Once upon a not so long ago, I was a young (and I still am) entrepreneur who just levelled up into a business owner.
I mean, I had my own company. A company that I was in charge of.
A castle on the hill that I built on my own.
It was a dream I had since forever and now it had finally came true.
Even though I wished I had some sort of a manual or a guide to lead me through the path of launching a new business, I now know that it wouldn’t be the same without the mistakes and the wrong turns that I did.
The mistakes, wrong leads, impersonalised approach, the salesy lines were the things that made me who I am today.
They made a solid ground for building a strong and agile business that evolved and grew along with them.
And so did I.
At first, of course, I needed some guidance.
When I started using LinkedIn as my main business platform I did everything, and I really mean, everything wrong.
I added tons of connections and I wrote to them all. And the saddest part about it was that I approached them all the same way. Without looking at the targeting options and job functions.
What a rookie mistake.
Little did I know that I needed to investigate my target first.
And not only the target, but the industry the potential client was working in, their goals, the problems that this industry was facing and all the possible solutions I could offer them.
First, of course, I needed to find out if we were a good match.
I didn’t have the solution to just any problem they might have been facing.
That only meant that I needed to listen to them.
Yes, listening was a skill that I learned to master and it took me miles further from my starting point.
And, then I had to learn to do targeting.
But do it smartly.
What is targeting?
Targeting is a foundational element of running a successful outreach campaign — Getting your targeting right leads to higher engagement, and ultimately, higher conversion rates. By being active and reaching out on LinkedIn, you are getting your message in front of the right person when they are most engaged, and you can reach a potential professional network of more than 610 million members strong by leveraging accurate first-party data at scale. In this blog post, I wanted to show all of you how targeting on LinkedIn works and the different ways LinkedIn allows you to socially sell to those who matter most to your business.
LinkedIn targeting is differentiated because members are incentivised to keep their profiles accurate and up-to-date for networking, personal branding, and job opportunities. With LinkedIn, you can reach a quality audience composed of influencers, decision makers, and executives.
When members complete their LinkedIn profile, they provide information on their job experiences, company, skills, and more.
This means you can target members using profile-based demographic information, re-target visitors from your website, or upload lists of contacts or companies for your account – based marketing efforts.
But how should you target positions?
Finding the right people you need to approach is not an easy job. The first thing that you need to do is to find the most relevant positions for you, their official titles, variations in positions, etc.
Working in the B2B sales world, one of the main challenges that I, and probably all business sales reps face is finding out who makes the buying decisions – what to buy, when and from whom. What makes this process even trickier in comparison to B2C, is that usually there are more people involved. It’s not just one person that makes the buying call. So you need to target them all and see with whom you will click the best. When things come as far as outlining the marketing and sales process, what we need to do first is figure out whom with are we are going to talk to.
Feel free to approach more people from the same department or even multiple people from different departments. But that being the case, you need to adjust your approach to each of these people individually. Since they are working together, they probably spend a lot of time together and they talk and share experiences. So imagine how you would look like in their eyes if you’ve used the same lines on all of them. Oh, the embarrassment.
After all, they are different people, different characters with different problems and concerns that you need to address.
For example, let’s assume you are offering an HR software solution. Even though your first choice would be to target HR positions, you can expand your approach to: HR, Management, IT and Financial decision-makers. They all know their ways around things and have key roles and power to make and execute decisions. They are all problem-aware, solution-aware, and most probably are already using a software from your competition.
Targeting each of these high ticket professionals requires a different approach. You should present how your software solution will help them make better company decisions, as well as how easier their life would be by having all the software’s reporting functionalities. Also, you need to show each how your solution will be worth the switch in case they are already using another one from another company.
Another important aspect when considering the targeted positions is that different industries have different position titles. There is no official title for each job role, and often people have multiple roles in the same company – making it difficult to distinguish the exact titles you want to target. That is why it is important to target variations of the role, so you can make sure that you are not missing someone just because they are not an exact match to the targeted position.
You need to do a web research. Browse through related product reviews, blogs, or forums. Look at job descriptions – what responsibilities the job entails. It wasn’t until later on that I came to realize that I was looking at the wrong job positions. The research is extensive, I won’t lie to you.
