linkedin sales navigator

5 Steps to Generating Leads With LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a great tool for generating leads efficiently if you are doing it the right way. Well, of course, Sales isn’t like Math where everything works perfectly with the right formula every time. If it was, it wouldn’t be any fun!

Unless you are a Math enthusiast, in which case I am probably disappointing you at this point. 🙂

Anyway, the point is that there are some excellent practices that you can follow to generate more leads with Sales Navigator.

linkedin sales navigator generate more leads

So, without further ado, let´s check them out:

Part 1: Preparation for LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Before you even open your Sales Navigator, there will be a couple of very important steps to follow as a part of your preparation.

1. Start with a Clear Goal in Mind

Yes, I understand, this might sound like a cliché, and you are probably about to skip this step. But let me explain!

You will be surprised how many people use Sales Navigator chaotically, without having a clear and structured purpose.

email marketing mistakes

There are two key things that you will need to have in mind before sending any InMails:

  • LinkedIn is very, very careful about spamming;
  • Depending on your subscription plan and account type, you will only have between 20 and 50 InMail credits per month;

The maximum number of unused InMails that you can accumulate is 150 at a time.

inmail credits - linkedin sales navigator


With these things in mind, you will have to use your credits very carefully if you want to get the best out of them.

Start with the following questions:

What would be the best use for my 20 InMails?

Assuming that you have the lowest number of InMails, think about what would be the best use for them. Do you want to use them for selling your product? Maybe you want to invite people to an event or a webinar? Or send them your industry-specific e-book?

This will depend on a lot of factors, among which your current Marketing strategies. If you are already covering the product-selling part with digital campaigns, you could start with a softer first approach. For example, sending an exclusive invitation to an event.

Or a whitepaper that you think could be interesting for your audience.

No matter your final decision, focus on one thing. Just one thing. If you use your InMails for multiple different actions, you will not be able to draw any conclusions on such as small sample. And you are probably not going to achieve anything with it.

So, if you selected an event invitation as your goal, spend your 20 InMails exclusively on it. This way, you will be able to make educated, result-based conclusions. And it will help you learn how to do better next time!

Who is my target audience?

The answer to this question should never be: everyone. If everyone is your target audience, nobody is!

Think about the target audience for your goal. In the majority of cases, if you are extending an event invitation, the people that you want to come to your event will probably be the same people that you want to buy your product.

Are you picturing your usual target market for your products or services? Good.

Now, try to get as specific as possible. 

Remember, you only have 20 InMail credits in the worst case, and 50 in the best one. Either way, they are not too many. So, you will have to get straight to the point at all of our steps.

Let’s say that you are an educational institution selling an Executive program in Digital Banking. Your target audience could look something like that:

  • People aged 30-5o;
  • Occupying Senior positions in their companies, such as Managers, Directors, or CEOs;
  • With more than 8 years of experience;
  • Located in Spain.
Focus on a small part of your target audience

To make LinkedIn Sales Navigator work, you should make your InMail look tailored to your audience. It should feel like it was created for that specific person, and nobody else.

Also, remember that the message to a highly-experienced, 50-year-old CEO will probably look quite different than a message to a 30-year-old Manager with less experience.

For this reason, you should get very specific with your target audience. For example, let’s say that this month, you will only focus on highly-experienced CEOs. And maybe in the next one, you can spend all your InMails on less experienced Managers.

The whole point is to write tailored InMails to a niche audience. This way, you have the highest chance of getting a response because people resonate with your content. And they feel that it has been written exclusively for them.

Of course, you could always write a unique InMail for every person, but it is going to take you a lot of time. And a response is never guaranteed, so you don’t want too spend way too many hours on it.

2. Tune Up Your Profile

Nothing screams unprofessional than lacking an optimized, up-to-date profile.

linkedin sales navigator

When people receive an InMail, there is a high chance that they are going to check up on you. It increases their level of trust and helps them decide whether to respond to your message.

Furthermore, they will also see that you have been looking at their profile. You might think that searching for potential leads on Sales Navigator will not be visible to users, but it’s not the case! They can still see who has viewed their profile.

One of the things that I love about LinkedIn is that it’s always really transparent with its members.

So, before you dive into lead generation, make sure that your profile is fully optimized:


Your profile’s photo will be the first thing a user sees when they open your profile. They can even see it directly from the InMail!

linkedin sales navigator inmail example

Don’t worry if you don’t have a photo professionally made in a studio. Sometimes, non-professional photos can look much more authentic and trustworthy. Which can make your potential lead trust in you more!

