Linkedin Sales Navigator is THE reference database for prospecting.
Because whenever you change jobs you update your profile on Linkedin first.
That makes it the most up-to-date list ... and Sales Navigator is the tool to use to navigate that list and exploit its resources.
The thing is, most people don't know how to use Sales Navigator (like you maybe if you're here?) or at least, not effectively.
So I've written this guide to show you exactly how to use Sales Navigator to get leads. We'll go from the basics for those that never touched it before up to the most advanced workflow so that by the end you have your very own machine generating leads every day.
Setting up Sales Navigator for success
The first step for an optimal Sales Navigator experience is to configure it the right way. It only takes a few minutes and will GREATLY improve your results - and it's very often (if not always) overlooked.
And you can easily understand why as even the settings button is a very little icon almost hidden but here it is :
Click on it and access your Sales Navigator settings page. The first thing we'll configure is your sales preferences.
Setting your sales preferences will tell Linkedin what to put in your account maps and system-recommended leads in addition to a few other things impacting your overall Sales Navigator experience.
That's why if you have a clearly defined ICP, I highly recommend setting this up as it takes only a few seconds and can improve your Sales Navigator efficiency significantly.
So here for example my ICP is Sales Director and C-Suite of US Software/Marketing Companies in the 11-200 company size range (sounds bizarre? that's because I made it up) but obviously adapt it to YOUR target audience.
Then scroll down a bit and you'll see your email preferences. Email preferences will be the email alerts you will receive in your inbox.
Here are the settings I use :
The reasoning is that our email inboxes are already cluttered. We don't want email alerts that are not directly actionable. Sales Navigator guidance, etc. who cares ??
I only enable profile views and role/job changes as they are usually relevant and there's a notion of timing so I don't want to notice it too late.
Now scroll down again and you'll see your alert preferences. Here I like to keep most things on as they can be fairly relevant. The only thing I tend to disable is lead/account sharing updates.
What those do is alert you when a lead/account posted on Linkedin and usually that's not relevant. And if they're active on Linkedin, that will bring a lot of noise for nothing.
Sales Navigator 101: How to use the basics
1/ On the left side you will find alerts about all the accounts you have saved (in a list or not). You can also use the search bar to only see the alerts on a specific account or leads. Once you click on "Accounts" or "Leads" you'll have access to additional filters to filter the more relevant alerts. Here are the filters I use:
2/ On the right side you will have your "priority accounts". Those are, as the name suggests, the high-priority accounts that you want to have an eye on at all times / working on at the moment. You can select which accounts are "high-priority" using that little star icon button.
If you don't select any yourself, this will get filled with system-recommended accounts. As I said above, recommendations will be based on your setup & preferences so be sure to set them up the right way as described above, otherwise it will be useless.
The Account page
If you click on any account you will end up on the Account page (an Account = a company)
There you will have access to a range of information about the company from its basic description to more detailed insights.
So at the top, you should have something looking like the picture above with basic information: name, description, website, etc.
You can add custom notes for your own usage, although most of the time such notes should be in your CRM instead.
- Note that the revenue is self-reported so take it with a pinch of salt. It could be outdated, inflated... you don't really know. Don't rely on it!
- In the right sidebar, you will the recent account alerts. Not very useful as we can't filter there so it's likely to be filled with simple "Company XYZ posted an article" - yeah cool whatever
- If you click the "3 dots icon" and then "View more details", it will open a side panel with, well, more details.
If you scroll down a bit you will then have the account map.
The Sales Navigator account map is basically a hierarchized diagram highlighting the key leads to target in a given account. By default, it will be filled according to your sales preferences (again a reminder to set that up correctly!) but you can also create your own maps by going to Select map > Create a new map.
Leads are organized in different tiers:
- Tier 1: C-Suite or other decision makers
- Tier 2: Managers or other "champions" (still don't know exactly what that means)
- Tier 3: Employees
Once you've created a map, you can share it with other people in your organization so it can be useful to draft ideas on how to tackle a given account.
Next up we have growth insights, starting with headcount growth.
