LinkedIn ups seat sales for the Sacramento Kings

It’s been a year since LinkedIn launched its new version of Sales Navigator, a social selling product designed to help B2B marketers engage with the platform’s vast audience of professionals. While social selling is hardly a phenomenon unique to LinkedIn, with prospects increasingly taking purchase advice from peers, social media, and blogs, being able to address an audience of over 300 million potential buyers–all of whom have volunteered detailed business and career information–is surely a B2B marketer’s dream.

A good time, then, so speak with Diana Kucer, LinkedIn’s director of global marketing, about Sales Navigator’s progress and one of its success stories. 

“Social media,” Kucer told me, “is changing the way people are buying and selling services and products.” That much is clear; but in particular, “More and more people are involved in B2B purchase decisions, and cold calling isn’t effective any more. 95 percent of decision-makers say they don’t respond to cold calls.” Using Sales Navigator, and exploiting access to the world’s largest professional network, created opportunities for marketers to show thought leadership. develop personalized interactions, and build trust, she said. 

The NBA’s Sacramento Kings showcase Sales Navigator’s potential. Not only do they need to fill seats in the current stadium, Kucer said; they have a new stadium opening in a couple of years, and they’re already selling for that too. With some inexperience on the sales team, the Kings invested in training, tools, and technology, and implemented Sales Navigator to help sell ticket packages to area businesses with entertainment needs. 

According to Kucer, Sales Navigator fit well with the Kings’ sales philosophy, which they call “Sales 3.0”–Social Selling, Acceleration, Collaboration (SAC, in case you missed it). Rookies sales reps, trained in these principles and leveraging the LinkedIn product, took half the time to close deals, and increased the size of deal by 42 percent compared with the previous round of sales team intakes. They beat their own target for in-game ticket sales by 50 percent, Kucer said.

Selling was particularly effective, Kucer said, with SMBs, where the sales reps could take time to engage closely with prospects. Sports hospitality is, of course, a service, but it’s intriguing to see how Sales Navigator can be used to profile and identify local businesses which are prospects for something arguably more nebulous than a tangible product.

It has yet to be seen if Sales Navigator can help the franchise turn its winning percentage around; but, hey, go Kings!

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