However, make sure that you:

  • Avoid a face-only profile picture, or a full-body one;
  • Focus on the classic head and body composition;
  • Try to look approachable and friendly instead of too serious;
  • Have a clear background, without unnecessary distractions;
  • Avoid filters and heavy editing;
  • And most importantly, look at the camera! Don’t avoid eye contact, even if it’s just a photo.

linkedin sales navigator profile photo

Complete All Sections

Another key element that will help you increase your chances for efficient lead generation with LinkedIn Sales Navigator is having a complete LinkedIn profile.

Imagine for a second that you are the potential lead that is receiving the InMail. Would you be convinced by your own profile? Is it going to call your attention?

Your LinkedIn profile is your visit card, and it will say a lot about you. And your company! So, make sure that none of the following elements is missing:

linkedin sales navigator - profile

  • Profile headline – what is your position? Where do you work? Make sure that this is clear from the beginning. Not everyone is going to read your whole profile.
  • Location – keep your location updated. A lot of people will have it in mind when evaluating a meeting with you in person.
  • About – a well-crafted summary of your professional background, including your expertise across industries, can go a long way.
  • Experience – this is probably the most important section that your potential leads might want to look at. This way, they will be able to decide quickly whether your industry and products are the right fit for them. Make sure to have your current position, and at least two past positions. Avoid putting positions that are not relevant to your current expertise and industry.
  • Education – although there is no need for people to know which high school you went to, having your Bachelor’s and Master’s degree is definitely a must.
  • Skills and Endorsements – compared to the rest of the elements, these ones are rather secondary. However, having them will increase the trust of your potential leads regarding your expertise.
  • Written Recomendations – and last but not least, written recommendations about you, and from you to other people, are the best way to bring out the best of you!

Your LinkedIn activity will also be a great indicator for your professionalism and expertise within a certain industry.

In fact, when you are looking at a LinkedIn profile, the Articles & Activity is one of the first sections that you will see (if available):

articles and activity linkedin

It includes long-form posts on LinkedIn Pulse – LinkedIn’s native content platform. Of course, you could always share articles from your own blog or web, but having them shared in a native format on LinkedIn will be a great boost for your digital CV.

Additionally, it will make you look knowledgeable in your field, helping you develop your personal brand.

This section also includes your current activity on LinkedIn, such as:

  • Likes to other people’s posts;
  • Comments;
  • Shares;
  • And of course, your very own posts.

Being active on LinkedIn will not only show that you are passionate about what you’re doing. But it will help you establish a better network and actual relationships with LinkedIn’s members!

Interacting with your future leads and prospects before sending them an InMail is great way to actually get a response back.

We will see how to do that right in Part 2, which you will see in less than a minute!

Add Projects and Links

A great, and surprisingly underestimated way to display your achievements, is adding your projects and links to your Experience section. For some reason, not many people take a full advantage of it.

It is an excellent way to stand out from the crowd. And of course, to help your leads understand your work, and see how you can help them within your level of expertise. You can not only add personal achievements, but also a presentation of your company and/or products:

links and projects linkedin profile

Part 2: Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Lead Generation

In the first part, we were preparing our profile for a better response from potential leads and prospects. To sum it up, you will need to have:

  • A clear and specific goal in mind;
  • Your LinkedIn profile complete and optimized for lead generation.

In the second part, we will finally start working with Sales Navigator. Furthermore, we will go through all the necessary steps for using it efficiently – from creating a list to writing and sending an InMail.

3. Create a Lead List

The first step of the lead generation process will be to build a lead list.

Go to your Sales Navigator and select ListsLead Lists:

create lead lists - linkedin sales navigator

If this is the first list that you are creating, you are not going to see anything in this section.

Click on the button Create Lead List in the center of the page. If you have created lists before, you will see your lists, and the Create button will be at the upper right corner of your page.

Now, give your list a name. It is important to make it easily distinguishable from other lists – current or future. For example, if you are going to use your list to contact Directors in the Banking Sector, your list name could look like that:

creating lead lists - linkedin sales navigator

Now that you have settled the foundations of your list, it is time to search for leads!

