LinkedIn Q4 Sales Navigator Release (Part II)

LinkedIn also addressed the lack of sharing of Sales Navigator Account Maps in its Q4 release.  The value of maps is much greater if they can be shared across the sales and customer success teams.  Sales reps will skip activities that do not have a clear return on investment (i.e., they expedite the sales process, increase the odds of a win, reduce bureaucratic steps, etc.)  Sharing account maps across the team dramatically increases their value and encourages reps to invest the necessary time mapping out the account.  Sharing also assists with account handoffs between SDRs to Account Reps and later to Customer Success teams.

“Selling is a team sport, and we know that team members need to be in the loop and connected on key accounts, especially as changes to the buying committee may be greater and more frequent right now,” wrote Senior Director of Product for LinkedIn Sales Solutions Mitali Pattnaik.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Account Maps

Account Maps are available to Team and Enterprise licensors.  However, Account Maps may only be shared with co-workers on the same Sales Navigator contract; thus, partners or co-workers with separate Sales Navigator agreements still lack map sharing. 

When others update a shared Account Map, everybody is notified of the update.

Those with CRM sync turned on (Advanced + CRM in January) will enjoy additional CRM features.  Users will be able to create new leads or contacts “in more places within Sales Navigator to better match up with their workflows” and display additional context.  New features include

  • New CRM Cards within Sales Navigator Lead Pages
  • New CRM Badges that notify reps when an account or lead is matched against the CRM
  • Clicking on the CRM Badge provides additional context on Sales Navigator Leads and Accounts from the matched CRM record. For Sales Navigator Leads not found in CRM, a user can create a CRM Contact or Lead.
  • CRM Badges are now displayed in the InMail and Messaging Flow.

LinkedIn will be rolling out Q4 enhancements to customers in the coming weeks, as with other quarterly releases.

LinkedIn also announced updates to LinkedIn Sales Intelligence (LSI), its data service for Sales Operations.  LSI leverages the power of LinkedIn data to “help sales target the right companies and accelerate revenue.”  Launched earlier this year, LSI supports report building, account recommendations, and Account data enrichment.

Sales Operations now has access to industry codes aligned with the NAICS industry taxonomy used in the US, Canada, and Mexico.  Other enhancements include a new welcome flow and access to saved reports on the home page.

LinkedIn Sales Intelligence Report Builder

To assist with report building, a set of LSI Tool-Tips assist with defining Sources, Personas, Market Insights, and Exports.

LinkedIn Q4 Sales Navigator Release

The new Sales Navigator home page.

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.

Reps can flag priority accounts with recent engagement and growth metrics on the home page.

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.

Linked Sales Navigator Repackaged SKUs

LinkedIn will be repackaging its Sales Navigator SKUs in late January.  The service has already begun notifying customers of the change.  Unlike product releases which they roll out over multiple weeks, the new packaging will be implemented across all customers simultaneously.

Sales Navigator retains its original SKUs from its early days, so repackaging was in order.  Before making any changes, LinkedIn interviewed or surveyed over 2,000 customers, discussed customer requirements with sales reps, and analyzed product usage.

LinkedIn Head of Product and Solutions Marketing Nicole Desjardins discussed a number of her team’s learnings with GZ Consulting:

  • Users want to increase their productivity with an integrated sales stack that avoids data silos and app switching.  “Our customers believe that in order to effectively meet this need, it is critical to seamlessly integrate sales workflows both within and beyond Sales Navigator (e.g., sales stack, CRM).”
  • CRM integrations are a priority for customers.  To prioritize customer value delivery, the future Sales Navigator lineup has CRM integrations as the only top differentiator.  This will “massively clarify” lineup positioning and deliver more value to customers.

    Currently, Sales Navigator only offers full integrations and data synchronization with Salesforce and MS Dynamics 365.
  • Customers are looking to increasingly leverage the data stored in their CRM and expect applications to bisynchronously share data.
  • Buyer intent is “hot in the market” as customers are looking to leverage intelligent signals in a real-time manner.  Sales reps want to “know when to act.”

The new Sales Navigator SKUs are based on a pair of packaging design principles: Customers can use all of the features in the licensed package, and it should be clear which package best meets the needs of each customer.

According to Desjardins, the new packaging enables positioning that is “clear and easy to understand” and aligns to value. In addition, the new packaging will help customers and sales reps  “easily identify the offering that best suits their needs.”

“What I’ve been preaching is that SN is not just one product – it’s an integrated approach to the daily sales process.”

LinkedIn Customer

The legacy SKUs followed a Good / Better / Best packaging structure, but the new SKUs support a Good / Best / Best with CRM packaging with the top tier similar to the mid-tier but containing all of the CRM connector and data sharing functionality. The new packages consist of a “foundational use case, the best of Sales Navigator for non-CRM integrated customers, and the best of Sales Navigator for CRM.”

