Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to get new clients or recruit staff

Written by Ceesjan de Zeeuw

CJ loves sharing content about the latest strategies that we've been implementing for our clients to get them great results through proven digital marketing strategies.

May 23, 2021

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is an excellent tool for getting new leads, appointments, and clients through the LinkedIn platform for B2B companies.

From cleaning companies to accountants to recruitment agencies to IT consultants, and everything in between, this is a platform that I believe is indispensable, if used correctly, for a solid, professional and effective strategy to consistently get more customers.

It’s a paid product from LinkedIn. It comes out to around €60 per month if you add your VAT number. So make sure you do that if you have a VAT number.

It does come free for the first month if you haven’t used it before. I believe you can use a trial once per calendar year.

Finding leads in LinkedIn Sales Navigator

In this section, I’m going to explain how to find leads. This assumes that you have already activated LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Please send us an email if you don’t know how to do this, and I’ll explain how to do it.

When you’re on your LinkedIn page, click on “Work” and then “Find Leads” to come out to the Sales Navigator homepage. Even easier is to just click on “Sales Nav” at the very top right.

If all goes well, the search bar should now pop up, as you see above.

If you want to search for people, you need to make sure you search for “Lead Filters.” This is the default option, so you don’t need to change it if you want to search for people.

Should you want to search for LinkedIn company profiles, you need to make sure you search for “Account Filters.”

Sales Navigator allows you to do a very targeted search for potential customers or candidates using the many filters at your disposal.

On your left-hand side, you have a menu bar with filters. If you click on “All Filters” right next to the search bar, you’ll see the same screen as in the image above.

You can filter by:

  • Location
  • Relationship
  • Industry
  • Company Employee Headcount
  • Seniority level
  • Function
  • Job Title
  • Etc

So you can be very specific about whom you want to connect with here. And that’s important because LinkedIn only shows 2500 results at a time. You can see that there is a maximum of 100-page results with 25 results per page.

So if you search, for example, in the Netherlands on “Seniority Level” for “Owner” and then “Second Degree Connections,” you will see that there are as many as 120k+ results.

Now that’s way too broad anyway because you would most likely not want to start targeting all business owners in the Netherlands. At least, for most companies, that is not interesting.

But suppose you are the owner of a cleaning company and want to clean more offices of IT companies.

You could then search for “Owner” in the “Information Technology & Services” industry, but there would still be 5k+ results.

So it would be best if you were more specific to ensure that no prospects are lost. So you want to further segment based on the filters available.

Now, in the above example, we searched for the Netherlands. That’s very broad.

To continue with the example of a cleaning company, even if you were cleaning offices all over the Netherlands, I would still make a shortlist of regions that you prefer to get new customers first.

And if you don’t operate nationwide, you should only filter on cities and/or regions where you want to get clients.

As you can see from the image above, there are now only 1k+ results. This is because I have now filtered by the province of South Holland.

Now we have made sure that no leads are lost. This way, we do a more targeted search, we stay within the 2500 results limit, and then we can start inviting these people to your network.

So we’ve managed this by using the “Location” filter and then segmenting by a city, towns, county, or provinces.

If you only want to get new clients in Rotterdam, make sure you only search for people who are based in Rotterdam.

Then we also have the “Relationship” filter; I usually recommend making new connections first with Second Degree Connections.

Usually, this is more effective because you already have at least familiar friends, as you can see above. With 3rd degree connections, those are simply non-existent.

The % of connection requests that will be accepted also called the connection acceptance rate, would usually be higher for second degree than for third degree.

But that doesn’t mean you should never invite 3rd degree connections. I would just start to make new connections with 2nd degree connections.

Also, you can use many other filters to connect with your dream customers or dream employees.

My favourite combination for a successful campaign often consists of a mix of:


  • Location: Specific city or region where you want to get clients such as Rotterdam or South Holland
  • Relationship: 2nd degree connections
  • Industry: The specific industry where you want to get new customers
  • Job Title (if known): Very powerful if you know precisely whom you want to go after
  • Seniority Level: E.g., Owner, Director & other Decision Makers

The image above is how I would NOT recommend it as you can see that all filters are empty except for location (Netherlands) and relationship (2nd degree & 3rd degree).

What is nice to see is that there are more than 8 million results of people with a LinkedIn profile in the Netherlands.

Based on a large number of users in the Netherlands, do you think you can achieve your business goals with the right LinkedIn strategy? And consistently bring in more new customers, clients, staff, etc.? I’ll let you answer that question for yourself.

In summary, above, you will see over 8M+ results. Always make sure you have a maximum of 2500 results.

“Using Boolean” searches

You will find that many people who are shown in the results after performing a search aren’t a good match for you.

This has to do with the fact that there are always marketers, coaches, and consultants among them. But on top of that also profiles of industry-related positions of people who simply can’t make a decision.

To save you time and not have to check every prospect and possibly remove them manually, you need to make sure that these people are automatically filtered out.

You can achieve this by using a so-called Boolean search.

For example, if you are a temporary employment agency in the construction industry, it also makes sense to recruit candidates in the construction industry. But of course, you don’t want to approach other employment agencies. So using a Boolean search, you can take those out.

For example, the Boolean search could look like this:

Or in text format:

Electrician NOT temp agency NOT marketing NOT receptionist

The Boolean search is a bit of a technical story and you can go many ways with it, but for now, we leave it at that.

I want to point out that you can also use this to only show profiles in the search results with specific search terms in their profile.

So if you want to recruit electricians, you could shortlist based on terms you want potential candidates to have listed on their profiles.

Saving your Searches in Sales Navigator

Before we can start adding new connections to your network and introducing your company to them, it’s essential to save the search results with good lists consisting of potential clients.