Click on Search for Leads:

searching for leads

Search Filters

With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you can use advanced filters for lead generation that you don’t have available with your regular account search.

linkedin sales navigator filters

Of course, the filters that you are going to apply will depend on various factors, such as:

  • The industry or industries that you are targeting;
  • Geographic region;
  • The professional background that you want your leads to have;
  • Your products and services;
  • And last but not least, the goal of your InMail.

As we already mentioned, the key will be to focus on a specific group of people with a lot of common characteristics. This way, you will be able to create a tailored InMail without having to write a different one for each specific person.

I mean, you could do it, but it could take you a long time! And the results might or might not be what you expected.

The point is, don’t be shy with the filters! The more refined your audience is, the better you are going to target it. Each list allows you to add up to 250 qualified leads.

So, you can easily build a list of 250 leads (or less) with as many characteristics as possible. This way, you will “shoot” a lot of birds at once with the same InMail, and still make it look personalized.


To give you an example, your lead list can get as specific as:

  • Having only Directors (filtering by Seniority: Director);
  • With 10+ years of experience (filter Years of Experience: More than 10 years)
  • Living in Madrid, Spain (filter Geography: Madrid Area, Spain);
  • Who have their profile in English (filter Profile Language: English);
  • Working in the Banking industry (filter Industry: Banking);

linkedin lead lists example

As you can see, the end result is just 870 people.

However, what you will end up having is a lot of LinkedIn members, sharing multiple similar traits, that you can add to your list. Obviously, the example below is censored as I don’t want to have trouble with anyone. 🙂

linkedin sales navigator lead lists

Adding Leads to your Lead Lists

However, performing a search doesn’t mean that we are done. We are definitely not done yet.

Now that you have plenty of search results, you want to start adding them to your list. You can do this in bulk by page, or one by one.

I do recommend that you add them one by one, revising their profile to ensure that it meets your requirements. Of course, this should be the filter’s job, but sometimes things can go wrong. And you don’t want to look unprofessional sending an InMail to the wrong person.

Additionally, having a look at the person’s profile can give you a better idea of his/her professional or education background. You get to “know them”.

Once, I got contacted by someone offering me a job for fluent Finnish speakers! I don’t know why they thought that I would speak Finnish. A would love to, but the only thing I know is Kiitos. 🙂

The point is, I spent 4 months in Finland on Erasmus, and I don’t know what filters did this person use, but they got it very wrong. Mistakes can happen, especially if you are using the Keyword search.

Or maybe, you are about to a offer a product that the user already mentions using in their profile.

Finishing up your List

If you are only going to send 20 InMails, maybe you don’t need to fill up the whole list capacity. As we already mentioned, this credit number will depend on your LinkedIn Sales Navigator plan.

However, I strongly recommend that your list has 30-40% more leads than your InMail limit. You might end up discarding some leads on the way, so you better have a substitute. Otherwise, you will have to perform the search again.

Once you are ready building your list, you can find it again in Lists – Lead Lists.

4. Preparing Your InMail

Now that you have your first list of contacts on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you are ready to start generating leads!

However, you need to prepare your InMail first.

There are at least 3 tabs that you will need to have open:

  • Your lead list;
  • Microsoft Word, or any other tool for writing your draft;
  • The link that you are going to use within your InMail.

So, let’s see how this will go step by step:

Lead List

First, take a good look at your lead list, and think about the way you want to communicate your message. Obviously, if we cared so much about refining our audience, we will want our specific details to stand out in the InMail.

Because we filtered by people in the Banking industry, we know with certainty that mentioning Banking in the InMail will apply to everyone in the list. And the person will resonate with your message!

Also, we filtered by Directors with over 10 years of experience. This gives us a good hint on the language that we should use in our InMail. Obviously, you will not talk the same way to Juniors as you will talk to Seniors.

We also filtered by Madrid residents, which is also an excellent, and probably a must detail to include in your message. Especially if you are inviting leads to an event!

For example, if you filtered by people in a specific company, mention the company in your text. You get the point – find a way to personalize your message based on your filters.


Second, an absolute don’t is to write your InMail directly into someone’s inbox. I don’t think I need to explain how many things can go wrong with that.

Open a Word file, or any tool that you feel comfortable with, and start crafting your draft there first. You will probably have to make a lot of adjustments. And even a few versions to select from with your team!

Unfortunately, LinkedIn Sales Navigator doesn’t have a native place for writing or saving drafts. Nonetheless, it is not an excuse to avoid this part.

