Coinciding with its Q3 2022 release, LinkedIn is positioning Sales Navigator as a facilitator of Deep Selling. Deep Sales positions LinkedIn as a new way to sell that addresses many of the current problems faced by sales teams (e.g., The Great Reshuffle, increased deal complexity following COVID, the digitization of communications, and an increase in SPAM). This new positioning was announced in the Wall Street Journal.
“Too many sales professionals are stuck in what we’ve come to call “shallow selling” – an endless, frustrating loop of contacting more and more potential buyers in ways that no longer work,” posted LinkedIn Sales Solutions’ Marketing VP Gail Moody-Byrd. “I’ve felt the pain of sales in my professional life. I’ve consoled colleagues who were at risk of getting fired because they weren’t hitting their numbers or seen them committing “unnatural acts” to get a deal closed. I’ve been on endless, painful pipeline review calls, looking at leads that will never materialize into a closed/won deal. And I feel it daily in my personal life, as I try to dodge intrusive emails, texts, and phone calls that keep coming at me to purchase MarTech software.”
Moody-Byrd argued that shallow selling doesn’t work, but reps can employ deep learning software to support “deep sales.”
“Think of deep learning, where software learns from enormous amounts of reliable data to get to a meaningful answer. Deep sales relies on that kind of data to deeply understand buyers and their context. It helps sellers approach buyers in the way that is welcomed, at a time in the buying process that makes sense. It helps develop deep relationships with buyers, based on understanding them – the opposite of shallow spray-and-pray tactics.”
LinkedIn claims that Sales Navigator customers enjoy a 38% increase in pipeline generated, a six percent increase in win rates, and a 47% increase in deal size. The firm is positioning the combination of Sales Navigator and Sales Insights as its Deep Sales solution set.
“It’s good to see LinkedIn working on new ways to utilize machine learning to sort its various data inputs and provide a better experience,” stated SocialMediaToday Head of Content Andrew Hutchinson. “Thus far, LinkedIn hasn’t really been able to tap into its unmatched database of professional insights, but maybe, through advanced machine learning on its huge dataset, it’s moving towards the next stage of becoming a critical companion for all HR and business professionals, by facilitating guidance on various fronts that can lead to smarter decisions.”
LinkedIn began rolling out its Q2 Sales Navigator release to users earlier this month. As with previous releases, admins receive the release first, with general users following a few weeks later. New features include expanded data validation, a new SNAP integration with conversation intelligence leader Gong, and the continued rollout of Sales Navigator’s new Search and Lead Page experiences.
Companies have responded to the pandemic and Great Reshuffle by increasing channel noise, hoping to break through the din, but this strategy is flawed. Top-performing reps who heavily exceed their quota are “spending less time selling in the traditional sense — smiling-and-dialing and sending out mass outreach,” explained LinkedIn VP of Global Sales Solutions Alyssa Merwin Henderson. They aren’t increasing the volume but carefully targeting their prospecting and messaging, conducting buyer research, and focusing on skill development.
“In today’s virtual world, where there’s more noise than ever, the recipe for winning is clear – fewer things done better,” concluded Henderson.
LinkedIn Head of Product and Solutions Marketing Nicole Desjardins highlighted three problems facing sales reps that LinkedIn is working to address:
More virtual selling than ever, leading to more virtual noise than ever, with buyers being overwhelmed by irrelevant and generic outreach.
Job switching continues to be higher than normal, making a mess of CRM data and putting deals at risk.
A plethora of new sales tools have hit the market, many of which don’t integrate with each other, making it more confusing to choose the right tech stack.
Desjardins argued that the solution to these problems comes from real-time data fed into the CRM and “meaningful sales intelligence that helps you connect with and nurture the right buyers at the right time.”
The Great Reshuffle continues to create a “mess” of CRM data, resulting in inaccurate forecasts and irrelevant messaging. According to LinkedIn’s upcoming “State of Sales” report, 41% of sales reps said their biggest problem was inaccurate, out-of-date CRM data. To help address this issue, Sales Navigator now flags out-of-date contact and lead records and allows reps to update the CRM from Navigator to address this problem.
