For many LinkedIn users I speak with at events, in training and coaching sessions, and even on LinkedIn via messaging or groups, the company’s Sales Navigator offering is a real mystery to them. Generally speaking, about half have heard of it but don’t know what it is. The other half dismiss it as nothing more than an expensive feature that won’t do them any good.

That’s too bad, as Sales Navigator can become an especially powerful tool in any sales pro’s toolbelt or stack. That’s why I call Sales Navigator “LinkedIn on steroids.”

With that in mind, I’m just going to put this out there:

Sales Navigator: Recommended for B2B Sales Pros

LinkedIn offers three tiers of plans: Professional (single users), Team (small teams), and Enterprise (large teams, companies with multiple sales teams, etc.). Rather than detail what you get with each plan, I’ll just link you to LinkedIn’s own breakdown of the plans themselves. As you can see, Sales Navigator brings a lot to the table that any version of LinkedIn.com doesn’t have, including saved leads, job change alerts, territory preferences, and more.

A couple of features I especially like are advanced lead/account search and the Discover tab. LinkedIn.com recently added to its search filters, which was very welcome. With Sales Navigator, though, you can search for people or companies with very targeted filtering like:

  • Company revenue (and size, too)
  • Location by postal code radius
  • Posted content keyword
  • Company headcount growth
  • Department size
  • … and way too many more to list here

The Discover tab, meantime, is where the “magic” of Sales Navigator comes into play. When you start using Sales Navigator, it asks you for criteria of companies you want to see. Algorithms then take over that examine your criteria and presents you with suggested leads and companies. I have to admit; this is impressive.

If you haven’t already guessed, I’m a big fan of Sales Navigator for any B2B sales pro. The platform is especially good for Team and Enterprise users. But it does come up a bit short for the one-person band salesperson or entrepreneur who would want to use the Pro tier.

Disadvantages for the Professional Tier User

Here’s where I have some problems with LinkedIn. The company leaves out two important features from its Professional tier:

PointDrive. As a Sales Navigator Professional user who has had access to the Team level in the past, I miss PointDrive. Here’s what it is in detail. Simply put, PointDrive is used to package content like PDFs, presentations, Word documents and more in a smart-looking way that goes way beyond attaching these kinds of things in an email. It also provides tracking detail so that you can see engagement and intent during your sales cycle.

PointDrive could be a huge part of an individual sales rep’s or entrepreneur’s social selling efforts, as these pros likely don’t have easy access to such a tool outside of LinkedIn. Including this feature alone could sell a lot of plans to current non-users. UPDATE: As my friend Perry van Beek, author of LinkedIn Sales Navigator for Dummies, points out: “Before you sign up for Sales Navigator Team Edition expecting to get access to PointDrive, you won’t get it unless you buy at least 10 licenses through a LinkedIn Sales Rep!”

Deals. While Deals is designed for cooperative sharing of sales data among team members, LinkedIn should offer a lite version for individual salespeople and entrepreneurs in the Pro tier. This group would benefit greatly from this feature—it could even replace a rudimentary customer-relationship manager (CRM) for them. Additionally, if a Professional tier user does have CRM, they cannot tie it into an external CRM like Salesforce, HubSpot, etc.; that functionality only comes with a Team or Enterprise account.

I get that LinkedIn ideally wants Professional users to upgrade to Team (even though they’re not really on a “team”) and shell out the extra $35+/month for it. This doesn’t make sense for many Pro users to do, though, as they’re not on a team and cannot take advantage of the collaboration tools.

Another feature not offered to Pro members is having the ability to unlock 25 out-of-network profiles. But this one is small potatoes compared to the lack of PointDrive and Deals.

Why not LinkedIn.com Premium?

In my mind, LinkedIn.com Premium, and specifically the Business category just doesn’t deliver the value for the price when compared to Sales Navigator.

Why? While it does have a couple of scaled-down features from Sales Navigator like 15 InMail messages and 90 days’ worth of member profile views in Who’s Viewed Your Profile, it lacks several important assets that don’t make it practical for B2B sales pros; mainly Advanced Search and Lead/Account Recommendations.

A big one that deserves its own paragraph is Sales Navigator’s tagging and notes features. This used to be included in the regular LinkedIn.com, but LinkedIn moved it to Sales Navigator a couple of years ago—much to the consternation of many users (myself included). Imagine being able to put tags and notes into your LinkedIn contacts and leads. With Sales Navigator, you can. Strategies exist for tagging and notes, and those are worth their own article.

I can see cases where a non-sales user would want to use other LinkedIn Premium tiers, especially job seekers and those wanting to use LinkedIn Learning. If you’re a B2B sales-focused professional, though, you might as well skip Premium and go straight to Sales Navigator.

Cost is always an issue, of course—it should be. But if you can pay for an entire year’s worth of SalesNav access with just one closed deal, it’ll be worth it to your quotas and bottom line.

Interested in Sales Navigator for yourself or your sales team? Let’s set up a time to explore opportunities to work together. To make scheduling easier, here’s a link to my calendar. Please pick a time that works for you.