LinkedIn Lead Generation: Cold Email Has Nothing On This

As your quarterly deadline creeps ever closer, you begin to have a terrible revelation—you just aren’t going to make it. Not this time.

But… why?

You haven’t changed a single thing about your sales process. Your cadences are as tight as ever. And your schedule’s already jampacked with cold calling and cold emailing.

So, what are you doing wrong?

These days, many B2B salespeople find themselves falling behind due to a lack of “social selling”—incorporating relationship building into the sales process. And today, a staggering majority of social selling happens in one place: LinkedIn.

This guide shows you how to effectively incorporate LinkedIn lead generation into your routine. Inside you’ll learn the three-part framework you need to use LinkedIn’s potential to its fullest. And with it, you can build a steady and robust pipeline of quality, qualified leads.

Best of all, once you get going, the system practically runs itself.

Now let’s jump in.

The What & Why of LinkedIn

If you’re a professional, well, anything then you probably know what LinkedIn is—a social media platform with a twist.

Unlike other platforms, the focus is on business. You won’t find piano cats, baby pictures, or “Charlie bit me” videos here. Instead, it’s all about connecting with other professionals, learning business-related tips for success, and growing your career.

And as a well-informed salesperson, you can use LinkedIn as a powerful source of leads.

As author and sales professional Marcus Sheridan put it in our interview:

“As a salesperson, a sales professional, go all-in on LinkedIn. I've watched salespeople's careers and therefore wallets and bank accounts explode because of the way they use LinkedIn.”

But why? What makes LinkedIn lead gen so powerful?

There are four reasons in particular:

  • It’s huge
  • It’s trusted
  • It’s scalable
  • It “builds trust at scale”

Let’s take a closer look at what I mean by each.

It’s Huge

On the one hand, LinkedIn is a mammoth social media platform. And it’s bigger than most people expect.

Sure, sure. Facebook and Instagram and the like are bigger. But LinkedIn still has nearly 800 million members across the globe. Plus, there are millions of businesses with public profiles.

Beyond that, the wealth of information you can glean from these profiles is huge too. Past positions and experiences, shared professional connections, branding elements—the list goes on.

The benefit here is that there are plenty of opportunities for B2B salespeople on the platform. For example, the enterprising salesperson can use LinkedIn to:

  • Learn about new businesses that have recently entered their industry.
  • Research competitors and their content marketing strategies.
  • Become better acquainted with potential leads.
  • Discover talking points you can use during sales meetings.

Ultimately, LinkedIn is big and growing. And the info on it is massive.

The Numbers

Wondering just how huge LinkedIn is? Check out some of the stats below to get a better idea.

It’s Trusted

It’s one thing to have access to a massive database of users. It’s another entirely when those users truly trust the content they find on that platform.

A lot of that trust comes from the professional aspect of LinkedIn. These are businesspeople interacting with each other—not shiesty scam artists trying to rope new members into their multilevel marketing “opportunity.”

It’s also a trusted source of information. Most of the content here is being put out by real professionals with real experience in what they’re talking about.

And with that lowered trust barrier, it’s a fantastic place for B2B marketers to engage in content marketing and social marketing.

The Numbers

B2B marketers and businesses love LinkedIn. And here are some numbers to prove it.

  • An astounding 94% of B2B content marketing happens on LinkedIn (Road Warrior Creative).
  • LinkedIn ranks highest in digital trust among all social media platforms (eMarketer).
  • There are more than 10,000 B2B software Product Pages on LinkedIn (LinkedIn).
  • 96% of B2B content marketers use LinkedIn for organic social marketing (Content Marketing Institute).

It’s Scalable

It’s true—LinkedIn lead generation can be a slow and frustrating process if you don’t know what you’re doing. And if you aren’t putting in the consistent, strategic work, you’re bound to be frustrated.

But when done correctly, it becomes an impressive source of quality leads that rival (and exceed) cold calling and cold emailing.

Best of all, once you get going, you don’t have to go out looking for leads—they’ll end up coming to you.

The more authority you build, the more likely buyers will be to search you out. To want to work with you.

The Numbers

Conversations on LinkedIn and the amount of content available are all seeing a sharp increase. And for you, that means more opportunities to provide rich insights, demonstrate your authority, and connect with buyers.

Below are just a few stats to show how much LinkedIn is poised to grow for B2B marketing.

