This is a great question that many people have about prospecting and selling on LinkedIn.
Her company is using LinkedIn for lead generation as a part of their sales process. They are debating purchasing InMail credits to message prospects that they found on LinkedIn.
What is LinkedIn InMail?
LinkedIn InMail allows you to send private mail messages to people who you aren’t connected to. On LinkedIn you can send private messages to anyone in your network, but you can’t privately message people who you aren’t connected to. InMail allows you to send messages to people you aren’t connected to. You need a LinkedIn Premium account to purchase InMail credits, so it isn’t free.
Should I Purchase InMail Credits?
When it comes to InMail credits, many businesses wonder if it is worth it to purchase credits. I haven’t seen any specific data around this (except data put out by LinkedIn directly – and they are trying to sell you credits), but based on working with clients, here’s the skinny on InMail.
- Many people don’t check LinkedIn very often
- Sought after people (decision makers) probably get many InMails, and may view most LinkedIn messages as spam
- Direct sales messages on LinkedIn to strangers with no social context probably aren’t very effective. It is like cold-emailing.
The problem with InMail is that you are basically cold-emailing leads that you have no real connection to.
What Should I do Instead of InMail?
Instead of buying InMail credits, look for social connections and try to get an introduction off of LinkedIn.
Use LinkedIn to find the people you want to reach, but rather than sending InMail, look for a common social connection – LinkedIn will show you who in your network is connected to the person that you want to reach.
Here are some tips when asking friends to make connections:
- Choose the strongest connection – the person that you know best is most likely to make an introduction.
- Send an email outside of LinkedIn – you can find contact email for your connections on their LinkedIn profile. Send the person an email – most people check their email more often than LinkedIn.
- Provide clear value for the prospect – Don’t send an email asking for an introduction based on the premise that you are going to sell at the person. Give the introducer a clear value proposition for your prospect. Rather than “I think person X would be interested in our services” create a personalized request “Person X has shown a strong interest in Y, and I’d like to be able to help him with Y.”.
- Keep it short, direct and to the point – Keep your messages short – people are more likely to read and respond.
- Develop a clear next step – Ask as specifically as possible for what you want. Don’t make the person guess as to what the next step should be.