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Should You Invest In LinkedIn Or CRM?

The world of business-to-business selling is changing and I recently had a conversation with John Smibert, one of the most influential people in professional selling globally, concerning the roles of LinkedIn and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.

LinkedIn has the hearts and minds of salespeople because it helps them find the people they need to build pipeline and also the next employer to progress their career.

CRM, on the other hand, should be the engine for managing sales process but sadly is often a 'manage-up' reporting tool. Sales people are often reluctant to embrace CRM because they feel their contacts, relationships, prospects and pipeline belong to them personally more than they do for their employer.

But CRM can be transformational when it becomes the 'single source of truth' about prospects and clients to manage the entire customer lifecycle for marketing, sales, services, support and finance. The very best implement CRM as a coaching platform for sales managers with their people to review opportunity qualification and discovery, call plans, relationship mapping, sales stage progression with action tracking, close/win plans, and much more... all integrated within the CRM.

LinkedIn helps build opportunity pipeline. CRM manages sales opportunities. LinkedIn's Sales Navigator enables you to integrate the world's most powerful contact database and engagement platform to the leading CRM systems.

LinkedIn and CRM [should] solve different problems and both systems create value in their own right. Each organisation needs to understand how they can extract the best value. Watch this video interview and a full transcript is below. 


John: Hey, you've been a CEO of a CRM provider in recent years in Australia. And you would have seen lots of changes in the way CRM have been progressing. You’ve also see a lot of the problems with the implementations of CRM, and now you’re doing a lot of work with LinkedIn. I’m sensing LinkedIn is overlapping with CRM a lot. How do you see the relationship between LinkedIn and CRM, and how people are using LinkedIn now almost to do a CRM?

Tony: Yes, it’s very interesting, because there’s people asking the question “Will LinkedIn become the new CRM?”

John: I've heard that being asked.

Tony: Yes, and it’s an intriguing question. I know, for example, that Salesforce look at LinkedIn, and they’re a little bit worried about the way that LinkedIn is really moving into what they traditionally see is their space. There’s a few things that we know are true, and that is that LinkedIn has the heart, souls and minds of salespeople, and CRM does not. CRM is historically very much a reporting up managing tool for an organisation. And the way sales reps feel, the way they’re wired is their contacts and relationships and prospects and pipeline belong to them more than they do their employer.

John: Is that really true? I feel that a good sales guy represents his or her company.

Tony: Yes, he does. In inside sales maybe not so much, but certainly for field sales and business-to-business selling. Salespeople tend to feel the way they believe that they operate really is as a hired gun.

John: And it’s probably represented in the fact that a tenure in sales jobs tends to be only about, what, three years these days, on an average.

Tony: Yes, most.

John: And they therefore know they’re going to move on to another company.

Tony: Well, the statistics are really scary. It depends on whose numbers you believe, but anywhere from 40% to almost two-thirds of B2B salespeople don’t make the numbers every year, and a lot of it is not the fault of the salespeople. The way that organisations are doing territory planning and rolling out quotas, they have their blowtorch out on people, they expect them to get up to speed very quickly. So, you’re right; the way an employment contract is written is very much that those prospects are the property of the employer, not the employee.

John: Interesting to see whether it can be enforced though.

Tony: Well, you've got to honour the law of self-interest in any negotiation of putting together business models. So, my view is that what salespeople want to do is they want to build good quality pipeline. The biggest problem they face is, yes, they need to manage expectations of management internally, which they do through a CRM. But the biggest problem they’ve got is they need to build quality pipeline, and LinkedIn enables them to research, find and connect with people, monitor for trigger events, engage early at senior levels, stalk them, in essence, in social to find out what are their interests – I mean, at a business level, not at a Facebook, personal level – at the business level, find out what’s driving industry so they can go and connect with people.

John: LinkedIn is the best engagement tool I’ve ever seen – it’s brilliant for me.

Tony: It is incredible.

John: I can use LinkedIn to engage with anybody I want to target, and I can build a relationship well before I ever meet anybody.

Tony: Yes. And Sales Navigator, which is the highest level of subscription in LinkedIn at the moment, when you combine the power of LinkedIn Publisher for evidencing your credibility and building relevance for the markets that you target, with Sales Navigator for seeing social proximity, doing your research, see who’s connected to the people you’re targeting to get warm introductions – those things are incredibly powerful.

