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LinkedIn Sales Navigator, CRMs - What Do You Need?

Among B2B marketers, LinkedIn stands out as a powerhouse - from research, competitive analysis, and benchmarking to connecting with potential clients, partners, and industry leaders. However, the approach to leveraging LinkedIn varies, and understanding these differences can be pivotal when developing a successful marketing strategy. 

During a recent training, a company's marketing director asked questions that prompted me to ask what they were trying to achieve. "I want to do the most comprehensive searches I can and download that list, add it to our CRM, and try to move them through my funnel."


While a goal worthy of considering, that's not how it works. 

First, her goal requires manual workarounds and doesn't follow LinkedIn's Terms and Conditions, privacy laws, etc. 

While marketing's goal is to reach the maximum number of people in their addressable market, LinkedIn is clear you will need to pay to do that via advertising, not searching and scraping the data. 

Another marketing director asked if I thought a CRM was necessary - they had one, but it wasn't meeting their needs, and they were evaluating whether they needed one and what the best options were.

I want to explore both of these topics - while this is not a definitive piece on B2B marketing and the value of a CRM, its intention is to dive in and consider ways to think about the need for a CRM and the need to leverage LinkedIn properly. 


Reaching the Masses vs. Precision Targeting

During a Sales Navigator training, marketers can quickly see the potential in creating highly targeted searches using a combination of filters and pathways to uncover new leads, geographies, industries, etc., and tap into the collective network of the organization. 

The data within Sales Navigator is enough to make you shiver with excitement and gasp with alarm - where to begin? So much potential. 

Sales Navigator, with its advanced search filters, better insights into accounts and leads, and personalized algorithmic recommendations, is a greenfield.  


Connecting and Nurturing: The Delicate Balance

The key to success on LinkedIn lies in how connections are nurtured. A mass outreach strategy may lead to more connections, but these are often low in quality. In contrast, LinkedIn Sales Navigator promotes a more careful and considered approach to connecting. This method may yield fewer connections, but they are typically more valuable and have a higher potential for genuine business relationships.

So once they connect, then what? 


LinkedIn Sales Navigator and CRM: Complementary Tools for Marketers

When choosing between LinkedIn Sales Navigator and a CRM, it's important to recognize that they serve different, yet complementary, purposes.


Sales Navigator's Role

Sales Navigator is designed for finding and building relationships with potential leads, especially warm ones. It offers a deep understanding of the target audience, allowing sales and marketing to tailor their approach and connect with the right people. Sales Navigator is critical for organizing and mapping accounts, prospects, events, and professional associations. 

Again, the insight within Sales Navigator is unparalleled. In a recent conversation, a sales leader proudly detailed their sales process and asked me how I would compare that to a 

Sales Navigator sales process. I could probably save his 4 or 5 steps or at least 30-40% of his current time spent. All the steps aren’t needed anymore. Some of the tools aren’t needed? Why? We let LinkedIn do it for us.

Sales Navigator also lets people stay connected to their audience in real time. Posts, job announcements, comments, and more all fill out the puzzle as I learn about a person, company, topic, or industry.


CRM's Role

A CRM, on the other hand, is about managing relationships and interactions with customers and potential customers. It does help businesses stay connected to their audience, streamline processes, and potentially improve KPIs and accountability. A CRM is invaluable for tracking interactions, managing leads, and nurturing customer relationships throughout the sales funnel.


Do Small Businesses Need Both?

For small businesses, the decision to use both LinkedIn Sales Navigator and a CRM depends on their specific marketing and sales needs. If a business is heavily focused on B2B interactions and needs to identify and build relationships with specific individuals in certain industries, Sales Navigator is a great investment. However, to manage and nurture these relationships effectively with a specific content or marketing strategy, a CRM is definitely necessary. 

In essence, LinkedIn Sales Navigator and a CRM are not mutually exclusive but are, in fact, complementary tools in the arsenal of a modern marketer. By using both strategically, businesses can harness the full potential of LinkedIn for targeted outreach and the organizational power of a CRM for relationship management, leading to a more streamlined, effective, and ultimately successful marketing effort.


Synergy Between Sales Navigator and CRM

Enhanced Data Utilization: Integrating LinkedIn Sales Navigator with a CRM can provide comprehensive data if continually updated. By leveraging LinkedIn's rich data within a CRM, businesses can gain deeper insights into customer behavior and preferences.

