LinkedIn Sales Tool Paves Way For Warmer Leads

Social media is changing the way many industries do business. To that end, LinkedIn has launched Sales Navigator, a sales prospecting tool with its own login.

“By having the environment completely separate from LinkedIn.com, we are completely optimizing that experience to the unique needs of sales professionals,” says Sachin Rekhi, group product manager at LinkedIn.

With 313 million users, LinkedIn is the world’s third most popular social network. Since you read that sentence, two more people have joined LinkedIn, the platform says. And Sales Navigator is all about leveraging that massive network to make life more manageable for salespeople.

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Features include lead and account recommendations, which show users other professionals tied to the person they are looking it; advanced search capabilities; and customer relationship management features integrated with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics.

Users can also elect to have the activity of current or prospective accounts show up in a newsfeed. For those with dozens or even hundreds of clients, this makes it easier to stay abreast of their goings-on, rather than having to seek it out, the platform notes.

With this information more easily accessible, salespeople will be able to forge stronger connections with clients, getting away from the traditional cold approach, LinkedIn says.

“You have so much more context to your business needs and people expect that now,” Rekhi says. “It’s no longer a numbers game. It’s really about the quality interactions you have with these buyers.”

It all comes back to social selling, a topic on which LinkedIn released a study in February. In it, the platform found social sellers create 45 percent more opportunities per quarter and are 51 percent more likely to beat their quota than traditional sellers.

“Social selling, at its core, is nothing new,” says Marko Muellner, vice president of marketing at social performance marketing platform ShopIgniter. “Successful salespeople have always looked to their personal and professional networks. What has changed are the tools for building, managing and capitalizing on our networks. The difference between our Rolodex and LinkedIn’s new Sales Navigator is massive.”

Two groups have spent the last two months testing out the product: LinkedIn’s internal sales team and a small group of pilot customers, including Juniper Networks, Hootsuite and ADP. Though the B2B sales cycle is too long for any measurable ROI to have occurred, LinkedIn says it has heard positive feedback from these users.

“I think it will take some time for this tool to really impact the amount of cold inquiries [buyers] get every day,” Muellner says. “The next step for LinkedIn should be to create a great set of tools for buyers so we can manage inquiries and easily find and compare vendors that have the most social recommendations and best ratings, for example. Now that would be useful.”

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