Links and Conversion Tracking

Whatever your goal is, you are going to need a link to make your leads perform a specific action. It can be downloading an ebook, signing up for an event, or requesting product info.

Have your link prepared with its UTM conversion parameters. This way, you will know that your leads are coming from LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and not another source.

Note: An UTM is a code that you attach to your link in order to track a source, medium, and campaign name. You can learn more about them here. You can also click here to build your custom URL. 

Have your link ready, and check if it’s working. Once, I sent 50 InMails with an URL that wasn’t working because it had “http” instead of “https” in it. From my boss’ LinkedIn profile. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty fun when I found out.

Writing the InMail

At this point, you already have all your resources ready to start writing the InMail.

You can check my article 11 Best Practices for LinkedIn Sponsored InMail for detailed tips on writing better InMails. Although it’s technically written for a LinkedIn ad format and not for Sales Navigator, these tips still apply.

I will summarize some of the most important ones:

Keep it short


Ideally, you should keep your InMail under 500 characters. Especially if your target are CEOs, Directors, and other high-level professionals. They are busy people, and nobody is going to read a 1000-character message in their inbox!

According to LinkedIn, shorter InMails have a 46% higher Open Rate.

Catchy Subject Lines

Your subjects should be catchy, but not “clickbaity”. People should know what to expect from your InMail from seeing the subject lines.

inmail subject line

Otherwise, they could have the wrong expectations, and be disappointed afterwards. If you have already read some of my articles, I am definitely not a huge fan of clickbaiting people into clicking on something.

LinkedIn recommends that you include some of the following keywords in your subject line for higher impact:

  • Join Us
  • Exclusive Invitation
  • Connect
  • Thanks
  • Job Opportunities

Of course, it is always a good idea to A/B test different subject lines. For example, you can send 10 InMails with one subject, 10 with another, and see which ones performs better.

Clear Call to Action

call to action inmail linkedin sales navigator

Include a clear CTA that will make your users take further action.

Avoid making it longer than 3 words. According to LinkedIn, shorter subject lines show a 13% higher CTR than longer ones.

Some of the top-performing Call to Action buttons include keywords such as:

  • Try
  • Register
  • Reserve
  • Free
  • Join
  • Confirm
  • Download
  • Apply

Of course, your CTA will depend on the goal of your InMail. However, you should try to make it as clear as possible!


Always make sure to address your target audience directly. Unfortunately, LinkedIn Sales Navigator can´t do this for you automatically. Although it is probably on purpose. As we already mentioned, LinkedIn is very, very careful with spamming and automation when it comes to messaging other people.

Additionally, we already talked about using your filters as support for personalizing your InMail even further. The more specific and tailored it looks, the better!

Credible Sender

Another key point for sending InMails is to use a credible sender.

For example, if your message is about Marketing, the sender should be a Marketing Director or CMO, and not a Chief Technology Officer.

And vice versa, if you are sending messages with an IT nature to IT members, a Chief Technology Officer would look much more credible than the VP of Marketing.

5. Sending the InMail

You have finally arrived at the most important part – sending the InMail!

Everything you did before that was to prepare you for that moment. (Sorry if I am sounding too dramatic 🙂 )

Take a good look at your Draft and make sure that:

  • All links are working correctly;
  • You don´t have any grammar mistakes or typos;
  • Your message is clear and concise throughout the whole InMail;
  • The name of the person is written correctly;

Before you send your first InMail, make sure that your signature looks good:

linkedin sales navigator signature

Does it include your name, job position, and company? These are the minimum details that you need to include.

Additionally, if you are comfortable with it, you can also include contact information such as an email address, your phone number, of the web of your company.

If everything looks good, paste the text of your InMail, double-check the name and subject line, and click Send!

I recommend that you double-check the whole InMail at least when sending the first 3 InMails of each sending.

Conclusion: LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Generating Leads

LinkedIn Sales Navigator can be a very powerful tool for lead generation.

It will take time until you get to know your audience, and find the best way to communicate with them. So, don´t get desperate if it doesn´t work as you expected from the beginning.

Furthermore, it is worth knowing that Sales Navigator returns your credit for each InMail that gets responded by a user. So, if you get 10 responses, you will get 10 InMail credits back!

Now, it´s your turn! Have you used this tool already, and how did it work for you? 

Thank you for taking the time to read my article, and I hope to see you in the next one!

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