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LinkedIn InMail is becoming a preferred medium for sales communication. And it makes sense– with around 500 million users, it’s the best professional network you can use for B2B sales. But just sending a sponsored LinkedIn message randomly isn’t enough anymore to build sales pipeline.

Sales reps are so convinced of the power of social media for selling, that some say cold calling is dead, and you should just switch to social selling.

You can see the battle between social selling and digital prospecting play out in this webinar we did with Mario Martinez from Vengreso.

digital vs traditional selling - best prospecting methods

As always, there’s a middle road to success, and we know this because we tested it. Read on to see how we worked at InsideSales.com on a social selling campaign using LinkedIn InMail to generate leads and build pipeline. More than that, we are giving away the secret ingredients to getting social selling right.

LinkedIn InMail Sponsored Messages

For this experiment, we were trying to get qualified prospects to attend a regional trade show in Austin, Texas. The first thing we tried was LinkedIn InMail sponsored messages to a list of LinkedIn users. We targeted users from companies with over 1,000 employees, titles of VP and above in sales or business development roles, and where available, we had the information on the size of their sales team.

I think this is the number one tip I can give you for using LinkedIn InMail for lead generation: get very, very granular when choosing your target audience. That means knowing your target persona:

  • The region/geography of your audience
  • Company size (usually based on product-market fit)
  • Title or function/department (target decision-makers, so the higher the title the better)
  • Industry where they operate (depending on your company or product niche)
  • The size of their team (if available)

Be sure to work with various audiences and write down every single test you create– what was successful and what failed. Tracking results will make it easier to tweak your audience and messaging accordingly.

Here’s the results we got from our LinkedIn InMail sponsored messages:

  • We sent 1,330 messages, and had a 53.8% open rate and a 17.8% click-through rate
  • We had a 0.52% registration rate to our event from LinkedIn messages

LinkedIn Sales Message Template

Below you have the LinkedIn InMail template we used for the campaign. The invite was sent on behalf of one of our senior sales reps, so make sure you also get your sender right. Usually, if your message comes from a person who already has a relationship with a prospect, it will be more successful.

Do: Be polite, considerate and brief in your messaging– just like with a phone call or other communication medium, you need to respect the prospect’s time.

Don’t: Start with ‘bro’ or some other formula that is clearly meant for your college roomie. Prospects don’t appreciate getting too familiar on a sales message.

If you have a large audience, you can use several subject lines and several images or template options to test out. See what works best and constantly iterate.

Subject Line: I’ll be in Austin, Let’s Connect

Hi %(First Name)%,

I’ll be in Austin on May 31st, and I’d love to connect! I’m actually putting together a small luncheon http://lp.insidesales.com/FieldEvent-Awareness-FieldRoadShow-0518_RegistrationLandingPage.html?a=scl025  for local sales and business development execs that day, and it would be a great opportunity for us to network and get to know each other.

Ten-X will be hosting us, and I’ve organized a few speakers to share what they’re doing to build pipeline and address sales challenges through AI.

Here’s a link http://lp.insidesales.com/FieldEvent-Awareness-FieldRoadShow-0518_RegistrationLandingPage.html?a=scl025  to more info about what’s going on.

Let me know if you can come!

-Nick Alejandro
My Linkedin Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/nick-alejandro-26b6191b/

nick.alejandro@insidesales.com

[Button Text: RSVP]

LinkedIn InMail sponsored message example - template

 

Why Use LinkedIn Paid Advertising

LinkedIn sponsored messages are great, but usually they are no good on their own. To really ‘click’ with your audience, they need to know who you are and what you’re offering even before you ever send them a message. While we sent out our InMails, we ran some paid ads to make sure we’re top of mind for our audience.

We had a few rules for building out our social advertising message, so keep these on your list:

  • Keep the message simple and to the point
  • Use bright colorful imaging, that speaks to your target audience
  • Have a clear call to action and make sure it relates directly to your objective
  • Highlight the benefit of taking you up on that offer (free item or discount?)
  • Don’t forget to add the place, date and time

We had 16,403 impressions, with a click-through rate of 0.81% and an engagement rate of 0.84%.

While these engagement rates for paid social ads don’t look like anything amazing, they are well above the industry averages for B2B social ads, standing at 0.33%.

Here is just one of the ad variations used to promote our event:

LinkedIn paid advertising example

Cold Calling vs Social Selling: What’s Best?

Social selling is not the answer to everything sales. Neither is cold calling, I’m afraid, although it does perform better when you look at the numbers. When considering cold calling vs social selling, we see a 5% success rate vs 2%. However, they both have their place in a well thought-out sales communication plan. At InsideSales.com, we are always doing a bit of everything and testing out what works best.

This is because the more communication methods you use for your sales outreach, the higher chance you have of contacting your prospects.

Unfortunately, most salespeople don’t effectively use communication methods in their sales cadence:

  • Inbound salespeople stop at just sending one email— 31.6% of all cadences
  • 26.5% of outbound sales people just do a single dial before giving up

This is unacceptable and it has to change.

According to our research, for inbound sales the most successful cadence was Call – Voicemail – Email repeated between 6-10 touches.

For outbound sales people, the most successful cadence was four phone calls – one email – and another phone call.

Using three communication methods has the highest rate of success at 25.1% chance to connect.

Where LinkedIn Fits Into Your Sales Cadence

If you’re looking to learn more about social selling and cold calling as well as voicemail and other sales communication methods, I would advise downloading our “Definitive Guide to Sales Cadence.” It’s a lot of eye opening data. We also added some killer tips on how to refine your sales strategy by using varied communication methods and various sales cadences.

free ebook - the definitive guide to sales cadence

And if you think tracking several sales communication methods across thousands of customers is hard, you are absolutely right.

Sales cadence tools powered by Artificial Intelligence can help you keep track of complex sales motions and automate some of the more mundane jobs in sales. See how you can make your job easier here.