But there are a few tricks that you can use to help ease this research. You can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator filters, you can access quite advanced LinkedIn filtering options. From those, the 3 most important are:
- Title filters.
As I mentioned earlier in a former blog post, using them is a blast. That way, you are familiarizing yourself with your target, their industry and their problems.
As discussed earlier, you need to define which departments are relevant for your solution. Of course, you can choose a few and mix things up so you can enhance your chances. LinkedIn gives you the option to search people by job functions, which gives you the option to select departments that you want to target. There are 26 functions available from which you can choose the most suitable title of the person with whom you want to talk to.
The job functions are based on standardised groupings of the job titles entered by LinkedIn members. For example, a doctor would fall under the Medical function along with members with similar occupations such as nurses, veterinarians, surgeons, and dentists.
I usually use the function criteria, when I am not sure about the exact title I am looking to target, but I know their department. And in combination with the “Seniority Level” filter, it can be a strong qualification criterion.
The best tip that I can give you is to combine the Job Function option with the Seniority option to reach decision makers with specific expertise. For example, if you’re looking to reach decision-makers in the IT function, try targeting the Information Technology, Engineering, and Operations functions and pairing that with a seniority targeting of Senior, Manager, Director, VP, CXO, and Owner.
Targeting by Job Function on LinkedIn
This option allows us to specify the job function of the professional we want to target. In a way, the job function would be comparable to the department to which the worker belongs. In this case, we don’t care so much about the specific position of the professional, but more about the function he performs.
Here you can see the complete list of job functions available:
- Arts and Design
- Business Development
- Community and Social Services
- Healthcare Services
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Media and Communication
- Military and Protective Services
- Product Management
- Program and Project Management
- Quality Assurance
- Real Estate
A total of 26 job functions from which you can choose when targeting.
This targeting method is highly recommended when we have a clear job function of the professional we’d like to target, but we don’t want to miss out on any opportunities by neglecting to target a specific position. This event could occur because we fail to register some variant of the job position (maybe we use “director of finance” instead of “the director of administration and finance”), or because there’s a decision-making position in the company that we aren’t aware of. In this case, to avoid targeting everyone with this function, we can limit our targeting by introducing one more filter, job seniority, which is explained in the next point.
These are based on standardised groupings of job titles. For example, a Digital Marketer will fall under the “Marketing” function. Along with Growth hackers, marketing analytics and Copywriting.
How to use job function?
My go-to targeting is job functions layered with job seniority. This targets high-value decision-makers from the relevant functions.
Note that members can potentially be mapped to 2 functions depending on their job title.
I’ve compiled some short definitions of each job function based on my research and work on LinkedIn.
Roles are involved in maintaining and auditing records, financial reports, tax reports, and any other internal accounting responsibility. Some job titles in this function include: Accountant, Tax Specialist, Payroll Specialist, Auditor and more.
Roles like clerks, secretaries, executive assistants fall under this category. Some job titles that might fall under this function: Admin officer, Data entry, Clerk, Administrator.
Arts and Design:
Creative and artist roles that do not involve much writing. For example, artists, designer, host, actor, architect.
This is not sales. There is a sales function separately. Business development includes the development of business opportunities and relationships. This includes mergers, partnerships, and business initiatives. Some examples: Managing Director, Business development manager, Merger and Acquisitions specialist, Chief Executive officer, Chief Marketing Officer.
Community and social services:
These are mostly social workers, counsellors, psychologists, and other volunteers.
Their roles are mainly to provide advice in a particular area of expertise. Some examples: Consultant, Sales Consultant, CRM Consultant.
Includes teaching roles like professors, primary and secondary school teachers, teaching assistants, instructors, and coaches. This likely does not include corporate trainers as that could fall under the Human Resources function.
Includes positions involving the development and implementation of products and solutions of their company. Software developers are included. Some example job titles would be – Aeronautical engineer, software developer, petroleum drilling engineer, software engineer, coding engineer.
