Social Selling without Sales Navigator
Welcome to another edition of Linkedinformed – this week I’m returning to social selling and I’m going to attempt to answer the following question;
Do you need Sales Navigator to generate leads and new business opportunities on LinkedIn?
More of that later but firstly here are a couple of interesting things I saw this week
LinkedIn appear to be introducing read receipts and typing indicators to InMails and message requests.
I haven’t seen this message on my account but Jonathan Pollinger saw a notification / warning explaining this would happen from 15th April. Good news I guess.
Content searching appears to be broken.
Michael Marrer got in touch this week to report a problem he had noticed when searching hashtags
Has the New “Published” Feature Broken Hashtags? I’ve been looking at various hashtags to read and/or follow. And I’ve noticed something odd. When sorting by “Recent,” several hashtags now have entries at the top labeled “Published.” But once you scroll past those, the most recent posts listed are 5 days old (or older)! No new posts are showing as being published today, or yesterday, or the day before that. Since these are hashtags that have many thousands of followers or greater (#entrepreneurship has nearly 23 million), something appears broken.
On further investigation, I discovered that this isn’t so much a hashtag search issue but a general content search issue. When you search for a keyword in a ‘posts’ search and change the sort by to latest, the result is initially dominated by Articles rather than posts. This can’t be right as there are significantly more posts than articles and the earliest post (some way down the list) appeared to be 5 days+ old.
Do you need Sales Navigator to successfully generate leads on LinkedIn?
There are broadly two strategies you can apply to winning business on LinkedIn.
- Visibility. This is where you generate business because you are a regular presence in the home page feed of your prospects. To achieve this you will need to be engaging with others on a daily basis and posting content that achieves a high degree of engagement on a regular basis. It’s unlikely you will achieve this quickly – this is a long game strategy but highly effective. The most important aspect of this is that the customer comes to you – this shoots conversion rates through the roof! I believe everyone should be aiming to achieve this status but there is nothing wrong with adopting this in combination with strategy 2. The danger comes when you rely too heavily on strategy 2 which detracts from achieving high visibility.
- Social Selling. This strategy is much more targeted and involves defining and finding a select group of individuals who you specifically target to engage with. In this instance, you are making the move to approach them. As a result, conversion rates are lower but you do get a clearer idea of where you stand. You are also more likely to achieve some quick wins (in amongst many rejections). This is the classic traditional sales rep model – select a target list and knock on their doors until you win their business. As opposed to strategy 1, the mindset of the buyer is now ‘You want something from me and I’m going to push back unless you can convince me I need what you have to offer’. Warning: If you focus too heavily on strategy 2, you will damage what you achieve from strategy 1.
Sales Navigator is not suitable for strategy 1 at all. There are very few benefits even in a premium account for strategy 1. It costs very little money but a lot of time and effort.
The challenge with the visibility strategy is that it can feel like you are not making progress because you are waiting for customers to come to you. In my experience, if you trust the process, it will eventually happen but that doesn’t mean that you can’t supplement your efforts by applying some social selling techniques – and that is where Sales Navigator comes into play…or does it?
Social Selling Strategy
The are countless variations on this but here is mine;
- Step One – Define your target market by companies that you want to sell to. This is done via search on free LinkedIn and company searching has recently improved allowing you to filter by area, industry and company size.
The same search can be done on Sales Navigator but you get more filters such as department headcount and headcount growth (both by dept and overall) and you can choose to use annual revenue as a size filter plus you get ‘technologies used’ which is a fairly limited list of things like ERP systems etc but can be useful. The geographical filter is also better because it allows you to use postcode instead of area.
So the Sales Navigator company (Account) search is much more comprehensive but for many of you, these extra filters will be overkill and you can easily build a target list on free LinkedIn.
- Step Two – Find your most relevant point(s) of contact in those target companies. Again you can do this quite easily via a company employee search on free LinkedIn. Initially, you need to click on the employees’ link in the company page.
This takes you into a people search with the ‘current company’ filter already selected for all group companies. Now you need to filter that search to find your point of contacts. The best filters to use for this are ‘location’ and ‘title’ which is the current job title.
This will be suffice for many but for others you might find the more advanced lead filters found in Sales Navigator more helpful.
As you can see, some of these filters make assumptions based on job title such as function and seniority (you can choose to just filter decision-makers or all employees from the company page). Geography also allows postcode filtering. There are other primary filters such as ‘years ar current company’, ‘years in role’ and ‘total years experience’ found under ‘view all filters’.
