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LinkedIn rolls out new relationship intelligence tools for B2B marketers and sellers

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By Kendra Barnett, Associate Editor

February 28, 2023 | 9 min read

The social networking site is debuting a slate of new tools to help marketing and sales professionals identify the audiences best suited to their needs.

LinkedIn is rolling out new features designed to help sales teams identify the right prospects at the right times

LinkedIn is rolling out new features designed to help sales teams identify the right prospects at the right times

For many marketing and sales teams, developing the right relationships is the key to unlocking better performance. But research from LinkedIn suggests that 86% of sellers have seen a deal get delayed or fall through entirely in the past year due to a decision-maker changing roles.

So to help marketers and salespeople develop critical relationships, LinkedIn today announced it is launching a new suite of tools that leverages the platform’s first-party data to help teams home in on the right contacts and leads.

“We know, for many of you, this is a time of uncertainty, and selling is hard. Our hope is these new features empower you to build deeper, lasting relationships – even if they don’t immediately lead to deals,” said Mitali Pattnaik, senior director of product at LinkedIn, in a blog post.

The new set of tools comprises Relationship Explorer, a hub within LinkedIn’s data-driven selling platform Sales Navigator. The changes add to a slate of recent changes rolled out by the social networking platform aimed at improving B2B marketing and selling. In November, the company introduced a handful of capabilities designed to help marketers get more out of their investments on LinkedIn.

Here are the updates to know.

Inside LinkedIn's new Relationship Explorer

1. Defining ideal audiences

Using Sales Navigator’s new Personas feature, sales teams can set specific parameters to help narrow down their target customers. These parameters include job title, seniority, job function and location. By plugging these details in from the get-go, sellers will ideally enjoy a more seamless path to discovering target buyers.

A defined Persona will appear not only within Relationship Explorer but also in a salesperson’s homepage view, in Search and on their Account Pages.

The Personas tool also provides live insights into how the Persona group is changing in size and demographics.

2. Surfacing key people to know

The new Relationship Explorer hub aims to help sellers find profiles of “hidden allies and supporters” at a specific organization to aid in outreach, Pattnaik said.

After setting parameters for their target buyer persona, sellers can see automated suggestions for individuals within an organization who are most likely to be familiar with the company. Sellers will see eight top recommended decision-makers at a given organization, served up based on LinkedIn’s first-party data on its 900m-plus users. In essence, Relationship Explorer aims to serve warm leads to account leaders.

Plus, the tool allows for multithreading, meaning it can also pinpoint the next-best contact for a seller to reach out to once they’ve already discovered top-tier suggestions. The tool aims to improve efficiency in the sales cycle.

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3. New insights into intent

Relationship Explorer also aims to provide users with deeper insights about intent.

With the new Product Category Intent, sales teams can more easily find the buyers who are most likely to be searching for a product like theirs. Product Category Intent also highlights which product category, in particular, is most likely to be appealing to a potential buyer. This capability will also be made available in Search via a new filter.

Further, LinkedIn plans to roll out new capabilities within the Buyer Activity section of a salesperson’s Account Pages and Buyer Intent Account Dashboard. In particular, the platform will highlight behaviors of anonymized users (that might be identified by a general descriptor such as “Director level in Marketing function”), including recent LinkedIn ad engagement, company LinkedIn page visits, InMail engagement with a colleague and more. These tools build on LinkedIn’s Buyer Intent features within Sales Navigator, the first of which were rolled out in September of 2022.

4. Optimized search

The Search tool within Sales Navigator is one of the platform’s most widely-used capabilities. With the goal of helping sales professionals “leverage more data points to make more informed decisions in prospecting and outreach,” per Pattnaik, LinkedIn is introducing new relationship-focused filters within Search.

Marketing and sales teams will be able to filter by account lists and find past colleagues based on LinkedIn data. Advanced Plus customers will gain access to additional Search filters, identifying past customers based on customer relationship management (CRM) system data and homing in on specific leads who are connected on LinkedIn to company executives.

5. Customized CRM account list views

LinkedIn is also improving its existing CRM Auto-Save feature in two key ways.

New user settings options will allow sellers to set specific parameters for which accounts from their CRM will populate their My CRM Accounts list, being as narrow or as broad as they choose. Plus, users will now have the option to directly remove accounts on its My CRM Account List that they don’t wish to see in the list. Edits of this sort won’t remove the user from the actual CRM, but will allow sellers to clean up their list view.

“CRM Auto-Save plays a critical role in managing the book of business on Sales Navigator by providing a view of all the accounts the user is assigned to in CRM. But, CRM data is often messy and includes accounts that reps no longer own,” said Pattnaik. “This update to our existing CRM Auto-Save feature dramatically improves the ability for each individual rep to manage and customize their book of business…”

A welcome change

The changes announced today already have some industry leaders buzzing. “We’re standing at a moment in time when the seller-customer relationship has changed,” said Lisa McLeod, a leading sales voice and the author of Selling with Noble Purpose. “Customers are asking, ‘Are you here to help me, or are you just here to sell me?’ If you’re sending out generic pitches, you’ll be ignored and even disdained.”

She went on to say that “Relationship Explorer is aptly named,” considering that “organizations that focus on building real relationships with prospective customers will come out ahead.”

LinkedIn has invested significant resources in promoting its B2B sales and marketing offerings in the last couple of years. Last summer, it launched a multichannel campaign that sought to make B2B marketing just as cool as B2C marketing.

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