  • Content creation on LinkedIn increased by an impressive 60% in 2020 (LinkedIn).
  • LinkedIn saw a 0% year-over-year increase in content creation from March 2019 to March 2020 (LinkedIn).
  • Live streams on LinkedIn increased by 437% in 2020 (LinkedIn).

It “Builds Trust at Scale”

Piggybacking off that last point, as you scale your LinkedIn B2B lead generation, you’re also making it easier to close sales with the leads that do contact you.

Let me explain.

One of the biggest hurdles salespeople have to overcome is building trust with buyers. You need to establish rapport. You’ve got to prove your worth. And you need to show that you’re there to help, not just sell to them.

When you encounter a cold lead, you accomplish all that through conversations. Conversations that take time.

But when you engage in a thorough LinkedIn lead generation strategy (like the framework in this guide), you’re creating content that does most of that hard work for you.

Plus, that content—if it’s high quality, of course—will also attract industry decision-makers to you. And that means less time spent on all that lead qualification work.

The Numbers

Business is getting done on LinkedIn. That’s because there are so many potential leads and buyers using the platform.

And here are just a few stats to prove it.

  • There are 65 million decision-makers on LinkedIn (LinkedIn) and 61 million “senior-level influencers on LinkedIn (LinkedIn).
  • 4 out of 5 LinkedIn members drive business decisions (LinkedIn).
  • About 1 out of 3 B2B decision makers use LinkedIn to research products and solutions before making a purchase decision (Hootsuite).

The LinkedIn Lead Generation Framework (“The Flywheel”)

Alright, alright. LinkedIn’s great for professional B2B salespeople like you.

But how the hell do you use it to generate leads?

Enter The LinkedIn Lead Generation Framework (a.k.a. “The Flywheel”).

This framework is designed to help you connect with buyers while building relationships at scale. With it, you can boost your authority, automatically qualify leads, and build a bustling new pipeline of potential buyers.

There are just three steps to the framework:

  1. Insights
  2. Authority
  3. Outreach

The best thing about this framework is once you get going, the momentum of your work actually keeps the whole system moving on its own (that’s where the “flywheel” part comes in).

More on that in a bit.

Let’s dive a bit deeper into each of these steps.

1. Insights (Spread Your Knowledge)

If you want to start generating leads on LinkedIn, you need to be regularly posting market insights. There’s no way around it.

This is the first step in pushing the LinkedIn algorithmic flywheel to favor you on the platform.

Imagine your success on LinkedIn as a big, heavy flywheel that’s at a standstill. At first you post an insight, and nobody cares. Nobody likes, nobody comments. You might even think it’s a little embarrassing.

But you post again, and you get one like. Then again and a few more.

Eventually, LinkedIn’s algorithm sees the traction, and it shares your content with more people as they perceive you as an authority. And that gets this big heavy flywheel spinning even faster.

The cool thing? Once the flywheel is spinning, it has its own momentum. You can take a week off, and it’s barely slowed down, and the sales leads keep coming in.

But to be clear, it does take time and effort to get that big block of heavy metal spinning in the first place. So be prepared!

Now, how do you get those insights that are actually worth sharing?

There are two types in particular that your audience will find valuable:

  1. Personal Insights
  2. Company Insights
Personal Insights

These are insights that you’ve uncovered about your product, buyer, or marketplace.

Sharing personal insights is a fantastic way to demonstrate your authority and engage with your audience. After all, you know way more about your product than your buyers ever will. So take the time to collect and share the insights you’ve picked up over the years.

A few questions you can ask yourself to start coming up with ideas include:

  • What common sales objections do you face each day?
  • What have you seen change in the marketplace in the last 12 months?
  • What are your buyer’s biggest fears?
  • If your buyers could change one thing about their job, what would it be?
  • What do your buyers need to know but not want to hear?

Use these questions as jumping-off points for finding the best insights to share.

Company Insights

Personal insights take a bit of deep thinking and reflection on your part. When it comes to company insights on the other hand, things are actually quite a bit easier. Because instead of picking your own brain, you’re just picking the brains of others.

All you have to do to find a great company insight is shoot a quick email over to your sales manager and marketing manager asking them the following questions:

  • What do you know about the market that you’re selling into that is unusual or counterintuitive?
  • What do you know about buyers that buyers don’t even know about themselves?
  • What shift is happening in the marketplace within the next 6 months that buyers haven’t realized yet?
  • What positions your product differently from everything else on the market?

