Litmus Tests For Upgrading To LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Most popular question I have received in the past ten days:

LinkedIn user: “Bruce, where is ‘search’ in the new user interface?

Me: “In Sales Navigator”  

LinkedIn user: “< much profanity deleted here >”

As the new user interface is being rolled out, many LinkedIn users are stuck in a bad spot: choosing whether to upgrade to Sales Navigator and kicking the year off with a big expense they hadn’t planned on. With that in mind here are some ideas that may help you in making a decision with respect to Sales Navigator.

Sales Navigator has three basic sets of additional features compared with the free version of LinkedIn.

1) Sales Navigator has some pretty comprehensive search tools

This consists of twenty search filters, plus search by title and / or keywords.  Ability to save searches. Ability to adjust searches, broadening and narrowing parameters on the fly. I tried Sales Navigator in the late summer of 2015 and considered the search capabilities interesting but not ready for prime time. They are now. If  someone enters something on their LinkedIn profile, you can use it to find them.

And that’s all great, but if you are in charge of commercial airline sales in North America for Boeing, you probably know who all of your prospective clients are already. You don’t need Sales Navigator’s search capabilities. On the other hand, if you are selling printed circuit boards in North America, as a couple of my clients are, there are over ten thousand possible prospects, and that Advanced Search capability would come in pretty handy.  

The test for needing Advanced Search is:

  • do you know who all your prospects are?
  • Or, do you already know of so many prospects that finding more isn’t necessary?

2) Sales Navigator allows you to follow people and companies

You can designate hundreds of people and / or companies as “leads” and Sales Navigator will show you the posts they write or share, company news, and people who make job changes. You can tag people (another feature that was moved from free LinkedIn to Sales Navigator) and sort them.

This is a good suite of features if you are big on social selling and using people’s posts and shares as cues to start conversations with them. If you are more of a traditional “I’m not waiting for him or her to post, I have a compelling story to tell them now” type of person, then this feature becomes a “that’s nice” type of thing.

3) Sales Navigator grants you an allotment of InMails every month

InMails allow you to send messages to second and third degree connections.

If you prefer email or cold calls, then you don’t need this either. But if you like the idea of having the option of InMail as one of the ways you make initial contact with someone, then it can be worthwhile. However, you need to be ready to put the time in to write good InMails, otherwise InMail is just another word for Spam.

I usually tell people that the litmus test for Sales Navigator is when you grumble to yourself that you just don’t have enough prospects (you need Advanced search), or ideas to contact them (you need to be able to follow), or you want to send them direct messages via InMail. If you have one of more of these problems, then you have made a case for getting – or at least trying out – a Sales Navigator subscription.

If you wonder if you need a premium subscription, you probably don’t need it.

If you can point to a specific ability that would make a difference to your sales, then yes, you are heading in the the premium subscription direction.

A premium LinkedIn subscription should allow you to have more: more prospects, more options to contact those prospects, more responses when you do contact those prospects, and more efficient and effective use of your time.

One aspect of LinkedIn’s Premium subscriptions that I really like (which probably means it is doomed) is the ability to sign up for a premium subscription on a monthly basis. It’s more per month, but you can bail out after two or three months if it isn’t working for you.

And a final word: be prepared to put some time in learning how to use Sales Navigator effectively. Following people is pretty easy, but using Advanced Search efficiently – that is narrowing your results list to a manageable number – can have a learning curve, and InMail…well, there’s a lot to InMail. It takes a lot of work to do InMail well. So I wouldn’t recommend Sales Navigator for everybody, and for all you frugal types that are still out there, there are still lots of effective (and some sneaky) ways of using Free LinkedIn for sales.   


Coming Changes To LinkedIn Skills & Endorsements On The Desktop User Interface

LinkedIn wrote about changes to Skills and Endorsements back in October. They  started rolling out these changes to the mobile app in late October. They will be enabled on the new User Interface that desktop users are starting to see too. Here’s what’s different and what it may mean.

1) Endorsements are now personalized to each person who visits your profile

For example, skills endorsed by mutual connections, colleagues and people  LinkedIn figures are experts at that skill will be highlighted.   

It looks like LinkedIn has a found a sneaky way to fight “endorsement stockpiling.” You may have 99 endorsements for strategy, but LinkedIn may only show the 13 of them that LinkedIn thinks are relevant to that viewer.

