Over the last couple of weeks, I have received numerous emails and messages asking me questions about the differences between the LinkedIn membership levels, Premium Business Plus and Sales Navigator Professional.
In fact, many people currently using Business Premium Plus want to know what benefits are left to having this account level or if they must upgrade to LinkedIn Sales Navigator to be able to accomplish their lead generation and social selling goals.
I have put together a breakdown of the different features and tools included in each LinkedIn membership level, the cost and how they can be of benefit to you.
Free LinkedIn Membership
Let’s start with free LinkedIn accounts, as I have had plenty of questions come in from community members regarding the LinkedIn free membership.
With so many important features gone, many are left wondering if LinkedIn is still useful with a free account or if they now need to pay for it to remain worthwhile to invest their time and resources in.
With the removal of the Notes & Tags feature and the downgrade of the LinkedIn Advanced Search tool, lead generation has become more work with the free account.
Not only must you use outside tools (free or paid such as Dux-Soup) to tag and make notes for each of your connections but the Advanced Search has lost some of its functionality.
You must be even more strategic when you do a search, to work around the lost functionality and produce the results you need without going over the monthly commercial use limit.
Even with what has been lost, LinkedIn is still the best place for most professionals, B2B businesses and sales people to find and connect with their ideal clients.
You can still find and connect with your ideal clients, post regular status updates and LinkedIn Publisher posts as well as engage in numerous ways with your connections.
This being said, I do think that it is a mistake for LinkedIn to alienate its free users.
The very premise of LinkedIn is that it is an active social platform for business with over 467 million members. The power of the platform is that you can quickly and easily find and connect with professionals and business people all over the world, but that is only true if people continue to join and use it regularly.
LinkedIn Premium Accounts
While there are several Premium account types, in this article I will be comparing Premium Business Plus and Sales Navigator Professional, which are the most useful for the purpose of lead generation and social selling.
Here is a comparison graphic provided by LinkedIn of the different LinkedIn membership levels.
LinkedIn Premium Business Plus
If you are feeling limited by your free LinkedIn account, you might want to consider LinkedIn Premium Business Plus.
You can start off with a free month trial and after your free month you will pay $47.99 USD / month when billed annually (more on the monthly payment plan).
Here is a list of tools and features that you can access with your Premium (and Sales Navigator) subscription, to help you decide if Premium Business Plus is right for you.
Who’s Viewed My Profile
You can find a great source of potential leads in the Who’s Viewed My Profile section.
This section lists all of the people who have viewed your profile over the last 90 days (you can only see the last five people with a free account.)
LinkedIn provides you with a couple of basic filters on the left side that will show you what companies the people were from, the most common job title of viewers and how they found your profile.
If you want to reach out and send a message directly to someone you are not connected to and that you don’t share a group with, you must send them an InMail.
InMails can be useful when you want to reach out to a potential prospect, before you send them a connection request.
This is only possible with a premium subscription. You are given a certain amount of InMails to use every month based on your subscription type with opportunity to purchase more.
Extended LinkedIn Network Access
With Extended LinkedIn Network Access, you don’t have to worry about the Commercial Use Limits put on free accounts.
This means you will not lose access to search results part way through the month, which would negatively affect your lead generation searches.
Activities that LinkedIn counts towards the Commercial Use Limits include:
- Searching for LinkedIn profiles on LinkedIn.com and mobile.
- Browsing LinkedIn profiles using the People Also Viewed section located on the right side of a profile.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator Professional
LinkedIn also offers the chance for you to try Sales Navigator for free for a month, and after your free month pay as little as $64.99 USD / month when billed annually (more on the monthly payment plan).
With Sales Navigator Professional, you will get all the benefits of Premium Business Plus and some additional features.
I have included the list off additional features as well as benefits of each feature and how they can help with lead generation.
Advanced Sales-Specific Search Tools
The Advanced Search in Sales Navigator makes it easy for you to find your ideal clients and potential prospects.
Not only are you able to get all of the missing functionality back from LinkedIn’s old Advanced Search but you also get several other additional premium filters.
Automatic Lead & Account Recommendations
Sales Navigator makes it easier than ever to locate potential prospects with their Suggested Leads and Suggested Accounts features.
To see the list of leads that LinkedIn is recommending, click on the Suggested leads link located in the navigation menu in the top left corner of the Home page.
You will see recent updates posted by people Sales Navigator recommends based on their similarity to other leads you have recently saved.
Here you can easily see and interact with them as well as save them as a lead.
To get to the Suggested Accounts section, hover over Accounts, located in the top navigation and click on Suggested Accounts from LinkedIn.
On this page, you can see all of the Suggested accounts from LinkedIn. You can easily save a company as an account by clicking the Save as account button as well as view the business or view similar businesses.
Sales Navigator also provides you with several filters at the top of the page as well as a full search bar on the left.
Notes & Tags
A monthly subscription to Sales Navigator will give you access to the lost Notes & Tags feature from LinkedIn, which is a key feature for anyone using LinkedIn for lead generation and social selling.
You can import all your old tags and notes into the system, but first you must save each connection as a lead in order to access them.
Here is a complete rundown of how to use the Notes & Tags feature in LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
Job Change Alerts
You can easily find out when one of your leads changes jobs with the Job Change feature.
This can be useful in a number of ways when determining who you should be communicating with at a particular company as well as a good reason to reach out and engage with them, which helps to keep you top of mind.
From the Home page, click on Job change in the left navigation menu.
You can see their old job and new position as well as the ability to effortlessly message them.
With your subscription to Sales Navigator, you get access to their Learning Center.
To get there, hover over Support, in the top blue navigation bar on the right side. Click on Learning Center.
Deciding Between LinkedIn Membership Levels
With all the recent changes at LinkedIn it can be hard to know which plan will work best for you.
For those who are using LinkedIn for lead generation, you will definitely need to alter your social selling strategy unless you decide to invest in Sales Navigator, which will provide all of what you were currently used to having and more.
If you are like many people, considering a paid LinkedIn account may be necessary to achieve those results. It is important to look at the factors that are relevant to your business such as the value of your average sale, the time and resources you have available and budget.
Wrapping Up: Pay to Play
LinkedIn is doing the same thing Facebook did years ago when they changed their algorithm for Business Pages making it almost impossible to be seen, that was the start of the Pay to Play model with social media.
Having said that, social media has spoiled us over the years with the ability of marketing without spending money. There’s never been a time before that businesses could market themselves without spending any money. Upgrading may not be right for everyone, but it certainly will make sense for those who can find, connect and build relationships with their ideal clients on LinkedIn.
I hope that you have found this comparison to be beneficial in helping you decide between the LinkedIn membership levels and which one will work best for you. If you need help modifying your current lead generation or social selling strategy, you can contact me here.