3 Questions to Ask Before Investing in Sales Navigator

Wondering where your LinkedIn Advanced Search is? Poof! It’s no longer part of your free LinkedIn user account. If you want to search for prospects on LinkedIn you must buy Sales Navigator. At roughly $500 annually for individuals — and as much as $200,000 for teams — sellers are under pressure to make the investment pay off. Here are three must-ask questions to be asking yourself — before investing (or continuing to).

Locked cloudWondering where your LinkedIn Advanced Search is? Poof! It’s no longer part of your free LinkedIn user account. If you want to search for prospects on LinkedIn you must buy Sales Navigator.

At roughly $500 annually for individuals — and as much as $200,000 for teams — sellers are under pressure to make the investment pay off.

Forget about your Social Selling Index. Sellers need new customer relationships, not vanity metrics. Here are three must-ask questions to be asking yourself — before investing (or continuing to).

  1. What are people saying about Sales Navigator? (is it worth it?)
  2. How, exactly, will my investment pay for itself?
  3. What can I do to make sure Navigator works for me?

What People Are Saying

The most common feedback I hear is how target-rich LinkedIn’s database of prospects is, however, the support provided (to make use of these contacts) is poor.

The No. 1 reason sellers cancel Sales Navigator won’t surprise you: Lack of response from prospects they’re approaching using LinkedIn InMail. Sellers find it increasingly difficult to start conversations with potential new buyers. This causes some to cancel their Navigator account.

However, LinkedIn’s recent move forces your hand. Do you need to research LinkedIn’s database to find business leads? You must pay-to-play. Previously, you could prospect LinkedIn’s database throughout the week — and avoid the “commercial search limit” on the advanced search feature.

Not so today.

Behind closed doors this is what I hear most often about LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool:

  • I wish LinkedIn helped me effectively contact prospects — not just use the tool.
  • LinkedIn’s database of contacts is large, growing and rich with profile details.
  • Some decision-makers are hiding their authority (due to overzealous sellers).
  • The company’s support team does not provide email or phone help.
  • I love Sales Navigator’s ability to help me monitor my prospects & companies.
  • LinkedIn’s training webinars aren’t helping me start conversations with customers.
  • My sellers’ Social Selling Index is not correlating to sales productivity.
  • LinkedIn’s guidance on using InMail is confusing and contradicts itself.
  • The automated leads Navigator sends me are not fitting my target criteria.

How will my investment pay for itself?

Many sales teams investing in Sales Navigator are not seeing returns needed. Some teams are pulling out — looking elsewhere for prospecting data, or returning to pre-LinkedIn sources.

It’s common for teams to invest from $10,000 to $200,000 annually on Sales Navigator. Individual sellers, paying $79 a month (roughly $500 annually), also struggle to justify the investment. What if a team of 25 sellers could go from $19 million in new client quarterly revenue to $70 million? (using Sales Navigator)

Sounds good, right? But only if we:

  • Increase number of reps actively prospecting (it’s got to be fun/productive for them)
  • Increase sellers’ ability to start conversations by a mere 10 percent

It’s true. I’ll work out the math for you. Prospecting success on LinkedIn boils down to:

  • Finding appropriate, new prospects (Navigator does well here)
  • Starting conversations with targets
  • Bringing conversations toward closure

It’s the last two where people most struggle. This is where the gold is.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator: By the Math

Here is how the math comes together — for teams of sellers. For sake of example, let’s use a three-month scenario: February to April 2017. A projection.

Let’s say you have a team of 25 sellers. Most are not prospecting much. They don’t like it. Here are the assumptions:

  • Seven reps (who are prospecting) targeting an average of 20 new clients per week each = 140 potential new discussions
  • This means 50 conversations are being started (average of two per rep: 36 percent success rate)
  • Thirty-eight new clients will likely be closed (78 percent) valued at an average of $500k annual revenue
  • Net new client revenue $19M (achieved in February-April)

But let’s say we:

  • Convinced just six reps to become better at earning conversations with Navigator
  • Increased these six sellers’ ability to provoke discussions better — by just 10 percent (and become effective at securing good meetings faster)
  • Keep close rate flat and unchanged

Here’s what that team’s performance would look like after investing in a method to effectively start conversations with prospects via LinkedIn.

  • Thirteen reps (plus six) prospecting, targeting an average of 30 new clients per week each = 390 potential discussions
  • We are now getting 10 more targets called per rep/week
  • This means 180 new conversations are started (average 8.5 per rep, 46 percent success rate)
  • 140 new clients closed (78 percent) valued at an average $500k annual revenue
  • Net new client revenue equals $70M (achieved in February-April)

What You Can Do to Make Sure This Works

Ignore LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index. Instead, strengthen your and your team’s ability to start conversations “from cold.” Get good at attracting customers to talking with you.

It’s not about buying — it’s about what it will take for them to buy, eventually. Issues. Challenges. Or even the status quo. Challenge it.

Being able to consistently spark conversations with potential buyers will increase your:

  • Email response rate
  • Voice-mail response rate
  • Appointment setting rate
  • Number of customers closed per month

A Fundamental Misconception About Sales Navigator

Your potential buyer values more what they ask for. Buyers value less what you offer them. It’s human nature. Getting meetings with prospects doesn’t require Sales Navigator. It requires you to help prospects feel an urge — to ask you or invite you to talk.

Sales Navigator is nothing more than a tech tool. It is not a prospecting magic wand. As obvious as this may sound many who invest in Navigator treat it as one. Take your communications technique more seriously than you take LinkedIn. LinkedIn is merely the cost of entry.

Yes, LinkedIn’s tool set will help you:

  • Find new people to call on quickly
  • Discover knowledge about targets that can be used on your approach
  • Find “hidden” prospects in your territory that are currently being overlooked
  • Contact potential customers directly (InMail)

But your ability to earn customers attention — and request for a meeting — is the game-changer. Just look at the math!

Author: Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is the authority on making social media sell. He co-founded what became the Google Affiliate Network and Performics Inc., where he built the sales team. Today, he is the authority on effective prospecting communications techniques as founder of Communications Edge Inc. (formerly Molander & Associates Inc.) He's been in sales for over 2 decades. He is author of the first social selling book, Off the Hook Marketing: How to Make Social Media Sell for You.Jeff is a sales communications coach and creator of the Spark Selling technique—a means to spark more conversations with customers "from cold," speeding them toward qualification.

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