“Customers will be able to use all of the features they have purchased: CRM features will be the only differentiators for the top tier.  Additionally, we have planned investments to further expand and deepen our CRM capabilities.”

The Core offering is designed for quota-carrying sales reps and supports targeting, lead and account tracking, and communications.  Features include

  • 50 InMails per month (this allotment is the same across all three SKUs).
  • Advanced Search
  • Account and Lead (contact) List Building
  • Guided in-product best practices
  • Account Map, a tool for mapping out the buying committee
  • Up to 10,000 Saved Leads and Accounts

The Core edition is designed for quota-carrying individuals with limited tech stacks.  Core helps sales reps “target the right buyers, understand who they are, and reach out in an informed way,” said Desjardins.

The Advanced tier supports sales teams with administrative and reporting functions, including usage reports.  Product differentiators include

  • CSV Account uploads for tracking key customers and prospects
  • Smart Links (customer-specific landing pages with attachments and multi-media links).  Smart Links may be shared by email, InMail, chat, etc.  Smart Links Analytics tracks who has viewed and downloaded which content. Sales Navigator also tracks Smart Link forwards, providing deeper insights into the Buying Team.  Sales reps are alerted when content has been viewed or forwarded.
  • Team collaboration tools such as shared lists, shared searches, TeamLink (leveraging co-workers’ networks), and collaboration alerts based upon shared features.
  • Buyer engagement alerts and buyer intent.  “Buyer interest is a predictive score based on LinkedIn data from employees at this company,” states the firm.  “This score is an indication of an account’s interest in buying from your company.  It considers key factors like employee interaction, InMail acceptance, ads engagement, company page engagement, and more.”
  • SNAP integrations such as embedded profiles, BI integrations, and a CRM widget.  SNAP integrations are available for CRMs (Salesforce, MSD 365, HubSpot, SAP, Oracle, SugarCRM, and Pega), SEPs (Outreach, Salesloft, Groove, XANT/InsideSales, YesWare, MixMax), and ABX Platforms (Demandbase).

    SNAP integrations do not share data, but they support profile viewing and limited Sales Navigator functionality.  For example, the HubSpot connector provides sales reps with profile viewing, InMails, Icebreakers, Introduction Requests, Related Leads for companies and contacts, and Connections.

The Advanced edition helps teams “forge deeper relationships through real-time sales intelligence and seamless collaboration,” said Desjardins.  “Advanced is the best Sales Navigator for businesses if you’re not integrating with CRM.”

The Advanced Plus edition adds full CRM functionality, including

  • Auto-saving Sales Navigator Leads and Accounts from CRM
  • CRM information in Lists such as Opportunities and past customers who have moved to new companies
  • CRM-powered Lead Recommendations
  • The ability to include or exclude matched CRM leads in Sales Navigator searches
  • CRM Activity writeback (e.g., InMail, Notes, Messages, Smart Links)
  • Create CRM Leads and Contacts directly from Sales Navigator.  These are limited information records (e.g., Company Name, Contact First and Last Names, and Title) as LinkedIn does not share member data.  Contact and Lead Creation also upload fields entered by reps such as email, phone number, and opportunity role.
  • The Data Validation flag warns users when a contact is no longer at a company listed in the CRM.  If the company differs between LinkedIn and the CRM, a “Not at Company Flag” is written to the CRM.  The flag is displayed to the rep and available as a trigger for contact clean-ups and removal from marketing campaigns.

With the Advanced Plus edition, users will be able to “surface actionable intelligence on your books of business, improve productivity by automating key processes, and leverage data to update stale information and make better decisions,” said Desjardins.

At renewal, customers will be offered one of five customer service packages that are “set by the size and scope of your program.”

“We know that onboarding is a critical stage for customer success, so we’re investing in hands-on, human-led onboarding for new customers and existing customers when they grow by a significant amount to accelerate their time-to-value,” stated a LinkedIn FAQ on the new service plans.  “Our customers have different needs and expectations for training, so we’ve invested in world-class resources: on-demand training for all customers at every stage of the customer journey in seven languages. Training is created and led by specialists who are experts in best practices and our product.”

Programs with a minimum of 50 licenses will have a Customer Success Manager that supports periodic Program Health Checks, a tailored Customer Success Plan, Strategic Value Reviews, and ongoing Success Coaching.

LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021 (Part II)

Continuing from yesterday’s discussion of LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021

LinkedIn State of Sales 2021 Trends

Sales managers are looking to diversify their hiring across two dimensions: geographic and cultural.  With work from home proving itself over the past year, managers are now confident that they can hire the best talent, regardless of location.

