Analyzing a Prospect’s LinkedIn Profile: What to Look For

March 28, 2018

LinkedIn Profile

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a closed deal that didn’t start with solid prospect research. When researching prospects on LinkedIn, sales pros can dig up lots of valuable information that helps them prioritize outreach and spark conversations. The key is knowing which insights to zero in on, where to find them, and how to use them to your advantage.

Start With What You Know

Rather than cast an indiscriminate net across the LinkedIn universe of B2B buyers, make your prospecting manageable by first narrowing your sights. You do that by finding the intersection between your organization’s ideal customer profile and your most recent top sales.

Your ideal customer profile can help you pinpoint your top customers in relation to revenue amount, loyalty or whatever metric you use to gauge sales value. For instance, when reviewing your last top 20 deals:

  • What were the decision makers’ job titles?
  • What size company did they work for?
  • In what industry?
  • How long had they worked in their role?
  • What else do they share in common?

You might notice that most of your top customers work for midsize companies in the high-tech industry, and the key decision makers were fairly new in their roles. In addition, you might see that these customers worked for growth-oriented companies that prioritize innovation.

Apply Your Knowledge

Now that you’ve developed your own ideal customer profile, it’s time to put it to good use. Using this knowledge as a guide, review the following in your newest prospects’ LinkedIn profiles for clues that indicate they are promising buyers.

Language. Study the words and expressions the prospect features in their headline and summary for insights into how they operate and what makes them tick. Using the example of what you surfaced about your top customers, you’d want to scan for phrases that signal a growth mindset and interest in staying ahead of the curve. If you find indications that this person is directly responsible for purchase decisions, all the better.

Experience. Review the prospect’s experience section to determine how well they fit the criteria you’ve surfaced. Pay attention to other hints about how they operate. For example, if they have worked in midsize companies from the start, they may feel quite comfortable navigating the purchase process, even if they’re new to the company. On the other hand, if they have mainly worked for start-ups and just joined a midsize company for the first time, they might need your guidance to ensure a smooth process.

Roles. In addition to noting your prospect’s tenure in the current position, examine their role history. If they have occupied a similar role even when changing companies, they might be a bit conservative in their business outlook. On the other hand, prospects that explore multiple disciplines or completely new careers probably have a healthy appetite for risk. At the same time, someone who has risen through the ranks in one company over a number of years has likely built up internal influence that can prove critical come decision-making time.

Common interests. Because a personal connection can help make inroads with prospects, look for common ground that you can reference when it comes time to engage. Obvious ones are shared connections, alma maters and LinkedIn Groups, but watch for commonalities when it comes to skills and even influencers you follow. If one similarity stands out, dig deeper to identifying a promising icebreaker. It’s wise to look over a prospect’s blog posts, social status updates, or their personal website for these types of clues.

Gauge Prospects’ Engagement

To complement your first-level research, keep tabs on your top prospects and their activity levels on LinkedIn. Prospects who jump into discussions and post or comment more frequently than in the past might be shifting into buying mode. You can get a sense of this by visiting the “Activity” section of the prospect’s profile. Perusing the latest activities can even give you insight into the prospect’s top-of-mind issues. Using this information, you can draw parallels between what they currently care about and the value you can offer.

Take Notes

As great as it would be to quickly convert promising prospects, you know it takes time to establish and nurture these relationships. As you engage your prospects, keep track of important details by tagging them in your network and adding notes. Doing so will make it easy to scan your list of prospects and jog your memory about key information and priorities. For example, you could tag a prospect as a decision maker and include a note saying “Has been in position for three months; asked about SaaS vs. on-premise software options in a LinkedIn group discussion; published an article on “Pursuing Innovation to Gain Market Traction.” Only you see these tags and notes, so capture whatever details you need.

Digging up and acting on insights about prospects is often the key to engaging and converting a prospect before the competition. Get scientific in your approach to research and you’ll soon be sitting on valuable information that can ultimately help you close deals.

Learn more ways to make the most of your prospecting by downloading our eBook, Read Me If You Want to Target the Right Prospects on LinkedIn.