Sat, 27 August 2016
Welcome to episode 126, this week was a special week for me as I had the opportunity to attend a two day InStruct course at LinkedIn’s office in London.
In this episode I want to address two topics;
InStruct is a training programme designed to assist those responsible for implementing and managing the adoption of Sales Navigator in their organisation. It is in effect a ‘train the trainer’ course but is really aimed at corporate in-house trainers rather than an independent external trainer such as myself.
Sales Navigator is a premium upgrade version of LinkedIn designed for sales professionals with a focus on a social selling methodology.
In the 8 years I have been a LinkedIn trainer my relationship with LinkedIn has had it’s ups and downs.
In the early days of the London office I met some great people who I developed trusting and productive relationships with.
Things seemed to change around 2011 when the company went through an IPO and people like me seemed to be ostracised, I still had contact with LinkedIn but always felt a sense of distrust, defensiveness and blatant secrecy from them.
So you can imagine that I was feeling an interesting mix of excitement and trepidation as I signed in as a visitor this week.
First impressions were equally mixed, the reception area was very cool with funky iPads required to sign in that sent a message to the person you were visiting, on the negative side though part of the signing in process involved signing an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) which immediately had me wondering if nothing had really changed beneath the surface!
And then I met Miguel and Donna.
The amazing Miguel and Donna at the traditional London phonebox in LinkedIn London’s reception.
I can’t speak highly enough about Miguel and Donna. They both have a deep understanding of social selling and a genuine passion for LinkedIn, they also made me feel extremely welcome and valued.
Within an hour all my reservations about secrecy and distrust were dissipated.
These guys are great ambassadors for LinkedIn because they are honest, open, funny and knowledgable.
Cultures do not change overnight and I’m sure there are plenty of things that LinkedIn can still improve but if these two are an example of the ‘New LinkedIn’ then we have a lot to look forward to (so long as Microsoft don’t decide to change things!).
The offices are some of the nicest I have seen (and I have seen many), each floor has a different theme but all based around London/England.
We spent time is a Musical themed room, a Fish and chip shop room, a Sweet shop room and my favourite of all, the classically English ‘afternoon tea’ room.
On the second day I had to deliver a 30 minute presentation on Sales Navigator that was assessed, a score below 70% would result in failing the course so I spent some time the night before practising!
Fortunately I managed to pass with flying colours - Can you image the embarrassment if I failed?!
So now I just have to complete a post course assignment and I will be a LinkedIn-approved Sales Navigator Trainer!
Whilst that will be nice, the most important goal for me was to establish a more productive relationship with LinkedIn and thanks to the attitude of Miguel and Donna, I’m confident that has been achieved.
This is an update to my original review of Sales Navigator (SN) in episode 83.
The main difference I see now is that they have improved on the most important element of this social selling tool - focus!
This is critical and I’m impressed that LinkedIn have improved it in this way.
The home page in SN has no distractions, just a stream of updates, comments and news articles from and about saved leads (people) and Accounts (companies).
You can create status updates of your own (including images) from the SN interface and comment and like your leads and accounts updates. The only thing you can’t do is create a published post, which is probably the next thing they will address.
I also gained a better understanding of the unique TeamLink function.
TeamLink helps you find the strongest path to someone you’d like to meet by
For instance if a colleague in your sales team used to work at ABC plc and during that time your target (prospect) also worked there then SN will show your college as a TeamLink introduction opportunity. They (prospect & colleague) do not have to be connected, just ex colleagues.
Again this is only likely to be required in large sales teams but in effect you are growing your range of possible introductions exponentially.
Unfortunately they still have a separate inbox for SN, the argument also being focus but I have a problem with this.
What happens if an individual sends you a message on LinkedIn enquiring about your services?
This message will land in the messaging area of mainstream LinkedIn.com and if you are spending all your time in SN then you might miss something critical. They do provide a link in SN to messages but it does not indicate you have an unread message as it does for replies to your messages sent from the SN Inbox.
My sense is that this is far too convoluted to work and a more simply unified inbox is required.
They have also added tags and notes to profiles in SN and the likelihood is that these will become a lot more useful (maybe searchable) although at the moment they are for information only.
I still take issue with their pricing though, It is pretty clear that LinkedIn are focussing on Enterprise clients and the pricing reflects this, especially now that they have removed the Navigator Basic account that I currently have.
If a company with a substantial sales team (over 50) is serious about social selling then I believe Sales Navigator is a no brainer. The tool os designed to help you win more customers through greater engagement and introductions.
For smaller businesses the verdict is less clear. If they still had the Basic level product and pricing I would be more tempted to recommend it but at £650 per year for each user, it’s a much closer call.
Social selling is relevant and important to all B2B businesses, large and small but LinkedIn are just not (yet) focussed on SME’s.
So I’m on the fence but it’s definitely worth taking a months free trial.
As for Recruitment, if you believe your job is about finding people and advertising jobs then Recruiter or Recruiter Lite are your most suitable upgrades. If however you believe that relationships are key to successful recruitment (as I do) then I actually think SN is more tailored to your needs. It also has a fantastic search function plus a reasonable InMail allowance but most importantly it focuses on what is more important - people and engaging with them.
If I had my old job back and was running a 30 consultant recruitment business, I would be investing in Sales Navigator licences.