This refers to roles that are involved in the creation of new businesses and ventures. Example job titles: Founder, Board member, Partner, Owner.
Roles that manage the funds and capital of a company. This could be corporate finance, investment management, risk management, insurance, banking positions that involve fund management. A commercial banker, investor, loan offer and compliance officer fits in this function.
These are providers of health care services. Includes doctors, nurses, dentists, health care technicians, orthopaedics, health care assistants and health care administrators.
Includes recruiting, staffing, comp and ben administration, personnel & employee wellness management, organisational development, internal corporate trainers.
Includes the deployment, administration, and support of Information and computing infrastructure within the firm. Includes contractors and consultants. Example job titles: Chief Information Officer, Database developer, IT Auditor, SAP Consultant, Telecommunications Manager.
Roles involved in the practice of law. From attorneys, paralegals, the judiciary and roles that provide legal advice or counsel.
The promotion and distribution of products and services, and/or the selling of products and services to categories of customers. Advertising, branding, customer insights, marketing analytics, fall under the marketing function. This function does not include direct selling (Sales function), Communication with the press (Media Function) and Product Management (Product function).
Media and Communication:
These are mostly PR positions. Includes technical writers, journalists, mass media, website management and more. PR is pretty loosely termed and ever-changing. So always give this function a test.
Military and Protective Services:
Includes the armed forces, law enforcement, and private security positions. Example job titles are Firefighters, Police officer, Airport security, Investigator.
Roles involved in the internal operations of a firm. This includes activities that directly produce the firm’s products. They are also responsible for the deployment, operation, maintenance, management of infrastructures, site operations, and manufacturing activities. An important note here is that this might include marketing operations, IT operations and IT infrastructure too. Job functions might overlap depending on the nature of the job role. So always keep testing.
These roles tend to be responsible for defining, developing and delivering specific products or groups of products according to the company’s business goals.
Program and Project management:
Positions involved in the operational management of projects, processes, schedules and coordination of activities across teams. Example of job titles: project manager, program manager, project administrator, business process management, agile consultant.
Include positions primarily responsible for acquiring goods and services. These roles are responsible for selection, qualification, and negotiation with vendors. Likely, these functions are related to the procurement teams.
Testing and quality control roles. This could involve software or hardware QAs. Example titles would be business analyst, healthcare QA, tester, software tester, penetration testing engineer.
The development, sales, and leasing of land and buildings. These are mostly your real estate brokers, real estate asset managers, property managers.
Includes scientific research, business or market research and data analytics. Job title examples: chemist, healthcare research, research analyst, product manager, data scientist.
Selling of products and services to individual customers or businesses. Positions often have responsibility for account management and revenue generation.
Includes positions that provide service to a firm’s customers. These are more external-facing as compared to the operations roles which are internal. Some job title examples: customer service specialist, call centre manager, support representative.
As you can see, a LinkedIn member could fall into more than one job function. In the real world, most jobs have multiple functions.
Keep testing across functions that make the most sense. Observe your key results and adjust accordingly.
After reading this post, I’m sure that you have a clearer guidance on how to do a B2B ICP.
Begin with your company strengths. Define under which category your business falls into, what kinds of service you deliver and the type of insight you can obtain by looking at your existing/former clients.
Then move to market opportunities. Search through the existing market needs, the maturity of the industry and the competition. These should definitely give you a great idea on who should you target.
Based on these two, you can start defining your ICP. Start from the target industry, then look at different firmographics (like company location, size, etc.), and based on the title, seniority, function, define the target positions within the company.
Finally, look into potential conversation starters, starting from position-specific, company-specific and finish up with industry-specific topics.
Using the option job functions in combination with seniority and title will give you the best options when targeting, defining your ICP and when choosing the best person to hire.
Dancho is a serial entrepreneur, founder & CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of two boys, and a ‘kafana’ enthusiast. He’s also the author of Amazon’s bestseller, ‘Sweet Leads.’ Dancho believes in building relationships with people and is inspired by growth. His ‘ZZ framework’ and formula for growth have brought 500+ clients the results they sought.
Eager to learn more? Follow Dancho on LinkedIn and Facebook.