You are a progressive Sales VP in a medium size company. You know how hard it is for your reps to prospect today. Targets don’t answer their office phones or open e-mails. You know today’s buyer is time starved and media saturated.
You’ve grasped the power of social selling, using LinkedIn to reach buyers. You’ve read about SBI’s social selling methodology of Profiles, Reach, and Referrals. Now what should you do? Can you implement this yourself?
This article helps you evaluate the features of free v. paid LinkedIn accounts. For a complete understanding of which features you need to implement social selling, download SBI’s LinkedIn Account Comparison Guide. It compares three types of LinkedIn accounts across 15 features. It contrasts a Standard account with “Sales Navigator Sales Plus” and “Sales Executive” accounts. Which features are necessary for effective social selling?
To complicate matters, some of your reps are complaining. They think the company is being cheap by not providing paid accounts for everyone. Are they right? How much true benefit is there for the average rep on your team?
Standard accounts are free. Paid accounts can be an expensive proposition. A Sales Executive account costs about $75.00 per month per user. (Note: this article is not intended to provide exact costs of different LinkedIn options. I am using current figures from LinkedIn’s website). Annualized, this is $900.00. However, implementing social selling is a process which occurs over time. Therefore, a cost/benefit analysis should be viewed over a 3 year period. So for 100 sellers, you’d spend around $270,000 over three years for Sales Executive.
Let’s pick two LinkedIn features, and see what the free and paid versions offer. For a complete view across 15 features, download SBI’s LinkedIn Account Comparison Guide.
Feature: Number of Profiles in Search Results
The Standard account allows a person to show up in 100 search results/month. It will take time for your reps to exceed this number. The paid accounts offer 500 and 700 results respectively. For a new social selling initiative, this is overkill. SBI’s profile method is built to produce quality, not quantity. We want the right buyers to find your reps, not just anyone. In the case of this feature, we recommend a Standard LinkedIn account.
Feature: Full List of “Who’s viewed your profile?”
The Standard account does not give you a full list of who’s viewed your profile. The paid account does. This is a useful feature. It aligns well with step three of SBI’s Social Selling Methodology, “Referrals.” Decision makers may look at your reps’ profiles. This is especially likely when your rep is trying to set an appointment. It’s an indicator that the decision maker may be interested. This would trigger your rep to prioritize this decision maker and account. For this reason, a paid account may be worthy of consideration.
Remember, LinkedIn is software, nothing more. It’s highly unlikely that your team is fully utilizing the free version now. It’s true that paid accounts get you more support for your team. LinkedIn offers recorded webinars, reading tip sheets, eLearning modules, and on-demand learning videos. The problem isn’t training. It’s getting the field to adopt a new behavior. Peak performers will dive in. B players will review, think “interesting,” choose tidbits to implement, and then get distracted. C players will ignore the whole thing. In the end, you will have implemented a software tool, not Social Selling.
SBI’s Social Selling Methodology does not require a client to invest in paid accounts. First use the free version. After the Standard account features are fully understood and leveraged, consider upgrading. You can learn about the most valuable upgrade features in this tool.
To learn more on this subject, search “Social Selling” on our home page, or connect with me on LinkedIn.