Over the last couple of days, I have been experimenting with adding a Premium package to LinkedIn – specifically their Sales Navigator package.
As someone who was slightly skeptical about “business social networks” when I revived my long-dormant LI account, I have to say I am impressed with what they have done.
The idea behind Sales Navigator is that it provides tools for identifying new Sales leads. It allows you to define a number of filters (regions and industries to sell to are just two), and based on the multiple filters, it will recommend potential leads for you to investigate. Furthermore, it is fairly intelligent – as I have already told it that I am selling an EDI solution, if a potential account has multiple personnel, it will tend to give me those folks who say they actually have involvement with EDI or IT, rather than a switchboard operator or the managing director. It doesn’t do the whole job for you, and you still need to look at it intelligently, but it seems to be providing good basic data.
Of course what I am really paying for (or, rather, my employer) is the ability to view profiles of people who are not in my network; subject, of course, to privacy settings. It also allows me to send InMail to people not on my network.
This is the bit that impressed me. My first thought was “how do they stop people blanket spamming?” The answer is fairly elegant. I am given 15 credits (i.e. the ability to send 15 non-network InMails). If I get no response, that’s it, the credit is spent. However if I get a response – even one saying “I am not interested”, then you get the credit back, and can use it again.
So you are automatically encouraged to target your credits carefully and give the recipient information that will hopefully see them respond. Otherwise all you are getting for your money is 15 emails a month.
The other thing I like is that potential leads are labelled if you have a common connection – either at 1, 2 or 3 degrees of separation. So you might actually see someone that is interesting to your business, and also note that a good friend of yours knows someone who knows them. Then it gives you a simple link tool to ask your contact would they be willing to make introductions.
It really is nice use of information, without being (in my opinion) intrusive of other’s privacy. After all, the point of LinkedIn is making contacts, no?
Anyway, I’ve only been playing with it for 2 days, and some of you may be old hands at this. So I’d be interested in any comments and suggestions you might have. We are currently on a free month’s trial; based on what we find, we’ll decide whether to continue with it or not.