptocurrencies on 24 February—the fateful day when the Russia-Ukraine War escalated. It’s not very considerate to talk about business as usual when the world around you is going up in flames.
In such situations, you either have to proactively pause your automated scheduling or bear with the consequences of low—or worse, critical—engagements.
When you are starting out a new workflow, it’s good to default to manual processes until they start slowing you down. The same applies to automating your presence on LinkedIn. When you are confident of having built a LinkedIn playbook, you can use a tool like Linked Helper to automatically send new connection requests and messages to prospects on your behalf. Point is—use automation to save time but don’t go overboard with it.
Play the long game
It’s easy to give up on LinkedIn when your content doesn’t perform well. But it’s short-sighted to blame LinkedIn’s algorithm or feel that you are too late to the party if everybody except you is crushing it on LinkedIn.
Succeeding on LinkedIn, like any other business strategy, takes time and patience. Don’t expect an overnight victory by posting on LinkedIn twice a day for a week. Instead, focus on the following things:
Follow a proper strategy and apply it consistently
Treat your time on LinkedIn like a timed campaign
Be nimble and course-correct your strategy when applicable
Learn from your experience and the people around you
Initially, you might be rejected, ignored, and frustrated—that’s how most sales roles work. But success on LinkedIn is all about having enough touches with your ideal prospects before you take the relationship to the next level.
Invest your time on LinkedIn to build a personal brand—the most valuable social currency that indicates your success in today’s digital world. Over time, your investment will pay off good dividends and lead to a compound effect of good results. E.g., it can help you build a steady pipeline of inbound interests that automatically come to you.
Let me name-drop some people who invested heavily in their LinkedIn content strategy and created undeniable clout in their respective niches. Look up the following people on LinkedIn:
Alex B. Sheridan
Rajiv “RajNation” Nathan
To be clear, these professionals don’t post fortune-cookie wisdom but offer value-packed advice for people in their network which is why their personal brand has skyrocketed over the past couple of years.
And they didn’t have it all right out of the gates. If you go to their individual profiles and look at the posts from 2019, you would see that the quality of their content wasn’t that great and they had paltry engagements.
That’s the thing about LinkedIn—or life in general. If you keep at it consistently, don’t shy away from being judged publicly, and articulate your thoughts and ideas—you will soon attract an audience that finds value in what you have to say.
Naturally, being better at expressing yourself will also help you become better at your craft. In that sense, writing is selling at scale. It helps you network across the globe and better package your ideas to the world.
As an SDR, your job on LinkedIn is to turn outbound sales efforts into enough inbound interests to fill your lead pipeline. So shut your instant-gratification brain and treat LinkedIn like a side gig to make hay with social selling.
If you need help in sharpening your strategy, use tools like SHIELD Analytics (starting price: $6/month) to understand what’s working and what’s not in your LinkedIn content playbook.
We will see you at the top
It might be a bit too much to imagine yourself applying all of the above tips, especially if you don’t spend too much time on LinkedIn. It’s understandable—there’s certainly a tiny learning curve that you need to overcome to build a habit of being a regular on LinkedIn.
But don’t let it overwhelm you—breaking out on LinkedIn is much easier than you think. You just have to fall in love with the process, which happens once you start blocking out time to be present on LinkedIn.
A fair word of warning: like other social media platforms, LinkedIn can be pretty addictive—especially when you start seeing success with your strategy. Don’t let LinkedIn’s viral reach get into your head.
Keep in mind that your end goal with social selling is prospecting and LinkedIn is just a tool to help you do that. If you spend 6–8 hours every day in other prospecting activities, dedicate about 30 minutes of your time daily to apply the above tips.
But if your social media activities don’t result in meetings or other sales opportunities, you wouldn’t be doing social selling—you'd be doing social media marketing. You need to step back and reshuffle your priorities if you feel like LinkedIn is distracting you from doing other important work.
Did you find this article useful? Let us know. Since we are talking about LinkedIn, follow Avoma on LinkedIn. All the best with your social selling campaign on LinkedIn!
Note: A different version of this article was originally published in Avoma.