Likewise, sales professionals believe that their firms have succeeded in their efforts in opening up sales teams by gender, race, etc.  35% of sales professionals believe their sales organizations have “exceeded goals around diversity hiring initiatives,” while another 45% say their sales organization has “met” their diversity hiring goal.

On the buying side, 83% of purchasers said that all things being equal, they would give a preference to more diverse teams.

LinkedIn argues that Sales Intelligence is a crucial tool for building trust in the absence of face-to-face meetings.  LinkedIn broadly uses the term to include Conversational Intelligence tools such as Gong and Chorus, which help understand the prospect’s state of mind, and sales intelligence solutions such as Sales Navigator.

“With in-person meetings limited, sales technology provides a key pathway to gaining insight and understanding into potential customers. It’s no surprise, then, that our survey indicates that both usage of and investment in sales technology are increasing,” stated LinkedIn.

73% of respondents employ a sales intelligence solution weekly, and 23% use one daily.  54% said SalesTech helps reps build stronger relationships, and an equal percent said it helps them close more deals.  The top three categories for closing deals were CRM (70%), sales intelligence (69%), and sales enablement (69%).

Both usage and investment in SalesTech will increase in 2021, with CRM (49%), Sales Intelligence (43%), and Sales Planning (42%) seeing increased usage.  On the investment side, the top categories are CRM (41%), sales intelligence (40%), and sales engagement (40%).  Nearly seven in ten sales professionals anticipate greater SalesTech investment this year.

Data continues to be seen as critical, with 47% of sales organizations using it for account targeting, 44% for industry targeting, 43% for performance assessment, 41% for geographic targeting, and 39% for defining the buying committee.

While LinkedIn did not delve further into buying committee discovery, this is a nascent development area with multiple approaches, including conversational intelligence (meetings, emails) and machine learning.

Understanding the demand unit is critical for sales teams.  85% of reps reported that at least one opportunity was lost or delayed due to the departure of a client stakeholder.

Sales Navigator usage continues to be robust, with a 400% increase in self-bought Sales Navigator licenses over the past two years, “a surge that indicates sales professionals are investing in their own growth and have a willingness to use sales tech even if not prescribed by their company.”

59% of the Forbes Global 500 companies and 64% of the Forbes fastest-growing companies have Sales Navigator users.

Finally, message quality trumps quantity.  Simply sending high volumes of email or sharing many content pieces does not move the revenue needle.  The key is quality outreach that generates engagement and message acceptance.  “This is a strong indication that salespersons ought to be mindful of the value to the customer before sharing content or sending an InMail.”

InMails should be “short, personalized, and conversational.”  Messages with fewer than 400 characters are the most effective, with a sharp drop-off in response rates for long-in-the-tooth messages.

LinkedIn surveyed 400 sales and 400 US and Canadian purchasing professionals in January 2021.  Separate surveys were conducted for other geographies but have yet to be published. [Original Report]

RelSci Launches Radar for Business Development (Part II)

Relationship Science (RelSci) recently announced Relationship Radar, their new relationship capital management service that marries sales intelligence with an enterprise’s network of employees, alumni, and professional relationships. I covered the feature functionality in yesterday’s blog.

The RelSci Radar release should be viewed as a V1, with a deep set of planned enhancements on the product roadmap:

  • Signature block scraping with automated contact updates
  • Contact de-duplication
  • Integration of Radar into their iOS and Android apps
  • GSuite and Salesforce integrations
  • Broader incorporation of Radar into the RelSci platform and API

Radar is included as part of the RelSci enterprise subscription.  There is no additional licensing fee beyond a $750 implementation charge that can vary slightly depending on the implementation scope.

“As part of our product roadmap, we plan to make Radar available with greater flexibility (including the option to opt-out of the front-end platform at a reduced rate), but for now Radar is only available as part of our enterprise offering,” wrote RelSci Data Product Manager Brian Hyman.

RelSci products are sold on a seat basis with volume discounts.

Pricing is based on the number of seats and configuration.  RelSci did not disclose additional details.

Relationship Capital Management software was a hot category fifteen years ago but never gained much traction due to security concerns and the rise of LinkedIn as a public network.  With security teams now more comfortable with cloud solutions, the category may be open to rediscovery.  Introhive has been successful in the space, placing 128th on Deloitte’s 2020 Fast 500 technology list, with revenue growth of 938% between 2016 and 2019.  Many of the top professional services firms have deployed Introhive, including PriceWaterhouseCoopers, with a 100,000 seat implementation across 90 countries.

“We founded Introhive with a mission to help organizations realize the full value of their relationships and better leverage the underutilized data across their business to increase revenues,” said CEO Jody Glidden. “We have evolved into a suite of artificial intelligence-based solutions that expedite growth for sales and marketing teams.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator supports corporate TeamLink networking across LinkedIn connections of opted-in colleagues. Relationship networking is also a central feature of InsideView and Warmly, which recently received seed round funding.