2) LinkedIn will use algos to find close connections who can validate your skills.

In their October 26 announcement, LinkedIn says they they will “improve targeting for suggesting endorsements so that the connections who know your work best can validate your skills.”

Previously, LinkedIn suggested people to endorse in a seemingly random manner with a generic “what does Fred know about <skill>” type message. It now appears LinkedIn is going to look for people you are close to, and suggest you endorse those people for their skills.  

In theory, this makes sense, as I am more likely to endorse someone I actually do know really well versus one of my more speculative connections.

On the other hand, LinkedIn may figure out “connections who know your work best” by using something like the Connection Strength Score, which has not been very helpful for Notifications.

3) There is a definite link between skills / endorsements and LinkedIn search results.

While this has been implied in the past, this is the first concrete proof I have seen  that Skills are taken into consideration in search results. As LinkedIn says in the announcement, “Endorsements help ensure you are more likely to be discovered through search.”

Note that “more likely to be discovered” means you will be included in the search results. It does not necessarily mean you will rank near the top in the search results.

4) LinkedIn will now suggest skills you should add “based on your profile”

This may be based on seeing you use a keyword like “Strategy” in your Summary and then suggesting you list “Strategy” as a skill. Or this may just be a sneaky way for LinkedIn to advertise LinkedIn Learning courses which would teach you that skill you should add.

5) Endorsements are still used primarily by recruiters and HR people

This come through in the wording in LinkedIn’s announcements – things like “more than a third of hiring managers spend more than 60 seconds browsing your skills and endorsements” – you can see that Endorsements are still thought of by LinkedIn as a tool for hiring.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of us can’t use them for our own purposes. In particular, I have found that Skills and Endorsements are a great place for STEM people to list things like programming languages and technologies they are conversant with.

So what does this all mean? It looks like Skills and Endorsements are here to stay. I think if LinkedIn really was interested in helping us users, they would be putting the same effort into Recommendations. But while Skills and Endorsements help LinkedIn users somewhat, they sure seem to help LinkedIn more, providing “hooks” for Sales Navigator and Recruiting people to use, and possibly helping to sell Learning courses.  

Of course, the actual appearance of all this new Skills and Endorsements  functionality is dependent upon the new desktop user interface rollout, which at present, doesn’t seem to be rolling very quickly.


Why Asking Your Connections For Help Often Doesn’t End Well On LinkedIn

About once a month someone will ask me for help because they are sending a message like this one to all of their connections and getting no response:  

Subject / headline:  Looking for your assistance

My new (insert one of: product/service/revolutionary device) is almost ready. Do you have any connections who are CEO’s of small companies who could use my product? If so, I would really appreciate it if you introduce me to them.


So why is this approach is doomed to failure?

1) The headline alone dooms it to failure. In a world that seems based on “what’s in it for me?”, a headline that says this is all about you is a non-starter.

2) You are perceived as asking your connection to do all the work for you. Many recipients of this message will translate it as “please go and do my prospecting for me, and then qualify those prospects, and then bring them to me.” This doesn’t sound like a favor, this sounds like you want them to do your job for you.

3) It looks generic. If your message isn’t personalized, it looks like what it probably is: a cattle call you sent to a lot of people. Half the people receiving this message will be insulted to receive a generic message and not respond. The other half will  figure it was sent to a lot of people, assume that someone else will help you…and not respond.

4) It’s too open ended.  How many prospects does he want? Is two okay? How about five? He doesn’t want ten does he? Fifteen? Good heavens, he isn’t expecting me to find fifteen prospects for him is he? I don’t have the time to find fifteen prospects, forget it.  

Is such as approach ever appropriate? Sure. When you have scads of credibility with the other person, they know and like you, and unquestionably would want to help you. (hint: start with your mom and expand from there. It won’t be a big crowd)

The other time this approach is appropriate is if you are already a LinkedIn Influencer, have thousands and thousands of followers and can depend on LinkedIn to promote your post and get it in front of thousands of people. Unfortunately, the last time I looked, you and I weren’t part of the LinkedIn Influencer Pulse-opoly.  

It all boils down to being not specific enough: you should be asking a specific connection for help with a specific company or person.  This translates as “I am coming to you because I think you are the only person with the unique knowledge of this company (or person) that can help me.”  