Data Validation displays an Update CRM badge on Sales Navigator member pages who have recently changed jobs, titles, or locations. After clicking on the badge, reps are shown the new title, account, location, contact owner, and most recent opportunity. Updates are made to matched Lead and Contact records, with the user controlling which fields are to be updated. Reps are also shown which open opportunities are linked to the executive, allowing them to quickly remove departed execs from live opportunities.
“Clearly, this will save you time. Instead of having to toggle back and forth between your CRM and Sales Navigator, you can do it all in our platform,” blogged Product Marketing Manager Austin Gray. “More importantly, because updating your CRM is now easier to do, you’ll have more accurate data within it. LinkedIn’s real-time first-party data means that you can have confidence that your CRM will have access to the most accurate and up-to-date information available.”
Data Validation is available for Sales Navigator Advanced Plus and supports record updates in Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365. The functionality was released to customers with fewer than 15 seats this week and will be rolled out to large customers on June 22.
The New Search and Lead Page Experiences were rolled out to accounts with fewer than fifty seats last quarter. The largest accounts will receive the updates this quarter.
The search feature has been streamlined to improve the time to “successful results.” In addition, the search includes a “larger collapsible, intuitive grouped view of filters” that improves search filter discovery. New and updated filters include TeamLink Connections of, Saved Leads, Saved Accounts, Previously Viewed, Current Company, Past Company, and Company Headquarter.
The search interface updates dynamically, providing results as each filter is added or removed.
The new Lead Page (contacts) is designed for rapid lead qualification with “the most important info front and center,” including the most recent touchpoint, current role, and description. Other features include a sticky action bar, conversation starters, and introduction paths.
The Conversation Starter section displays recent posts for comments and commonalities.
The Get Introduced section has been redesigned and expanded.
The TeamLink section is now organized by seniority level so that reps can find “their best path in.” In addition, the section supports a pre-populated InMail to save reps time writing messages.
Sales Navigator is also adding a new Lead Panel for researching contacts in a prospecting list without having to open multiple windows.
“Prospecting in Sales Navigator often means using our powerful search to find your target buyer,” wrote Desjardins.” Once you’ve found that list of potential buyers, we’re betting you then open a tab for each individual, which can mean a lot of open tabs and a lot of switching back and forth. The new Lead Panel streamlines this process and keeps you on the same page the entire time.”
The Lead Panel displays job title, job description, and conversation starters to assist with quick qualification and messaging.
The Lead Panel will be rolling out to accounts with fewer than fifty seats this quarter and enterprise accounts next quarter.
LinkedIn also added a Gong SNAP integration for viewing LinkedIn intelligence within Gong’s conversational intelligence platform.
LinkedIn began rolling out its Q4 Sales Navigator release last month. New functionality includes a reimagined home page, Priority Accounts, and Account Map sharing. According to LinkedIn, the revised home page helps address the “moving target” that is buying team discovery during The Great Reshuffle.
“We’re in the middle of The Great Reshuffle, and 80% of salespeople have delayed or lost a deal because of a job change within an account. Selling right now is a moving target. This means, maybe more than ever, that quality data is non-negotiable, real-time alerts are critical, and knowing your buyers and what’s important to them is essential.”
Mitali Pattnaik, Senior Director of Product for LinkedIn Sales Solutions
Not only are buying committees becoming larger, but the movement of professionals increases the likelihood that key members of the demand unit depart during the sales cycle. Reps that are blind to such changes are likely to have lost or delayed deals.
Furthermore, buyers have been inundated with messages, making it more challenging to rise above the din. According to LinkedIn Associate Product Marketing Manager Angel Gonzalez, reps need to personalize their outreach as there is a 30% decline in buyer response rates compared to pre-COVID.
“Our new Sales Navigator home page showcases customized insights for key accounts that you need to focus on right now,” posted LinkedIn Senior Director for Product Mitali Pattnaik. “Alongside a new look and feel for the home page, the refreshed Alerts Feed helps you filter to the most relevant, timely, and accurate updates, pinpointing alerts that need immediate action. And, for those updates you want to keep an eye on, a newly created ‘Bookmarked Alerts’ tab allows you to save alerts so you can revisit at any time.”
The new home page was redesigned to present “what’s most important to each individual seller at that moment,” including intelligence on priority accounts, direct access to Account Maps, and better alert filters.