Sales Navigator Q3 2020: Listening to the Buyer

LinkedIn is rolling out its third-quarter Sales Navigator release.  The enhancements focus on “features that help you put your buyers first through intelligent action, simplified day-to-day activities, and consistent insight into keeping relationships warm.”  The release theme is “listening to the buyer.”

LinkedIn is dipping its toes into intent data with Buyer Interest Alerts that signal when employees or corporate leaders from a saved account have visited the company’s LinkedIn Page or company website.  Buyer Interest Alerts are available in conjunction with LinkedIn Marketing Solutions and delivered through the Sales Navigator Enterprise edition.  

Marketers install a snippet of code to their website that drive the notifications.  They can then track conversion rates, retarget visitors, and analyze visitor demographics.  The code also powers Buyer Interest Alerts within Sales Navigator.

“With Buyer Interest Alerts, you have buying intent insights that help you to decide when to engage, allowing you to provide a timelier and more customized buyer experience,” blogged Lindsey Edwards, the Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions.  “As we strengthen our buyer intent models with the rich buyer insight that the LinkedIn network contains, we’ll continue to enhance our Interest Alerts to include more signals that will allow you to target the right buyer at the right time.”

Buyer Interest Alerts are anonymous.  LinkedIn notifies the user if there is a visitor from the company but does not disclose details beyond account name, seniority level (i.e. Leadership or Employee), and geography.  Users can then search for Linkedin Members that match these criteria.  Anonymity ensures GDPR compliance.

While many vendors are now offering visitor intelligence, Sales Navigator is the only service that combines LinkedIn company profile views with visitor intelligence.

Account-Level Buyer Interest is not yet supported but is on the product roadmap.

LinkedIn, which has often suffered from spam alerts that overwhelm users, is employing predictive AI to surface the critical notifications for “building and maintaining the relationship with your buyer.”  Users may filter alerts by Lead, Account, shared activity, and alert type with the “most urgent and timely” alerts displayed at the top of the list.

Sales Navigator is also improving its synchronization with Salesforce and MS Dynamics.  Users can now bring their book of business into Sales Navigator through the automated syncing of Leads, Contacts, Accounts, and Opportunities.  The syncing improves the delivery of people and company alerts and insights within Navigator.  CRM synchronization is available as a feature of the Team and Enterprise Editions.

To improve relationships, LinkedIn is now reporting on LinkedIn outreach activity across all Sales Navigator editions.  Lead Lists (followed members) now track LinkedIn engagement with additional columns for actions by the Sales Navigator user and subsequent responses:

  • InMail and Messages sent, responses received, and attachments clicked
  • Connection requests sent from Sales Navigator and LinkedIn and accepted requests
  • Smart Links sent and opened

Lead and Account List sizes were increased from 250 to 1,000, expanding the scope of contacts and companies tracked.  Users may also take bulk actions on up to 25 Lead or Account records at a time, making it easier to remove them from lists or move them from one list to another.

Sales Navigator is well-positioned to assist sales reps during the pandemic as its messaging tools are not location or time-specific.  Sales professionals can reach out with InMails and Connection Requests, and prospective buyers can respond asynchronously.  SDRs and AEs don’t need to obtain (or guess at emails) or place direct dials that go unanswered at empty offices.  Furthermore, Smart Links, launched earlier this year, provides a tool for sharing documents and multi-media with view tracking.

“In what continues to be a unique and challenging moment in history, buyers and sellers, alike, are adjusting to a new normal.  Just like you, they’re juggling the pressures of succeeding in their day-jobs, while also managing their personal lives — homeschooling, daycare, elder care, multiple people working from home, and/or reduced income.  The hurdles might look different from buyer to buyer, but one thing is consistent — they need to feel confident that you understand their challenges and goals.  In the end, you aren’t necessarily selling a product or service, you’re selling a trusted relationship, and the person at the center of that relationship is the buyer.”

Lindsey Edwards, Senior Director of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions

By the end of the year, the Deals functionality will be integrated directly into the Sales Navigator workflow.  This enhancement will improve relationship status and pipeline visibility.

No Tradeshows, No Site Visits — Ideas to Maintain & Grow Pipeline

I had four tradeshows canceled this month and next. They were opportunities for me to meet with customers and prospects (and conduct research for my industry newsletters). At this point, I’m assuming that at least two more will fall by the wayside in H1. I’m sure many of you are in a similar boat. Your marketing calendar is in a shambles, your field and inside sales reps are cloistered at home, and you are uncertain about how to manage remote workers.