There is nothing wrong with asking your network for help. Just don’t ask your network, ask the individual people in your network one at a time, and ask them for specific help with a specific person or company.  


Improve Your LinkedIn Use By Leaving One Bad Habit Behind In 2017

Here’s a New Year’s resolution that will make you more effective: Find one bad LinkedIn habit and kill it to start the new year.

Think of all the things you regularly do on LinkedIn. Maybe you check for messages, check your notifications, visit some LinkedIn groups, read some posts in your homepage feed, and like or comment on a couple of those posts.

For each of those things ask yourself what tangible benefits you derive from doing this activity. I am guessing at least one of the items on your list is going to make for some rather uncomfortable rationalizations.

Here’s an example I recognized of my own from a couple of years ago: I would spend around fifteen minutes seeing what was new in my Linkedin groups each week. This continued until I realized that I wasn’t getting anything tangible out of that time. I wan’t meeting new people, I had problems finding interesting conversations, and groups just didn’t seem to work for me. They may work beautifully for many people, but they just weren’t working for me. So unless someone asked me to get involved in a  discussion, I quit going to my LinkedIn groups. I was spending fifteen minutes a week – which added up to a day and half of my time over twelve months – and that day and a half was just spent wandering around. Quitting my LinkedIn group time got me that time back to use more productively elsewhere.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, maybe it’s time to move on to something else, or even nothing else. Your most precious resource is your time. Don’t waste it on LinkedIn activities that aren’t getting you anywhere. For any activity on LinkedIn, you should know the exact role it plays for you, and what you expect to get from it.

There’s a fine line that separates investing from spending.

What Do The User Interface Changes Mean To Free LinkedIn Users?

An optimist will see salvageable boats, a pessimist…

I had figured to hold off on writing about the new LinkedIn desktop user interface until it is more generally available. Plus, I don’t have it yet myself. But I am receiving an increasing number of messages about the pending / ongoing changes to the LinkedIn desktop user interface. These messages range in angst level from mildly curious to “hair on fire.”  

So consider this an interim report.

There is a lot that is unknown, but here is what I can tell you, and what you can do about it.  

While I don’t have the new user interface, I have seen glimpses from early adopters, and done a lot of research online.  While nothing is final, some themes are emerging:

  • There are a lot of odd things missing from the new desktop interface that shouldn’t be missing. Many of these are probably bus type omissions and will be restored in one way or another. I wouldn’t consider anything we get in the next few weeks as “final.” This is a huge undertaking, much bigger than the publishing or messaging updates in the last year or so.  
  • The homepage will look different, as will your profile. There seems to be a mix of added features, changes to existing features, and features dropped altogether.
  • The biggest change, and the one getting the most attention, is that any serious  search ability will be disappearing from “free” LinkedIn. The assumption is that this will force users to upgrade to Sales Navigator.
  • The Business Plus premium subscription seems to be in the process of being morphed into some kind of job seeker product. Business Premium is adding LinkedIn Learning (nee, but losing advanced search capability. InMail remains, along with some other features that would appeal to people looking for jobs.  

We have seen functionality go away before, so features disappearing shouldn’t come as a surprise. Usually they were features that a small number of LinkedIn users were really passionate about, or features that weren’t adopted by users on a scale to make their continued maintenance by LinkedIn worthwhile.  However, losing Advanced Search tools in the free version of LinkedIn is a big deal. Lots of people use the Advanced Search tools. But when Microsoft bought LinkedIn six months ago, one of the things they mentioned was they felt they could “accelerate monetization through individual and organization subscriptions.”  So we have known for six months that something was coming. Now we know what it is.

So what should you do? Upgrade to Sales Navigator?

Well the first you should do is separate the emotional part. The emotional part is “I got all this stuff for free and now I have to pay for it.” If you use Salesforce for business, you have to pay for it. If you use a mobile phone,  you have to pay for it. You use LinkedIn for business. What were you expecting? Sorry folks, get over it. Be thankful you got it for free for so long. Put your anger aside and deal with the situation as it is now.  

Now that emotion is out of the way, make a business decision. If Sales Navigator is going to cost you 800 bucks for a year (or whatever it will end up costing), is it going to help you land enough deals to pay for itself?