Above, you see “Save search.” That’s what you want to click on once you’re satisfied with the results of your search. And specifically, whether there are enough potential clients or candidates among them that you would like to work with.

After you save the list, click on “Saved searches” in the menu at the top of the page to view the list you just saved. You’ll also find a list of all the other lists you’ve saved there.

It would be a shame if you spent a long time finding a good list and then lost it and had to do it all over again. That’s why it’s vital to save good searches as soon as possible.

Start approaching key decision makers 

Now that you have a good idea of how to map your target audience very precisely and save these lists to approach them, it’s time to… Well, approach them.

The way you do this is extremely important for the success of a campaign.

I constantly get messages from people who want to promote their business to me and others, but I can see at a glance that what they send to me is never going to work. And for the vast majority, it will never work for other people either. I’m sure you’ve received similar messages yourself from time to time.

You first need to know how you want to introduce yourself to these potential customers or staff. Once you have that mapped out, you need to start drafting a series of messages.

This is what we call the “Messaging Sequence.” Or also called sales copy.
But I’m talking about a series of messages where people respond positively or at least positively received.

Below one of my clients on how potential customers receive it:

Translation: Hi, we have a couple of appointments scheduled this week with companies that have responded. It is received positively by the majority.

In this case, appointments were also scheduled with companies and that’s what we’re all about

But how to adequately describe and set this up is not so easy to explain. Here you simply need some copywriting skills. If you are not a star in writing effective promotional copy, you can learn it 🙂

So, unfortunately, I’m not going to give away a sample message that I use for my clients’ campaigns simply because it’s different for every business. No one size fits all.

What I can say is how the messages can be categorized, namely:

  • Connection message
  • Welcome message
  • Follow up #1

I often send a maximum of 3 messages for the LinkedIn campaigns. Below I will roughly describe what you can pay attention to per message.

Connection message

We talked earlier about how you can store search queries with lists of potential customers. Then you can very quickly start sending connection requests via the same lists. So from Sales Navigator, you can start adding new people to your network.

For example, above, you see a profile of a lead. Then you click on the “…” at the top right next to “Save.” Then you click on “Connect”.

Now you can add the personal message you want to send to this particular lead. You can use up to 300 characters for this message, so make sure it’s not too long.

Tip: Always include a personal message when sending a connection request. Write your message and then click “Send Invitation” to send this message. Never click “Send Invitation” right away. That’s a missed opportunity and you don’t want to do it. Far fewer people will accept an empty message. After all, why would they accept a request from someone who can’t even take the time to write a short note?

Clearly state why you want to add the person to your network. For example, if you specifically want to add a person with job title X in industry Y, these are things you could include. Or if you recently came into contact through an (online) event, then that’s something you can mention as well.

The more personal and relevant you can make it, the higher the connection acceptance rate will be. For example, if you invite 100 people and 30 people accept your request, that’s an acceptance rate of 30%.

Do not immediately start pitching your products and services in this message. Remember that you want to build connections with people who most likely have never heard of you before. So no sales pitches in the connection message.

Welcome message

Now it is important to continue the conversation. In this message, you can also possibly briefly describe what you do and how you possibly help companies to do XYZ. Bonus points if you can share something of value that will help your new connection.

Follow up #1

The last LinkedIn message is a reminder and asks if they may have had time to look at your previous messages.

Responding to incoming messages from potential clients or candidates

If the process is done right, you’re going to start receiving positive responses in your LinkedIn inbox from potential customers, clients, or candidates.

Above, in the screenshot, you can see incoming messages from people who want to learn more about my clients’ products and/or services after receiving a messaging sequence as explained above.

Then you want to continue the conversation, but not necessarily on the LinkedIn platform. Because sometimes people want to receive an e-mail with more information or schedule a phone call, Zoom, etc. This is also where you can convert people from lead to customer.

However, it is important to respond to incoming messages from potential customers or candidates as quickly as possible. These people take the time to respond to your messages. So, of course, they expect a response from you as well. So don’t let them wait too long for you.

The great thing is that if you set up this system correctly, you create a situation where you take a quick look at your LinkedIn daily to see if there are any positive responses from key decision-makers. Easy to view from your phone or computer.

Save valuable connections in your CRM or spreadsheet

I recommend keeping a CRM or spreadsheet with important information from valuable contacts, so you have everything in one view. Because over time, you’ll have built up quite a few new connections and it’s handy if you can scroll through them quickly.

Data you can write down are, for example:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • City
  • LinkedIn URL

These are the people to whom you want to make another phone call or send an e-mail. It is also helpful to keep sales notes about a specific lead. Think about what came out of a meeting, when you will be in touch again, etc.

Getting results by executing this process consistently

If you want to get results with the system I explained above, then it is essential to work on it every day. This is not something that you try for a few days and then give up because you don’t get the results you want.

So it takes energy and time, but you can get great results. If you want new leads and customers, I would highly recommend implementing this sales system within your company. LinkedIn Sales Navigator should, in my opinion, really be one of your solutions to generate leads by 2021.

It’s also not a quick win. It’s a system you have to test constantly. Constantly experiment to see what works and what doesn’t and what could be better.

But if you are serious about it and have time available, this is an excellent way for B2B companies to attract new customers.

Do you need help implementing this?

I can imagine that you don’t have time to implement this process consistently because you are busy enough to run your business. Or maybe you just don’t feel like it.

If you are interested in finding out how I can help you take this entire process off your hands, I recommend sending an e-mail to [email protected] Or schedule a call via the link below.

Schedule an online meeting:

E-mail: [email protected]

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