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6 Common LinkedIn Selling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

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Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

LinkedIn is a powerful prospecting and sales tool. It’s a great way to connect with new buyers, stay top of mind, and engage with your network.

The vast majority of buyers, especially company execs, engage with sellers on LinkedIn before making a purchase decision. In fact, we were shocked to discover that C-level executives consult LinkedIn more often than any other demographic.

Consider these stats from our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting report:

  • 82% of buyers look up providers on LinkedIn before replying to an outreach attempt.
  • 50% of C-level buyers will connect with someone on LinkedIn if the person has shared connections OR has communicated a reason to connect.
  • 57% of C-level buyers will connect with someone if they provide a product or service of interest to the buyer’s organization.

With so many buyers connecting with sellers through LinkedIn, if you don’t optimize your profile and reach out to prospects, you’re missing out.

But what’s worse than not using LinkedIn at all? Using it poorly. Avoid these six LinkedIn selling mistakes to maximize your success with this powerful platform.

6 LinkedIn Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Not Having an Up-to-Date, Professional Profile
  2. Not Researching Your Prospect
  3. Not Mentioning Similarities to Build Rapport
  4. Not Providing a Reason to Connect
  5. Sending Canned Messages
  6. Moving Too Slowly or Too Quickly

6 Common LinkedIn Selling Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

1. Not Having an Up-to-Date, Professional Profile

First impressions are everything.

Before you start selling on LinkedIn, make sure your profile is top-notch. Include a professional headshot, an up-to-date resume, and a strong personal statement that will make buyers want to get to know you. Read this article for tips to optimize your LinkedIn profile.

2. Not Researching Your Prospect

LinkedIn gives you an incredible amount of information about your prospects. It’s important that you use this tool to do your research and understand your prospects better.

If your LinkedIn connection runs an entirely remote office, he probably doesn’t need catering services. An automotive dealer doesn’t need rocket fuel.

It sounds obvious, but these sales blunders happen every day.

Save time and avoid embarrassing yourself by researching your prospects before you reach out.

3. Not Mentioning Similarities to Build Rapport

Catching people’s attention on LinkedIn is about what you know, who you are, and who you know. Similarity is one of the 4 Principles of Rapport. You can use it on LinkedIn to make connections with your prospects.

Review your prospect’s LinkedIn profile, and strengthen your connection request by mentioning a mutual contact or a mutual interest, whether it’s a favorite sports team or a passion for Indian food.

4. Not Providing a Reason to Connect

Half of C-level executives will connect with sellers if you communicate a compelling reason to connect.

Provide value in your connection request. Share research your company has done, an article, or a case study related to the buyer’s industry.

5. Sending Canned Messages

The only thing worse than a message that misses the mark is one that sounds completely canned. Personalizing the introduction isn't enough. Customize the meat of your message. Demonstrate that you’ve done your research and understand their company, their industry, and their challenges.

I received one message from a seller who wanted to talk about the software we sell. We don’t sell software! We sell sales training services. He had the entirely wrong industry and clearly just blasted this message out to a bunch of people.

6. Moving Too Slowly or Too Quickly

When you start selling on LinkedIn, follow the adage, "Begin with the end in mind." Don’t get bogged down in small talk or, worse, providing too much information from the outset. Your goal is to pique the prospect’s interest and secure a meeting to discuss in further detail.

Get to know your prospect first. If the prospect is a high-value target where a meeting would represent a big win, work for it. Share exclusive, customized research your prospect can use. Comment on their posts with compliments and additional insights. Once you’ve formed a relationship, ask for the meeting.

More on Selling with LinkedIn

Prospects are more accessible now than ever before, but that doesn't mean normal prospecting etiquette doesn't apply. Make an effort to research your prospects, build rapport, personalize messages, and ease into a relationship, and you'll avoid these six LinkedIn mistakes.

Read 31 Tips for Using LinkedIn for Sales for even more tips for selling using LinkedIn.

Last Updated August 21, 2023

Topics: Sales Prospecting