Other new features include upgraded typeahead searching and alert bookmarking.
A few features have been downgraded in scope or removed, including Sales Navigator Coach and Recommended Leads and Accounts.
The new home page is available to all users.
Priority Accounts allows sellers with large books of business such as territory or industry reps to flag their key accounts, helping ensure critical accounts receive greater attention. Users simply “star” accounts in their saved account list for priority display. Account activity is then displayed in a new home page section labeled Priority Accounts that summarizes headcount growth, employee count, open opportunities, and Buyer Intent. Users can also click directly to Account Maps.
Continue to Part II which discusses Sales Navigator Account Map sharing and LinkedIn Sales Intelligence enhancements.
Leveraging its Economic Graph, LinkedIn noted that sales rep turnover is up 39% over the past three months (overall global turnover is up 28%). Sales is the second most in-demand position globally.
“Companies need to recognize that the power dynamic has changed — workers are going to demand more from them on multiple fronts,” said LinkedIn Chief Economist Karin Kimbrough. “Candidates are being much more selective about where they work, and workers are more vocal about what they want.”
Replacing sales reps is an expensive proposition, according to a 2015-2016 DePaul University study. When factoring in the opportunity cost of an open sales seat and the hiring and training expenses, replacing a sales rep costs $115,000.
Further complicating matters, buying team turnover spiked over the past year, up 31% in Q3. Thus, demand units are more difficult to navigate, and deals are more likely to be delayed due to key decision-maker departures. According to LinkedIn State of Sales 2021, 80% of sales reps said a deal was delayed or derailed due to buyer role changes over the past year.
Unfortunately, employee burnout rose 9% between April and July, just as employees were readying to return to the office, but Delta delayed such plans. Over the same period, employee happiness dropped three points.
“This simultaneous dip in employee happiness and spike in burnout is a warning signal: very few people want to return to pre-pandemic work life, said LinkedIn Head of People Science Strategic Development Amy Lavoie. “Part of the issue here is that the communications around organizations’ return-to-office plans can carry a dangerous subtext. It may look to employees that, while their leaders had prioritized their well-being and safety in the pandemic’s first stretch, they’re now focusing on business and advancing their own agenda at all costs, leaving employees’ concerns in the wake.”
“Employee well-being is not a fad; it is a fundamental human need,” continued Lavoie. “It’s not going to take care of itself as businesses start asking employees to return to the office. Employees are looking to their organizations to value their needs as full human beings and trust them to make decisions about how, when, and where they work. Until that happens, we will continue to see this deadlock between employees and organizations on happiness and burnout.” Employee priorities are shifting, with a greater emphasis on flexible work arrangements, inclusive workplaces, and work-life balance than just a few months ago. As a result, work-life balance is ranked as the top priority among job seekers.
Flexibility is key. Three out of five employees feel they are equally productive working from home and that their overall well-being is equal to or better than working in an office.
A Fortune Analytics survey of over 10,000 knowledge workers found that 76% of knowledge workers want flexibility in where they work, and 93% want flexibility in when they work. Additionally, 57% of knowledge workers are “open to looking for a new job in 2022.” However, among knowledge workers who are dissatisfied with the level of flexibility, the open to looking rate rises to 71%.
“Just last year, joblessness in the US was at its highest level since the Great Depression,” wrote Fortune Editorial Director Lance Lambert. “Scrambling to hold onto their jobs, workers started taking on extra responsibilities—something many of them hold onto today even though the economy has shifted into one of its strongest periods in recent memory. That explains why 19% of workers say their work-related stress is ‘poor,’ and another 33% say it’s ‘fair.’”
Fortune Analytics also found that workers with inflexible work schedules are 6.6 times more likely to report work-related stress.
LinkedIn Senior Content Manager Paul Petrone suggested three areas of investment to retain sales talent:
“Career conversations and career development for your employees.
Providing work-life balance, which should ideally include flex work.
Diversity, inclusion, and belonging.”
Workers find it difficult to maintain a work/life balance, with 35% of workers telling GlassDoor that balance isn’t possible in their current role.
