LinkedIn Revamps Sales Navigator; Will Sell as Premium Service

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Users were up, but page views were down in Q2 for the social business network, as CEO Jeff Weiner looks to increase revenue from premium products and ad sales.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner

LinkedIn yesterday announced a revamp of its Sales Navigator system that will allow users to manipulate the social network's 316 million-member user base to better connect with prospects through common contacts. The updated version will be a stand-alone product, with a fee and a separate login. Sales Navigator was previously a free service available to all LinkedIn members.

The 2.0 version will present custom experiences to individual salespeople and includes features such as news and account recommendations and lead recommendations by account. “Finding [such] important insights in the original Sales Navigator required complex manual searches, which is hard to scale if a salesperson is managing more than a few accounts,” wrote LinkedIn VP of Sales Solutions Mike Derezin in a blog announcing the new service. “The launch of the new Sales Navigator underscores our opportunity to continue building scalable, diverse businesses that add value for both our members and customers.”

Navigator was launched for desktop and mobile yesterday in English only. Mobile apps and wider language availability are in the works. Pricing is on a per-seat basis.

LinkedIn's Sales Navigator announcement accompanied the release of its Q2 results, which exceeded forecasts with a 47% increase in sales to $534 million. Despite the strong revenue showing, the company posted a $1 million net loss, mostly ascribed to its acquisition of the human resources provider Bright.

And while LinkedIn's user base grew to 313 million in Q2 from 296 million in the first quarter, page views declined from 26.9 billion to 25.4 billion. In a conference call, CFO Steve Sordello explained the statistical anomaly by saying that page views in previous quarters had been unusually high due to new features.

LinkedIn senior managers want to draw more revenue from marketing-related products, going so far as to break out new business units for second quarter results. Recruitment products, which grew 49% to $322 million in Q2, had been classified under Marketing Solutions, but now reside in a separate Talent Solutions category. Advertising, which now comprises the bulk of the Marketing Solutions segment, grew 44% to $106 million. Premium Subscription, under which the new Sales Navigator will fall, made a similar contribution to the topline with $105 million in sales on an increase of 44%.

CEO Jeff Weiner said that LinkedIn made “significant progress” in strategic priorities that included “continuing the strategic shift towards content marketing through sponsored updates.”

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