Can you use Sales Navigator’s Advanced Search to find more prospects?

Can you use the “lead” feature to track more prospects?

Can you use InMail to reach more of the prospects you find?

If the answer is yes, great. Go for it. If no, great, free looks like it still will be good for LinkedIn groups, your profile as a reference check, Pulse, writing, sharing and commenting, and company pages.

If you are unsure, take advantage of any one month (or more) free offers from LinkedIn, or sign up for a pay as you go each month plan and try it for a couple of months. LinkedIn seems to be one of the few places where you can still try a premium subscription with no long term obligation. Take advantage of it while it’s still there.

As most people who know me are aware, I find LinkedIn’s search tools to be downright awesome. I am not as big a fan of the “designate someone as a lead and follow them” feature, because if I find someone I want to approach, I don’t follow them for two months, I approach them now.  InMail has a bad rep, but mostly because so many LinkedIn users have no clue how to use it correctly. InMail works if you know how to work InMail.  So while I am indifferent to the leads feature, the search filters and InMail make Sales Navigator a good investment for me.  

Why Share And Pray Is Not An Optimal LinkedIn Strategy

…and an alternative.

We are told that sharing posts is important on LinkedIn. It’s even part of the (vaunted by social sellers, questioned by me) Social Selling Index. This results in whole clumps of people out there that “share” as a strategy.

But for the most part, they share badly.

How? They just share the post with everyone. Sometimes they add a comment as an introduction to the shared post, but often they don’t. And what does this sharing accomplish? A little increased visibility for the post author and a little increased visibility for the person who shared the post. Possibly someone interesting will comment on the share. Well “a little” and “possibly” don’t strike me as results to hang your hat on. 

We do these things because sharing is easy. Liking is easier. And it is easy to convince ourselves that because we have shared a bunch of posts that we have made good use of our time. And while sharing is easy, actually getting somewhere as a result of sharing is much harder.

So (as usual), please allow me to make a suggestion. By all means share with everyone if you want to, but also share that post with someone where you really know it could benefit them.  Add a message with what you think is in it for them.  

When you share discriminately, three people benefit:

  • The author of the post, whose work gets disseminated to a person who will really value it.
  • The recipient who you shared it with, who receives content that may help him or her.
  • And you. In the end, even if it isn’t a perfect fit, or even if they have already read it, the person you shared it with is going to be impressed that you specifically singled them out for this content. I would take that one little bit of credibility established with that one person over visibility with lots of people any day.  

When you share on LinkedIn, don’t just spray and pray, share with intent. Share discriminately.

5 Ways To Feed Your LinkedIn Connections

a-feedIt’s simple: the more interaction you have with your connections, the more opportunities you will uncover. You will think of people and resources you can help each other with. More customers, more suppliers, more colleagues, more mentors. You may have a thousand connections, but if you only interact with one percent of of them, you will never realize the potential that your network represents. So show an interest and interact with these people. How? One at a time. Here are some suggestions:  

Give them endorsements

This is the easiest way. Not the best way, this is lowest on the totem pole, but it is the easiest. I use this when I don’t have a lot of time. Kind of like saying good morning to a colleague in the hallway. But this should never be the only interaction you have with a connection.

Engage with their published posts

As someone who writes and publishes posts on LinkedIn I can tell you that when I see  comments and shares and likes from my connections, I appreciate it.  

Give them recommendations

Vastly overlooked. If you really do know a connection reasonably well, and you feel comfortable doing so, this is a wonderful thing you can do for them.  And it’s right on the dropdown menu to the right of “send them a message.” A recommendation takes five or ten minutes and will mean a lot to a connection (well, it should anyway). Sometimes I think recommendations are the bizarro world opposite of endorsements. We give endorsements to people a bit too freely then make up for it by being tight with our recommendations.  

Introduce them to someone in your network

Your network is the biggest LinkedIn asset you have. So share it. And you don’t need to base it on business. It can be based on hobbies, shared causes, alma maters, anything.


Get off your duff and offer to have a call with them. You can guess what they might want, but why be sure and just ask? I have found that having a ten or fifteen minute  conversation with a connection uncovers all kinds of information that enables me to do any or all of the four items above much more effectively. I try and make two or three of these calls every day. The result is always a better understanding of what each of us is trying to accomplish and the types of people we want to meet through LinkedIn. And because hardly anyone does this, it stands out.

