Using Sales Navigator to Identify Decision Makers

This post originally made on Social Selling Labs.

According to a recent demographics breakdown by BI Intelligence, LinkedIn has a user base naturally geared for social selling. The benefits that LinkedIn delivers for its sales people does not end there, however. In 2014, LinkedIn released Sales Navigator as a standalone service.


Now, what does Sales Navigator do? It “empowers sales professionals to establish and grow relationships with customers and prospects.”


But really, the most important thing salespeople can use LinkedIn Sales Navigator for is in identifying decision makers. Sales Navigator is built to streamline and automate the process of sorting through a myriad of prospects which are eventually narrowed into a list of the highest-quality lead recommendations.


Here’s how to do it:


Step 1. Identify your search keywords


Instead of having to manually search for leads in various platforms, Sales Navigator lets you simply enter your search keywords and it will tailor its lead recommendations accordingly. These lead recommendations will be pulled out of LinkedIn’s centralized profile database.


Let’s begin with a fictional prospect. Let’s say you are looking for leads to invite to an event hosted by your company. You are looking for senior IT people — these are people in charge of IT for any company based in, say, San Francisco.


Since you are looking for “decision makers”, this means that the higher up the corporate chain you go, the better. This IT person should be the one to call the shots on who to respond to and what events to attend.


Another way to identify your decision makers is to check your target companies’ annual reports, annual general meetings, 10-K filings, and other events. Decision makers are almost always present in these filings or events.


Once you have a basic template of names, companies and keywords, it’s time to further delve into Sales Navigator’s premium features.


Step 2. Use Lead Builder filters


Now, let’s proceed to Sales Navigator’s Lead Builder:




At the top of your Sales Navigator home page, next to the search bar, click Lead Builder. The lead builder feature of Sales Navigator will let you enter the following search criteria:


  • Keywords
  • Current company
  • Location
  • Title
  • Function
  • Seniority Level
  • Company Size
  • Industry

Input your search criteria. For Location, input San Francisco. For function, click Security. For Seniority Level, click VP, Manager or Director.


You can also sort by company revenue or number of years in the company. Decision makers are usually those that have been with the company for a long time, so you can click the when joined checkbox and input a specific year, such as when the company was founded, or a few years after launching. You can also enter a number in the years of experience section.


For better chances of a response, filter your list by 2nd-degree connection or companies where you have many first to second-degree connections. This heightens your chances of getting an introduction or response.


Then click search.


A note on TeamLink:


If you’re a Sales Navigator Team user, the TeamLink feature lets you view your team’s connections.
You can narrow down your search results to people who can be introduced to you via your team’s connections. This is useful if you want to have a higher chance of a lead responding to your message.




If your target is a second or third degree connection, you can check TeamLink if any member of your team is on a first degree connection basis with your target. If you find a hit, you can then ask your team member to introduce you by clicking the ask for an introduction button. You can find this button below the How You’re Connected area.




Once you find your list of prospects, you can browse through to confirm their current position and location.


You can find their current location below their name and professional headline, to the left.



It’s also best to scroll down and check their actual job title on the Experience section because sometimes, professional headlines do not necessarily reflect this.




3. Save Lead


Once you have confirmed that they are indeed the high-level IT security officers that may prove to be worthy leads, you can click on the Save as Lead button, which always appears next to your search result.




4. Save search for future use


You can also click the save this search button. Enter a title for your search and click your preferred frequency for alerts. Sales Navigator then adapts its future lead recommendations based on your saved searches. This way, you won’t have to repeat the whole keyword and filtering process every time.



5. Save accounts


Next, you can organize a list of your prospects by putting your saved leads into saved accounts. Think of the saved accounts as folders where you can organize your saved leads according to company. This also allows you to keep tabs on your leads and the companies they work for.




6. Enhanced monitoring capabilities

This is where you can further confirm if the leads you saved are indeed the key decision makers you need to send your pitch to.


Unlike LinkedIn, where you need to connect before you can follow a lead, in Sales Navigator, you can follow your prospect and get enhanced monitoring capabilities even without connecting. You will receive real-time updates, posts, and news insight on your saved leads and accounts.


social selling Home__feed___Sales_Navigator



You can filter the type of updates you get to see. Lead Updates show any update that your lead is linked to, such as a company anniversary or an article that your lead is mentioned in.


Lead shares shows everything that your lead has shared, for example a lead may be posting a lot about recent business travels or job openings.


Company shares shows what companies you have followed are sharing, and Company news are news updates featuring those companies you followed.


Trigger events, such as a change in a saved leads’ personal or professional life — a new career move, a new hire, a new award, a child’s graduation, a charity event, or a petition, can be an opening for you to tailor your initial query messages. Posts by a lead such as industry-related questions or critique, can serve as an opportunity for you to share an answer.


You also get notified when a lead has just been promoted or has moved to a more senior position. This gives you the chance to open your message in a congratulatory tone. You can mention something you have in common with your lead, such as a volunteer group or language that you are also learning. You can find these commonalities under the In Common tab on the lower right corner, and you can move into building rapport from there.





7. Use your InMail credits wisely

Sales Navigator also comes with InMail credits, depending on your plan. Your plan will determine the number of InMail credits, which means the number of unsolicited messages you can directly send to your prospect.


A basic account gives you 8 InMail messages per month, 15 per month for a professional account, and 30 per month for a team account.


Once you’ve gathered relevant information about your leads, such as the industry or company news they care about, company activities or campaigns they are part of, recent hires or lateral movements, etc, you can proceed to craft your well-intended initial query letter.


If you have questions about these tips or would like to share your own LinkedIn strategies, please leave a comment below.

Koka Sexton

The leader in social selling methodology and ranked #1 in Forbes for social selling. Bringing the science of social selling to the business world and delivering ROI on social media.