This seems to be one of the most popular questions we field from organizations worldwide. Stemming from the need to become more social in nature, sales teams are beginning to evaluate Navigator as a necessary sales acceleration and effectiveness tool.
Even sales professionals are beginning to wonder if they can squeak-out a competitive advantage versus their peers and competitors by self-investing into Navigator.
But, what’s the right approach and answer?
The answer depends on where you are on your path. Before we explore this, consider the following.
Navigator Is a Productivity-Play
Can one be a social seller without Sales Navigator? Of course. That question is similar to me asking if I can be a golfer without using the latest & greatest Titanium clubs.
Social selling is bigger than LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and all the other social networking platforms out there. Social selling is about sales. It’s a newer channel to collaborate, network, engage and educate buyers.
That said, sales professionals can use the free versions of all tools as there’s enough horsepower to achieve these goals.
From personal experience training thousands of sales professionals, I’ve come up with the following analogy: the free tools can get you to the 85% mark, but the final push will require the premium/paid features.
Is Navigator Too Expensive?
That depends on your definition of expensive. We have clients with worldwide presence that find it too expensive, but truth be told, they’re in cost-cutting mode or limited spenders.
On the other hand, we have clients that have 500 sales professionals who feel that the investment into Navigator is completely justified because, quite frankly, even a 15-minute productivity gain in each sales person’s day pays for their license in spades.
The Reality of Most Sales Organizations
LinkedIn data suggests that almost 85% of its membership utilizes the free product. If we anecdotally correlate this to most sales departments, it’s likely that most sales professionals today do not have any sort of paid LinkedIn membership.
That said, given the newness of social selling, companies are looking to prove value with a measurable shift on a smaller scale before they make a big splash.
An Approach That Some Are Taking
Sales leaders who are interested in using ROI data to justify the purchase of LinkedIn Sales Navigator should consider causing a behavior shift first in their org. Once the change in behavior is there and sales professionals are producing pipeline & revenue, you’ve justified the investment into the person as they’ll use the product effectively.
Overall, the benefits of Navigator are certainly there. And while sales leaders intuitively realize this, the ability to justify the usage is important to them.
Consider that most software tools in a sales professional’s tech stack are barely used. CRM is a classic example of this. Likely the single-largest expense in the sales tech stack, its usage is joked about in organizations. We’ve entered the realm of internet memes being created about sales professionals not using CRM effectively (if at all).
Given this, leaders feel reassured when sales professionals can at least verify that they:
Understand the value of social selling;
Use it daily to generate results, while;
Needing a tool to boost results.
Consider this approach if your company is cash-strapped, functions on a business-case-first philosophy or simply just wants to test to see if social selling is for your company culture.
As mentioned earlier, some companies intrinsically get the value of social selling. Their executive leaders or other change agents firmly believe that buyers today are different than those a decade ago. For these companies, the investment into Navigator is a no-brainer.
I’ve personally observed, though, that these companies typically sell large-ticket solutions where margins are very healthy. While that’s not a scientific observation, it’s an anecdotal one that I continue to see repeatedly.
The Bottom Line
You and only you can determine the necessity for Navigator in your organization. I personally love the tool but I understand the financial and business case realities that are unique to each sales organization.
I’ll continue to write about this subject, especially given that we as Navigator users are about to experience the largest release of features ever in Navigator.