Why Every B2B Salesperson Needs Sales Navigator


Here’s what LinkedIn really is:

“LinkedIn is a database of prospective customers with the means to sort and make sense of that database”

In the just released results (October 27, 2016) LinkedIn announced it had 467 million members. LinkedIn may not have everybody, but I would argue they have most of the people that matter.

To capitalize on sorting and making sense of that database, you need Sales Navigator. Here’s why:

  1. Sales Navigator gives you the ability to filter on multiple parts of profiles – like geography, industry, and company size – and Sales Nav also allows you to search by title and keyword and do Boolean searches (which is a really cool term for a group of search conditions like “AND” or “OR” ).
  1. You can take your search results and adjust or change the filters you are using and conduct the search again.
  1. You can save your searches. This is particularly important if you have put together some exotic searches ( see the example below) and want to make sure you can replicate it.  
  1. You are not limited on the number of searches you can make in a given month.

The bottom line is, if it is on someone’s LinkedIn profile, you can search for it and find that profile.

Here’s an example of a search you don’t see every day, but one that will illustrate what you can do with Sales Navigator:

I had a client looking for beta sites for their new software product. They needed banks. In the mid west. With a certain number of servers. Running a certain type of software. But not the banks that were running their direct competitor’s software.  So I developed a search that identified the people running the data centers at banks that met those criteria. Results: Eight prospect companies to call.  

With the data that LinkedIn users put on their profiles, you are only limited by your own imagination.

The LinkedIn business premium subscription also has similar capabilities as Sales Navigator, but not as many filters. And the free account has a small subset of Sales Navigator’s features…for now.

There are other features in Sales Navigator, both those important to social sellers (the ability to designate a LinkedIn user as a lead, and view their activity in a separate feed) and any sales person (the much maligned but still very effective InMail), but you have to find them before you can follow or contact them.

And yes, having all this ability doesn’t come cheap: Sales Navigator will will cost you five or six hundred bucks a year.

But as much as many people dislike LinkedIn, if it’s where your prospects are, it had better be where your are.

How To Rank Higher In LinkedIn Search Results


a search beamThe most important factor for ranking highly in search results isn’t the quality of your profile or your use of keywords. Those things will get you included in the search results, but not necessarily a high ranking.

What is the most important factor? Your relevancy to the searcher. So what does that mean? It means that you may show up on page two (that is somewhere between 11th and 20th) for one person and page seven (61st to 70th)  for another searching using the exact same keywords. And no one wants to be on page seven. When was the last time you googled something and closely examined the seventh page of results?  

Relevancy is a bit of a moving target. LinkedIn interprets relevancy based on an ever evolving algorithm which weighs things like the searcher’s prior activity on LinkedIn, similar searches other people have conducted in the past and the profiles that get selected by the query. Having the right keywords in your profile will get you included in the search results, but they probably won’t help too much, as everyone else who was included in the search results had those keywords too.

And let’s face it, you can’t do anything about a searcher’s prior history, or other similar searches to this one.  

The biggest factor for where you appear in search results is your relationship to the searcher. LinkedIn thinks that the closer the relationship, the higher the relevance. So Linkedin tends to list the search results by connection level – first degree connections first, seconds second , group members third and the third level / everyone else crowd last. And this makes sense. Say you are looking for someone to help with you build a WordPress based blog. You search for WordPress on LinkedIn, maybe adding your location to find someone local. LinkedIn shows that you have three first degree connections that qualify, then forty second degree connections, sixty group members, and two hundred third level / LinkedIn members. Based on what you asked for, doesn’t it make sense that LinkedIn lists the three people you can contact directly – your first level connections – first?

So what does this tell us? To appear higher in searches you should develop a big network. No, this doesn’t mean you should indiscriminately connect with anyone on LinkedIn.  But you should be connecting with people in, and affiliated with, your target audience (your target audience being the people you would like to be found by, whether that is prospective employers, prospective customers, or peers.) The more people you are connected with, the more likely you will show up as a “one” or a “two” in the search rankings. If you and I are in the same field, have similar experience and credentials, but you have two thousand connections and I have two hundred, who’s your money on for appearing higher in search results?

LinkedIn even says this (it’s in the LinkedIn help section):

The more connections you have, the more likely you will have a connection to the searcher. Closer connections, such as a 2nd-degree connection compared to a 3rd-degree connection, improve your ranking in searches.

There is a big difference between search engine optimization and Linkedin search results optimization. To optimize for LinkedIn search results, you need lots of relevant connections.


Group Member Search Returns! (just not the same group member search)


 If the old member search was a Tiger, the new search is a kitty cat

When LinkedIn overhauled the groups function a few months ago, one of the features that went away was the ability to search a group’s membership. After the expected hue and outcry, LinkedIn quietly “restored” search just before the end of the year.

The new member search utility is different from the old one in how you define “search”.  They both search the group membership, but for different things and in different ways. You used to be able to search a group’s membership for subsets of people that shared the same info on their profiles, such as people who were SEO experts, or the people that came from Kansas City. Now all you can do is search for a specific person by name.  

Here is how the new search of a LinkedIn Group’s members works:

1) Clicking on the number of group members brings up the search utility.

2) You can enter a name – first, last or both

3) The search utility will look for the name you entered and present people that you asked for.  

And now, the not so good part.

  • The search utility appears to search the name field only. So if you want to search for people who know SEO, the only people who will show up are those that have the term SEO in their name field. By the way, it is against the LinkedIn user agreement to put anything other than your name in the name field.
  • The search utility returns a maximum of ten results. So searching a large group for “David” will return a maximum of ten group members with the name David.
  • There is still no relationship indicator on the people in the results list. You can’t tell whether a person is a first level connection, a second or just a group member unless you click on their name to pull up their profile.
  • There doesn’t appear to be any rhyme or reason behind how LinkedIn chooses which ten people to present to you.

So, what good is this new way of searching for Group members? It’s only good if you have done an Advanced Search and found someone you would like to send a free message to, in which case you search once using LinkedIn Advanced Search, and then you search again for that specific person within the Group.

Question for LinkedIn: why not just be able to send a message to the person directly from the search results?

LinkedIn has changed the nature of searching the group memberships from one where job titles, locations and keywords could be used, to one where you are searching for a specific person in order to send them one of your fifteen free monthly messages. The only possible rationale I can see for this change is further fights against the scrapers and browser extensions, by pushing the use of Advanced Search which is susceptible to the Commercial Search Limit.