6 Sales Navigator Features That Aren’t Ready For Prime Time (Yet)

Last week I wrote about the 9 Sales Navigator Features that I like, and that make Sales Navigator a worthy investment for me. This week, the features and quirks that I wish LinkedIn would either optimize or euthanize.

The Social Selling Index

The Social Selling Index measures the amount of different types of activity you engage in on LinkedIn. LinkedIn decides what’s important. My take is that just  because you can do twenty things on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you should be doing all twenty and weighting them equally.

Saving people as leads

Being able to save people as leads in order to follow their posts and articles is a really good idea. With Sales Navigator you can save hundreds of people and companies as leads. But trying to use Sales Navigator to follow the activity of a large number of people is hopeless. You can only sort your Sales Nav homepage feed like you can on free LinkedIn – by “recent” activity or “most important” activity. Guess who decides what’s important? LinkedIn, not you.

Saving people as leads is a great idea. Call me when LinkedIn figures out the execution.

What gets shown in Search results

This is an odd one and maybe I am splitting hairs here, but when Sales Navigator shows you search results, for each person you see:

Name

Company

Current Position

Years in current position

Location.

Meanwhile, the same person shows up in a free LinkedIn search as:

Name

Company

Current position

Profile headline

Location.

The difference being Sales Navigator shows me how long the person has been in their current position, while free LinkedIn shows me their headline. Personally, I get more info from a headline than from time in current position.

Sales leads suggested for you

In the Sales Navigator account setup, you can specify your preferences for sales leads, that is people in certain industries, locations, company sizes and job functions. Sales Navigator will then “suggest” people as leads that meet these criteria. But I think this is way too broad. To be practical I think it needs keywords too. I have yet to have someone suggested that I would want to follow up with.

Separate message inboxes for Free LinkedIn and Sales Navigator

You have a message inbox in free LinkedIn and a message inbox in Sales Navigator. The integration of the two consists of a little red flag in your free LinkedIn message inbox which (very inconsistently) indicates if you still have messages waiting in Sales Nav. This leaves you with having two different inboxes where you can never remember which one had the conversation in it that you need to refer back to. What would you think if your company gave you two separate email inboxes, each of which would have some of your conversations for each person you traded emails with ?

This…is…infuriating.

Sales Navigator doesn’t show some activity

I have seen many instances where a profile in Sales Navigator will show no activity for someone, yet that same profile in free LinkedIn has posts and comments and likes associated with it. I pay for Sales Navigator, yet the activity information displayed on free LinkedIn is more complete. Why?

So that’s the downside. But I hold faith that LinkedIn will eventually fix those last five features. When Sales Navigator first came out, it looked like LinkedIn just took the human resources product, slapped a new coat of paint on it and called it Sales Navigator. A money grab.  Now my opinion is that while Sales Navigator is missing some opportunities and still doesn’t integrate as well with free LinkedIn as I would like, if you are a sales professional it can definitely pay for itself.

With all that I have said and written in these two articles, I trust I have given some of you considering Sales Navigator some ideas to think about. And for those of you that already use Sales Navigator, something to argue about (I can see the Social Selling Index crowd massing at the gates with torches and pitchforks already).

If you are considering Sales Navigator, just use this litmus test: if you can name the specific Sales Navigator feature or features that you feel will make a difference in your work performance, then giving it a try is worthwhile. Sign up for a month or two and try it. But if you are just kind of vaguely wondering if Sales Navigator would help you, you are not there yet. Save your money.

9 LinkedIn Sales Navigator Features That Provide Value For The Money

With a new year and many people asking about investing in Sales Navigator, I started thinking about how I use it myself. So here are the features that I think make LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth the money…in my case anyway

No Commercial Search Limit

Free LinkedIn users get a limited number of searches and then get shut down from using search for the rest of the month. For users that do a lot of searching and a lot of experimenting with search filters, the absence of a the CSL is a beautiful thing.

Dynamic updating every time you alter a filter in search mode

This is a really useful feature. Note in the search results below, I have over 2200 people in my results.

If I take those search results, I can see how my number of results change by adding more filters or adjusting those I have already. See how adding the Industry filter “Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing” changes my number of results.

Why is this important? Because I want a manageable number of results to work with. In this case, I might keep adding filters till I get down to a workable number of connections to review – at 25 results per page, 739 is too many to review, let alone 2200.

The subtle possibilities in using the Function, Title and Seniority filters together

If I am looking for senior salespeople, I have a lot of options at my disposal by combing the Function, Title and Seniority filters.

I could use Function equals Sales OR Business Development and then decide whether I want to search by seniority level or by specific Sales and Business Development titles.

