LinkedIn Sales Navigator Pipeline Reviews & Buyers Circle (Q3 2018)

Buyer Circle, a new Sales Navigator feature released in Q3, provides drag-and-drop functionality for defining purchasing roles and players.
Buyer Circle, a new Sales Navigator feature released in Q3, provides drag-and-drop functionality for defining purchasing roles and players.

Last month, LinkedIn rolled out its Q3 Sales Navigator release to admins and trainers.  Enhancements include a new Deals feature to assist with pipeline reviews, “Buyer Circles,” an updated search user experience, and revised mobile lead pages.  Several partner platforms are also rolling out version 2 of their SNAP integrations.

During pipeline reviews, “managers are really trying to find out what are areas of weakness in the pipeline and how they can help. A lot of times, because the information that’s been put into CRM is incomplete, that can be a challenging conversation,” says Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions. “The problem Deals is ultimately trying to solve is how do you increase the quality of that data that is ultimately stored in the CRM, and by making it much easier for the rep to quickly see missing points of information as well as to add in what one could argue is the most important information—who are all the people that are involved in that buying decision at the target company.”

LinkedIn noted that pipeline review sessions are often frustrating due to incomplete and out of date CRM information resulting in a “20 questions” session in search of deal risks.  The new Deal feature pulls deal and contact intelligence from the CRM and streamlines the update process.  Instead of jumping between opportunity records, reps can manage their pipeline updates from a single pane of glass.  The update table allows reps to quickly enter deal intelligence including deal size, stage, close date, and next steps with information immediately written back to the CRM.

Deals requires that the Salesforce Admin enable CRM synch.  Reps will only be able to view and edit fields for which they have been granted permission and only for Opportunities in their name.  Managers will only be able to view Deals for their team members.

Deals includes a Buyer’s Circle feature which helps reps quickly fill gaps in their Buying Committee.  “The real power comes when you want to add missing role contacts,” Doug Camplejohn, LinkedIn Sales Solutions VP Products wrote to licensors.  “Buyer’s Circle makes it easy to select anyone on LinkedIn and drag them to a role, which, again, automatically updates your CRM. And if that contact is not already in your CRM, Deals lets you create a new CRM contact associated with that opportunity in just a few clicks.”

As LinkedIn does not deliver member-specific details to third-parties, Buyers Circle only uploads First and Last Name, Title, and Company.  Other buyer details would need to be keyed in by the sales rep or populated by a third-party enrichment vendor.

Deals is available in with the Q3 release and will be available in Microsoft Dynamics in Q4.

The new Deals feature provides a tabular view of opportunities for rapid update and sharing with managers.
The new Deals feature provides a tabular view of opportunities for rapid update and sharing with managers.

Deals is part of the Team and Enterprise editions and is based on a Heighten capability “rebuilt from the ground up.”  Heighten was acquired in 2017.

“B2B selling is more complicated these days where you often have half a dozen people involved, but they’re not all recognized.  A sales rep will put a single contact into the system, and if the deal goes sideways it’s hard to figure out who to contact or how to move forward.”

  • Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions

“I think the Deals module is the most interesting part of this release because it offers the biggest benefit,” said Gartner analyst Todd Berkowitz. “If you are in a market like tech or manufacturing or a complicated services deal, the number of people involved keeps going up including those who can influence the deal or an assassin who can kill it. The more information you can provide about all the people involved in the deal, the better. And the way the Buyers Circle surfaces information on people and brings it forward with one click is a real benefit.”

Part II covering additional features such as new SNAP integrations and mobile Lead profiles will publish on Monday.

SLA: Why Special Libraries Aren’t So Special Anymore

SLA LogoI attended the SLA (Special Libraries Association) meeting two weeks ago in Philadelphia.  I had skipped the meetings for a half decade but returned last year when it was in Boston (where I live) and again this year in Philly (cheap, one hour flight).  The show is much smaller that it was ten or fifteen years ago when it would be packed at the Jacob Javits center in New York City.  There are fewer attendees, fewer exhibitors, smaller booths, and less energy.  This is probably the case for most trade shows which are not industry events (e.g. Dreamforce).  Fifteen years ago, when I was at OneSource (now Avention), vendors timed product releases for the SLA show.  That is no longer the case.  Sales Intelligence vendors now ignore the SLA and time their release calendar around Dreamforce.

SLA Attendee Statistics from the 2016 Exhibitor Prospectus
SLA Attendee Statistics from the 2016 Exhibitor Prospectus

The show itself has always been a bit of a hodgepodge with STEM, Legal, Financial, Business, News, and other vendors providing databases and research tools for corporate, academic, and research libraries.  But two decades ago, corporate libraries were either closed or their budgets were slashed.  Centralized repositories made less sense as information delivery shifted to Internet browser and API-based workflow tools.  Nowadays, few corporate libraries are involved in buying business research tools and, when they are, it may be more as an influencer than a buyer.  According to the 2016 Exhibitor Prospectus, only 7% of the attendees were corporate.  Even if you add in financial services, insurance, and consulting, only one in six attendees was a likely buyer of business information databases.

Half the attendees were librarians or library directors, but two decades ago, budgets and decision making authority shifted away from corporate libraries due to the Internet.  This was a precursor to the current shift of purchasing authority away from IT to functional departments caused by the cloud.

I didn’t write about the SLA at the time because I was on the exhibitor floor when one of the vendors mentioned that Microsoft acquired LinkedIn.  This was one of the biggest transactions impacting the sales intelligence space (LinkedIn Sales Navigator is the largest revenue sales intelligence vendor and Microsoft Dynamics is the second fastest growing CRM) and neither vendor was at the show.

Nor were LinkedIn’s competitors in the recruiting, marketing, social media, and professional subscription services spaces.  Not many sales intelligence vendors attend the show anymore.  You used to see Dun & Bradstreet / Hoover’s / First Research, Zoominfo, OneSource (now Avention), and Sales Genie along with many of OneSource’s aggregation partners.  LexisNexis and Factiva both flew the flag at the show, but their primary offerings are not business information but legal (Lexis) and news (Nexis and Factiva).  Except for PrivCo, none of the PE/VC focused vendors were onsite.

Interestingly, many internationally-focused vendors such as BvD, EMIS, BMI, MarketLine, Euromonitor, and Financial Times still attend.  The industry research segment seems to have held up better than business information.  BMI, MarketLine, IBISWorld, and Euromonitor were there along with various industry specific vendors.  However, Plunkett Research and First Research (owned by Dun & Bradstreet) were not present.

The decline of tradeshows is tied to Buyer 2.0.  It used to be that tradeshows were one of the few ways you could semi-anonymously gather information about vendors.  But now, information services no longer require a face-to-face meeting for demos.  You will find them on YouTube and Vimeo as either training tools, feature specific release demos, or recorded webinars.  And once buyer and seller are speaking, web sharing tools have long replaced onsite demos.  We have become accustomed to signing up for services without meeting a sales rep face-to-face.  At the lower end of the market, users simply enter a credit card and may never speak to a representative of the company.

Nowadays, there is so much information available online that the attendees are on site either for professional development (and much of SLA still serves that purpose) or because the show is local.  One exhibitor commented that the shows do better in the Northeast, likely due to higher population density and Amtrak.  I agreed — I have no plans to attend SLA 2017 in Phoenix.