Here are some ideas about how to retain momentum and deploy technology to mitigate pipeline and operational risks:

Video Meetings

If you haven’t deployed video widely across your workforce, due so ASAP. Vendors such as Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, Join.Me, and GoToMeeting provide reliable video conferencing solutions for multi-party meetings, demos, and document sharing. Video Meetings are a do not pass Go, do not collect $200 requirement. Every customer-facing, development, management, and planning employee should be able to join meetings from home or the office.

Setup scheduled video meetings for the next three months so they are blocked out on team calendars. This could be a 15-minute corporate call every few weeks, weekly team calls, and one-on-ones. Standing meetings should all be web-based. Office-based employees are going to feel disconnected socially, so build in some social fun at the team level (e.g. recognizing birthdays and work anniversaries, celebrating wins and releases, etc.)

I would also build training time into video meetings. It shouldn’t be all top-down. Give your staff the opportunity to cross-train peers. A sales rep could discuss her latest victory with lessons learned or provide insights into a target vertical. Marketing can review the latest product positioning and new collateral. Product Management can train on new products, review the product roadmap, and discuss the competitive landscape. The goal is to provide training, communications, coordination, and social interaction.

Record meetings and make them available to those who miss meetings with Slack or Team links. Expect that meetings will be missed due to illness, parenting requirements, and meeting conflicts.

Marketing Work-Arounds

As event marketing is off the table, marketers will need to be flexible in how they deploy their budgets. For those that planned on hosting events, they should at least proceed with their Keynote as a webinar. For H2, a roadshow in September or October can be planned, but mitigate risk in your contracting and through joint shows (shared cost and risk).

Marketers will need to deploy or expand their use of other channels including webinars, press releases, analyst outreach, blogging, social, and video. Direct mail is problematic as prospects are likely to be working from home, but e-gifting is a viable option. Look at e-gifting vendors that are supported by your Sales Engagement platform (e.g. Sendoso, PFL, Alyce)

Here is an opportunity to test additional channels and provide your event marketing team with some cross-channel development.

Canceled shows are also a reason for re-engagement campaigns. You can restart the marketing nurture process with a message around “not being able to talk to you this season.” Keep the message short and serious. You don’t know if your prospect is worried about his or her job, family members, or personal health. Also, don’t appear to be taking advantage of the situation. Be empathetic, not opportunistic.

Also, make sure to reschedule meetings from those cancelled conferences. These are likely to be phone or video calls, but reps and executives should reconfirm calls now.

Conversation Intelligence

Once you have standardized meetings, make sure they are recorded and transcribed. This is particularly true for sales meetings. Conversation Intelligence vendors such as Gong, ExecVision, and Chorus record calls, transcribe them, and perform NLP/AI processing on the conversations. Conversation Intelligence allows sales reps to be more present during calls as they no longer need to focus on note-taking.

Transcriptions and analytics have multiple benefits:

  • Sales Reps can quickly review calls and return to key topics and issues (e.g. pricing, next steps).
  • Sales Managers can review calls related to accounts and opportunities at risk to provide coaching tips to reps.
  • Analytics identify both the strengths and weaknesses of reps versus their peers. They also flag missed actions (e.g. discussing next steps), customer concerns, and competitors. To assist with training and opportunity scoring, Conversation Intelligence vendors identify filler word frequency, monologue length, and conversational engagement.
  • Reps can forward snippets to peers for questions and help. If there is a question about a bug or support issue, the snippet can be forwarded to support personnel for an update. If a sales rep feels that they handled a question or issue poorly, a snippet can be forwarded to sales management or training for advice on how to better handle the issue next time. Snippets allow peers to hear the voice of the customer.
  • Snippets can be stored in a library for training purposes. These would include exemplars for objection handling, competitor parrying, value discussions, etc.
  • Product Managers can perform bulk analysis of sales calls to identify requested features, competitor discussions, and product issues. Vendors allow for keyword customization and analytics.

Sales Engagement Platforms

Sales Engagement Platforms (SEPs) have come a long way over the past five years. Originally, they focused on the SDR role, but now include tools for all sales roles. Vendors include SalesLoft, Outreach, Xant (FKA InsideSales), VanillaSoft, ConnectLeader, SFDC High Velocity Sales, Groove, and Yesware.

Sales Cadences, also called sequences, are at the core of Sales Engagement. Cadences set up a structured set of multi-channel outbound communications supported by email templates, dialers, social, and SMS text. Cadences improve sales efficiency by eliminating follow up tasks, recording activities to CRMs, and deploying A/B tested content (emails, attachments, cadences, call scripts). While most commonly used for SDR outreach, cadences can also be used for meeting reminders, setting up quarterly account reviews, and training follow up.

