Spend half the day on the phone and half the day sending tons of emails, but all you get in return is awkward silence or even more awkward rejection?

Looking to expand your horizons and break free from cold-emails-only, barely fruitful lead generation?

We've sat down for a chat with Thibaut Souyris, the CEO and Founder of SalesLabs, who trains and coaches B2B sales teams to start more conversations and close bigger deals faster to find out his secret to getting the 38% reply rate and 27% meeting rate on LinkedIn.

Read on to learn his tips for effective LinkedIn lead generation, get an exclusive LinkedIn outreach framework, and find out how to stand out from your competitors in the prospect's inbox.

— Speaking from your experience, what is the most fruitful source of high-quality leads?

I'd say the best source of leads is definitely LinkedIn. There are several reasons why I find LinkedIn so effective for lead generation. Let's quickly go through them.

First, it's important to point out that LinkedIn is a social media platform for professional networking, but it also doubles as a super accurate lead database. You can use LinkedIn to find accurate, complete, and up-to-date information about pretty much anyone in the business world.

With LinkedIn, you can keep track of what's going on in your potential clients' lives. Many people treat LinkedIn as their live CV, which they update whenever something significant happens in their career. It's possible to see who's changing jobs, which company they leave and which one they join, including the roles they receive.

Essentially, LinkedIn gives you plenty of accurate information on who's doing what at the moment.

The social media aspect of this platform provides you with even deeper insights into your prospect's current situation, pain points, needs, and wants. Nowadays, you can even see what people like, how they engage, what they post, and what they comment.

You can use that information to:

  1. Find relevant triggers to start conversations; but also to
  2. Find people interested in different topics (the ones liking said posts) that could potentially be interested in whatever you have to offer.

As a result, you get to personalise at scale.

Because of this, LinkedIn is my go-to platform for finding leads.

— Is there a platform that isn't doing it for you in terms of lead generation, even though it's quite popular among B2B salespeople?

The first thing that comes to mind is B2B databases and different specialised "textbook" lead generation platforms that provide information about companies and their key decision-makers.

While they can be relevant and provide good value for some B2B salespeople, I don't think they do it for me personally.

Some of the significant problems with these databases are that they're typically very focused on the US market, and it's not always easy to find information about companies and stakeholders from Europe and Asia.

On top of that, the business world is extremely fast-paced; people are constantly moving jobs, and things tend to change very fast, so the information you can get from these sources isn't always up to date and relevant.

— In your opinion, why do so many SDRs and BDRs struggle with generating leads?

Many salespeople take the lazy approach and don't find their leads themselves. Instead, they purchase a list of leads that could potentially fit their company's ICP and pitch to those. Usually, those lists are filled with generic crowds, so only a small percentage of the said list would be even remotely interested in the product your company sells.

As a result, you end up wasting the precious time and resources you could've invested in courting leads that have much higher chances of converting.

Even if you aren't outsourcing your lead generation, you can still find yourself in a similar situation if your marketing team fails to qualify the leads they pass on to you.

So, I'd say the biggest mistake salespeople make when trying to get more leads into their sales pipeline is not controlling who they're reaching out to well enough. You need to be very careful with that stuff; it's crucial to study your lead's pains and processes and learn what's important to them.

— What are your best lead generation tips and tricks?

I'm going to centre my lead generation tips around LinkedIn since this is the channel I used most for my lead generation.

If your prospects are active on LinkedIn, meaning they regularly log in and connect at least once a week, you need to…

Find influential people speaking to your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), covering the topics that are interesting to both your potential customers and you. Seek thought leaders and influencers that touch on the problems that your product helps to solve.

Bookmark five or ten of these people, and keep an eye out for their LinkedIn posts and updates.

When you find a post discussing something relevant to your business and having good traction, check who's interacting with it. Likely, a lot of the people who like and comment on it will fit your ICP.

You can then use this post to start a conversation with them.

Let's recap:

1. Find thought leaders
2. Look for posts that are relevant to your niche
3. Look for people who fit with your ICP within those posts

— Once you find prospects, how do you stand out from your competitors in their inboxes?

Two things: you need creativity and relevance.

Creativity comes from the media you use. If you're using InMails to reach out to your prospects when everyone else is using InMails, your message will likely go unnoticed. It's simply going to get lost in the sea of InMails.

It would help if you devised alternative ways of showing up in your prospect's inbox. It needs to be a real showstopper so that they get curious about what they received and want to learn more.

Think about video prospecting, LinkedIn voice notes, and physical prospecting with physical gifts and real-life posts. You need to break the pattern — that's the creativity part.

Relevance, on the other hand, is about the message.

