You need Sales Navigator to prospect on LinkedIn
If you search or view a lot of LinkedIn profiles or company pages, you need Sales Navigator, even if you never go into Sales Navigator.
Searching and viewing is considered prospecting on LinkedIn. And only so much prospecting is allowed every month.
What is prospecting on LinkedIn?
Prospecting activity is tallied up to the Commercial Use Limit on a monthly basis, beginning on the first of each month.
The limit isn’t published. You get a notification when you’re close and another when you hit it. Once you hit the limit you have to sign up for a premium membership or your activity is restricted for the rest of the month.
Not all LinkedIn activity counts towards the Commercial Use Limit.
Searching for & viewing profiles count as prospecting, depending on who it is.
- For people you know (1st-degree connections,) its not prospecting.
- For people you may know (2nd-degree connections,) its prospecting in some cases.
- For people who you don't know (3rd-degree connections,) its prospecting.
Searching and viewing for companies counts as prospecting.
Is publishing content or interacting with posts prospecting on LinkedIn?
Posting content does not count as prospecting, even though everyone who publishes content regularly does so for commercial means.
Reacting to (like, love, celebrate, etc.) and commenting on posts, also does not count as prospecting.
So, you can do as much of this as you like. You can meet and build relationships with anyone on LinkedIn through content: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections.
It doesn't even have to be your content. Click here for examples of LinkedIn content lead pools.
Sales Navigator VS LinkedIn searching
Sales Navigator interface, filters and keywords
Sales Navigator searches are by people (Lead result tab) or company (Account result tab) by entering keywords and filter values.
A nice feature of Sales Navigator, is moving seamlessly between the tabs.
So, start with a company search on the Account tab. For a company of interest, when you choose to browse employees, you're automatically moved to the Lead results tab where you can use Lead filters to search for employees of that company.
Sales Navigator VS LinkedIn search capabilities
1. Sales Navigator has more filters, and more powerful filters than LinkedIn
Sales Navigator has filters that LinkedIn doesn't have: industry, department headcount, department headcount growth, annual revenue, technology used, and more.
When LinkedIn has a similar filter to one in Sales Navigator, the Sales Navigator filter has more functionality.
Sales Navigator filters offer more suggested values, and more granular refinement options.
For example, Sales Nav's Geography filter (vs LinkedIn's Location) offers more value suggestions from the dropdown, plus a choice of searching by region or postal code.
2. Searches with multiple filters for people & companies
On LinkedIn, multiple filters are available for people searches, but not for company searches.
Companies can be found by name on LinkedIn.
But you can't refine further, by location or headcount, or any other filter.
You need Sales Navigator to do this: search with multiple Account filters.
3. Exclude is only available in Sales Navigator
Exclude allows you to remove specific filter values.
It reduces the number of searches needed.
For example, use Exclude to find USA minus California and New York (rather than search through every state in the US).
(1) Add New York and California to Geography.
(2) Hover over the blue icon, one at a time. Click on the exclude symbol.
What happens to your LinkedIn account when you have Sales Navigator?
LinkedIn becomes LinkedIn Without Warnings.
- Unlimited searching & opening profiles for profiles of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd-degree connections
- Unlimited company searches
- See everyone who's viewed your profile in the last 90 days. I wouldn't buy Sales Nav because of this, but it sure is nice to have
- Content and hashtag searches (this one's the same with or without Sales Nav)
- LinkedIn Learning, previously Lynda.com.
Why do you need LinkedIn, if you have Sales Navigator?
Social is on LinkedIn.
Also, sometimes it's more convenient to work in LinkedIn, especially searching & opening for profiles by name.
How to choose between Sales Navigator
and the competition
Who is the competition?
Basic meat & potatoes VS AI (Artificial Intelligence) platforms
Sales Navigator is a sales engagement platform. AKA a lead generation platform. AKA a lead research platform.
You find prospects from a searchable database of company & employee information. Some platforms publish event alerts, such as recently funded companies.
These are what I call the basic meat & potatoes sales research platforms.
You can go fancier.
What to compare on different meat & potatoes platforms
1. Forget the bells & whistles. Can you find enough IPCs (Ideal Paying Clients)?
Don’t get distracted by bells & whistles like email personalization, automated email sequences, and automated dialers.
These are outreach tools. You'll get to that later.
The first priority is getting enough businesses that are reasonably close to your IPC.
It’s got to be super easy to get a list of businesses from your SEP (Sales Engagement Platform).
Enter in a few search criteria. Hit go.
Now, it's fantastic if your SEP gives you business names, website, accurate employee names & titles, accurate email & direct phone number.
A platform that gives you businesses & websites is good enough for your primary sales engagement platform.
It's a pain, but you might need other SaaS tools or even services to get accurate contact names, emails & phone numbers.
2. Ways to find businesses
By search criteria
Search criteria is information like location, company size, industry, and keywords. There may also be annual revenue, fortune level, public/private status, technology used, company growth, and other criteria that cuts down on the extra research you have to do qualifying companies.
Of these, industry has the biggest impact on how easy it is to find companies.
On a platform that offers an industry code (most do,) every business has an industry code, typically picked by each company. Some platforms use SIC (Standardized Industry Classification) codes. Others use their own industry coding system.
Because every business has an industry code, every business can be found, as long as you know it's industry code.
Searching by industry can still give you a big list to look through, when the coding scheme isn't granular enough.
For example, there are thousands of businesses under the industry code "Computer Software".
This is where keywords come in to narrow searches within "Computer Software" or other industry code.
The tutorial in the last section of this post provides an example of searching by keyword and industry.
By newsworthy events & alert
Notification of specific company events is an alternative to searching for businesses by semi-static criteria.
GetLatka provides funding information "straight from the CEO's mouth" for fast growing SaaS companies.
3. Data accuracy and missing data
Millions of records on a platform is impressive.
Don't get fooled.
What use is this if the data you need is out of date?
This problem shows up particularly for employee names & titles. And by extension emails & phone numbers.
Even though Sales Navigator doesn't provide emails & phone numbers (other than what members volunteer), it does better than most platforms for accurate employee data, because LinkedIn members keep their profiles up to date.
Where do you go to check who works at a company? Probably LinkedIn.
The data is updated by the data source... the ideal scenario.
This isn't perfect either.
Not all employees are guaranteed to be on LinkedIn.
However, those who are on LinkedIn typically keep their profiles up to date on information that Sales Navigator searches.