That’s it! Their answers are sure to give you a few nuggets of invaluable insight you can share with your audience.

Sharing Your Insights

Now that you’ve got your insights in mind, it’s time to actually send them out into the world.

LinkedIn provides a couple of different ways you can share your insights, including:

  • Text posts
  • Video posts
  • Image posts
  • Articles
  • Lives

There are other options too (like polls, stories, celebrations, etc.). But frankly, I’ve found them to be a bit gimmicky without bringing any more value to the table. So best to stick with the methods above that are proven to work.

And don’t forget to be consistent with your posting!

The more consistently and frequently you’re putting up posts with real value, the faster your flywheel will spin.

2. Authority (Prove Your Knowledge)

The next step to the LinkedIn Lead Generation Framework is boosting your authority.

People want to spend their valuable time learning from experts, not nobodies. Experts have the answers they’re looking for. And they’re the ones that can be trusted.

When you spend just a few minutes a day building your authority on LinkedIn, you’re signaling to the algorithm that your insights are worth sharing. They’re the ones your network is going to be interested in. And consequently, the algorithm is going to be more likely to show your content to others.

So, how do you boost your authority?

  1. Build Your LinkedIn Profile
  2. Engage With the Platform
Build Your LinkedIn Profile

This is an essential step that unfortunately gets overlooked. You need to actually create a great and complete profile if you want to start growing your authority.

There are plenty of steps you can take to beef up your LinkedIn profile. I’ve actually done several podcasts on the subject alone.

Author and social selling expert Daniel Disney pointed out in our interview that there are two things in particular you need to tackle first:

“The first two things [visitors] will look at 99% of the time are your profile photo and your LinkedIn banner. And what you want to try and do is plant some seeds.”

Use a clear, high-quality photo and background that gives visitors an idea of what it is you help buyers do.

A few other steps you can take to build a robust profile are:

  • Get plenty of skill endorsements from other professionals.
  • Take skill assessments.
  • Start gathering glowing testimonials.
  • List your services.
  • Develop a personal brand and keep it consistent across your profile.
Engage With the Platform

Next up, you should spend about 15 minutes a day engaging with the platform by commenting on content from other experts.

But a simple “Great post!” on everything that comes through your feed just won’t do. You’ve got to be strategic by knowing where to comment and what to comment.

  1. Where to Comment – Look for posts that have a high comment count (better visibility) that are in your industry. You’ll also want to only comment on posts that you understand and are valuable. And finally, if your buyers are asking questions, you need to be the one to answer with an insightful comment.
  2. What to Comment – Don’t every comment without reading the full post. You’ll sound like an idiot. And always add to the conversation (“good job!” doesn’t mean a thing). You’ll also want to continue the conversation by asking more questions. Finally, use the “@” sign before the original poster's name in your comment. That’ll make sure it doesn’t get lost in their sea of notifications.

3. Outreach (Leverage Your Knowledge)

If you’ve been regularly posting valuable insights and engaging with the platform consistently each day, your flywheel should already be spinning and sending your content out to the masses.

Ideally, this will end up with leads reaching out to you. But you don’t want to leave your fate entirely in the hands of the algorithm, do you?

That’s why you need to engage in a bit of outreach to make the most of your LinkedIn lead generation efforts.

There are two ways to start bringing in leads on your own.

  1. Warm Outreach
  2. Cold Outreach
Warm Outreach

Warm outreach is when you leverage your relationship with a prospective buyer to get them onto a phone call with you.

To be clear, these are contacts you’ve already had a conversation with. They may be familiar with what you’re selling. Or maybe you’ve just chatted with them over LinkedIn a handful of times. They might have even worked with a current client of yours.

The important element here is they know you. And they likely already have some degree of trust in you. As a result, the process is surprisingly simple.

If you get into a conversation in the comments of one of your buyer’s posts, message them directly and ask if they would like to set up a 10-minute call to discuss things further.

If a buyer keeps liking your content, message them to see if there’s value in setting up a consulting call where you can help them in real-time.

There’s nothing to it!

Cold Outreach

Cold outreach is a little trickier. Prospects won’t know who you are. They won’t know what you’re selling. And they sure as hell won’t trust you right off the bat.

So, how do you win them over?

