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People often ask me if LinkedIn is worth the cost. My typical answer is "It depends on how you are going to use it". What I mean by that is if you do not need LinkedIn for the active pursuit of sales prospects or a job then you can likely get by with a free account.
However, if you are in a sales position and want or need to leverage LinkedIn to target prospects or seeking referrals from your network, then I would highly recommend a paid account. The following will help explain why.
There are lots of articles online explaining hacks and workarounds to avoid paying for a LinkedIn Premium account but how much is your time worth? Would you rather teach yourself workarounds and hacks or focus on getting more value out of LinkedIn in less time? Furthermore, I know this sounds snarky, but if you are in sales, and you are not generating $1K+ of value from LinkedIn, then you are probably using it incorrectly.
In any given month, many of us are having coffees or lunches with prospects or people from our network who we hope will introduce us to potential leads. I am not suggesting that you stop having those lunches or coffees but perhaps you can be more strategic about the people with whom you are having coffee or lunch. Use the features of a LinkedIn premium account to make the most of your prospecting and meeting time offline.
I show salespeople how to leverage advanced search capabilities and premium filters to generate targeted searches comprised of their ideal prospects in just a few minutes. We are all time-constrained. We have to do more with less. Why not be as efficient as possible?
The more you pay, the more information you receive. Premium accounts provide more detail about each person in search results as well as more results overall. In the case of Sales Navigator, you get a lead builder tool, lead recommendations and real-time insights on existing accounts and leads.
If your company is using Microsoft Dynamics or Salesforce, then LinkedIn's Sales Navigator directly integrates with them and provides the opportunity to merge your CRM contact records with rich LinkedIn profile data.
LinkedIn also has a Chrome Extension that integrates specifically with Sales Navigator and brings profile data into your Gmail Inbox for the people with whom you are corresponding.
While not from LinkedIn, there are sales-related Chrome extensions such as Discoverly that can be used as overlays with LinkedIn. They can illuminate mutual connections, email addresses, and other data. A LinkedIn Premium account and the Chrome browser make a powerful productivity duo.
You may still feel that a premium LinkedIn account is not right for you. I should add that I do not gain anything by recommending premium accounts. I don't work for LinkedIn either. Do yourself a favour and sign up for a trial of a premium account.
Over the course of your trial, develop daily habits such as regular prospecting and saved searches. Enjoy the regular updates about your prospects and any mention of them in the news. Track your progress over time and see how much you were able to accomplish (e.g. network growth, prospects identified, meetings or calls had, and sales made) in your trial period versus past months without a premium account.
Share your story with us so that other salespeople might learn too. Good luck and good selling!
About the Author:
Andrew Jenkins is Founder and Principal of Volterra, a professional services firm that has provided social media strategy, outsourced social media management, content development and planning, and social selling training to numerous mid to large enterprises. Andrew has spent the last twenty years working in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) spanning social media, wireless, and e‐business throughout North America and Europe. He has been identified as a social selling expert and has been featured in LinkedIn marketing campaigns, most recently as one of ten Canadian success stories. He speaks regularly at conferences and events about social media and social selling. He is a member of the Board of the Direct Marketing Association of Canada. He holds a BA in Economics from Laurentian University, a BFA in Film Production from York University, and an MBA from the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. He also taught entrepreneurship at OCAD University and currently teaches Digital Strategy at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.
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