A geography filter that works

I have always disliked (no, make that despised) the geography filter on free LinkedIn. It was built for recruiters, not sales people. Here’s an example: It made sense for recruiters to be able to search for people in the “Greater New York City” area. As part of Greater New York City, LinkedIn included parts of southern Connecticut, all of Long Island and northern New Jersey. But if you were a sales rep using free LinkedIn and New Jersey was your territory you were out of luck. LinkedIn considered the north half of New Jersey to be part of New York City and south New Jersey was part of Philadelphia. On free LinkedIn, New Jersey did not exist at all. It still doesn’t. Try entering New Jersey as a search location on free LinkedIn and you lose.

On Sales Navigator, the location filter has been fixed, and the locations available now on Sales Navigator are awesome. There is much more granularity – a lot more cities and towns are searchable. For someone who uses search quite a bit, this makes Sales Navigator really valuable.

The “Years In Current Position” and “Years At Current Company” filters

People who are new to their positions or companies may be a little more open to new ideas. These are extremely useful filters.

“Revisionist” filtering

This is in line with the point I made earlier.  If you have a look at your search results and they aren’t quite bang on, all the filters are available on the same page. No need to go back and start again, just add or change the filters you used to get these results. This really helps make tuning search results a breeze.

“Posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days” filter

If you are going to try and contact someone on LinkedIn, the best place to start is with people who are active on LinkedIn. This filter tells you who among your search results has posted in the past 30 days. In my opinion this is the most misunderstood and underutilized filter on LinkedIn.

Saved searches

More saved searches than free LinkedIn. I get 10 with my old (grandfathered) Sales Navigator account.

InMail

Most people discount InMail because their experiences with InMail – sending or receiving – it have been lousy. Why? Because most people have no clue how to use InMail effectively. InMail works. I send lots of them and I get a super response rate – eight responses on the twelve I have sent so far this month for example.

So that’s what I like about Sales Navigator. These added abilities make Sales Navigator a good investment for me. Are there features and aspects of Sales Navigator that I am less than thrilled with? Oh yeah. I will talk about Sales Nav’s warts in next weeks’ article.

Should You Be Using LinkedIn Sales Navigator?

If you are doing research – Sales Navigator can really help you

LinkedIn is first and foremost a database. A database that contains information on hundreds of millions of people. Often this data is skinny or thin, but just as often it can tell you things you wouldn’t find elsewhere. In particular I have found that people will often talk a bit too much about their last job – revenue levels that should have stayed private, products worked on that should have stayed secret.

All of these profiles really become available to you when you can use the search tools that LinkedIn Navigator incorporates. In the free version of LinkedIn you have a dozen filters that get shut down once you hit the monthly Commercial Search Limit. Sales Navigator has a couple of dozen filters and the user interface for them has gotten pretty good.

Search Navigator also helps with company research too. Premium LinkedIn accounts get access to headcount growth, and changes to headcount by department, and new hires by month. I use these statistics to paint a picture of a company’s health by using headcount trends as a proxy for revenue trends. Very handy.

If you are in sales – Sales Navigator can maybe help you

(Here’s where I get in trouble again. )

What? Sales Navigator is only a “maybe” for salespeople?

Well, yes. This has to do with the difference between research and sales. For research, you have 500 million LinkedIn profiles to work with. In other words, everyone on LinkedIn. With sales, you realistically only have the tiny social network embedded in LinkedIn to work with. And that’s around one quarter of those 500 million, and realistically less that. A little under one in four LinkedIn users shows up on LinkedIn at least once a month. This is based on LinkedIn’s last released statistics 14 months ago, and that LinkedIn has not said anything since then to contradict the trend that monthly or active users constitute under 25% of overall users. There are companies that claim LinkedIn has really ramped up active users in the past year, but I am skeptical of a supposedly fabulous statistic where I can’t find how it was derived and that LinkedIn has no comment on.

So seventy five percent of LinkedIn users are not around much. Not around to see your LinkedIn ad, not around to see your sponsored updates, not around to see your articles and updates, and certainly not around to see your message.

The decision on using Sales Navigator for sales should be predicated on whether your prospects are active on LinkedIn. If they are not active, the greatest message in the world won’t receive a reply. Some of these active people will be really obvious – if you sell to human resources, sales, marketing or consultants, you win, Sales Navigator will likely work for you. But if you sell to other professions, best to check to make sure a lot of people in those professions are actively using LinkedIn.

Before you sign up for Sales Navigator, have a good idea how you want to use it, and a good idea whether Sales Navigator will actually help you accomplish your goals. It’s the difference between spending money and investing money.