John: So, CRM providers, watch out? How should they be looking at this?

Tony: Well, I think CRM has a role in that CRM is ideal for sales process automation. People need to think about the sales methodology that they use inside their organisation, which is different to sales process. They need to enable their process within their CRM, and then use CRM as a coaching platform to create transparency and help people sell. The weak link in the revenue chain for organisations is sales management. They need to get out of their spreadsheets or the CRM systems, and coach their people.

John: Yes. And that’s the reason a lot of CRM implementation’s a fail, right? They’ve been put in for management, not for the sales guy.

Tony: Correct. The first rule of having a successful implementation of any technology, including LinkedIn or CRM, is serve the user, the user in this case being a field salesperson. And clearly LinkedIn serves the user really well – in their minds help them get their next job as well, so the law of self-interest is honoured – but it helps them build pipeline. They need to implement CRM in a way that helps them execute process.

John: I don’t think LinkedIn are looking to replace a or a Sugar, right?

Tony: Correct, correct.

John: So, it’s really looking at how do we, as an organisation in sales management, use both tools, and make sure we leverage them both, and make sure they work well together.

Tony: To me there is a role for both. And LinkedIn is incredibly powerful for monitoring trigger events, building connections, creating pipeline for, in essence, salespeople to become micro-marketers, and take responsibility for building their own pipeline. Once they’ve identified an opportunity, it belongs in CRM so you can manage that process.

John: Exactly. So, I think that’s cleared it up very much in my mind. Thanks, Tony – I think there'll be a lot of value for the viewers.

Tony: Thanks, John!


Thanks John Smibert for the video interview and transcript which can also be found on on the Strategic Selling Group website where he interviews sales thought leaders from around the world. More of John Smibert's interviews with Tony Hughes:

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:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Garrett Coakley - Decisions, decisions

How To Generate Your Own Free Press Coverage

LinkedIn is the most powerful platform in the world for creating a strong personal brand with a network that transforms your professional life and business results.

If you're a consultant or own your own business, or if you are responsible for media and press coverage then this information will reveal how to gain direct access to those who can give your brand a rocket-ship ride.

LinkedIn has far more value to offer than merely helping with recruiting and selling

This may surprise you but you're reading this article on the number 1 publishing platform in the world. LinkedIn has well over 420,000,000 members (with two new people joining every second) and their publishing platform, Publisher and the Pulse Channels, have unrivalled reach and engagement. LinkedIn is the most important software for anyone in business because it enables them to research, connect and engage potential employees, customers, partners, investors; and also journalists, media personalities, producers, publication editors, conference organizers... everyone who matters in building a business.

Access to the media was once the exclusive domain of Public Relations (PR) agencies who built relationships and knew how to pitch a client's value for press coverage. PR agencies can still play a role today but usually because their clients lack the ability to write good content or don't have expertise in how to create a multi-channel marketing plan. Even for those who can cover these two prerequisites, many then don't understand the power of social platforms such as LinkedIn.

According to a survey by Arketi media group, almost 95% of journalists and editors are on LinkedIn and 62% rate it as their preferred professional networking platform

I recently caught-up with Alex Pirouz, founder of Linkfluencer which is the best online training for becoming masterful at using LinkedIn.  I highly recommend his online courses for mastering LinkedIn for both selling and also PR and building your brand.

According to Alex: "For far too long the traditional methods of getting media coverage have either been too expensive, difficult or just too time consuming. But with LinkedIn you can now start connecting and building relationships with hundreds of journalists and editors from around the world." 

Alex knows what he is talking about and has himself secured significant press coverage and guest journalist spots with The Huffington Post and other publications. Alex recommends that you "write down the top three publications you would like coverage in, identify the journalists with those publications and then connect and build a relationship with them on LinkedIn."

This simple strategy enabled Alex himself to be featured in over 50 media publications and he now writes for Huffington Post, Hubspot and Entrepreneur. According to Alex; "The best thing about this approach it is that we've never sent out a press release or made a cold call."

Anyone in business who neglects LinkedIn is asleep at the wheel. I have many articles about how to use social media here in my LinkedIn blog. This post covers the basics ofbuilding a strong personal brand.