If you invest ten minutes of your time every day doing these things, you will be rewarded. You will know your connections better, and they will know you better.

Because in the end, what’s the point of having a network if you don’t network?

Can You Game The LinkedIn Publishing Algorithm?


5 surprising factors that don’t seem to affect published post engagement on LinkedIn and 5 not so surprising ones that do.

I have been publishing on LinkedIn for eighteen months now, and have written a hundred or so posts. I was looking at some of my posts and the engagement they had generated and wondered if any of the obvious factors really had any bearing. So I compared how my posts had done with other people who publish on LinkedIn. I compared their statistics with mine to see if there were clues that were precursors to success. I came to the conclusion that the following have little or no bearing on how much engagement a post gets.

  1. The total number of posts published on LinkedIn

Your total number of posts published seems to have no bearing on the success of future posts, that is people who have many more posts than I do don’t seem to average more views and engagement with their posts than I do. Of course their aggregate views may be higher.  If I have 20 posts at 200 views and they have 40 posts at 200 views, they have more total views.  

Lesson learned:

  • Don’t be deterred from starting to publish your own posts on LinkedIn  because you can never “catch up” to someone who has posted every week for the last two years. You are starting with a fresh page, but so is that prolific person who posts each week.

      2. Engaging with other people’s posts and updates? No discernible effect.

I had a look through the activity for ten people who publish their own posts on LinkedIn. More engagement with other people’s posts and status updates does not necessarily appear to lead those people to your posts. Several people I looked at have three and four times the number of status updates and comments on other people’s posts as I did in the last month, yet seemed to average the same post statistics as I did.

Lesson learned:

  • You don’t need to strive to be visible on LinkedIn in order for your posts to be successful

      3. Monster posts don’t have much, if any, spillover effect on future posts.

Having a monster post with a lot of  views and engagement doesn’t necessarily help with the next post’s reception. I have even seen this with the influencer posts

Jeff Haden November 17, 2015 post: 546,000 views

Jeff Haden’s next post on December 3rd, 2015:  23,000 views  

Lesson learned:

  • Don’t think that a monster post is necessary to be successful.
  • And if you have a monster post, don’t think you can cruise from now on based on that post. You are guaranteed no views or comments on your next post. Just ask Jeff.

     4. Post frequency has no impact  

Publishing more often doesn’t seem to change the results on a per post basis. No difference. Once a month, twice a month, every week, multiple times a day (!!). I reviewed several people who post a lot less often than I do and much more often than I do and our statistics were very close.

Lesson learned:

  • Post on your own schedule, not someone else’s.

     5. Do people with larger numbers of followers get more views per follower? It doesn’t seem so.  

I have 5500 followers. Jeff Haden has 890,000 (between the time I wrote this and published it he may have picked up another 5500).  I did some calculations based on the last nine posts we have each published (Jeff has only published nine times in the past year). Some interesting results:

Per post

              Jeff averaged:                                                        I averaged:

              93,000 views                                                         411 views

              1400 likes                                                               47 likes

              300 comments                                                      12 comments

Lessons learned:

Jeff’s number of followers is more than 160x mine. So three observations.

  • Jeff has better statistics than I do (that was the easy observation)
  • Mine might be comparable to Jeff’s if I took the time to increase the size of my network 160x
  • Jeff’s views and likes per follower are slightly higher than mine, but his comments are much lower. This argues that there is no exponential engagement accelerator with a larger following (for example a following twice as big doesn’t yield two and a half times the engagement).   

Grand conclusion:

You can’t game the LinkedIn algorithm with any of these things.

However, based on my own experience, here are five factors that do seem to affect overall engagement:

1) Writing quality. Not as big a factor as you would think, but being able to write in an interesting and engaging style helps.

2) The photo or illustration you use. Having no photo is bad. Using a stock photo is better than nothing. Using something original beats using a stock photo. How much stock and original photos are is open to debate.  

3) Headline. Better headlines lead to more views and engagement. I know this from my own experience.  

4) The topic of your post. On LinkedIn, a post on social selling will do better than a post on coal mining in Silesia (now I have probably offended all the Silesians)

5) Luck. LinkedIn has decided to put my posts in Pulse channels a few times. I usually tweet at them to feature my post (except when I have been skeptical of something LinkedIn has or has not done) and have been successful maybe one in ten times. Considering LinkedIn has that 130,000 plus posts to choose from every week, I consider myself lucky to have been featured at all.  