To make my prospecting messages more relevant, I like to use triggers, which are as simple as mentioning why you're reaching out. But remember, your reason for outreach needs to be relevant.

For example, let's say I come across a Head of Sales liking a LinkedIn publication about 15 mistakes SDRs are making. Then, my trigger will sound something along the lines of:

"Hey [Name], I've noticed you liked a post from [Name of the original poster] about 15 common SDR mistakes."

Then, I'd ask a question about how the person avoids the potential negative outcomes related to these mistakes:

"Curious to know how you prevent your team from losing prospects to overly salesy outreach?"

And then go straight into teasing a resource to help them with their problem.

"If you're interested, I have a quick resource on starting conversations with prospects on LinkedIn I can share! Would you like to learn more?"

That's how I typically structure my outreach to stand out from the crowd.

It's pretty simple, but it gets the job done — I enjoy an average reply rate of 38% with these messages. All because I don't focus on myself and what I do but rather explain why I'm reaching out and offer value in my message.

➡️ Learn how to write high-converting LinkedIn prospecting messages and find 28 ready-made templates in our article.

— How do you accurately identify your prospect's problems and pains to craft a personalised message?

The method I use is quite obvious but often gets overlooked, which is exactly what makes it so effective.

Simply Google it away!

For example, if you're reaching out to a VP of Sales, before you start composing your message, look up something like "VP of Sales challenges 2022" or "VP of Sales initiatives 2022" and see what the current position-wide, industry-wide struggles are.

Of course, replace "VP of Sales" with the position of the person you're going after and "2022" with the current year in your search for relevance.

A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of resources — reports, webinars, podcasts — related to your ICP to get an idea of their initiatives. Out of this, you can then derive problems, symptoms, and everything else that is relevant to them.

While you can't be in their mind, doing this can give you a pretty solid understanding of what they're working towards based on their job title.

— And do you dig into each lead's background to find more specific information about their recent achievements, both personal and corporate, to craft a hyper-personalised message?

It depends. I work with loads of leads and prospects daily, so it's nearly impossible to do thorough research on each and every one of them before establishing the initial contact. There's simply not enough time for that.

However, if you have a list of 20-30 specific Tier-1 accounts you need to "go and attack", connect with regardless of what it takes, I'd recommend putting time and effort into examining them more closely.

So, if you're after a couple of huge deals, by all means, do learn as much as you can about your leads, find out what people say about them on the Internet, read their interviews, watch their videos, and listen to their podcasts. But if you're looking to get small deals within a large total addressable market, don't spend too much time trying to hyper-personalise individually.

— How do you manage to personalise your outreach at scale?

I know that many people use automation tools to personalise at scale. I'm going to be honest with you, I don't.

Again, my way of personalising at scale would be finding a LinkedIn post that is super relevant to what I do and what I can offer and just going through the people that engaged with it.

Thanks to that, I immediately have that ice-breaker, that point of personalisation I can use without spending too much time on it.

Of course, there are tools to export the list of people who interacted with the post and everything, but I prefer doing it manually; just to show people that they can reach out even without a hefty tech stack by your side.

However, if you have a tool that can streamline some processes and it works for you, I'm not against it. It's a great idea!

— On average, how many follow-ups does it take you to get a lead to respond to your outreach?

Usually, my sequences consist of four to five touchpoints, and a lot of replies roll in between the second and third touchpoints.

— What are your must-have metrics to track lead generation effectiveness? Why these metrics specifically?

The first signal that you've chosen the right approach is whether or not people accept your LinkedIn connection request. If you don't get at least 60-70% of your connection requests accepted, you might want to revamp your connection request message.

Secondly, it's the reply rate; how many people respond to your cold messages? For me, a reasonable response rate is around 38%. If it's around that percentage, I'm happy. If it's anything below 20%, I need to develop a better sequence.

And finally, it's the percentage of responses that result in a scheduled meeting. Meetings are essential as that's where I get to see whether or not my product really resonates with the lead and whether we're a good fit for each other.

— Do you use CRM for lead generation?

I work alone and don't need to report to anyone, so I don't really use a CRM, but I'm convinced that a CRM is an essential tool for keeping your sales process structured, neat, and well-organised.

The most important thing I look for in a CRM solution is for it to have an integration with LinkedIn. Considering the specifics of my work, I'm interested in a CRM that isn't too email-centric and allows you to work with alternative lead sources.

Reaching out to leads doesn't boil down to email outreach alone; it's a bit more complicated — there's email, phone, LinkedIn, chats, etc. You need a CRM that allows for a multichannel approach and can comfortably accommodate all of those channels.

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