3 Reasons to Not Use LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is where the social selling action is. But is truly needed? Do you need it? Over time, LinkedIn has changed the rules and features of the offering to sellers.

LinkedIn LogosLinkedIn Sales Navigator is where the social selling action is. But is truly needed? Do you need it? Over time, LinkedIn has changed the rules and features of the offering to sellers.

Bottom line: There are many ways to prospect new business. But for some large and small organizations, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a go-to source for new business leads — I use it and my students do too.

But is it a fit for you? Today I’m presenting three reasons it may not be.

What This Article is About

Sales Navigator has lots of great features. But this article aims to present reasons why you may not want to use it. The title may sound provocative. But my criticism will be constructive.

Sales Navigator will be the right choice for a lot of people — maybe even you. If so, please let me know why in comments.

Many sellers I meet have dropped (not renewed) their accounts. Mostly because they don’t realize tangible value from the investment. Often with good reason. Others use Navigator on an “as needed” basis. Others decided their target market is simply not available on LinkedIn.

Then again, you may feel forced to use Sales Navigator. Due to LinkedIn’s new restrictions on how many “commercial searches” (of its database) you are allowed, this is often the case.

There are a lot of reasons to invest in Sales Navigator. But there are also a few good reasons to consider not investing.

1. You’re not good at starting conversations with words

Email is seen as the means to communicate with prospects on LinkedIn. However, the most productive sellers are using it in combination with cold calling (voicemailing). But the only way to recover a LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator investment is to possess a means to start conversations with buyers.

Reliably. Consistently. At scale, yet personal.

Don’t have confidence in getting responded to from cold? Don’t invest. If you don’t have the tactical ability to use written and spoken (voicemail) words in ways that provoke conversations, don’t invest. Not yet.

Instead, commitment to becoming effective. How effective? You should be receiving a minimum:

  • 40 percent email open rate
  • 30 percent response rate

If you are not starting conversations with prospects (minimum three out of every 10 cold InMail/call attempts), Sales Navigator may not be a smart investment.

What happens when you do have strength here? It can get exciting. Remember: InMail is not unlimited. You can only buy a maximum of 30 InMail credits (needed to send them) per month.

That is unless you get credits returned to your account — LinkedIn gives your credit back each time a message is responded to, even if it’s a “no.”

Thus, the primary way to recover a LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator investment is to possess a means to start new conversations with buyers — at scale.

2. You/your team is already spamming with it

Most sellers I meet are, in essence, spamming customers with standard email, InMail and other forms of LinkedIn messages. At best, mass-emailing reps pushing everything from marketing content to pre-mature meetings earn a 2 percent response rate.

Are you/your people cutting and pasting marketing prose into InMails and hitting send? Asking for meetings — from cold — using InMail?

You are probably spamming prospects. Time to own up.

“I have received dozens of InMails over the last few years and not a single one as merited more than ‘ignore’ or ‘no thanks not interested’, says Mark Johnston, president at Telementrix. “A lot of education is still required in this area.”

Johnston describes how most InMail messages have not performed any research on the approach. He is clearly not in the market for what is being pushed his way.

“Here’s what I get from social selling: a LinkedIn invitation, acceptance of invitation, and receipt of an email that clearly shows they know nothing about my company, me or my needs. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m not accepting very many LinkedIn invitations as they seem to be an invitation to spam me,” says Michael Jones of Centurylink Business.

Are you or your team already using standard email (or LinkedIn InMail) to push spammy messages at customers? Have you already formed the losing habit? Again, most folks who I meet have. I’m not judging, just warning.

3. You place priority on Social Selling Index numbers

To encourage use of its platform and adoption of social selling, LinkedIn offers its Social Selling Index (SSI). This is a scoring system designed to reward what LinkedIn considers to be productive sales behavior using its platform.

But is it encouraging productivity or rewarding noise?

I get criticized as raining on everyone’s parade, but the bottom line is LinkedIn’s SSI is not as helpful as it may be harmful to sellers or those who manage them. I have years of experience coaching sellers. This remains my experience. I’m not alone.

The SSI encourages (rewards, with a number) quantitative use of LinkedIn. This actively discourages qualitative use.

Here’s the rub: Sellers most precious resource is time. Most social selling efforts are, thus, seen as defensive. In other words, sellers feel they are forced: “you must spend time on LinkedIn to reap rewards from it.”

The result is usually ugly: Buyers are being smothered by content being pushed by sellers. What buyers are not getting is context.

Sellers are often not good at, and rewarded for, offering guidance to customers via LinkedIn — in context.

The Problem With Using ‘Sales Triggers’ on LinkedIn

We are told starting discussions with buyers on LinkedIn demands relevance. Thus, watch for “trigger events”: moments in time when your prospect is demonstrating something that signals “time to go in” to us. Easy, but is it an effective way to get attention of busy prospects?

The Silver Bullet for Driving Sales & Impressions: DATAWe are told starting discussions with buyers on LinkedIn demands relevance. Thus, watch for “trigger events”: moments in time when your prospect is demonstrating something that signals “time to go in” to us. Easy, but is it an effective way to get attention of busy prospects?

Really? Using triggers can subvert your ability to get conversations started using LinkedIn.

Yes, when approaching a potential buyer on LinkedIn, the approach must be a warm one — not cold. But this means qualitative triggers, research … not tech triggers. Beware.

What Is a Trigger Event?

“An event that precipitates other events,” says Eric Quanstrom, CMO of KiteDesk. “In sales, these trigger situations are opportunities to make a connection in a timely way that hit a relationship inflection point, and increase a likelihood of a sale.”

Mr. Quanstrom says think of it as investing time — at the right time — to create opportunity.

“Trigger events are times to initiate relevant content and conversations. The key to graceful relationship building is to approach when there’s relevance,” he says.

I agree, however, the manifestation of this concept on LinkedIn is becoming horrifyingly ineffective.

LinkedIn Trigger Events

Beware: Technically-generated triggers are easily seen by you — and any other sellers looking to court your prospect. LinkedIn trigger events don’t just trigger you — they trigger your competitors.

Some trigger events you can observe on LinkedIn are when your contact:

  • changes jobs
  • is promoted
  • has a birthday or work anniversary
  • is mentioned in the news

These triggers are based on the prospect, true.

“When you approach someone in light of a trigger event, you eliminate a lot of uncertainty,” says Mr. Quanstrom. “Largely this is because the trigger event is personal to them.”

However, these are technically-generated triggers that are easily seen by you — and any other sellers looking to court your prospect. These triggers are also shallow — without deeper meaning to the prospect. They’re anecdotal, not strategic.

How Using Triggers Can Hurt You

LinkedIn and social selling give you the chance to monitor prospects for trigger events. But increasingly this is not working. This is why:

  1. The ability to stalk prospects is being abused.
  2. The type of trigger events are anecdotal (not strategic) triggers.

Most sellers using LinkedIn are lazy. Frankly, they’re low-skilled. Worse, they’re keying on shallow triggers — grasping at straws, rather than doing homework and researching prospects for provocative triggers.

Sales prospecting expert, Bruce Johnston, says LinkedIn’s trigger events sound like a great way to increase relevancy and separate out from other sellers who are less personalized. But in practice, it’s working against most sellers.

Mr. Johnston says we’re reaching a saturation point on LinkedIn — where masses of sellers are monitoring for triggers and spamming prospects with irrelevant messages.

“Once everyone is looking for the same event, and indeed being alerted when that event occurs, the effectiveness of that trigger falls away,” says Mr. Johnston.