For nearly 2 decades now, Linkedin has been the definitive social media platform for professionals. If you’re looking to connect with your coworkers, look for a job, or just expand your network, it’s a tool unlike any other.
But one of the best uses for Linkedin is as a sales tool. If you know how to tap its full potential, you can use it to generate a steady stream of leads, learn more about your customers, and even begin the sales engagement process.
While it’s possible to accomplish this using the free features of your Linkedin account, it’s probably better to upgrade with Linkedin Sales Navigator.
So, what exactly is Linkedin Sales Navigator, and how can you use it in your sales strategy?
Linkedin Lead Generation
Let’s start by explaining the basic premise of Linkedin Sales Navigator, and how it works for sales teams. First, you should be sure you want to upgrade to Sales Navigator rather than Linkedin Premium. For help making that decision, see our comparative guide on Linkedin Sales Navigator vs Linkedin Premium as well as our post that takes an in-depth look at Linkedin Premium: Is Linkedin Premium Worth It?
There are essentially two plans to choose from: Sales Navigator Professional and Sales Navigator Team.
Sales Navigator Professional is the core product, and is designed for individuals. Sales Navigator Team is basically the same thing, with a few extra features designed to help team members collaborate with each other. Your only deciding factor here is the number of team members you have.
With either, you’ll get:
- 20 InMail messages per month. InMail is a system that allows you to send a private message to another Linkedin member, even if you’re not connected. Ordinarily, you’re restricted to sending messages only to people you’ve connected with. Linkedin Sales Navigator gives you 20 InMail messages per month, so you can reach out to prospects even if you aren’t connected with them. It’s great for generating new leads.
- News and Insights. You’ll also get a built-in dashboard which allows you to get news and read insights related to potential leads in and near your network. For example, you can get notifications on recent job changes, announcements on company growth, and even new lead opportunities.
- Advanced Search with Lead Builder. You’ll also have access to an “Advanced Search” function, which allows you to find specific people who match your target demographics exactly. This tool is used to find Linkedin members who fit a very narrow profile, and is especially useful for companies that conventionally struggle with finding high-quality leads. You can also save your searches, so you can run them in the future.
- Who’s viewed your profile. Ordinarily, you’re in the dark about people who have viewed your profile in the recent past. But with Sales Navigator, you can get a breakdown of how many people have viewed your profile recently, when they viewed it, and most importantly, who they are. It’s a good way to identify people who might be interested in you and your business.
- Unlimited browsing (up to 3rd degree). Once you activate Sales Navigator, you’ll have unlimited access to browse profiles from search results up to 3rd degree connections. And as you’ll quickly discover, 3rd degree connections give you extensive coverage—especially if you make new 1st degree connections aggressively.
- Lead recommendations. Running searches and discovering new leads based on your specified criteria is very helpful, but it’s even better to get active lead recommendations. Linkedin will monitor your search criteria and past outreach habits to recommend new leads to you and your team; you can follow up on these as you see fit.
- Saved leads. You can also save leads for future interactions; and if you’re relying on the team-based version of this tool, you can assign leads to others as well.
There are also several minor features you’ll discover when you begin to explore this tool, meant to make your life easier and help you find more valuable leads.
As you might expect, you can sign up for a free trial. After a one-month trial use, the price starts at $64.99 for individuals when billed annually. Team and Enterprise plans are also available, with the price scaling accordingly.
How Linkedin Sales Navigator Helps You Generate Leads
Linkedin Sales Navigator helps your lead generation and sales strategies in three main ways. As you’ll see, there are a variety of tools and features you can use for each of these main paths.
1. Target the right people.
The most popular way to use Sales Navigator is as a way to generate leads by using advanced search to identify people in your target audience. Social media opens the door to billions of potential individuals, but effective lead generation isn’t about quantity; it’s about quality. Linkedin’s advanced search and lead recommendation engines are perfect for narrowing your search to just the right people.
2. Understand your key demographics.
You can also improve your conversion rates, your marketing strategy, and your close ratios by better understanding your key demographics. Again, Sales Navigator helps you do this. You’ll be able to get data on a wide range of individuals and businesses you might otherwise never encounter.
3. Engage with new prospects.
Finally, you’ll get more opportunities to engage with new prospects. You can set up alerts so you can reach out to people at the right time, and with InMail, you can readily engage with people even if you don’t have an immediate mutual connection in common.
Linkedin Email Finder
With Linkedin Sales Navigator, you’ll have the ability to send InMail messages to 20 (or more, if you upgrade) people per month, regardless of how or if they’re connected to you. But what if you want to reach out to more? Or what if you want to send people an email, rather than a social media message?
