What are your biggest opportunities & challenges for next 12-24 months?
Our biggest opportunity in the next few years is that social selling is becoming mainstream and LinkedIn is in a unique position to help sales organizations take advantage of it through our Sales Navigator solution. While the idea of leveraging social media to connect with customers or prospects isn’t entirely new, it’s starting to hit its stride. We have a tool at LinkedIn called the Social Selling Index that helps brands measure the growth of their social selling efforts. This has given us a lot of insight into the rise of social selling, as well as what is and isn’t working for brands.
In terms of challenges, it truly comes down to scaling the business. In the past year alone, we doubled the size of our team and expanded our Sales Solutions business into Hong Kong, Dubai, Sao Paulo, and several other key markets. Although growth is exciting, we don’t want to dilute our efforts when it comes to hiring great talent, keeping our culture and values strong, and helping our clients get the most out of their investments.
What keeps your clients up at night?
For a sales leader, it’s pretty simple: fear of not hitting their numbers. Sales can be an exciting profession. It’s a great way to meet a lot of interesting people, learn about a variety of industries and be a part of helping customers achieve their business goals. Having a clear measure of performance can also be extremely rewarding. On the flip side, missing your numbers is stressful, and if it continues, job security becomes a question.
What’s the hardest thing to educate clients about?
Many of our clients are asking the same two questions: “How do I Roll Out Sales Navigator?” and “How Do I Prove Value?” This isn’t unlike the questions I used to get when I was a co-founder of a start up years ago.
For smaller companies, it is much easier to roll out 25 or 100 Sales Navigator seats, therefore the two questions above are more straightforward for SMB companies to validate. When you get into the thousands for a larger enterprise, you need a program manager to educate the end user, answer questions and measure results. We have invested considerably here to help our corporate clients by providing detailed reporting, sharing best practices, and rolling out multiple training options, including a LinkedIn relationship manager to help along the way.
What social network do you anticipate accelerating growth in the next year?
Snapchat has seen tremendous growth and is definitely one to continue watching. Its roots, like many social networks, started out with the teen/young adult market so it’ll be interesting to see if it breaks into older demographics in a meaningful way. I’ve also been following anonymous social networks like Yik-Yak, Whisper and Secret, which until recently had been on a massive growth trajectory. Unfortunately, Secret just pulled the plug suddenly so I’ll definitely be keeping a pulse on this space.
What are some unmet needs in the marketing technology landscape?
I think marketing automation is ripe for disruption and for the creation of greater opportunities for collaboration between sales and marketing. Most marketing automation relies on email as a source to nurture and acquire leads, but I think we’ll see a lot more innovation in this area in the coming years. For example, we recently launched a product called LinkedIn Lead Accelerator that makes it possible for marketers to reach, nurture and acquire customers in a methodical way. Doing this well will mean marketers are delivering higher quality leads to sales teams in a way that impacts pipeline.
–Mike Derezin is VP Sales Solutions at LinkedIn.