Time to read: 4 Minutes. LinkedIn Sales Navigator IS worth the money. But only if you have an effective way to get buyers talking with you. Here is a proven (and repeatable) way to spark prospects curiosity in what you’re selling… AND get them asking for more details. I’ll provide an email / InMail template to make it easy.

What is LinkedIn Sales Navigator REALLY?


You’re buying access to a faster, easier way to view more prospects. Sales Navigator will also:

  • allow unrestricted searching of LinkedIn’s database — using very good targeting filters;
  • make automated lead suggestions for you (my clients tell me the automated suggestions are not very good);
  • allow you to email prospects you don’t know (via InMail messages).

Is Navigator Worth it?

LinkedIn Sales Navigator IS worth it BUT only if you have an effective communications technique to get customers asking YOU for appointments.

Why not ask them for a meeting? Seems obvious. But it’s a non-starter.

LinkedIn InMail is guaranteed to deliver … BUT … it is not guaranteed to:

  • earn a response
  • spark curiosity in what you sell
  • generate a meeting

InMail is also monitored and rated by LinkedIn. You must maintain an InMail reputation score in order to send messages. If enough prospects mark you as spam, you’re out of the game.

Having an effective communications technique to rely on (over-and-over) is the answer.

Why most LinkedIn Premium users waste it

Most of us fail because we mimic templates found on Google. Plus, we ask for meetings too soon… before customers realize they need one. Instead, ask for conversations that might lead to meetings. Smaller asks get better response rates… earning more conversations.

Stale templates (everyone is using) don’t work. Short, pithy provocations hitting on your target’s challenges do.

When I first meet coaching students (sellers) 90% of them are breaking these cold-emailing rules. They are:

  1. Accidentally communicating “sales pitch ahead” to the prospect.
  2. Writing messages taking more than 15 seconds to read.
  3. Inadvertently signaling “I didn’t research you” and “I’m lower status” to buyers.
  4. Encouraging deletion because subject lines are too specific. (reveal too much)
  5. Focusing on earning a meeting rather than a conversation about problems.
  6. Listing benefits. (that’s a blatant sales pitch)
  7. Including links and attachments. (never do this; it always hurts response rate)
  8. Asking for too much, too soon (e.g. requesting a meeting or call in email #1 is a big mistake)

How many of these no-no’s are you doing? All of this adds-up to lack of being provocative. Be careful. Don’t sabotage yourself.

By the way — here is an online “insiders” group focusing on getting conversations started using better communications techniques. 

Help clients become curious

Instead, help potential buyers become curious about your solution to their problem … or short-cut to their goal. Don’t ask for the meeting.

To spark conversation … that will lead to curiosity in what you sell … try this:

  1. Prove you’ve done homework on the prospect (signal “this isn’t spam!”).
  2. Make your message three to four sentences maximum.
  3. After drafting, reduce the number of “I’s” and “my’s”  and “our’s” in your message to laser-focus on the reader.
  4. Eliminate all adjectives and adverbs that tend to sound persuasive.

An odd (but effective) cold email technique

Here’s what I’ve learned through experience. To get response when using an InMail or a cold email message:

  1. Spark curiosity with your subject line and message copy.
  2. Provoke immediate response by help buyers start talking about themselves.
  3. Avoid presenting your opportunity to prospects who don’t want it!

Your buyer doesn’t want opportunity. They may be open to talking about a problem or goal. But they don’t want your opportunity. Every day they’re presented with opportunities by sellers like you. Don’t be one of them.

Instead, provoke the pants off ’em.

Come and start practicing this technique. Come to our next live, online Email Writing Clinic. I’m coaching a small group of students.

What you “put into” Sales Navigator is ALL that matters. If you don’t follow this process your LinkedIn Sales Navigator investment will be wasted.

A better template (remember: no meetings)

Asking for appointments kills response rates. Assuming you’re not promoting an event, avoid this in your “first touch” email. If you forget and do ask for an appointment?

You’ll be rejected by 90 – 97% of perfectly good prospects. Because most don’t (yet) know they need what you’re offering.

The goal of your “first touch” InMail/email message is to earn the right to have a discussion.

Nothing else.

