LinkedIn is looking to lay claim to the social aspect of online selling. The professional network announced the launch of its standalone selling tool, Sales Navigator, during its quarterly earnings release on July 31st. An earlier version of the tool was embedded in the LinkedIn website, but the new Sales Navigator will require a separate login.
Sales automation is becoming a necessary tool for sales teams, and the ability to access and share information online is essential. LinkedIn is hoping that by integrating with online sales tools and providing teams with a way to collaborate and leverage data, it can expand its reach.
After launching an open publishing platform earlier this year, LinkedIn's efforts to diversify seem to be bearing fruit: publisher and Influencer traffic has risen by more than 100 percent, and the network's membership base has passed 300 million users. Sales Navigator has the potential to help LinkedIn lay claim to a new user base, and to establish LinkedIn as a competitive force in the online sales tool space.
Playing Well with Others
The ability to leverage data is critical to a successful sales process, and while LinkedIn's latest offering doesn't extend into sales content or analytics, it does give insight into relationships and early parts of the sales process.
Sales Navigator's CRM integration allows salespeople to connect client information from Salesforce.com or Microsoft Dynamics CRM with their professional networks. Sales tools that integrate with other systems help provide a connected experience for both salespeople and their prospects. Combined with LinkedIn's existing features like InMail messages, TeamLink Who's Viewed Your Profile, sales teams can collaborate and communicate with their leads and with each other.
Sales Navigator's edge on similar tools is its versatility and all-in-one approach.
"LinkedIn Sales Navigator takes the best features from many of the 'social selling' applications we've seen try to emerge over the last few years and combines them into all into one super application," says Kyle Porter, CEO of Salesloft. "You'll still see significant value for tools that help fill the funnel (like data.com and Salesloft), but once it's filled, there is now no limit to the social value you can derive with LinkedIn.
The Future of Sales Automation: Relationship Building
LinkedIn's approach to social selling aims to reestablish relationships as the most important tool of a successful sales process. By making Sales Navigator a standalone platform, LinkedIn draws a clear line between sales relationships and other professional connections. This can help prepare sales teams to approach prospects with a more focused strategy.
But improving relationships between salespeople and prospects isn't LinkedIn's only goal. The company's second quarter earnings were up 47 percent from its Q2 earnings last year, and its Talent, Marketing and Premium subscription revenue was up by almost 50 percent as well. Offering more options for engagement can give LinkedIn a new and steady revenue stream and a new crop of paid users.
While the new tool is currently only available for desktop and mobile web, mobile app support is on its way. It's one of the few missing links in an otherwise robust solution, and has the potential to make Sales Navigator an indispensable tool to sales teams without more comprehensive sales automation software. LinkedIn knows the future of sales is in the cloud, and Sales Navigator could propel the company's sales profile.