LinkedIn Sales Navigator: Deciding if It’s Worth It

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not? I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s! Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it for sales prospecting? And how can you measure the investment — and end it if it’s not?

I’ve consulted my most trusted resources — and clients — on the answer. Because what we need is an honest answer from people who are interested in growing their business — not just LinkedIn’s!

Here are the results I’ve found in guideline format. The consensus seems strong. In 95 percent of cases you may not need a Sales Navigator or Premium level account.

Key Consideration Points
Let’s keep it simple. Here’s what the average B-to-B sales prospecting person needs to consider. Point by point.

  1. The Free Trial: Is one month enough time to judge?
  2. The cost: When and how will it be recovered?
  3. The yardstick for success: Leads found and qualified faster, not trivial activity.

The Problem With a 30-day Trial
I rarely hear anyone talking about this aspect. Yet I’m not sure why. In most B-to-B sales environments a 30 day free trial is not enough time to judge any sales prospecting tool, tactic or strategy.

Even in today’s fast-paced social selling world LinkedIn’s 30 day trial period is far too short.

One of my most trusted sales training colleagues put it this way: “What sales team wants to commit to a playing field that moves the goal posts every couple of months? If I have a six month sales cycle, please explain what good a one month free trial does me?”

Thus, please understand that the free trial isn’t actually free. It’s a discount on your first six months of Navigator subscription. Because many of us need at least 6 to 12 months to understand if this is having positive impact on the bottom line — finding and closing new clients faster.

Justifying the Cost
The fastest way to understand if the investment might be worthwhile is to examine the benefits — but with a sales hat firmly on. Sales Navigator Professional (for individuals) gets you:

  • InMail: The one perk that everyone knows about.
  • Free incoming InMail: Anyone on LinkedIn can send you a message, free.
  • More search filters: You get an additional eight filters (although some are not applicable at all to sellers)
  • More saved searches: Very handy if you have a set of searches you do repeatedly.
  • More search results: You can see two hundred, four hundred or more.
  • Unlimited profile search: You will not need to worry about hitting LinkedIn’s arbitrary Commercial Search Limit.
  • Introductions: You can send a message to someone you would like to meet through a mutual LinkedIn connection.
  • Who’s Viewed Your Profile visibility: You get more visibility into who has viewed your profile.
  • Automated lead recommendations and real time news insights on leads.

I’m not saying any of these features are good or bad. Rather, we must question if they are worth paying $79 per month to access. In particular, most of my clients find the ability to search an unlimited number of times beneficial. How much so? This varies on individual experience.

And therein lies the tricky part: Generating enough experience with these features to pass fair judgement.

The Yardstick for Success
This is a tricky issue extending beyond the problem with a 30 day trial. It is unclear when significant cost breaks on the $129 per seat Team fee comes into play. This is not publicly discussed by LinkedIn. More importantly, justifying the cost must come in the form of hard numbers.

Sales related numbers.

The vast majority of businesses I’m finding measure soft value when building a business case for Sales Navigator. LinkedIn itself is encouraging this “soft yardstick” via it’s Social Selling Index. (SSI)

True, each category of the SSI is based on a practice vital to success using LinkedIn. They are important to your productivity, effectiveness … ultimately, your success at finding and closing leads faster.

Beware of Vanity Metrics
LinkedIn’s social selling index is flawed as a measurement tool when building a business case.

Because establishing your brand, finding the right people, engaging and building relationships are the basis for the SSI. However, each of these has an (unmeasured) quality component that directly drives business value.

Here’s the rub: When reps have a lower skill set at communicating with prospects they will always have lower success at earning meetings and closing deals with them. You can brand, engage and connect all you want.

In the end, the more effectively reps communicate the more deals get discovered, nurtured and closed.

Yet LinkedIn’s main tool of measurement is based purely on a quantitative basis.

Bottom line: The SSI is a potential indicator of productivity. However, being an active user of LinkedIn does not make you a productive seller.

Sales productivity takes more; it takes qualitative behavior and specific business outcomes. Knowing how to make a sales appointment via email or InMail trumps being able to simply send email!