It’s exactly like an effective cold call. Here is one of my best-performing templates.

SUBJECT: this make sense for you?

[first name],
Willing to consider an unorthodox way to _________________ ? [what your customer wants, positively, or needs to avoid, negatively]

If yes, you may want to know how _______ [a competitor or enviable company] was able to _________________ [what your customer dreams of being able to do] … all without ____________. [what your customers believe they need to sacrifice, but don’t]

Are you open to a short email exchange—to hear more about how they did this? Then you can decide if a larger conversation is justifiable.

[your name]

WARNING: Don’t copy and paste the above into your email and hit send. This is a practice and my example may NOT be suitable for your challenge.

Start practicing with a group of peers. Here’s a way to get started.

Why this template works

To help you create your own version using the above template, let’s dissect why this approach is so doggone effective at sparking curiosity about what you’re selling. Success is mostly about creating curiosity in the prospect—fast.

The Subject is short and triggers the thought “does WHAT make sense?” (creating curiosity, encouraging the reader to open the email and find out)

Line 1 gets right to the point: Are you open to something super-different to help reach a goal or avoid disaster? There is not one moment where you reference yourself.

Line 2 doesn’t reveal (yet) what this strange new way is (purposefully). To create more curiosity (and avoid talking about ourselves) we shift focus toward a competitor of your target or a business they admire—how this business is able to achieve something they would like to achieve. (without having to sacrifice something they normally assume would be required to sacrifice)

Line 3 asks for a short email exchange (not a meeting) so they can decide if a more serious conversation is justifiable.

Line 4 asks for their decision, directly. And we end with the reader’s first name again… to further personalize the tone and look less like a templated email. We’re saying “I know this is your decision. I’m not afraid of what it may be… and I also know your name. You are not part of a mass emailing.”

This isn’t magic. It’s a technique — based on mental triggers. Join us and learn more!

Good luck! Let me know if you have any questions.

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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  • This is extremely informative and practical information. Thanks so much Jeff!

  • SalesDaily says:

    Interesting article Jeff. We’ve kept an eye on Linkedin Sales Navigator as we’re currently using sales prospecting tools such as Found.ly as an alternative.

    We’ve trialled the Linkedin tool however it’s still proved a little prohibitive to our current solution.

    Our sales reps use Found.ly to do exactly what you’re unable to do with Navigator. The tool finds and builds targeted lead lists from search engines and social networks (including Linkedin). You’re able to find their email addresses and contact details also.

  • I’m not sure if this will work for my voluntary benefit and how to proceed. This would be a new area for me.

  • Kei Reyes says:

    Jeff, what is your opinion on tools like AeroLeads and SalesLoft who works with Sales Navigator and find email ids of the prospects along with other details ? Have you used such tools to automated or speed up your sales ?

    • Hi, Kei.
      I don’t use either of them. That said, anything with the word “automated” makes me very nervous. BUT, SalesLoft’s Cadence sounds awesome… in that it does not allow for spammy email sending. Which, ultimately, doesn’t work. There’s a small, successful segment of sellers out there who understand this — and use tools like Cadence or Contactually (what I use). On the prospect ID-side… most of the tools out there that promise to look-up contact info are terrible. No quality. That said, there is an answer: Task a helper to use tools like Rapportive + LinkedIn https://www.makesocialmediasell.com/landing/find-email/ Yes, it’s a manual process. But the quality of contact is much higher. I also like Data.com a lot!

  • Fiona McKay says:

    HI Jeff

    This is a good article and I am quite keen to try out the template for Inmail. I do have a question about your book – do you perhaps have an ebook version? I live in South Africa and it will take a lot of time to get the paperback version here.

    • Hi, Fiona.
      Good to hear you’re motivated! I’m glad to help. Yes, I will send you a copy of the ebook right now. Good? Cheers!

  • I would not use it after my experience with them. Do not attempt to try they will charge you for a whole year after trial expires. And they would not do refund!!!!!! they charged me £650 no customer services at all. AVOID!!!!!

  • Ben Waterhouse says:

    Hi Geoff, really interesting article. How do you think the power of a tool like Sales Navigator will be affected as more and more organisations start to use it? Surely the prospect will become wiser and more cynical about approaches of this type? If this is the case how would you recommend that one looks to get round this?

