How To Get More Leads With Reverse LinkedIn Prospecting

Inside sales reps commonly use Linkedin connections as a point of reference during a cold introduction.

It grabs the prospect’s attention, it’s an easy way to build trust, and it adds an indirect element of social proof to the conversation.

The problem is, most salespeople are doing it backwards.

What is “Reverse” LinkedIn Prospecting?

In order to leverage a LinkedIn connection in a prospecting email, most salespeople start with a small list of existing prospects, manually search for shared connections, then write one-off emails adapted from high-performing templates.

The “reverse” of this strategy is to use your sizable pool of LinkedIn connections as a data source and then prioritize outreach by identifying ideal prospects that already lie within your sales reps’ existing network.

Why not directly prospect for higher-performing 2nd degree LinkedIn connections as opposed to waiting to passively acquire them through other channels?

Along the way, you can build a highly targeted list of prospects that fit your ideal buyer persona.

The Prospectifer inside sales team uses this strategy to produce some of our highest performing outbound emails.

Boosts Your Opens, Clicks, and Replies

The following subject line was used by a Prospectifier email prospector in a cold email prospecting campaign.

SUBJECT:  “I found you through {{contact_first_name}} {{contact_last_ name}}”

Performance: 86.6% open Rate, 15.1% Click Through, 26.1% Reply

This email was sent to a list of 300 individuals targeted by industry, company, job title, and LinkedIn job description.


Hi {{firstname}},

I stumbled onto your LinkedIn page today.

It appears we both know {{contact_firstname}} from {{contact_company}}.

I found your email address and decided to reach out.

I work for a company called Prospectifier.

We provide growing companies with customized, actionable prospect data using a team of skilled researchers to fill the top of their sales funnels.

Are you open to discuss whether we can help {{company}} in a similar way?

This two field subject line routinely produces open rates ranging from 50-75%.

Where to start?

Begin with a keyword search in the right industry vertical.

The Prospectifier inside sales team looks for individuals specifically tasked with building lead generation programs at their company.

Depending on your business’s needs you can get more granular with location, seniority level, company size, and more.

From this search you can identify …

First Name, Last Name, Company, Industry, Shared Connection First Name, Shared Connection Last Name , Shared Connection Company

Once you capture each of these data points in a spreadsheet column, you have all the information you need to to build a high performing outbound email campaign.

How To Execute

From a high-level, there are three ways to capture the data you need for Reverse LinkedIn Prospecting: in-house research, web-scraping, and outsourcing.


If you’re selling a niche product, it might be practical to have SDRs or sales reps manually perform this type of research.

If your market is luxury wristwatch repair shops or MRI machine manufacturers, you could potentially capture all the decision makers in your network in just a few days.

However, even for amply staffed companies in small markets, LinkedIn prospecting can be a challenge to execute at scale.

It requires lots of diligence and data entry.

Web scrapers

Using a web scraper such as Kimono, Helium, or to gather profile information has pros and cons.

On the plus side, web scraping services are generally affordable and fairly easy to use. On the down side web crawling produces static data sets.

Because employee hire/separation rate can be as high as 6% a month is some industries, you have to continually re-crawl to get accurate information.

Also, be aware that LinkedIn takes steps to thwart this type of behavior and, in extreme cases, has sued companies for scraping on a large scale.

Web scraping alone is simply not enough to provide you with a list of intelligently segmented prospects.

The inherent limitations of even the best written data scraping software ensure that your team will have lots of sorting to do on the back end.

More often than not, small but critical differences that separate a high value lead from a worthless lead can only be identified by humans.


Outsourcing is a viable option for combining LinkedIn and email research, but is also challenging for a number of reasons.

Companies such as oDesk, Elance, and TaskUs can match you up with an overseas data-entry freelancer for around $3 – $5/hour.

No doubt there are some talented and hard- working individuals on these networks, but since anyone can sign up, it can be difficult to identify good workers versus the second-rate.

Since you hire individual workers on these networks (as opposed to a team), you always run the risk of incomplete work if the freelancer gets sick, experiences internet connectivity problems in his town, or just abandons the project.

That happens a lot and is almost always a set-back … and frustrating.

Even if you find a worker who you trust enough to hand over your sales rep’s LinkedIn login information, outsourcing done right still requires a significant level of in-house management.

An existing employee needs to be able to write detailed instructions for a non-native English speaking worker, manage the project, sort out hang-ups, and assure the quality of the data.

Why Is This Strategy So Effective?

Your total LinkedIn network numbers in the millions.

Your 2nd degree network (which also includes group members) contains hundreds of thousands of professionals.

The 2nd degree network of a sales rep is usually very robust … 49.7% of LinkedIn users have over 300 1st degree connections.

Your average sales rep likely falls into the 3.1% of LinkedIn uses that have over 1,000 1st degree connections.

In just about every industry, sales reps are only a single connection away from hundreds of decision makers.

Depending on your average deal size, or the lifetime value of a customer, a few hundred of the right individuals can represent millions in revenue.

Depending on the product, perhaps only a few hundred customers in a list of 30,000 will be the right fit for your company.

With some simple targeting in LinkedIn’s advanced search, these decision makers can quickly come into focus.

Using Prospectifier

Sales teams traditionally compromise when it comes to the information they want versus the resources and time they have to acquire the data they need.

At Prospectifier, we eliminate that compromise by taking formerly manual, time-consuming lead generation processes and automating them in a cost- effective way.

In other words, Prospectifier allows sales teams to operate with all the data they need without having to locate it themselves.

Great prospecting strategies become counter effective as soon as they take away from the time a team needs to make quota.

Every sales team should audit their own prospecting and ask two questions:

1. Are my sales reps able to locate all the data points the need to effectively pitch and close?

2. How much time are my sales reps spending searching for and entering the data they need?

The results are often shocking.

Companies report that 67% of salespeople’s time is spent on non-selling activities – research, data entry, and busy work.

Imagine how much more you could sell if you had that time back.

About Prospectifier

Prospectifier is the most efficient way to equip sales and marketing teams with custom B2B lead data at scale.

Our data experts conduct ongoing research to automatically supply teams with accurate contact information and hard-to-acquire data points that fit a business’s most valuable buyer personas.

Contact Emma Baldwin to learn more about how Prospectifier makes sales and marketing teams more efficient at the top of the funnel.