Business is done at the speed of trust and this is why relationships still matter. LinkedIn is the #1 platform for building a strong personal brand to show insight and value. But you can also use it to go to the next level in driving profitable sales revenue.
I don't work for LinkedIn nor do I receive commissions. I am a best-selling author and the #1 influencer in professional selling in Asia-Pacific (Top Sales Magazine). I have three decades of business-to-business (B2B) sales success and my sales methodologieshave delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. I come from the real world of complex enterprise selling and here is a truth I share with all my clients as they strive for greater sales success.
Everyone must embrace a modernized approach to selling by leveraging social platforms for increased reach, building sales pipeline and improving sales efficiency.
Most enterprises have already invested in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some wonder why they should also invest in LinkedIn's Sales Navigator. Both technologies, along with marketing automation tools, are essential to drive revenue, reduce customer churn and create outstanding customer experience (CX). CRM enables corporations to manage qualified sales opportunities, customers and partners but Sales Navigator is the tool for proactively building pipeline to fill the sales funnel. Sales Navigator is also the way to manage risks for employers who rightly worry about their sales people potentially taking their contacts, prospects and customers with them when they leave.
Before we look specifically at business case for Sales Navigator, it's important to understand the definition of 'Social Selling' and the business case for investing. Click on the link above or the image below for details.
As an example of the power of Social Selling techniques and the LinkedIn platform, here is proof that LinkedIn beats phone and e-mail for generating results. John Dougan did the real world test without any pre-conceived notion of which outreach channel would deliver the best results in selling tickets to an executive breakfast event. These are the results from 300 outreaches using an equal spread of LinkedIn's InMail, outbound phone calls and traditional e-mail:
- 100 InMails sent generated 67 responses and 44 event registrations
- 100 phone calls generated 32 connections and 20 registrations
- 100 e-mails sent generated 12 responses and 6 registrations
LinkedIn responses outperformed e-mail by 558% and LinkedIn responses outperformed phone by 209%. But none of this so far is about Sales Navigator... What is it, how does it work and why is it important?
What Is Sales Navigator?
Sales Navigator is a separate platform from an individual's LinkedIn account (their free or Premium LinkedIn profile). Navigator opens up the LinkedIn database (433 million of the world's professionals) regardless of degree of connection. Whereas the free version of LinkedIn limits a user to their first and second degree connections when searching and Premium extends to third degree connections, Navigator provides the ability to send InMail to people who are not direct connections. But the biggest value is the search capabilities to create leads and monitor for trigger events. Here is a feature comparison.
Why Is Sales Navigator Essential?
A Harvard Business Review article highlighted that 90% of decision makers never respond to cold outreach and according to Corporate Executive Board research, 97% of cold calls yield no result. Today's procurement departments often obscure their buying processes and decision-making power-base comprised of 5 to 6 people. Despite the need to achieve consensus in decision-making, they often deny access to the senior executives driving change and making the real decisions in any significant investment.
75% of buyers research before choosing to respond or engage and this is why a strong personal brand is so important. When making a significant investment, where there is complexity and risk, executive buyers focus on trust with individuals before entertaining any form of pitch on brand, 'solutions' or organizational capabilities.
Research conducted by C9 Inc. found 7 times more pipeline and 11 times more revenue (36 companies and 9,000 sellers) was generated by those who embraced the LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool. LinkedIn themselves analysed a cross section of new and existing sellers who increased pipeline by 45% and the probability of achieving their sales targets increased by 51% simply by improving their standard LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) scores.
Would you like to improve the likelihood (not 'chances') by 51% for sales people to achieve target? Sell the benefits to your up-line management or board and then buy Sales Navigator but also invest in change management to role it out to your team successfully.
The business benefits of investing in Sales Navigator are:
- More sales pipeline and revenue growth
- Greater sales efficiency and CRM integration
- Less risk from competitors being able to monitor sales activities
- Less risk from sales people walking out the door with direct relationships with sales pipeline relationships.
The Sales Navigator platform is separate from a person's individual LinkedIn profile and provides a different view that is uncluttered with feeds and 'noise'. At a more granular level, the benefits are:
- Gain access to world's most powerful and accurate database of business contacts where the degree of connection and relevance of roles can be identified without the need to send connection requests. Sales Navigator provides 25 unlocked database searches (unlocks hidden profiles) with InMail communication every month.
- Save time in identifying and securing trusted introductions as the best path for warm introductions to those who make the decisions. Opening is far more important that closing and Sales Navigator transforms the way relationships are established. Team Edition of Navigator is invaluable for large organizations because it identifies which of your colleagues or management team knows target contacts based on same fraternity, common interest groups, etc.
- Monitor role-based trigger events to generate of quality sales pipeline where you can engage early, embed your value within their business case and create a bias toward your solution features or business model.
- Dramatically improve the efficiency of selling with CRM integration, and the ability to research, build a power-base relationship map, collaborate with others who share common connections. Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn will no doubt bring significant integration enhancements as they seek to unlock greater value from Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn.
- Stay ahead of your competition by being able to see their prospects and clients but without allowing them to see your business pipeline relationships that are not yet secured as loyal customers. Sending connection requests to early stage prospects can damage the chances of success and create competitive threats.
What Does It Cost?
Sales Navigator is approximately $100 per month but everyone should be on Premium anyway which is approximately $50 per month.
The delta is therefore only ~$50 per month
Sales navigator includes a Premium profile so you do not have to pay for both. Compare that with the cost of employing a sales person and it's a no-brainer. It's roughly the cost of a cell phone per month. Selling is difficult and how can anyone expect to be successful without the right tools!
Trying to sell without Sales Navigator in a business-to-business context is like a freight courier business without satellite navigation and tracking... it's just plain negligent.
If you would like to see how Sales Navigator works, here is where you see a demo from LinkedIn and obtain more information from them. The video below enables you to view a demo without needing to complete an online form.
Beyond the basics of building a strong online personal brand, the new KPI for intelligent business-to-business (B2B) selling is the Social Selling Index (SSI) score and the video below provides a brief overview.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main Image: Image: Tony Hughes using two LinkedIn public branding graphics