And one last one that qualifies as neutral:

Building up your own following

Regular readers who like, comment and share your posts – should help. I have a pretty good following (thank you all), but ironically, due to the nature of LinkedIn’s lousy notifications algorithm, hardly any of them actually do get notified when I post.

Hmm…looks like I won’t be notifying LinkedIn about this post either.  

Goldilocks And The Three Bears’ LinkedIn InMails

One day, Goldilocks was out for a walk in the forest, and she came upon a cottage. Going inside she found three tables with three laptop computers, all with LinkedIn accounts open on their screens. Each screen had an InMail message on it.

She went to the first screen and read the InMail, where the sender had made a naked sales pitch, asking for a meeting to showcase their product.

“Eww,” said Goldilocks, “this person doesn’t care about what my problems are, it’s all about her! This InMail is just too hot!” And she ignored the InMail.

Then she went to the second computer, where the InMail sender hoped that the recipient liked their message.

“Yuck,” said Goldilocks, who as a pre-adolescent didn’t have much of a vocabulary, “there is no call to action here, just some wishy-washy grovelling at the end. This InMail is way too cold.”

So she went and looked at the third laptop, where the InMail contained some ideas of value to the recipient, and ended with a pointed call to action to start a conversation between the sender and the recipient.

“Yowza,” said Goldilocks, “this InMail is just right!” And she was about to type in a response to the beautiful InMail when the three bears, who owned the little cottage returned, yelled “WTF are you doing with our LinkedIn accounts?” and ate her.

The End

Moral of the story: Keep your InMails short, so that the recipient has time to respond and get away before being eaten.

Didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Okay, okay, alternate moral: Have a call to action that…  

  1. Is appropriate for your message. For example, if you want to get a face to face meeting as a result of your InMail, your message had better be incredibly good.
  2. Is a real call to action. Being overly solicitous and asking someone to reply when they have time isn’t going to get you the response rate you want.
  3. Doesn’t make “no” an easy alternative. If you can get your recipient to want more – more information or more explanation – that makes “no” a tough answer.

This Is Why I Don’t Trust Any Social Media Or Social Selling Statistics


Back in the spring I wrote a post about a hoary old (for social media) statistic and showed how people liked to take it completely out of context to use as proof of whatever it was they were flogging (you can read it here ).

It hasn’t stopped. I found more. Here are four of them. I have no desire to identify the people in question, but can provide links to the articles in question to anyone who sends me a message.

As background to these startling statistical stories, here are four statistics from LinkedIn’s Q3 results announced October 27th, 2016:

  1. LinkedIn now has 467M members.
  2. 106M – or 22.7% – of LinkedIn members log in once a month or more often.
  3. LinkedIn’s sales for the quarter were $933M
  4. LinkedIn’s sales of premium subscriptions for the quarter were $162M

The Case Of The Out Of Context Statistics

A couple of weeks ago I came across a post from someone making the case for Sales Navigator. In the post, they mentioned that since only 15.1% of LinkedIn members pay to use the service, it is obvious that a lot of salespeople don’t have Sales Navigator accounts, but they should.  

This one was easy as I knew this statistic was flat out wrong. Let’s do a little math using the LinkedIn results statistics above and you will see why.

15.1% of 467M total members means there would be 70.5M paying members.

Those 70.5M paying members paid $933M for the privilege in Q3

So $933M divided by 70.5M would be…hang on, carry the three…$13.23.

But that’s $13.23 for the quarter.  

So one of these statements is true:

  1. The average LinkedIn premium subscriber pays $4.41 a month for their premium subscription.   
  2. This statistic is bullshit.

So I decided that clearly a little investigation (rubbing his hands with barely restrained glee) was warranted.  

It turns out that Company A, the writer of this post, got their data from Company B (cue ominous music), and that Company B got their data from a study done by Company C. (I should point out that Company A quite rightly gave prominent credit for their statistics to Company B.)

Then things got really weird as Company C turned out to be…Wayne Breitbarth. For those of you who don’t know him, Wayne Breitbarth has been training people in the mid west on how to use LinkedIn for years. And he has a reputation that makes straight arrows ashamed of themselves. How could Wayne be involved in such a sham statistic? Well, it turns out, quite easily.