SEP vendors understand that authenticity is the key to sales success. Simply blasting mindless emails at prospects is futile. Cadences can be customized by target role, industry, company size, technographics, and stage in the buyer journey. Furthermore, reps are expected to personalize emails before sending them out (SalesLoft says 20% is the optimal level). Most of the vendors now support 1-1 embedded videos from Vidyard, Hippo Video, or Videolicious.

SEP Vendors also provide a deep set of analytics. Initially, these focused on communication efficacy (e.g. open and click-through rates, best time of day to call), but now analytics assess conversations, call out deal risks, prioritize accounts, and suggest next best actions.

SEPs are now commonly deployed amongst SDRs and Inside Sales, but may still be foreign to field sales reps; however, field sales reps will be operating more like inside sales reps for the next quarter, so deploying SEPs to field sales makes sense.

Beyond outbound communications, SEP vendors are beginning to support meeting management (setting up calls), conversational intelligence, and opportunity management. SalesLoft and Outreach are the farthest along in supporting these emerging feature sets. SalesLoft acquired and integrated NoteNinja (meeting management) and Costello (opportunity management) into its platform.

SEP Vendors have taken two approaches to partnering. SalesLoft, Outreach, and Xant have partner App Directories while the other vendors integrate key vendors (e.g. Vidyard, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, Zoominfo) into their offerings without a formal partner ecosystem directory.

LinkedIn

For B2B sales, there is no social platform more trusted than LinkedIn. Sales reps can leverage their networks by sharing marketing content (they should include some comments of their own) as well as writing their own content.

LinkedIn also offers an excellent Sales Intelligence product called Sales Navigator. It is available as both a desktop and mobile solution and provides additional communications channels:

  • InMail: An outbound email alternative, InMail allows you to message prospects for whom you lack emails and direct dial numbers.
  • Chat: A quick short-message way to keep in contact with members of the buying committee. It is also useful for quick reach out after establishing a LinkedIn connection with a prospect or to send a quick, congratulatory note. Chat messages are retained archivally, providing a conversational log. I have had success providing my Calendly link with initial chats, providing a mechanism for new connections to easily schedule a call (my Calendly includes my video meeting details so there is little friction).
  • Smart Links: Forward one or multiple attachments to a prospect via social, InMail, or email. Viewing and forwarding are tracked by LinkedIn, helping reps know which content was viewed and when. Forward tracking helps expand their understanding of the buying committee. Smart Links maintain corporate branding.

Sales Navigator provides several other high-value features:

  • SNAP connectors display LinkedIn content and Navigator functionality (e.g. icebreakers, mini-profiles, InMail) within Sales Engagement Platforms, CRMs, and other enterprise software.
  • TeamLinks allow you to leverage co-worker relationships for reaching out to prospects.
  • Build a List lets reps assemble Lead (contact) and Account lists within Sales Navigator. Lead and Account lists may also be synced from the CRM, allowing reps to track news and updates about key companies and contacts. While LinkedIn does not permit upload of account and contact data, they make exceptions for notes, tags, and messages entered by the rep in Sales Navigator. They also just added a thin record upload of contacts to CRM and the ability to flag execs that have left a company.
  • List Sharing — After building a list, users may share them with co-workers who have Sales Navigator licenses.

Sales Navigator can be a bit pricey, so running a test amongst your inside sales and field sales reps makes sense, particularly if you are concerned about H1 pipeline delays. Given the difficulty of reaching anybody by phone (made worse by prospects working at home) or email, adding additional sales communications channels is well worth testing out.

There are other LinkedIn services worth investigating or trialing. LinkedIn Marketing supports highly targeted B2B campaigns. Unlike other platforms, LinkedIn can target by company, job function, level, industry, geography, and education. LinkedIn provides campaign metrics and allows marketers to set daily budgets. Both CPM and CPC pricing are available. Pricing is based upon second-best auctions (you pay 1 cent above the second best bid price).

For larger companies, LinkedIn Elevate should also be considered, particularly with remote workers. Elevate provides a curated feed of content to company employees for social media distribution (e.g. LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook). Elevate amplifies corporate messaging and reduces the level of effort for sales reps and other employees to share content through social networks.

LinkedIn Learning is offering sixteen courses at no charge covering topics related to working from home, remote management, tools, and mindset.

“In the coming days, we will make 16 LinkedIn Learning courses available for free including tips on how to: stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools (Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, Cisco Webex and Zoom), and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way.”

Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn SVP of Product

Sales Intelligence

Sales Intelligence services help sales reps build prospecting lists, quality leads, refine account messaging, expand into new departments and locations, track accounts, and target additional buying committee members.