Streamlined Sales Process: The integration allows for a smoother transition of leads from LinkedIn to the CRM, ensuring that no potential lead falls through the cracks and improves the efficiency of the sales process.

Personalized Marketing Approaches: With detailed information from both platforms, businesses can craft more personalized and effective marketing campaigns, which are known to significantly improve engagement rates.


Salespeople and LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

Lead Generation and Sales Prospecting: For sales professionals, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is primarily a tool for lead generation and sales prospecting. A study by LinkedIn revealed that Sales Navigator users see a 7% higher lift in reaching decision-makers than those who don't use the tool. This is crucial for salespeople who aim to connect directly with potential buyers or influencers.

Relationship Building and Account Management: Sales Navigator provides insights and updates about leads and accounts, which is vital for maintaining and growing customer relationships. Sales professionals use these insights to tailor their communication and approach, increasing the likelihood of a sale.


Salespeople and CRM Systems:

Sales Pipeline Management: Salespeople use CRMs primarily for managing the sales pipeline. This involves tracking interactions with prospects, scheduling follow-ups, and moving potential deals through various stages of the sales process.

Sales Forecasting and Reporting: CRMs are crucial for sales forecasting and performance tracking. Salespeople rely on CRM data for insights into their sales activities, helping them make informed decisions and strategies. According to Salesforce, high-performing sales teams use almost three times more analytics than underperforming teams.

Customer Data Management: Salespeople use CRMs to maintain comprehensive records of customer interactions and histories. This central repository of information helps in personalizing communication and understanding customer needs better.


Marketers and LinkedIn Sales Navigator:

Target Market Identification and Segmentation: Marketers use Sales Navigator for identifying and segmenting the target market. This tool helps them find and categorize potential leads based on specific criteria such as industry, company size, or job function.

Content Strategy and Engagement: Marketers leverage Sales Navigator to understand what content resonates with their audience. By analyzing the interests and behaviors of their target market on LinkedIn, marketers can tailor their content strategy to increase engagement.


Marketers and CRM Systems:

Lead Nurturing and Marketing Campaigns: Marketers use CRM systems for lead nurturing through email marketing campaigns, tracking responses, and understanding lead behavior. A CRM helps in segmenting leads and customizing campaigns accordingly.

Customer Journey Analytics: Marketers use CRM data to analyze the customer journey and identify key touchpoints. This information is crucial in optimizing marketing strategies to improve customer experience and conversion rates.

Integration with Marketing Automation: Many CRMs can be integrated with marketing automation tools. This allows marketers to create more effective and automated customer engagement strategies. According to HubSpot, marketing automation can lead to a 14.5% increase in sales productivity.

While salespeople and marketers find immense value in LinkedIn Sales Navigator and CRM systems, they probably use them differently. Salespeople focus more on direct engagement with prospects, relationship building, and sales pipeline management, while marketers use these tools for market segmentation, content strategy, lead nurturing, and customer journey analysis. Understanding these distinctions can help organizations better tailor their training and resource allocation for sales and marketing teams, ensuring each group can use these tools effectively for their specific roles.


Sales Navigator Insights

CRM Insights

Using Sales Navigator to Enhance CRM

Advanced lead and company search capabilities.

Comprehensive customer interaction history.

Import leads and accounts from Sales Navigator into the CRM for a more complete view of customer interactions. Not everyone - determine when it’s time to move them from Sales Navigator to your CRM.

Real-time updates on leads and accounts.

Detailed customer profiles and contact information.

Sync real-time updates from Sales Navigator to keep CRM contact information and profiles current. Your CRM needs to integrate with LinkedIn Sales Navigator for real-time updates.

Insights into lead and company news and changes (e.g., job changes, company developments).

Sales pipeline and opportunity tracking.

Use Sales Navigator insights to update and enrich the sales pipeline in the CRM with current and relevant information.

Recommendations for leads based on sales preferences.

Analytics on customer behavior and sales trends.

Integrate Sales Navigator's lead recommendations to identify new opportunities and add them to the CRM for further nurturing. Your CRM needs to integrate with LinkedIn Sales Navigator for this to work.

Relationship maps showing connections within companies.

Data on past marketing campaign performance and customer responses.

Leverage relationship maps to identify key decision-makers and influencers in the CRM for targeted marketing campaigns.

InMail performance and engagement metrics.

Customer service interactions and history.

Use InMail engagement data to inform communication strategies in the CRM and personalize follow-ups.

Information on who's viewed your profile.

Overall customer satisfaction and feedback.