There are three rules to follow here:

  1. Be Genuine –People hate it when they’re being placated. And yes, they can tell. Even on LinkedIn. Instead, read up about your buyer. Find something you’re actually interested in (other than closing a deal) to connect over. And be who you really are in each interaction.
  2. Personalize – Generic cookie-cutter messages don’t work. And they can actually be quite annoying. Your messaging needs to be clearly personalized to the buyer. Otherwise, they probably won’t even read it (trust me, I’ve ignored messages myself because of this).
  3. Share Insights – Never ask without giving first. LinkedIn has unlimited great content. You need to proactively give the buyer a reason to want to engage with you before you’ve built a relationship with them. You can share your own content or pass on an interesting article you’ve found from another expert.

How Long Does It Take?

This is a tough one to answer because in the end, everything depends on you.

The more value you offer and the more you engage with the platform, the faster you’ll see your flywheel spinning on its own. But if you put off posting for a month or two while only sharing low-value articles and unoriginal thoughts, it’s going to take a lot longer to get moving.

That being said, I have personally witnessed salespeople use this method to grow their LinkedIn followers by hundreds (or even 1,000s) in a matter of months.

Generating enough momentum to start having buyers reach out to you may take a bit longer. But even still, if you stick with the framework, you’ll have a healthy pool of prospects you can quickly and easily connect with to start the sales process.

LinkedIn Lead Generation Software: Should You Use It?

This can be a toss-up.

For some businesses and industries, automating your LinkedIn lead generation messaging makes sense. Especially since HubSpot estimates automating your social media efforts can save on average more than 6 hours per week.

That being said, there are some parts of your LinkedIn sales cadences where automation can actually hurt your numbers.

Most conversations, for example, should not be automated. Most outreach messages should not be automated. And most human-to-human interactions (in the digital space) should not be automated.


Daniel Disney summed it up nicely in our recent interview:

“When it comes to either adding people or even messaging, if you’re automating or getting a bot to do that, people see through it, they see through it straight away, and you’re going to decrease the amount of accepted connections you get certainly decrease the replies you get.” 

Bots are great for some things. But they aren’t that great at parsing through the colloquialisms, intricacies, and complexities of human conversation.

Worst of all, using outreach automation tools on LinkedIn (i.e., tools that sound out hundreds of connection requests a day automatically, etc.) can get your account banned.

Final word—just not worth it.

But one thing bots are good at is automating admin tasks. Tasks like:

  • Content scheduling
  • Update scheduling
  • Interaction analytics
Recommended LinkedIn Lead Generation Software

Now, if you decide to automate your LinkedIn lead generation efforts, stick with content scheduling software only. There are a few solutions I recommend to get you started.

Below you’ll find the best of the best, along with a short description of what you can do with each.

  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator – Sales nav is almost a standard requirement for sales professionals who are sending personalized messages to key decision makers on the platform. See who is visiting yout profile, send InMail and make sure you're in front of the right audience for a couple of bucks a month.
  • Hootsuite – A go-to choice for post automation, Hootsuite provides plenty of features you’ll likely love. Users can schedule posts ahead of time, tweak wording across social media platforms, let Hootsuite choose the best posting times, and much more.
  • Buffer – Another great option for post automation, Buffer offers a cleaner user experience at the expense of all the bells and whistles of Hootsuite. It’s also better for smaller teams as opposed to organizations. It’s also a bit cheaper too.
  • HubSpot – We all know HubSpot. This feature-rich customer relationship management (CRM) software lets you track and analyze engagement with your prospects. But it also comes with a handy post-scheduling functionality too. What’s not to love with this thing?

Wrapping Up

LinkedIn B2B lead generation can end up being a goldmine for bringing qualified and eager buyers into your pipeline. This business-based social network is professional, highly trusted, and only poised to grow as more business gets done online.

The only trick is, you have to approach your LinkedIn lead generation with a strategic eye if you want qualified leads. Spamming content is a timewaster. Inauthenticity is a turnoff. And in a world of bots, bluffs, and bullshit artists, only those who offer true value to prospects are going to truly succeed here.

With my LinkedIn Lead Generation Framework (“The Flywheel”), you can start consistently revving up your presence on this powerful platform. It just takes consistency, genuineness, and a bit of elbow grease.

It's the easiest and most effective of all the lead generation strategies on the platform because it leads into what the platform is already encouraging you to do.

And best of all, once that flywheel starts moving, the sky’s the limit for your LinkedIn lead generation—and your earning potential.

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