It’s a Friday morning and you’re sitting at your desk drinking a coffee, when all of a sudden you notice you just received the following InMail:

Naturally, you ignore this horrible templated spammy message and continue on with your day.

The following week, you notice a few more messages in the same InMail chain from the same rep:

This is a perfect example of how NOT to use InMail. There has been a lot of talk lately around whether or not sending InMails is social selling, or just a new form of digital spam making its way into your LinkedIn inbox (like the above example).

According to the Direct Marketing Association, it takes 7-13+ Touchpoints to generate a qualified lead today. They also state that nurturing is key, as B2B prospects will never give you their BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeframe) needs in one touch.

So you need to have a diversified cadence that includes, email, phone, and social touchpoints in order to successfully schedule your first meeting.

We also have to consider the fact that InMails are in limited supply, even if you have the top LinkedIn Navigator account, you only get 30 InMails per month.

Recommended Content: A Daily Social Selling Checklist

When should you use an InMail to reach a prospect?

Consideration 1: Figure out how engaged the prospect is on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

(Hint: for LinkedIn, look at the ‘recent activity,’ for Twitter, use a free Chrome extension called Riffle)

Consideration 2: If they are active on LinkedIn or Twitter, start by engaging & commenting on their posts, tweeting at them, following them, and connecting with the objective of creating a two-way engagement – no need to waste an InMail credit on somebody who you can engage in a more meaningful way for free.


Consideration 3: If they aren’t on Twitter or haven’t had any activity on the last two weeks on LinkedIn, then an InMail may be the only way of getting on their radar apart from email & phone calls. Considering your prospect is probably getting dozens of emails and calls on a daily basis, there’s a higher probability a well-crafted InMail will get you that meeting.

How do you craft an InMail that gets a response?

I personally get about a 30% response rate on my InMails by keeping them 2-3 sentences long, and following the methods below:

Subject Line: This is the first point of contact, a good subject line will predetermine whether or not your InMail is read by your prospect. Include something that will capture their attention like a mutual connection, a referral from a colleague, or a common interest. Avoid using all caps, excessive exclamation marks, or any mention of money.

Relevance: You need to answer the question “Why You?” by providing relevance in the body of your message. Reference a specific event or article to prove you know their business, and have insights worthy of being heard. If you really want to put in the extra effort, scan through their Annual Report or 10K Form to determine what their business priorities are. Share this in your messaging and you’ll really separate yourself from the people who are eblasting templated messages.

Recommended Content: 12 Insights Salespeople Must Know Before Calling A Buyer [Infographic] 

Value: Here is where you must share insight with your buyer that gets them thinking critically about their problems. Share a link to a case study, third-party industry report, blog post, or article that is relevant to their particular situation and will help to shape their buying journey. I personally like to avoid using links to my own gated whitepapers on the first message, as it can be perceived as self-serving or spammy.

Call To Action: If you’re going to write a message to anybody, you need to end it with instructions for next steps. It could simply be asking a question about their business, or asking for a meeting and suggesting a few times to talk. There’s no point in sending a message that doesn’t prompt a response or spark a conversation.

Here’s an example of an InMail I sent to an SVP after noticing them commenting about the “Challenger Sale” book on one of my LinkedIn shares, so I proceeded to send an InMail to spark a conversation:

Another example of an InMail I sent to an SVP at a company I once interviewed at, after seeing an article about a new customer policy from a Google Alert:


The Bottom Line:

Your reps need to be using their InMails sparingly, and crafting personalized and relevant messaging if they want to be sparking conversations that convert into new sales opportunities. Don’t be a spammer, it may seem like the easy thing to do in the short term, but you’ll have wasted all of your InMails before you realize you’ve simply annoyed your prospects.


Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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