Should Salespeople Be Using A LinkedIn Premium Subscription?

(wrong navigator)

This is the inevitable question I get asked in my first conversation with any LinkedIn user – especially from salespeople. “Should I have a Premium Subscription?”. Usually the person does not really know what a Premium Subscription does, or the differences between the different subscriptions.

For salespeople, I suggest they avoid the Premium Business subscriptions. They are less expensive than Sales Navigator, but contain some odd features that are not really that beneficial to salespeople.

I do recommend Sales Navigator Pro for salespeople who have a lot of potential prospects and need the search filters to find them quickly and efficiently.

I also recommend Sales Navigator Pro to people who will use it as a research tool, in order to better figure out approach methods and messages for their prospects.

The InMail tool can also be invaluable, but as I have pointed out many times, a lot of LinkedIn users don’t actually use LinkedIn that regularly, so InMail is a double edged sword – it works great for some users, abysmally for others.

I am also a little more iffy on using Sales Navigator to track activity from people you designate as leads…that’s a little too reactive for my liking. You could be waiting a long time, and in my experience most Sales Managers are not known for their patience.

There are also limitations that come with Sales Navigator that will potentially get under your skin: LinkedIn profiles are displayed differently in Sales Navigator than in free LinkedIn, and the messaging utilities are not interleaved. You can have a message thread with a connection on free linkedIn and have another one with the same connection on Sales Navigator.

I like the idea that you can try Sales Navigator on a monthly basis. It costs more per month than buying a year up front, but I think trying it for a month or two to test drive it makes that higher monthly price worthwhile.

Using LinkedIn as the core tool in a solid introduction / referral strategy does not require a premium subscription. It will be harder to find the people you want to get introductions to, but even then, there are ways to short circuit that idea. If you have a decent sized network – say 1500 or more connections – it might be worth your while working the introduction route and going to Sales Navigator after you have exhausted that tactic.

LinkedIn does offer further Sales Navigator offerings – Team and Enterprise. They each have some interesting features, including CRM integration, but really they just offer more – more InMails and more saved leads you can follow. Of course, for Enterprise you need about the same budget as it would take to build the Starship Enterprise. Anytime – as with Sales Navigator Enterprise version – where under pricing it says “contact us for more information” you can bet the reason is not going to be “because we want to hear your screams of delight when you hear how inexpensive it’s going to be!”

My recommended rationale for salespeople getting a Premium LinkedIn subscription has not changed in the past couple years:

  • Only get it if you really know how to use and are getting the most you can from free LinkedIn now,
  • and if you find yourself repeatedly running up against the commercial search limit,
  • or you wind up with “flabby” search results with too many people in there, then yes, get Sales Navigator Pro.
  • But do so for two or three months first to make sure you were right and you really need those  extra features.

Bruce Johnston is a sales and marketing consultant who specializes in LinkedIn. He has a wealth of experience from his over 35 years in high tech sales and marketing, although he sometimes lapses into talking about himself in the third person.

And the obligatory disclaimer:

I do not work for or have any association with LinkedIn, other than being a user who pays them for his Sales Navigator subscription every month (sixty months later, I am still on the monthly plan. It’s complicated).

And an offer:

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