Linkedin doesn’t provide you with a direct way to get a user’s email address. However, many people make their email address available to their connections. So if you want to find someone’s email address, try connecting with them on Linkedin! Once you’re connected, head to their profile and click “Contact info” and their email address will usually be there.
There are also several third party tools that can help you get email addresses, contact information, and other details from people on Linkedin. Be sure to check out our guide on B2B lead generation tools to learn about our top-recommended Linkedin email finders and email discovery tools in your lead generation strategy.
9 Linkedin Prospecting Tips
Linkedin Sales Navigator will enable more success in your sales team, but only if you’re using it effectively. These tips can help you get the most out of this tool:
1. Use Linkedin as one of many channels.
Linkedin is an amazing tool but it has limitations. Not every professional has a Linkedin profile, and even if they do, they may make themselves hard to find, or may not have up-to-date information on their profiles. Accordingly, it’s a good idea to use Linkedin as one of several lead generation channels. Over time, you’ll be able to learn whether Linkedin is average, or better or worse than average.
2. Make use of Saved Leads.
When you’re doing demographic research or are drumming up leads, you won’t have time to reach out to everyone. That’s why it’s important to utilize the Saved Leads function, and save individuals and organizations to follow up with later.
3. Set alerts to trigger follow-ups.
Alerts are only effective if you use them, so set them regularly to capitalize on them. You can set alerts whenever one of your leads takes a chosen meaningful action, like updating their job title or moving to a new company. Then, all you have to do is follow up in a timely manner.
4. Save your searches.
After spending several minutes or longer defining the perfect search to find leads for your business, the last thing you’ll want to do is repeat the effort again in the future. Save time by saving all your searches, so you can repeat them easily later on.
5. Make use of Sales Spotlights.
At the top of your screen, you’ll get a “Sales Spotlight” breakdown, which includes information you can use to narrow down your search. For example, you might see 100 people who have recently changed jobs, or 50 people who currently follow your company on the platform. Click on these spotlight items to see a breakdown of the profiles that belong to this category.
6. Reverse engineer lead searches.
Instead of speculating on the demographic and profile bits of information that might make for a good lead, look at a current breakdown of your best customers. What do these people have in common? Which qualities would you like to see in leads and customers in the future? Use these data to reverse engineer new searches to perform in Sales Navigator in the future.
7. Optimize your team’s Linkedin profiles.
Remember, Linkedin isn’t just about finding new people and reaching out to them. It’s also about putting your best foot forward, and making your own profiles more visible to boost your reputation. Accordingly, it’s important to optimize the Linkedin profiles of your team as you start using Linkedin Sales Navigator.
8. Use TeamLink.
TeamLink is a tool that allows you to quickly and easily search within the connections and networks of your team members. It’s a convenient way to find new leads that are just within reach—and once you identify them, you should have an opportunity to make a warm introduction via their closest connection.
Finally, while it’s possible to use Linkedin Sales Navigator as an individual almost exclusively, the true power of the platform is unlocked when you use it as a team. Use it to mutually exchange information, expand all your networks, and assign different leads to the people most capable of taking them. When all your sales reps learn to think and act as a team, everyone will perform better—and you’ll get the best possible value out of Sales Navigator.
Linkedin Sales Navigator can be a powerful tool to improve your lead generation and sales strategies, but it can’t be the only tool you use. For more Linkedin tips and tricks, and see our blog post covering Linkedin summary examples you can use for inspiration to write your own!
Good lead generation strategies rely on a variety of different channels and sources of traffic, and at the end of the day, you’ll still rely on conventional communication mediums like email and phone calls—which you’ll need to track and analyze if you want to succeed.
If you’re looking for a better way to analyze your email conversations, give EmailAnalytics a try! Once integrated with your Gmail account, you’ll get access to dynamic data visuals and ongoing reports, detailing your number of inbound and outbound emails, your busiest times and days, your average response time, and more. Sign up for a free trial today!
Jayson is a long-time columnist for Forbes, Entrepreneur, BusinessInsider, Inc.com, and various other major media publications, where he has authored over 1,000 articles since 2012, covering technology, marketing, and entrepreneurship. He keynoted the 2013 MarketingProfs University, and won the “Entrepreneur Blogger of the Year” award in 2015 from the Oxford Center for Entrepreneurs. In 2010, he founded a marketing agency that appeared on the Inc. 5000 before exiting it in January of 2019, and he is now the CEO of EmailAnalytics, and co-host of the podcast The Entrepreneur Cast.