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:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Niuton may - PR

How Secure Is Your LinkedIn Account... Really?

Last month LinkedIn announced to the world that username and password data from 167,370,910 accounts had been obtained illegally from their site. Fortunately the data breach did not include credit card details and was directly associated with an earlier incident in 2012.

Ironically, the timing meant that Microsoft would have been in the middle of acquisition negotiations following due diligence. It was an opportunity for LinkedIn to show their values and culture... they passed with flying colors... but not everyone agrees with me.

LinkedIn immediately got on the front foot to protect their members and the LinkedIn brand. Here is LinkedIn's official statement on May 18, 2016. They also e-mailed all members who were potentially affected and forced password changes before those users could log back in.

Never seek to hide what can be discovered. Transparency and honesty is always best.

If you're wondering if you are one of the LinkedIn users impacted by this breach? Well, stop trying to figure it out and just change your password immediately. Seriously, change it right now. You should change passwords regularly on all online accounts as a matter of course.

The biggest risk does not come from hackers or cyber-criminals... you personally are actually the weakest link in the security chain.

Watch this video and you'll understand that the way users create and manage their passwords is the biggest security risk... and many use a common password across many platforms.

I discussed all this with a IT security expert, Olsi Selfo, and here is his advice based on years of experience working with some of the biggest banks in the world and cyber-security specialists from defence and other rigorous security environments.

The following is from Olsi Selfo.

It’s always a good idea to change your passwords regularly and to never, ever use the same password for two different accounts. And no, you shouldn’t paste all those different usernames and passwords into a plain text file so you can remember them. Instead, use a secure password manager that can sync your passwords across all devices and keep them safe but easily accessible.

LeakedSource published a table showing the most commonly used passwords on LinkedIn and it’s just as bad as you think it might be. The most commonly used password is “123456” and it was found on 753,305 accounts. The second most common password was “linkedin” which was used on 172,523 different accounts, and then “password” on 144,458 accounts. Login credentials - especially to social media sites - are a valuable commodity for 'black hat' hackers. One of Olsi's sources claims that '123456' appears more than a million times (1,135,936 to be precise) in another dump, a long way ahead of 'LinkedIn' with 207,000. The most common "base word" used in the passwords is, unsurprisingly “LinkedIn”.

Regularly changing your password is always a good idea and be proactive.

Voluntarily changing passwords manually on a regular basis is a goof idea but do not create passwords based on very simple and very predictable patterns. This means it is very predictable to hackers. Two-step verification is the next level of security to be considered.

Linkedin introduced 2-step verification using SMS. Although not immune against a determined hacker in a targeted attack, it is much better than nothing. What Linkedin really should do is to promote the existence of security risks better, and go beyond mere password changes. That really isn't enough with today's threat landscape.

Personally I recommend two-step verification as a good tradeoff between security and usability for most applications. I'll even admit that a single password might not be enough in all cases. So go ahead and configure 2FA wherever you can.

Hackers use stolen e-mail information to lure users into giving away more information including birth dates, credit card numbers and bank account access. In 2014, cyber criminals stole $16 billion from nearly 13 million consumers.

All the more reason, say experts, to regularly change passwords — even monthly. ‘And more importantly, you should also be thinking about one site, one password,’ said Lucy Millington, head of corporate security for Sophos Cyber Security. ‘So don’t re-use a password, don’t use the same password for the bank, as you do for retail shopping, as you do your email.’

So what’s a good password? Well, for starters, don’t include the names of your children, pets or home addresses—all information that could easily be found online. Instead, use abstract combinations of letters, numbers and characters that a criminal’s computer program couldn’t easily guess. Mixing languages is another way to throw off hacking programs. Running together the lyrics of a song could also help strengthen passwords.

Experts advise paying for credit monitoring to watch for suspicious activity. And be very suspicious of all incoming emails that could be phishing for more sensitive information.

‘A breach is inevitable,’ Payton said. ‘That information that you’ve entrusted someone else with is eventually going to be hacked.’ Experts say a moment of distraction and a click on a bad link can invite cyber-crooks a world away.”

Thanks Olsi for sharing your experience and provide such valuable advice!

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:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Ken Yeung - President Obama at LinkedIn for Town Hall