4 Lessons Learned from 4 Weeks on LinkedIn’s Prospecting Tool

Small to medium-sized businesses are always looking for efficient ways to build a lead pipeline. At the same time, my work with LinkedIn beginners and intermediates has historically focused on professionals who are just trying to master the basics of LinkedIn. Within the last year, however, the landscape seems to have shifted. 

With some regularity, I now encounter clients who pay the $79.99/month to subscribe to LinkedIn’s companion prospecting and insights tool, Sales Navigator. So I recently decided to join Sales Navigator, and see whether it would benefit most of my clients. I did so somewhat reluctantly, as I had a “great” legacy deal, a LinkedIn “Premium” account costing $25.00 per month.  

Over the past few weeks, I have learned four things: 

1. There’s no Such Thing as a Free Lunch

Since LinkedIn launched a new interface early in 2017 and made some of the most valuable search filters only available to Sales Navigator customers, my legacy Premium account has offered few real benefits. Besides a badge for my Profile and insights on who viewed my Profile, I appear to have gotten little for an investment of $429 over 16 months.   

In contrast, Sales Navigator offers a slick, informative home page, recent searches, Profiles that I recently visited, recent activity by my prospects, and suggestions on new leads. The ability to use new and even better advanced search filters again provides the greatest benefit. My favorites are zip code search (down to a 10 miles radius), city-specific search and keywords.  

2. Sales Navigator has Lived Up to its (Mixed) Reputation

For some time, I had heard how well Sales Navigator does at identifying prospects to feed into the top of the sales funnel. My (limited) experience confirms that positive assessment. I am trying to build my business with a certain type of attorney, and Sales Navigator has helped me readily identify a nearly inexhaustible supply of prospects, along with ways to approach them in a more personal way. However, Sales Navigator has lived up to its reputation at being less effective at actually reaching out. I can send LinkedIn “InMails” to people that I don’t know, but often hear nothing, which might indicate no interest, but could simply mean that the email ended up in a Junk folder. Plus, LinkedIn limits the number of InMails one can send each month, so one has to do email outreach in addition to InMails, or stretch the campaign out over a number of months. 

For the first time, I am not relying on a spreadsheet to run a campaign. I am finding that using LinkedIn Navigator’s Tags and Notes is possible but not easy! I can’t even schedule reminders through Sales Navigator, as I used to do on free LinkedIn from 2015 to 2017. Alas, LinkedIn customer service will “forward this suggestion on to our product team for review.” 

3. Sales Navigator is no “Silver Bullet”

While any system to generate leads is a lot of work, Sales Navigator offers particular challenges: 

  • The InBox for Sales Navigator and the “regular” LinkedIn are separate. Thus you can exchange collegial messages with a former client via “regular” LinkedIn, but those messages are not accessible if you are tracking a business opportunity with that person through Sales Navigator.
  • “Regular” LinkedIn offers a tremendously useful search of Connections of Connections, but I can’t combine that search functionality with the keyword search offered by Sales Navigator.
  • Sales Navigator allows me to check the prospect’s Profile. But the Profile view that Sales Navigator supplies contains more limited information than “regular” LinkedIn. Thus I find myself toggling between “regular” LinkedIn and Sales Navigator.  

These and other annoyances have distracted me from the real challenge of finding the right “hook” for a prospect and balancing selling with establishing a friendly rapport. 

4. LinkedIn Should Give Free and “Legacy” Premium Members More Respect

As a Navigator subscriber, I feel like a “real” LinkedIn customer for the first time in a while. After an initial series of daily emails with links to training videos, I now receive a daily email with updates from my saved leads, some of which is actually useful. In contrast, under my $25/month “legacy” Premium account, the emails I received were not helpful. In 2015, LinkedIn briefly offered a Spotlight account for $10/month. Having options in the under $50/month price point could attract solopreneurs like me, fostering greater loyalty and upsell potential among members with limited budgets. By treating the non-paying members as they do, LinkedIn reduces the chance that they will upgrade later.  

Putting my work as a LinkedIn trainer aside, would I continue to pay the $79.99 for Sales Navigator? I doubt that LinkedIn would release attrition numbers for Sales Navigator or even if any LinkedIn experts have taken an educated guess. For those who of you have tried Sale Navigator, please Comment below on why you have left or stayed.  

Bruce K. Segall has 25 years of experience in large financial services companies and smaller firms before founding Marketing Sense for Business, LLC in 2010. Bruce works with small to mid-size firms and companies to build visibility, deepen relationships and grow their lead base. In this capacity, he has worked with scores of attorneys and other professionals to enhance their LinkedIn presence. He has been active in the LMA since 2013, currently overseeing SIG activity in the New York area as a member of the New York Local Steering Committee.

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