News analysis - LinkedIn opens the door to its data with LinkedIn Sales Insights

Profile picture for user barb.mosher By Barb Mosher Zinck December 2, 2020
Reliable data sources are harder than ever to find - especially data about relevant prospects. Here's how LinkedIn's latest product, Sales Insights, aims to address that. But will it make a difference for sales teams?

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As Sales continue to struggle to find the right accounts, understand their buyers, and improve sales planning, they need data to help. LinkedIn wants to help. 

LinkedIn has announced its second product in the Sales Solutions portfolio. LinkedIn Sales Insights is a data analytics tool that gives salespeople access to a data pool of LinkedIn's network of 722 million users globally. 

Finding good reliable data isn't easy these days. Third-party data is going to get harder to access. Ad blockers and the end of third party cookies are not just an issue for Marketing; they are a problem for sales. Of course, there will still be plenty of companies out there ready to sell you lists of companies and contacts, but who trusts them? Reliable data sources are getting scarcer all the time. 

The right data is critical

In a virtual press briefing for LinkedIn Sales Insights, Craig Rosenberg, co-founder and chief analyst at TOPO, talked about how much things have changed for Sales organizations. Pre-pandemic organizations looked at their business in terms of years. Today, the window is more like 60-90 days, he said, and programs need to be built for speed. 

Organizations need the agility to make decisions fast, then operate on those decisions equally fast. When things aren't working, they need to pivot quickly. To do that, Rosenberg said they need data. Not just any data, he pointed out, but data that is trustworthy and reliable.

Rosenberg said there is a need for data decision frameworks to help surface accurate, real-time, usable data.

Leveraging LinkedIn membership data

There are plenty of Sales professionals who leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator to help them find and engage with prospects. Adding in Sales Insights takes them further. With Sales Insights, they are in planning mode, researching, and finding opportunities using real-time data. Working with data that is always up to date enables sales organizations to make better decisions on where to focus their efforts. LinkedIn says it wants to help sales organizations "build a foundation of shared data." 

Sales Navigator provides the tools to execute those plans. But you don't need Sales Navigator to use Sales Insights - they are separate products.

Marketing can also take advantage of LinkedIn Sales Insights to help them find right-fit accounts that match their ICP and build account lists for ABM programs. According to LinkedIn, marketers have similar questions to Sales, including which accounts are the fastest-growing, or which departments or functions within an account are the biggest, the best opportunities across the market, and more.

The data also shows Marketing and Sales where relationships already exist between salespeople and contacts within accounts. 

How Outreach leverages LinkedIn Sales Insights

To give us an example of how this new data analytics product helps sales development and planning, Harish Mohan, SVP of Revenue Operations for Outreach, shared his company's story. Mohan said that the hygiene and integrity of the data they use to help inform their sales goals are critical. 

The company uses LinkedIn Sales Insight as a "system of truth" for prospecting. It has enabled them to reduce the amount of data sources they need and allows them to focus on those of high trust. LinkedIn Sales Insights helps them in two ways:

  • In their planning - new products, new persons, and new markets, it helps them understand the potential market value there is. 
  • In execution - LSI helps drive the account-score models, so SDRs are more focused and efficient.

Mohan said that it's vital that organizations don't skip the fundamentals: understanding how to build the master data model, understanding data sources, and ensuring high integrity and confidence in how the business is measured.

My take

LinkedIn provides a wealth of information about its members that companies can use to find and build the right accounts. It is third-party data, but it's data that LinkedIn members actively create so you know it's accurate and up to date (for the most part). Many sales organizations already use Sales Navigator to reach and engage with contacts, so this is the next logical step to focus on the right markets, accounts, and contacts. As a marketer, I like the ability to research and build account lists for ABM; it would certainly speed up the process of finding the best accounts to focus efforts on. As a LinkedIn member, I'm a little less excited because this tool may increase outreach to me from companies I don't want to engage with.