In addition you get the secondary filters at the top of the search result (highlighted in green) such as recently changed jobs and those that follow your company. The ‘posted on LinkedIn in the last 30 days’ one initially appears exciting but in reality it is grossly inaccurate and can lead to wasting a lot of time clicking into profiles only to find they haven’t been active at all!
- Step Three. Follow, engage and connect. The mistake many people make here is to dive straight into connecting which will inevitably lead to average results. It is far better to save the contact in some way and look for opportunities to engage with their content or engagement before inviting them to connect. On free LinkedIn this is done by clicking into each targets profile, scrolling down to ‘see all activity’ and then selecting ‘posts’. This page now needs to be saved in your browser under ‘bookmarks’ or ‘favourites’ where you can also create folders to segregate your targets however you wish. Once your list is complete, simply visit each saved page on a regular basis to check for engagement opportunities (you can also check their comments on other posts by selecting ‘all activity’ and potentially engaging with them there).
- Step Three – Sales Navigator. This process is made quicker and easier by saving each contact as a ‘Lead’. These leads are then monitored automatically and any relevant engagement opportunities are highlighted for you on your home page ‘Alerts’. You can also see the same for companies (Accounts).
As you can see above, these alerts are not just that they have posted content, you are also notified if someone changes jobs, views your profile (Buyer interest) or is mentioned in the news. These extra engagement opportunities can be useful but aren’t essential. The key difference between the two is that Sales Navigator puts these alerts right in front of you every time you log into your account. It’s specifically designed to make engagement easier.
- Step Four – Direct message following plenty of engagement including connecting. The DM is simply your method of setting up a meeting at the appropriate moment in the relationship. You can even organise a Zoom or Teams meeting from within the messaging app.
- Step Four – Cold Direct message. The challenge with step three is that it assumes your target is active on LinkedIn and on many occasions this won’t be true. In this situation, you may need to cold approach directly. On free LinkedIn, you can do this by inviting them to connect (personalised but not a pitch) and then if they accept, you can send them a DM. Alternatively, you can join a group they are in (see the interests section on their profile) and send them a direct message request without the need to connect. The final option is to send an InMail which is only available if either you or they have a premium account – with a Business premium account you get 15 InMails a month.
- Step Four – Sales Navigator. The cheapest Sales Navigator account provides you with 20 InMails per month so you get 5 more than a premium LinkedIn account. All types of DM, however, are not the silver bullet people like to believe they are. At the end of the day, this is a message to someone who doesn’t know you so it’s unlikely to have a high hit rate. The way you structure your DM is therefore critical and there is a real art to this.
The above process is focussed on those people you have selected as the main contact you want to approach however, LinkedIn and Sales Navigator can be used in exactly the same way to target a secondary contact within the target company. This person is not likely to be your customer but they are active on LinkedIn and may provide you with an introduction to the main point of contact.
A company who specialise is training procurement professionals in the UK.
Use strategy 1 to build personal brands and attract customers from a wide range of companies.
Use Sales Navigator for strategy 2 – target Training Managers and Procurement Directors at UK-based companies with more than 50 staff in their procurement department.
A company who provide services to medical device companies throughout Europe
Use strategy 1 to build personal brands and attract customers from a wide range of companies.
Use free LinkedIn to target Managing Directors, CEO’s and VP’s at companies with more than 5000 employees on a country by country basis.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution here. Sales Navigator is definitely not an essential tool for generating leads and winning new clients on LinkedIn but it can save you a lot of time and it can be more effective in many situations. The question is whether you want to pay £600+ per year and be prepared to spend the time learning a completely different user interface.
One thing I’m clear about is that ignoring visibility and strategy 1 will lead to a situation where you are totally dependant on strategy 2 to achieve success. This makes no sense to me – a commitment to keep knocking on doors forever seems like a lot of hard work! Strategy 1 is hard work at first but eventually leads to a much easier life!
I hope this helps in some way but if you want to discuss this in more detail and gain more specific advice relevant to your business needs then feel free to arrange a 15 mins Zoom chat with me at https://calendly.com/mr_linkedin/15-minute-chat
This is an unusual one this week as it’s a follow-up video thanking the LinkedIn community for supporting a post that previously had gone viral. That post was a few weeks ago and I missed it for post of the week!
Whilst he is not using captions, the other techniques he uses are spot on. A personal and authentic story with a positive message in just 2 mins. Excellent work Ryan!
and this is the original post that went viral
That’s all for this week. Have a fantastic, productive and enjoyable week – I will be back soon.