Microsoft took a major step yesterday to unlock the potential of LinkedIn, by launching Sales Navigator Enterprise Edition.
Sales Navigator is a LinkedIn product for sales professionals that helps them with lead generation, targeting, and getting real time updates and alerts on leads and prospects. It is integrated with Salesforce and Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM tool. Since LinkedIn is a professional network, its user base will immensely help companies to find the right customer, engage them and sell their service or product. Besides, it helps if you know someone who knows someone in the company you’re targeting, since a professional referral can help smooth the way.
Until now, if you were looking for an introduction, you had to use your personal connections. Microsoft has now added TeamLink Extend, which allows anyone in the company to opt-in their network to the TeamLink pool. So, if you are trying to reach someone in a particular company, all you need to do is look for a person in your own organization that has connected with someone in your target company. Let them make the introduction, and you can take it from there.
Microsoft also integrated PointDrive into Sales Navigator, which removes the need to attach documents and presentations to the buyer.
“With PointDrive, you could easily package up a bundle of materials and have them beautifully rendered in a mobile or desktop experience for the buyer. And once the content was sent, the seller could track how it was being consumed and by whom.” – LinkedIn Blog
Apart from the above features, Microsoft has also tightened CRM integration with Sales Navigator. There is a new CRM Sync feature that allows you to document all your activities in Sales Navigator into your CRM with a click of the mouse. There is also a CRM widget that lets you view LinkedIn Sales Navigator profile details, making it easier to access information back and forth between the CRM and Sales Navigator.
Though the new additions look like small steps to enhance what is already there, it must be noted that Microsoft didn’t pay $26.2 billion dollars for LinkedIn without good reason. Microsoft is the leading player in the office collaboration market, thanks to Office 365, but Microsoft is also looking to beef up its presence in the enterprise software market, and is pushing slowly into the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) segments through Dynamics 365.
Microsoft is lagging behind on both the CRM and ERP markets, currently led by Salesforce and Oracle. LinkedIn is a powerful weapon in Microsoft’s arsenal and, if used correctly, it will provide significant support to their enterprise software ambitions. The fact that Microsoft has a professional community to tap into is a weakness for both Oracle and Salesforce.
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