Here is the  most popular question I have received in the past ten days:

LinkedIn user: “Bruce, where is ‘search’ in the new user interface?

Me: “In Sales Navigator.”LinkedIn user: “< much profanity deleted here >.”

As the new user interface is being rolled out, many LinkedIn users are stuck in a bad spot. You either have to spend money you weren’t expecting or lose functionality. In other words, choose to upgrade to LinkedIn Sales Navigator or not. With that in mind here are some ideas that may help you in making a decision on Sales Navigator.Sales Navigator has three basic sets of additional features compared with the free version of LinkedIn.

Search Tools

Sales Navigator consists of twenty search filters, plus search by title and keywords. You can also save and adjust searches, broadening and narrowing parameters on the fly. Basically, if someone enters something on their LinkedIn profile, you can use it to find them. But you are going to have to pay. If you already know where to find your targeted candidates,  you don’t need Sales Navigator’s search capabilities.

On the other hand, if you are looking for web developers in Dallas, there are over fifteen thousand possible prospects. In other words, Advanced Search capability is imperative. The question is easy. Do you know where to find your candidates? Do you have so many candidates you don’t need more? If the answer is no, you need Sales Navigator.

Follow People and Companies


You can designate hundreds of people and companies as “leads.” Sales Navigator will show you all of the posts they write or share, company news, and people who make job changes. You can also tag people (another feature that was moved from free LinkedIn to Sales Navigator) and sort them.

This is a good suite of features if you are big on social selling and using people’s posts and shares as cues to start conversations with them. If you are more of a traditional “I’m not waiting for him or her to post, I have a compelling story to tell them now” type of; then this feature becomes a “that’s nice” type of thing.

InMail Allotment

InMails allow you to send messages to second and third-degree connections.

If you prefer email or cold calls, then you don’t need this either. But if you like the idea of having the option of InMail as one of the ways you make initial contact, then it can be worthwhile. However, you need to be ready to put the time in to write good InMails. Otherwise, InMail is just another word for Spam.

The Bottom Line

If you wonder if you need a premium subscription, you probably don’t need it. If you can point to a specific ability that would make a difference to your sales, then yes, you are heading in the premium subscription direction. A premium LinkedIn subscription should allow you to have more: more prospects, more options to contact those prospects, more responses when you do contact those prospects and more efficient and effective use of your time.

One aspect of LinkedIn’s Premium subscriptions that I really like (which probably means it is doomed) is the ability to sign up for a premium subscription on a monthly basis. It’s more per month, but you can bail out after two or three months if it isn’t working for you.

As a final word, be prepared to put some time in learning how to use Sales Navigator effectively. Following people is pretty easy, but using Advanced Search efficiently can have a learning curve. When it comes to  InMail…well, there’s a lot to InMail. So I wouldn’t recommend Sales Navigator for everybody, and for all you frugal types that are still out there, there are still lots of effective (and some sneaky) ways of using Free LinkedIn for sales and recruiting.




About the Author: Bruce Johnston is LinkedIn sales and search coach and strategist. He believes LinkedIn is not all about your profile; it’s not all about being found. It is about being proactive. LinkedIn is a contact sport. He also trains a module on how to search LinkedIn effectively. If you would like to get in contact with him, feel free to reach out on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email brucejohnston115 [AT]