Many sales intelligence services also offer B2B DaaS services for updating CRMs and MAPs. Salesforce data hygiene is maintained through Lightning Data connectors, a sub-category on the AppExchange. Because data is synced with CRMs and MAPs, it is continuously updated, ensuring that firmographic data is accurate and that departed contacts are removed from sales and marketing activity (BTW — contacts decay at 30% per annum, so maintaining your enterprise software contact data is a valuable investment)

Sales Intelligence vendors also provide full workflow integrations into CRMs which allow reps to build lists; view and update accounts, contacts, and leads; and perform account qualification and account planning within CRM I-frames.

Sales Intelligence vendors include

  • Zoominfo: Deep contacts, emails, org charts, and technographic content. They are the leader in technology sales intelligence and recently added visitor intelligence, trigger-based workflows, and webforms. Zoominfo (FKA DiscoverOrg) also supports Ideal Customer Profiling (ICP), email verification, and B2B DaaS.
  • D&B Hoovers: The deepest set of global company intelligence for strategic sales reps. Includes full family trees, public company financials and filings, analyst reports, industry market research, SWOTs, European private company financials, and sales triggers. Dun & Bradstreet also supports ICP, B2B DaaS, Visitor Intelligence, Programmatic Marketing, and Customer Data Platforms.
  • InsideView: A global database with greater depth in North America and Europe, InsideView offers strong sales triggers and integrated social media viewing. InsideView also supports B2B DaaS and ICP.
  • Sales Genie: The best solution for reps that sell to both companies and individuals (e.g. insurance agencies, mobile, office supplies, landscaping). Features include light sales force automation for firms that have yet to implement a CRM, new businesses, new homeowners, email templates, integrated dialer, and marketing services (SEO, site design, direct mail).
  • RelPro: A specialist vendor targeting financial services companies.
  • Artesian Solutions: A UK-based social selling vendor with deep sales triggers and mobile-based meeting prep. They also offer a US solution.
  • Cognism: A UK-based sales intelligence vendor with sales engagement functionality, B2B DaaS services, and ICP tools.
  • Vainu: A Nordic-based sales intelligence vendor that also covers the Netherlands (France, US, and the UK are in beta). They also support B2B DaaS and trigger-based workflows.

Ongoing Investment

Research has shown that firms that continue to invest during recessions come out of the downturns much better prepared to grow market share and revenue than those that stop investing. Marketing is an investment in your pipeline and brand. B2B Data-as-a-Service is an investment in your data quality and ability to target prospects effectively. It also reduces sales and marketing waste in efforts directed at weak prospects and departed contacts. SalesTech and MarTech purchases are investments in your revenue generation capabilities.

This is also an opportunity for your sales and marketing teams to cross-train, develop new skills, and test out new tools and processes.

When we come out of the backside of what, hopefully, is a short-term recession, you want to be better prepared to meet latent demand for your products and services. While cutting back on investment and cash burn may be necessary for survival at some companies, don’t cut back on your ability to serve the market in 2021 unless you have to do so. Let others sacrifice the future of their revenue generation operations out of short-term concerns. Bank your savings in travel expenses and event marketing, but don’t cut back in other areas unless necessary.

Terra Incognita

We are entering a terra incognita for the next three to six months, so steady, empathetic leadership should be your objective. On 9/11, our CEO pulled us into the room and talked to us. I don’t remember his words, but I remember that he was calm and understood that we were all upset and anxious. Business was the least of his concerns that day. He wanted to show a steady hand at the tiller and sent us home to be with family.

Our raison d’être is not to work, and sometimes we are jolted back into that reality. Family, friends, and health are a higher priority. COVID 19 is not the new normal, but simply a bad storm that will pass.

Sales Navigator Q1 Release: Search, UI, and Other Enhancements

Funding Events Slide-in Panel

LinkedIn Sales Navigator has been rolling out its Q1 release to users over the past few weeks. I already covered Contact Creation and Smart Links. Part III of this blog covers Saved Lead and Account Searches, Accounts Preparing to Grow alerts, UI and mobile enhancements, and an InsightSquared SNAP Connector.

Users may now share a Saved Lead Search, allowing them to put together dynamic prospect lists and share them across the account team.  Reps simply select who receives the shared search and include a note.  The recipients can then view the saved search with values pre-populated.

Another new feature is Saved Account Searches, which allow reps to set up a search with scheduled update alerts.  Users control the update notification period.

“Search is a newer area for us in Sales Navigator.  We’re finding more than ever that sales teams are looking at things collaboratively, so we introduced the idea that we need Sales Navigator to work across teams in order to allow that collaboration to happen.”

LinkedIn Sales Solutions Product Chief Lyndsey Edwards

The new Account Preparing to Grow alert notifies sales reps when the number of postings at a saved account has grown.

The Sales Navigator mobile app (Android and iOS) now supports all seven European languages available in the desktop application.  Another new app feature lets the rep set custom alert filters for accounts, leads, and relationships.

