Leverage Relationships to Improve Prospect Outreach

Learn how a salesperson's relationship with a prospect impacts the likelihood of an InMail response

March 30, 2016

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Making sales is all about building relationships.  It’s no wonder why sales professionals rely on LinkedIn Sales Navigator to help build trusted relationships.  And when it comes time for outreach, InMail messages are one of the most credible (and successful) channels for sales professionals to directly contact prospects and customers. 

We wanted to better understand how a sales professional’s relationship strength with a prospect impacts the likelihood of InMail acceptance.  To do this, we analyzed InMail messages sent by Sales Navigator users in 2015 and specifically examined commonalities between the sender and receiver to identify the most important factors that drive acceptance rates.  Our data-driven analysis confirmed that relationships matter, and meaningful commonalities (i.e. things in common) increase acceptance rate. ­­

Key Takeaways:

•       Focus on quality: Personalize your InMail messages.  Sales professionals saw a 46% lift in InMail acceptance rates when having at least one commonality with a prospect versus having no commonalities.

·      Common connections & alma mater matters:  Having common connections and attending the same school as a prospect drove InMail acceptance most in this study, regardless of the prospect’s seniority.

Quality Over Quantity:

You should prioritize quality over quantity with your InMail messages.  Taking the time to craft well thought out messages and including relevant content goes a long way.  Mentioning commonalities is a great way to personalize your messages.  In particular, certain commonalities such as attending the same school, working at the same company at some point in the past, or having common connections were the strongest drivers of InMail acceptance:

•       Having at least one common connection with a prospect increased InMail acceptance rates by 45%.

•       Attending the same school increased InMail acceptance rates by 37%, and by 42% if they attended at the same time.

•       Working at the same company at some point in the past increased acceptance rates by 26%.

•       Following at least one similar group increased acceptance rates by 18%.

As you can see, reaching out to those prospects with which you have a particular relationship can increase your likelihood of a successful outreach.  Be selective about who you reach out to, and try to leverage a commonality if possible.  

Number of Commonalities Matter

Clearly, it’s important to have at least one common connection or follow at least one similar LinkedIn group.  The more you have in common, though, the better.  For example, in our study there was a 20% lift in acceptance rate when going from one to five common connections.  

Leverage Commonalities to Reach Key Decision Makers

Reaching the right decision maker within an organization can be one of the most difficult parts about sales.  InMail messages can provide a good channel to reach out to decision makers.  In particular, leveraging commonalities can improve the likelihood of a successful outreach.  For example, salespeople that follow the same groups as the decision maker increased their acceptance rate by 20%.   Salespeople who at some point in the past worked at the same company as the decision maker, saw an increase in 22%.  Also, salespeople who attended the same school at the same time saw a 53% acceptance rate increase.

Chart: Decision Maker Acceptance Rate Increase by Commonality

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Final Thoughts

InMail message is a great channel for reaching out to prospects and customers.  Our analysis shows that salespeople should focus on quality over quantity. Also, those salespeople who share a commonality with a prospect see significantly better acceptance rates.  Keep this in mind when sending your next InMail and focus on quality outreach!