Every year Wayne sends out a survey to clients and other LinkedIn enthusiasts (I’ve participated several times myself), asking about their LinkedIn habits. The survey is where this statistic came from. So it wasn’t 15.1% of LinkedIn users that said they paid for their LinkedIn, it was 15.1% of Wayne’s email list; people he has trained in how to use LinkedIn, his social followers and connections, and probably friends and connections of those people.

And all of these people who follow Wayne in one way or another, are more likely to be paying customers than a random sample of Linkedin users. 15.1% of Wayne’s  demographic being paying members is plausible.

So Company A, in trying to imply that there was lots of room for more Sales Nav subscribers because only 70M people pay now, would have actually had a much better argument if they just divided how much a premium member like me pays a quarter ($150) into the dollars received by LinkedIn last quarter for prem subs ($162M). So  there are more like 1.1M paying subscribers out there. 1.1M out of 467M leaves a lot of room for more subscribers.  

As Company A was honestly trying to make a point that more people should use Sales Navigator, it is obvious that there was no advantage to them in portraying this statistic they way they did.

But I can’t forgive Company A for one thing. When you click on the link taking you to Company B’s report, you see that company B based their data on Wayne’s 2013 survey. And right at the top of Company B’s post is the date that post was written: Nov 19, 2013. Company A used data in their current post that was both out of context and three years old (and you were wondering why I had three birthday candles in the photo). Three years is a long time in social media. Actually, was Sales Navigator even around when Wayne did his 2013 survey?

By the way, the results for Wayne Breitbarth’s 2016 survey can be found here.


The Case Of The Big Honking Outlier

Remember statistic number 2 above, where LinkedIn announced 106M people – or 22.7% – of LinkedIn users were now checking in at least once a month?

Imagine my surprise when I read an online article from an Australian company  informing their readers that a top LinkedIn influencer had stated that “of the more than 7 million people in this country on LinkedIn, 40 per cent use it every single day”

If 22.7% – and no that number didn’t used to be a lot higher – of LinkedIn users log in once a month, how can 40% of Australian LinkedIn users log in every day?

A request for clarification to the website in question went unanswered.


The “Of One Questionable Statistic Is Good, Two Must Be Great” Incident

Two weeks ago I ran across one of those long lists of incredible social media and social selling statistic infographics. Apparently part of the incredible part is being not true. Among all the Facebook and Twitter and other stats that I couldn’t verify I came across a couple that I could.

  • Daily logins on LinkedIn: 27%

My first thought was, have these guys been talking to the Australians?

Later on the infographic informed the reader that:

  • LinkedIn now has 100 million members.

Gee, these guys aren’t even making me do math. This is too easy.  

In this case, an email request for clarification was answered immediately, directing me to the other online source they had used. I see this from time to time. Someone else wrote it on the internet, so it must be true.


The Case Of “Repeat It Often Enough And They Will Believe It.”

And for our finale, let’s take this old one out behind the shed and shoot it.



How many of you have seen this one floating around from time to time? Hands up everyone who has actually seen it and liked it, commented on how pithy these statistics were, or shared it with their network?  

Well, sorry to say, but there is no evidence to support these marvelous statistics.

To start with, google “National Sales Executive Association” and see what comes up. Mingled in with lots of people sharing this are lots of articles on how this whole slate of statistics is completely made up (one excellent one can be read here )

You will note that one thing won’t find in a search for the National Sales Executives Association is any reference to such an organization existing or ever having existed.

And here’s the thing. We believe this slate of stats because we want to. We want to believe that these stats show that perseverance is critical to success and will be rewarded.   

A lot of social media statistics and social selling statistics are used with very little reference as to where they came from or how they were generated. People love to cite statistics and a lot of statistics that started out as legitimate become “massaged”, whether by design or by accident.

So let me suggest that if someone quotes a statistic without referencing a source you can verify yourself, consider it crap.

And let me suggest that if someone quotes a vague data set that can’t be quantified “we interviewed a hundred top performers” or “social sellers outperformed their peers”, consider it crap.

And finally, in the immortal words of Peanuts character Charlie Brown: “Tell your statistics to shut up.”