“Very few people both see a path forward and feel support for an internal career move,” observed LinkedIn People Science Senior Researcher Eric Knudsen. “Luckily, there’s a clear solution. While it’s natural for managers to worry about losing a team member, employees want learning and growth opportunities. So, whenever someone starts looking for their next opportunity, a lack of manager support could inspire an external move.”
Knudsen recommends that managers frame internal mobility as an opportunity and not a loss as they place an advocate and partner in another part of the organization. Furthermore, the organization retains talent, and cross-team collaboration is likely to rise.
“Work-life policies which are rigid or offer little flexibility are proving problematic for UK employees,” said Glassdoor Economist Lauren Thomas. “Our research has indicated that workers want autonomy over how they juggle their home and work lives and need employers to offer a range of options to support this. There also needs to be trust between the two parties — avoid micromanaging teams who are working from home.”
What’s more, Glint (a LinkedIn subsidiary) found that only one in five employees feel they can meet their career goals in their current organization, increasing the likelihood of departures.
According to LinkedIn, “The Great Reshuffle” has increased turnover amongst buyers and sellers, leading to greater deal risk. Over the past three months, executive departures (Director and above) have increased by 31% globally. Among sales reps, the rate is up 39%. Thus, the likelihood of a deal being delayed due to a key member of the demand unit or sales team leaving has grown sharply.
Before the pandemic, the standard decay rate of contact records was between 25 and 30%. If the rate has jumped by one-third, then the likelihood of a specific member of the buying committee departing over a three-month sales cycle is approaching ten percent. Thus, a demand unit with six members will likely have one departure every three months, increasing the need for executive change alerts, multithreading of deals, and a deeper understanding of the demand unit.
If the deal is more complex, the odds of delays and stalled deals due to executive changes increase rapidly. A six-month deal cycle with a dozen members of the demand unit (financial, technical, and functional decision-makers, purchasers, influencers, lawyers, compliance, etc.) could lose two or three members. And that doesn’t even factor in the risk of churn on the vendor side. What’s worse, single-threaded sales reps have close to a 20% risk that their champion leaves the company or assumes a different role over the deal lifecycle.
The renewal math becomes scary as well. If the customer success team regularly interfaces with four individuals on the customer side, one or two of them may depart over the year, increasing churn risk. Furthermore, a higher churn rate among customers necessitates greater administrative and training tasks.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that 80% of sales reps have had a deal delayed or lost due to departures.
LinkedIn Senior Director of Global Sales James Burnette argued that multithreading is key to managing deal risk. “Multithreading – i.e., forming relationships with multiple people on the buying committee at an account – is always a best practice.” Burnette noted that sellers with at least four connections at an account are “16% more likely to close a deal with that company, compared to sellers who have less than four connections.”
“The most beneficial thing you can do right now is to learn how to master multithreading,” JB Sales Training Director Morgan Ingram said. “Gathering champions, influencers, and talking directly to the decision-makers is the key to success when it comes to closing deals faster in a difficult environment.”
Conversely, departures can foster relationships at new accounts, so knowing that a key demand unit member has departed is important for both risk mitigation at current opportunities and accounts and building relationships at new organizations. LinkedIn can both flag executive departures and maintain an open line of communications with a champion after he or she has settled into a new position.
“Resources are scant with so many people exiting key roles, so there are opportunities where they might not have been opportunities in the past,” Assist You CEO Robert Knop said. “Look through your connections – there are uncovered sales there.”
Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst at Forrester, predicts that the Great Resignation will also impact marketing teams, with CMOs assembling more virtual teams consisting of freelance talent, fractional executives, and agency partners.
“We’re seeing clients in places like the Midwest having trouble keeping the talent they’ve built because their team members can get 25% more by working remotely for a New York agency. The distance and untethering from our geographies give people a lot more options, and they will minimize their pain and maximize their gain. So, there will be some stress on those internal competencies.”
Job turnover is likely to continue in the near term. The labor market remains out of balance with 100 open jobs for every 75 unemployed professionals, driving the quit rate to 4.4 million in September, a record high.
“You’re essentially seeing demand continuing to increase without an offsetting increase in talent,” Ryan Sutton, a district director at staffing company Robert Half International. “Until some new talent comes in, until we get employees who are on the sidelines back into the market, it’s very likely this is going to continue.”