What do you think about how I’m approaching this? Am I off the mark? How are you approaching building the business case?

 

Sales Follow-up Emails: The Most Effective Formula

Earning a reply to your initial email is simple. Spark the prospect’s curiosity. But what comes next? How do you follow-up effectively once invited to do so? What do you write and how — so potential buyers will reply again?

Earning a reply to your initial email is simple. Spark the prospect’s curiosity. But what comes next? How do you follow-up effectively once invited to do so? What do you write and how — so potential buyers will reply again?

Spark their curiosity. Again. However, it’s also time to hyper-target your prospect’s pain, fear or goal.

It really is that simple.

Here is a real life example. I’m sharing so you can copy the technique in your setting.

Here’s the gist of what works: When replying to the prospect’s invitation, help the buyer want to tell you about “the conversation already going on” in their head.

This helps you build a conversation about what is most important to them — not what you’re selling.

A Successful “First Touch” Email Example
One of my readers took advice (from this blog) and turned it into a response. I love when that happens.

Connor emailed me saying, “Your technique for getting permission to have a longer conversation is working great. What I would like to know is what angle I should take once permission is given… or the curiosity has sparked a response.”

Here is the exact first touch approach Connor used to earn the first response.

Subject Line: Is this a fit for you, ___ [first name]?

Savings accounts, bonds, and CD’s are currently earning less then 1% while the cost of living rises at 1.7%. There are other places to allocate your resources that offer a competitive rate while retaining a low risk mindset for your savings and also provide tax advantages.

In the interest of time would a short email conversation makes sense? Let me know what you decide, _____ [first name]?

Thanks for considering,
Connor

The prospect responded with, “Yes that is something I would be interested in discussing. What type of investment options do you offer?”

Connor is a financial adviser who offers different investment options. He says, “The products don’t sell themselves. The (sales) process we use conveys the value of our products.”

Thus, it’s critical for him to get into the flow of a buyer-focused conversation.

He asked me, “Do you have a proven approach to moving this situation forward and getting the appointment or should I explain what the product I was referring to in my response?”

Indeed, I do.

Pinpoint the Pain or Goal
In Connor’s case, the prospect responded by asking about investment options. That’s what Connor sells. He used a “near-term buying first-touch” approach. And the buyer is curios about his solution to the problem. Success!

However, this can be a dangerous situation.

The best way forward in the second touch is over-focusing on the prospect. Here’s what I mean.

In Connor’s case, the buyer is opening the door to talk about his solution, the product. However, it’s best to resist this temptation.

Instead, to earn another reply, I ask one brief but purposeful question. Two max. This qualifies your lead. It also helps you know how, exactly, to respond and move the discussion forward.

For example, Connor should reply,

“I will be glad to talk options, ___ [first name]. But I need to know more about you, please, to help. Are you invested in CD’s, bonds (low rate options) now? Are you doing everything possible to protect yourself from outliving your retirement savings?”

They’ll Tell You How to Reply
New customers will tell you what will trigger them to buy. Sometimes in the second email you receive from them. Choose your words carefully. Help them to open up and tell you.

The goal of your second email message is not to pitch your wares. Instead, it is to:

  1. Earn another reply, (keep it very short!)
  2. Trigger an “avalanche” response, (allow your buyer to become emotional)
  3. Pinpoint the buyer’s exact pain or objective. (so you can address it)

By identifying what matters most to the buyer you’ll know exactly how to reply in a way that builds credibility and curiosity in your solution. Remember: An emotional reply from a prospect validates how important a given issue may be to them. Additional curiosity (more questions) indicates the lead is a good one.

Bottom line: Your second email message will yield a response that qualifies the lead. The reply it generates will tell you exactly what to talk about in the next email message. The buyer will tell you — again!

A Stream of Curiosity
Always answer questions the prospect asks — but do so in ways that create more questions in their minds. Hold a little back. This helps create more curiosity.

Structure the way you reply. Be deliberate about it.

Don’t be coy. This isn’t about trickery or dangling a carrot in a way that will annoy the prospect. Be direct and specific. Yet hold back on the details. This will help your prospect feel an urge to ask you about them.

Good luck!