Track profile viewers from Sales Navigator in the CRM to identify potential leads showing interest and initiate contact.

Social selling metrics (e.g., Social Selling Index).

Lead source tracking and ROI of marketing channels.

Incorporate social selling metrics to score and prioritize leads in the CRM, enhancing lead qualification processes.


Using Sales Navigator to Inform CRM Strategies:

Lead Prioritization: By integrating Sales Navigator's data on lead interactions and interest levels into the CRM, sales teams can prioritize leads more effectively, focusing on those most likely to convert.

Personalized Communication: Use insights from Sales Navigator, such as job changes or company news, to tailor communication in the CRM. Personalized messages based on recent developments can significantly increase engagement rates.

Account Planning: Incorporate Sales Navigator's relationship maps into the CRM to better understand the decision-making hierarchy within target accounts. This can aid in strategic account planning and identifying new stakeholders.

Enhanced Sales Intelligence: Regularly update the CRM with real-time insights from Sales Navigator to ensure current sales intelligence, allowing for more informed sales conversations and strategies.

Improved Lead Generation: Utilize Sales Navigator's advanced search and lead recommendation features to continuously identify new prospects. Import these into the CRM for nurturing and follow-up.


What does Sales Navigator offer that is not typically found in a CRM?

LinkedIn Sales Navigator Features & Benefits

Not Typically Available in CRMs


Advanced Lead and Company Search

Advanced Search Specific to LinkedIn Data

Sales Navigator provides in-depth search filters specifically tailored to LinkedIn's unique dataset, including job roles, company size, and more, which are not typically found in a CRM's search functionality.

Real-time Updates on Leads and Accounts

LinkedIn Activity-Based Updates

Sales Navigator offers real-time updates on leads and accounts based on their activity on LinkedIn, such as job changes, company news, or content engagement, which CRMs generally don't track.

Lead and Account Recommendations

Recommendations Based on LinkedIn Data

Sales Navigator utilizes LinkedIn's data to recommend leads and accounts that match your sales preferences, a feature not available in most CRMs.

InMail Messaging

Direct Messaging to LinkedIn Users

With Sales Navigator, users can send InMail messages directly to LinkedIn users who are not their connections, a feature not available within CRMs.

Who's Viewed 

Your Profile

Profile View Insights

Sales Navigator provides information on who has viewed your LinkedIn profile, offering potential leads, which is a type of insight typically not available in CRMs.

Relationship Maps

Visual Relationship Insights

This feature in Sales Navigator shows the relationships within a company, helping to identify key decision-makers and influencers, which is beyond the scope of standard CRM functionality.


Let's dive in a bit more.

Search Capabilities: Sales Navigator's search capabilities are deeply integrated with LinkedIn's unique dataset, making it more powerful for identifying prospects based on their professional activities and attributes.

Real-Time Updates: The real-time updates in Sales Navigator provide current insights into leads and accounts, which is crucial for timely and relevant outreach.

InMail Messaging: The ability to directly message non-connections on LinkedIn through InMail is a significant advantage for reaching out to prospects outside your network.

Relationship Insights: Visual relationship maps in Sales Navigator can help identify the right people within an organization, enhancing the strategy for account-based marketing or sales.

In conclusion, while CRMs are essential for managing customer relationships and sales processes, LinkedIn Sales Navigator offers unique features tailored to leveraging LinkedIn's vast professional network for sales prospecting and social selling. Combining the strengths of both tools can lead to a more comprehensive and effective sales strategy.

I love the questions that pop up during a coaching or training workshop - sometimes even in a discovery call. I appreciate the wrestling with this topic. There are no easy answers - it all depends on how comprehensively you want to build sales and marketing effectiveness into your business.

I work with hundred-million-dollar businesses with no CRM, and I work with 3 million dollar businesses that do. Who is right? No one. It’s a matter of what works best for the business and the sales and marketing function.

As we know, you can’t manage what you can’t measure. So, if that is true for you, you need at least one of these tools. If I had to choose only one, I would start with Sales Navigator. Why? I can track my deals in Google Sheets or Excel. I can review my activity and correspondence the same way or through my email and am sure there are other tools and extensions that support this effort. Without LinkedIn and Sales Navigator, I don't have the insight into the people and companies I need to build a business network, meaningful relationships, and relevant conversations. 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator and CRM systems are not just complementary but are integral to a modern, data-driven marketing and sales strategy.


Blog image created in Canva with Magic Media.