“Hello, can you tell me who the decision-maker is for enterprise software decisions?” Sound familiar – whether you are making or receiving a call? Now that sounds like searching for a needle in the proverbial LinkedIn haystack.

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Is that effective prospecting or cold calling? Does effective prospecting mean conducting a broad search on LinkedIn and using that list to make cold phone calls? No!

A Case For Social Selling – Cold Calling Facts

  • 200 million Americans have registered their number on the FTC do not call list.
  • Doesn’t work 90.9% of the time, reports Harvard Business Review
  • Costs at least 62% more per lead, states HubSpot, The State of Inbound Marketing
  • Cold calling has a rate of less than 2% of phone calls resulting in a meeting, states Leap Job
  • 88% of buyers will have nothing to do with cold callers, finds Huthwaite
  • 94% of buyers couldn’t remember a single prospector or message they had received during the last two years, reports Huthwaite

Use Advanced LinkedIn Search Features To Increase Social Selling Productivity

If you understand how keyword modifiers for Google searches and HootSuite listening work, then you will understand the power of these terms for LinkedIn. Keyword modifiers and Boolean terms make your searches work a little bit harder – not by changing the keywords, but by filtering what’s included or not included. Think about the question you want to answer before diving right into a Boolean search – and you will be much more productive.

Begin your search simply entering keywords into the search field at the top of any page or in any search field in the Advanced Search section. You can use search strings for better results. Before you enter these terms into the search field, ask yourself the following questions and then use the relevant Boolean terms.

TIP: Any one of the following searches will help you recruit for local events. However, because you find a key contact does not mean you should send them an immediate InMail. Engage with them first on LinkedIn, Twitter and on their blog, and then recruit. InMail SPAM is worse than email SPAM – so avoid it at all costs.

1. “Am I searching for a relevant customer based on two or more descriptive terms or words – e.g., public sector AND HR?” If so, the AND modifier will tie these two word together and provide you with a tighter set of search results.

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TIP: “+” can be used interchangeably with AND.

2. “Am I looking for customers with 1 of 2 differentiating characteristics or types of experience – e.g., CFO OR CIO OR CMO?” If so, then the OR modifier will help you search for anyone of a specific set of terms, which is crucial to help your access to the buying team within a target account.

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TIP: Save up to 3 people searches using Linkedin’s standard service – you will have 10 saved searches if you are a Navigator user.

3. “Do I know the type of customer for whom I’m prospecting, while at the same time knowing for whom I am not searching – e.g., (software AND Marketing) NOT SAP?’ If so, then the NOT modifier enables you to weed out the superfluous search results automatically. This strategy will increase your selling efficiency!

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TIP: Think ‘niche’ when it comes to search. The smaller and more accurate your prospect list is, the better.

4. “Is there an exact phrase that my prospect set uses to help me quickly assess their viability – ‘Head Of Social Media,’ for example?” If so, then the QUOTES modifier enables you to look for an exact phrase or buzzword in the title, summary, job description, etc. to help you increase your sales productivity.

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TIP: Think like a customer, thought leader or person and how they would describe themselves vs. what you think they are calling themselves.

5. “Do I have a very complex requirement that needs to consider, for example, location, target market, and industry – e.g., ( “marketing directors” OR “VP of Marketing”) AND Philadelphia AND ( software OR “information technology”) AND HR?” If so, then PARENTHETICAL modifiers will help you combine search terms and multiple modifiers to provide very focused results, which will save you prospecting time.

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TIP: I recommend using a combination of Google, HootSuite, Twitter and LinkedIn search to get a 360-degree view of your customer’s social and reputation graph.

Do you have another tip, strategic question or a way to search for your needle in the social selling haystack? If so, then please share below, or contact me directly at MarketingThink.com, or on LinkedIn, Twitter or Google+.

With over 300 million people using LinkedIn, every one of them cannot be your prospect. The task to find which ones are are daunting. A better understanding of how to use the LinkedIn Advance Search feature will come in handy – kind of the MacGyver tool for prospecting – to help you find your one in 300 million customers in the LinkedIn haystack of members.