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Will LinkedIn's Major Updates to Sales Navigator Annoy Benioff?

Last week, LinkedIn, which is now owned by Microsoft, launched an enterprise edition of its Sales Navigator product, with strengthened integrations to CRM. We don’t know yet if this major update will result in one of the things that Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff was highly concerned that the product maker and Microsoft would use LinkedIn data for, that being "anti-competitive bundles" and to deny data access to rivals. However, with the new Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition and enhanced customer-relationship-management integrations, the software will help salespeople generate leads through the data-rich professional social network. 

By far the biggest acquisition in the company's history, Sales Navigator was one of the primary highlights of Microsoft’s acquisition of LinkedIn and as noted in their first presentation about the integration of both companies, users of Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM and other systems would want to use LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator to transform the sales cycle with actionable insights. Therefore, the vendor adds Enterprise Edition to reach out to high-functioning sales organizations. The Enterprise version increases the monthly allotment of InMails, which are messages you can send on LinkedIn even if you're not connected to a person, from 30 to 50. 

Additionally, LinkedIn has discovered an issue in terms of practicality of generating leads and is aimed at solving it with a new feature called TeamLink Extend. LinkedIn Sales Solutions Head of Products Doug Camplejohn explained the issue alongside the solution: “Until now, if you were looking for a warm introduction to a lead, you could go through your personal LinkedIn connections, or use TeamLink, which pools the networks of all the Sales Navigator seat holders in your company. But we know your reps are probably not connected on LinkedIn to the vast majority of employees at your company, and not every employee in your company needs a seat of Sales Navigator (as much as we’d like that). TeamLink Extend solves that by letting anyone in your organization opt-in their LinkedIn network to the TeamLink pool. That means, if you’re trying to reach a prospect, you can quickly see if anyone in your company has a connection with that person, and reach out to your colleague to ask for a warm introduction. The first 1,000 seats of TeamLink Extend will be bundled free with every Enterprise Edition contract.” 

Since LinkedIn is no longer an independent company, we do not have the latest number of its individual business areas but according to the last earnings posted before the Microsoft deal closed, Sales Navigator remained the fastest-growing component of Premium Subscriptions which accounted for just $162 million of LinkedIn’s $960 million in revenues that quarter. Although the tool has much bigger potential than it currently generates, there has been a significant rise since the acquisition. In fact, in the second quarter, Sales Navigator subscriptions increased 20 percent over the prior year, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said on the company's most recent quarterly earnings conference call. Customers include SAP, Ernst & Young, The Sacramento Kings, Symantec, and PayPal. 

Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition is now available, with pricing starting at $1,600 per seat, per year, before volume and multiyear discounts.

Building Connective Tissue 

Sales Navigator’s new CRM Sync is changing a manual and time-consuming process of transferring Sales Navigator activities into the CRM. To put that into perspective, you can send InMails or even place calls from the Sales Navigator mobile app for iOS and Android, but now you can write them as activities to your CRM with a simple mouse click. CRM Sync is currently available for Salesforce and it will be available on other CRM platforms this year, according to LinkedIn.

With strengthened integrations to CRM, LinkedIn aims at simply being one of the must-have three tabs open where the other two are email and a CRM. In other words, the company wants to make its platform ubiquitous across the sales teams. This integration also includes new CRM Widgets, which enable users to display LinkedIn Sales Navigator profile details, like photos, work history, job titles, and TeamLink shared connections within CRMs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics. LinkedIn stated that widget integration will also be coming from other partners like Oracle, SAP Hybris, Netsuite, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Zoho in the near future.

PointDrive Integration 

PointDrive, acquired last year by LinkedIn, is now integrated into the Team and Enterprise Editions at no additional charge as it has been offered separately for $15 to $25 per user. PointDrive is a more engaging and effective way of sharing personalized content with prospects and customers as instead of attaching PDFs to an email, a salesperson simply sends a link to a customized web page that they have created in PointDrive. The platform also formats materials for mobile and desktop viewing so the receiver can enjoy the information regardless of devices. Another cool feature is that PointDrive can gather data on what material sent has interacted as long as the receiver confirms to share that feedback. 

Being bundled with Sales Navigator Team and Enterprise Editions will unleash PointDrive’s great potential because sharing branded and personalized information through one centralized and trackable location makes all touchpoints more effective and productive for both sides of the table. In my opinion, for this feature alone, many organizations will have a good look into subscribing for Sales Navigator Team and Enterprise Editions. "It's a better experience for the recipient because you're not clogging their email box, and it's better for the sender because he will know if the recipient clicked on it or forwarded it," Camplejohn says.

Team edition comes with 10 PointDrive links per month; Enterprise users get unlimited use of PointDrive. The lower-end Professional version remains $80 per user per month or $780 per user per year.

Social Selling 

Ever-changing ways of communicating with social savvy prospects and customers are driving sales organizations to incorporate social selling into their sales process as it helps sales teams laser-target their leads. Therefore, social selling has become critical as 90 percent of top decision-makers say they never respond to cold calls whereas one in three B2B professionals said that social selling tools increased the number of leads they had to work with. If you are not sold on the idea of social selling yet, according to LinkedIn, 76 percent of buyers are ready to have a social media conversation with potential providers, and more than 62 percent of B2B buyers respond to salespeople who connect with them to share insights and opportunities relevant to their business. 

I can throw you a whole lot of stats but I think you get the point. The reason why social selling is so critical is because it is much easier and effective to put together an insightful and emotive sales pitch when you are armed with information, as salespeople already know what the issues are that their prospects are wrestling with so they can directly get to the point of how products and services solve those issues. Just because your potential clients do not enjoy a cold call doesn’t mean they are not open to hearing from you if you can provide them valuable information that can help them thrive in their businesses. 

My POV

If we paddle back to LinkedIn, Lab42, a Chicago-based research firm, recently surveyed 500 adult LinkedIn users in the U.S. and disclosed that 85% of them use LinkedIn for free. Of the 15% who pay, 4% said they buy Sales Navigator. After dumping a sheer amount of money into the platform, Microsoft is tasked to alter this situation as soon as possible. With all these enhancements and adding enterprise tiers, LinkedIn seems to stand a huge chance to drive larger organizations to adopt the platform and become a mainstream tool in the sales cycle. 

Venus Tamturk

Venus Tamturk

Venus is the Media Reporter for CMS-Connected, with one of her tasks to write thorough articles by creating the most up-to-date and engaging content using B2B digital marketing. She enjoys increasing brand equity and conversion through the strategic use of social media channels and integrated media marketing plans.