Time to read: 2.5 minutes. The best LinkedIn InMail messages have one, simple trait. Insane amounts of focus on the recipient. One unusual but effective method is to tie the recipient’s public statements or behavior to an issue aligned with your product. It works for a handful of reasons. It’s a hyper-personal, no-nonsense way to spark conversations with decision-makers. I’ll present the tactic in checklist and template format. This technique is also effective for recruiting professionals. Some are getting results with it.

Grab the prospect by quoting them

“The experts” say busy executives and CEOs aren’t open to being pitched via email or LinkedIn InMail messages. But they’re wrong.

You can spark conversations with chief executives—if you focus the discussion on them. Specifically, their public statements at conferences or in trade media. Often, these statements are rooted in emotion: Uncertainty or, conversely, your target’s positive ambitions.

Tie the comment to their ambition, fear or pain

The idea is to use these statements to spark a discussion—then, gently ask permission to connect the discussion to a new idea. Eventually (as the conversation moves forward) this becomes the solution you sell.

You’ll get some yeses and some nos. It’s all part of an effective, repeatable social selling process from the era of the original interpersonal relationship genius, Dale Carnegie.

Effective InMail template checklist

Many of my students are brilliant. They take a bit of wisdom I give and run with it. Recently, Sam combined one of my best LinkedIn InMail message templates with a “hyper-personalization technique.”

Using the prospects’ bold, public statements made in trade publications, at conferences, on Twitter streams, etc.

This approach stops busy chief executives in their tracks—and gets them to reply to his emails.

Let’s have a look at Sam’s practice so you can give it a try. I’ll turn it into a email / InMail message template of sorts.

Sam crafts a handful of short email messages for testing using a few guidelines. He writes messages that:

  1. Are three to four sentences long maximum.
  2. Apply the words “I” or “my” minimally.
  3. Quote and compliment the recipient in context of an important industry issue or trend.
  4. Align the quote with a specific conversation likely to be important to the recipient.
  5. Ask to be qualified (first, via email) for a larger phone or face-to-face meeting.

The approach works.

Because it is so personal, so authentic it busts through gate-keepers who block unsolicited emails from pouring in. 

It gets seemingly un-reachable executives to invite discussions about issues that (ultimately) relate to what you are selling.

Here is the InMail template


My student, Sam, is a real person. He asks me to avoid sharing his full identity for competitive reasons. But he wants to help others so I’ll describe his technique in a way you can copy.

BUT, please don’t copy this template verbatim. Get creative with it. Experiment with variations on words and the general concept. Work a little to fit this template into your scenario.

Need help with that? Attend my live, LinkedIn Clinic training and I’ll show you how step-by-step.

Otherwise, create multiple versions of this approach using different kinds of quotes and issues. Discover what gets the best response and do more of what works, less of what does not.

Hi, [first name].
Your quote in ___ Magazine was stunning. Your perspective on _____ [burning issue] is vitally important to all of us working in _____ [industry]. Have you considered enhancing _____’s [target company] capability to ________ [insert challenge to overcome]?

There are alternate means to achieving ___ [goal]. Would you be open to learning about an unusual yet effective approach to ____ we use with clients like ___? [your current client]

Please let me know what you decide, [first name]?

[your name & signature]

Beware upsetting the status quo

Make sure your approach dose not threaten the status quo—or the way your prospect currently views the world. It must compliment (via the quote) and then gently nudge.

Use the above template as a guide. Create your own, provocative email approach to a CEO, CIO, CTO, CFO, etc. Don’t limit yourself to quotes in magazines—exploit trade show speech quotes. Tap into the Twitter streams or LinkedIn updates … or comments in LinkedIn Groups you may discover.

Don’t limit yourself to issues you believe are important to buyers. Instead, bullet-proof your approach. Use what they say is vital to creating success or change for the industry.

Then, gently position yourself as a thought-provoker. Beware of being a cocky thought leader.

That’s not your job.

Make sure your approach dose not threaten the status quo—or the way your prospect currently views the world. Be sure to nudge.

“Have you considered enhancing…” is a nudge. It’s less assertive than, “have you considered replacing” or “would you be interested in talking about…”

Need help with all of this? Attend my live, Clinic style training and I’ll show you how to get started, step-by-step.

The best LinkedIn InMail messages cause reactions

The best LinkedIn InMail messages get chief executives to stop, listen, respond and converse. There is a proven technique to increase InMail response rates. Now you have it!

I admit, chief executives are tough to get a hold of, let alone converse with. But you can spark conversations with them using email, InMail and LinkedIn in general. Not conversations about selling. Instead, make your message about anything that matters to them. Literally.

Then pivot. Connect your conversation to what you sell—if and when appropriate. What do you think?

In 1999, I co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc. where I helped secure 2 rounds of funding and built the sales team. I've been selling for over 2 decades.

After this stint, I returned to what was then Molander & Associates Inc. In recent years we re-branded to Communications Edge Inc., a member-driven laboratory of sorts. We study, invent and test better ways to communicate -- specializing in serving sales and marketing professionals.

I'm a coach and creator of the Spark Selling™ communication methodology—a curiosity-driven way to start and advance conversations. When I'm not working you'll find me hiking, fishing, gardening and investing time in my family.

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