Sales Navigator for Business Development

If you’ve not come across it yet, Sales Navigator is LinkedIn’s sales intelligence tool. It’s a paid-for-subscription and although it has its limitations, if you’re in any way serious about generating business using LinkedIn, worth the £60 a month it costs. It has the capability to add notes to prospects and tag them too, so it has elements of a CRM system that most importantly gives you access to LinkedIn’s data solves the problem of finding who to target and knowing what to say to them. There are three functions in particular that I want to talk about:

  • The search functionality, which allows you to identify individuals based on their industry, company size, job title, degree of connection, etc.
  • The customised feed: You can tell Sales Navigator who you’re interested in, defined by factors like industry, company size and location, and by saving key target prospects to lists within Sales Navigator. SN cuts all the junk out of the feed and shows you only content and news relating to the prospects, industries and companies your interested in. It even suggests new leads to you to expand your reach.
  • Expand beyond your immediate network: SN allows you to see and connect with people outside your immediate network – people you can’t reach with a standard LinkedIn account. Although connecting with people you don’t know is against LinkedIn’s terms, it’s also a common and fairly accepted practice. As a side note on this, our advice is please make sure you connect responsibl – take the time to target people relevantly, personally vet connections and personalise messages.

Getting the most from Sales Navigator’s search capability

Sales Navigator’s search capability deals with the ‘Who’ to target and the customised feed gives you the ‘What’ to say.

When it comes to the search, the basic stuff is all there. You can search by prospects by company size (headcount), location & industry, and by job title, which means you can target exactly the people you want. Sales Navigator also suggests titles and gives a count of how many people fit your criteria, which means that you can do a quick and dirty analysis of your potential markets in about an hour.

If you want to get more creative you can go far beyond that, searching for people by tenure at their company or in their role, or finding people by their groups, or keywords in the content they post or in their profile, or by their past company, and others. You can look for only 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections.

By combining search options this gives you some really powerful targeting options. You could look up people who’ve been in role less than a year (so they may be reviewing), refining by headcount, industry, location and title. Or you could do the same thing, but refine by group membership, or specific content/profile keywords. Or you could look at people who used to work at divisions of one of your current clients. There are plenty of options, giving you the capability you need to find common ground that can be the basis for a warm approach.

With more options on offer and the fact that Sales Navigator gives you access to profiles you couldn’t otherwise view, it’s far better than the basic LinkedIn search capability.

Getting the most from the customised feed

Sales Navigator is a separate user interface from LinkedIn (note at this point – the message inboxes are separate too, which can be confusing). When you open Sales Navigator, you’re presented with a completely new home page feed which has absolutely no curated content. Only news and shares from either companies or people you’ve saved or who are in the companies you want to work with are shown. Furthermore, you can filter, to just view ‘news’ (i.e. online news mentions) relating to companies or people, or ‘shares’ to view content shared by companies or people.

It takes some work to get it set up how you want it – you have to actively save the people you want to follow (it’s a good idea to choose people who are active LinkedIn users) – but once you’ve done that, you can see when key prospects move jobs, share content, and so on. You can get involved in conversations they’re involved in, or you can ensure you’re informed before you start a conversation.

Building your Network

The objective on LinkedIn is usually twofold – raise your own and your company’s profile, and get some people interested in your product or service.  If you’re new to using LinkedIn proactively then you probably have around 500 connections – maybe more if you’ve done a little proactive work in the past. The first thing to do is start to build your connections, otherwise not enough people will see you & your content.

To build your connection base, set yourself a goal for new connections each week and stick to it. Make connection messages personal and relevant. We suggest 50-100 a week (any more and you’re spamming people) – your aim should be to get over 2000-3000, then you’ll start to see some real reach with your content.

Once you’re connected, it’s OK to ask people for a conversation, but it’s a good idea to offer something too.

Content

Last but certainly not least – if you’re going to actively use LinkedIn, you’ll need to produce some content. Re-shared content is great, but it doesn’t tend to get that much engagement. Sharing your own blog posts or infographics or videos gets more engagement but we all know there’s a lot of it on LinkedIn nowadays, and our experience is that it’s difficult to get good engagement unless your content is very good.

By far and away the most effective activity is posting your own thoughts direct to LinkedIn, as an update. It gets the best engagement and there’s a strong correlation between posting that sort of content and people coming back to ask for more info on what your company does. Posting two or three times a month will let your connections get to know you, which is why you’re doing this in the first place.  It’s a good idea to do some thinking about what you want people to know about you and why, and make a plan for what you’re going to write about. One of the most difficult aspects of creating content is finding ideas and inspiration. You’ll need to periodically sit down and think about the message you’d like to convey and then come up with a load of ideas to see you through the periods when you don’t have the time or headspace to think of what to write.

Summary

A final note – one of my pet hates is LinkedIn being used as a salesperson’s megaphone or an email marketing platform. It’s fundamentally not that. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform that allows you to make connections with potential new clients, but you have to rememver that it’s first and foremost a social network, and the etiquette and behaviour expectations are similar to if you’d been invited to a party where you don’t know anybody by a friend. Concentrate on building relationships. Yes let people get to know you, but be much more interested in others. Share content, but it has to be useful. It’s OK to ask for a conversation, but take no for an answer, and try not to ask accompanied with big long boring information about yourself.

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