“Mobile has always been an area of focus and growth for us,” said Edwards.  “We are seeing more use on mobile than ever before, and we want desktop and mobile users to have an equal experience.  People want the full breadth of functionality on mobile.”

The homepage UI now supports a slide-in panel for viewing Account Funding News without leaving Sales Navigator.  The slide-in panel also supports CTAs, such as send InMail.

Other enhancements include a usage reporting refresh and an opt-out for usage report tracking.

LinkedIn released a SNAP integration with BI vendor InsightSquared.  The integration analyzes Sales Navigator usage and supports seven out-of-the-box workbook templates.

Edwards emphasized that the goal of Sales Navigator product updates is to promote simplicity by “simplifying the seller’s life and workflow.  We focus on sellers as end-users, but we want buyers to have a great experience, as well.”

Accounts Preparing to Grow Alert

Resources:

Sales Navigator Q1 Release: Smart Links

Smart Links Display multiple attachments in a branded landing page.

Sales Navigator is rolling out its Q1 release to clients. Contact Creation (discussed yesterday) is the lead feature, but Smart Links is equally important as it delivers another communications channel for the sales intelligence service.

Smart Links, their second-generation file-sharing service, replaces PointDrive.  Smart Links is available in the Team and Enterprise applications for sharing one or multiple attachments via Sales Navigator, social media, InMail, or email.  Smart Links maintain company branding and rep contact information while tracking attachment opens, views, and shares.  It is displayed as a top-level Sales Navigator feature.

“Users will be provided with real-time insights on how recipients are engaging with content.  These insights can be used to ascertain interest, personalize follow-ups, and identify other stakeholders in the buyer’s circle.”

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Product Director Lyndsey Edwards

When a recipient views the document, an alert is sent to the sales rep.  Smart Links also capture when attachments are forwarded, helping the rep expand her knowledge of the Buyer’s Circle.

“It’s getting more and more complicated in business-to-business marketing to understand the buying circle,” said product chief Lyndsey Edwards.

Next quarter Smart Links will be integrated directly into users’ inboxes.

While reps had a limited number of monthly PointDrives they could share, sales reps now have unlimited Smart Link access.

Smart Links have fewer steps, making it significantly easier to share attachments.  PointDrive usage was lower than anticipated, probably due to the number of steps required to set up and personalize a PointDrive.

Tomorrow, I will discuss the other Q1 release enhancements.

Smart Links Analytics track who has viewed and downloaded which content. It also tracks Smart Link forwards, providing deeper insights into the Buying Team.

Sales Navigator Q1 Release: Contact Creation

LinkedIn rolled out its Q1 2020 Sales Navigator release, the first quarterly release under their new product chief Lyndsey Edwards.  Expanded features include contact creation, a redesigned PointDrive service (now called Smart Links), search enhancements, job posting growth alerts, and enhancements to the home page and mobile app.

Contact Creation is the biggest enhancement in the release.  Like the Data Validation flag last quarter, Contact Creation is a limited data sync solution that is bounded by their member data privacy agreements.  Contact Creation allows reps to create CRM contact records from within Sales Navigator.  While other Sales Intelligence vendors provide full contact records including email, direct dial, job function, job level, and social links, Sales Navigator only supports the following fields (of which only four are pre-populated):

  • Account
  • Opportunity
  • Opportunity Role
  • First Name (Pre-populated from Sales Navigator)
  • Last Name (Pre-populated from Sales Navigator)
  • Job Title (Pre-populated from Sales Navigator)
  • Country (Pre-populated from Sales Navigator)
  • Email
  • Phone Number
  • Lead Source

Edwards noted that the average CRM instance has roughly half of its records out of date.  Reducing record creation and update workflows help address this problem.  LinkedIn can be particularly helpful in identifying executive departures and title changes, hence last quarter’s data validation flag.  However, Contact Creation only pre-populates four fields.  Thus, sales reps either need to have the other details available when creating the contact record or upload a stump record, which is later populated by a different vendor (e.g. Lightning Data partners on the AppExchange).  While other vendors allows lists of Account, Contact, or Lead records to be uploaded, only a single contact record may be created at a time from Sales Navigator.

“We’re really leaning into our relationships with CRM vendors over the past couple of quarters,” said Edwards.  “It’s an age-old problem that isn’t getting better.  We think we can help in a pretty meaningful way.  When people change jobs, they update their LinkedIn profiles first.”

Record matching and duplicate checking are performed.

Contact Creation is available for Enterprise clients only.  Admins must turn on CRM Sync for Salesforce.  Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales contact creation is in beta.


Part II of my release coverage discusses Smart Links, their next-generation PointDrive service.