The sales professional community is finally starting to see the value of LinkedIn for Social Selling. For those that get it, it’s been mega-successful!

But the challenge is figuring out if your reps should stay with the basic subscription or upgrade to the paid Sales Navigator version. It’s a powerful tool with many benefits so the intrigue in moving to it is quite natural for sales, marketing and operations leaders.

What’s our philosophy on this?

The question isn’t about free or paid. It’s about what you’d like to get out of LinkedIn. The last thing I’m going to do is launch into a features and benefits discussion. I find at times there’s too much discussion about InMails, the number of search results, and more. There is a time and place for these specifics but before we do anything, we need to ask ourselves a very important question as sales & marketing leaders.

Can I prove ROI with the free version of LinkedIn?

Test Before You Invest

In the quest to answer that, many companies today are realizing that real ROI can be established with the free version. Yes, you read that right.

They’re generating real pipeline and revenue from Social Selling with the free version of LinkedIn.

Chances are that like you, they’re looking to prove out social due to internal resistance from “sales traditionalists.” Or perhaps they’re working with a limited budget and would like to test a concept before investing in it on a broad scale.

Mindset Before Toolset

Additionally, if your sales team is ready to adopt Social Selling without too much training and know-how, then LinkedIn Navigator should be evaluated. This is a touchy-subject for many companies because they realize that just by providing a product with limited training, behavioral shifts and adoption won’t occur.

You must have a program in place that helps drive adoption and mindset shift in order to truly exploit the value from LinkedIn Navigator. If you’re a leader in your organization, check out this guide on how to successfully implement Social Selling.

Even for companies that are Navigator users, consider how stronger your investment would be if more salespeople had a change in mindset and were fully activated on the promise of Social Selling. The results would be incredible!

The Phased Approach

If you’re feeling perplexed or don’t have budget, consider using the free version of LinkedIn and getting training for your sales team to help prove out ROI. Once you start generating real pipeline and revenue from training, you can provide an evolved experience to your team with Sales Navigator.

Culturally, this approach works for most organizations. After all, there is nothing wrong with the crawl-walk-run mindset.

Organizations that do this are likelier to remain social sellers for the long-term because their mentality has shifted. They’ll be better users and adopters of any toolset you provide from here on out.

In short, remember:

Mindset Skillset Toolset

The Bottom Line

Don’t ask yourself if you need the free version of LinkedIn or Sales Navigator. Ask yourself whether you can provide an ROI with the free version of LinkedIn. Ask yourself whether your team is even in the right mindset to start Social Selling.

What’s your experience? Have you tried to get your team to shift their mindset? I’d like to hear your thoughts so please share them by tweeting me @AmarSheth or connecting with me on LinkedIn here.

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Amar Sheth

Author: Amar Sheth

Amar Sheth has trained thousands of people worldwide on the topic of Social Selling, through a style that’s part storytelling and part motivational.

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