    Also, as a UK resident I’m not sure when your book will be available, any chance of an e-copy of it?

    Thanks Geoff, all the best!


    • Hi, Ben. Nice to meet you. “First touches” via Sales Navigator work for some quite well … less for others. The main challenge is standing out in a sea of sellers who tend to use InMail in spammy, un-targeted ways. Also, what I teach is a method — less about templates. I hope this makes sense. Because what works for some, does not work for others. And what works in a given industry for 2-3 months tends to wear thin after a while. Then again, some techniques my customers develop on their own (using the principles I teach) work consistently. The only way around a technique becoming (eventually) less effective is to constantly try new things. For example, one of my clients does very well w/ the subject line “Not Spam: I read your profile.” Also, you can grab a copy of the book here https://www.makesocialmediasell.com/downloads/off-the-hook-marketing-e-book/

  • Hello Jeff,
    Firstly, Great post. This is truly helpful. I wished to ask you something. If I purchase this plan for myself, will I able to send unlimited amount of messages to members of a group that I am in or will I still be bound to a limit of 15 messages per month. I wish to reach out to all the members of a group through personal messages. I am willing to upgrade to any plan necessary. Please do give me some tips.
    I look forward to hearing from you.
    Thank You.

    • Hi, Nandhaan. You are limited to the 15 messages per month. Unsent messages don’t carry over to the next month. This limit includes messages sent directly from a group, to your 1st degree connections. If you need to send more messages LinkedIn offers alternatives. Premium accounts or Recruiter gives options like InMail messages. But those are limited also!

  • Hi Jeff thanks for the advice here! I have a question on your email sample,what if the company is new and no customers yet? What should I write on the second paragraph?

    • Hi, Marijo. You can substitute a “lesser known” case study from a company using the technique you’re referring to. Make sense? It needs to be a recognizable company. Could even be a competitor’s client. You can get more ideas here too! http://www.jeffmolander.com/email/ Nice to know you.

      • Hi Jeff,

        I’m new to Sales Navigator. Typically when I find someone that I’m interested in on LinkedIn, I’ll first send an invitation to connect, and then if they accept, I’ll reach out to them with a “Thanks for connecting,” with a short bit about our video services. Most ignore the request, but for those who do accept the invitation, it seems like a warmer way to get the conversation started. Thoughts? Does that seem like a good technique even when utilizing Sales Navigator?

        Thanks so much!

        • Hi, Tim. I recommend against it — simply because it is increasingly in-effective. Because of the abuse of the system. Two quotes for you: “the big push on ‘social’ selling has seemed to turn a lot of SDR teams into “send a LinkedIn invite then try to sell them 5 minutes after they accept” https://www.linkedin.com/in/andersenmike and “Here’s what I get from social selling; a LinkedIn invitation, acceptance of invitation, and receipt of an email that clearly shows they know nothing about my company, me or my needs. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not accepting very many LinkedIn invitations as they seem to be an invitation to SPAM me.” https://www.linkedin.com/in/michaeljones36

  • Hey Jeff

    Great article with solid content. I’m currently evaluating Sales Navigator. I think your technique would be a great resource for very high dollar, niche sales. The email template would be solid, regardless. But would the ROI not be a ton better by avoiding the additional cost, all that time, by hiring a VA to put together a list, so statistically, you’re working from a much bigger field in far less time? I mean, going through all of that research and flirting on a completely cold prospect, doesn’t seem very effective ROI unless you have a very specific niche and high value, no?

    • Thanks, Bob. Yes. There are different approaches based on what you’re selling and to whom. Your thoughts are spot-on. Many of my students are selling simple products/services that don’t require 6 months and 4 sign-offs (people) to get the deal done. Our Academy http://oth.me/SS-Academy offers tips & techniques for both kinds of sellers.

      • Bob Olmstead says:

        Thanks for the reply, Jeff! Cool niche you have developed for yourself, here! Thanks for the reply 😉

  • In my opinion the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to clients who work in a team (Sales Teams) or who only rely on LinkedIn to get clients. It’s very specific branch.

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