It shows how the headcount evolved in the company over the last 2 years so it's useful to know if the company is growing or not and at which pace. Here we can see that Calendly has fast growth and more than doubled its headcount over the last 2 years.
If you click on the next tab you will have the actual distribution of that headcount in different departments.
That one's very interesting because you can see what kind of company this is: is this company sales-led? product-led? Which departments are growing/shrinking? If you're selling a product to sales, for example, that can be good to know that Calendly doubled their sales department over the last year: they're likely to face new challenges due to scale etc.
The next tab is new hires ie. a timeline of when new people got hired.
And finally we have the Job openings tab, highlighting which departments are recruiting at the moment. It's again very useful insight. Here for Calendly we can see they're recruiting heavily in the IT/Engineering side so they likely face a variety of problems there that you can address if you offer a solution in that space.
If you continue scrolling down you will have system-recommended accounts similar to the one you're currently viewing. Worth having an eye on but don't expect much.
Then you have the list of account alerts. It's not the same as the alerts we saw at the top because here you can actually filter them and get rid of (some of) the noise. Here are the filters I like to turn on:
The reason is that as I said above, account news & updates are usually filled with simple notifications such as "XYZ posted an article" which are not very useful. On the contrary, being on top of who changed jobs etc. is very beneficial for relevant outreach.
The Lead page
Once you have selected an account you will want to go into deeper details about the actual people in that company and will inevitably end up on a Sales Navigator Lead page.
It looks like this:
- Here you will have a "one glance" overview of that person. Name, title, current role/company, contact info (sometimes), location, etc.
- You also have some more dynamic tags that can be added on the top right. "Open" means you can send an inMail to that person without using one of your inMail credit. "in" tag means that person has Linkedin Premium/Sales Navigator. And you will also see when was the last time you saw/messaged that profile.
- On the right sidebar you can save that person to a specific lead list and add notes to their profile. Then again, usually this should be in the CRM instead, but if you have some private notes just for yourself, it can go there.
Then if you scroll down you will have a "Relationship" section containing various highlights about your relationship with that lead eg. common groups and shared connections.
This can be useful to ask for an introduction if you're struggling to get in touch with a specific lead - getting an intro from a mutual friend will greatly increase your connection rate.
The shared group can also be a golden nugget: if you notice that different relevant leads share the same group, you can assume that some other people in that group are relevant as well and use that group as a lead search filter to find them.
I won't put another screenshot but after that you have a bunch of other things like past experiences, education & interests etc. exactly like what you have on a "normal" Linkedin profile.
What you do have additionally is a CRM section highlighting if that person is already in your CRM (assuming you connected it to Sales Navigator), which can be useful especially if you're at a large company where the CRM is likely already filled with lots of leads.
Searching and filtering
Here's the meat of Sales Navigator: using it as a big database that you can filter to find relevant leads & accounts to target.
That is to me the most important feature of Sales Navigator so it's important you understand it correctly.
First to access the search page, simply click on the lead filters or accounts filters in the search bar on your homepage, depending on if you want to search for leads or for companies.
Let's start by reviewing the accounts filter.
- Annual revenue: again I don't recommend using this as it's self-reported so not very accurate. You risk missing a lot of accounts if you use it. Or use with wide margins.
- Company headcount: Company size, you will use it in most cases as targeting big companies is not the same as SMB.
- Company headcount growth: Useful to target growing companies, I usually put >20% growth. One thing to note is that it's tracking growth over the last year only.
- Department headcount: Very useful if you're targeting a specific department. For example if you sell only to sales-heavy companies, you'll definitely use this.
- Department headcount growth: Same as 3. but at the department level. Again very useful if you're interested in a specific department.
- Fortune: if the company is a Fortune 500, Fortune 100 company etc. I don't use it but maybe you will need it.
- Headquarters location: Most likely you have privileged target countries: enter them there.
- Industry: You will use that one often as well, feel free to pick a few adjacent industry to your "main" ones as people often misclassified their company.
- Number of followers: I don't use it, not very useful
- Technologies used: Quite inaccurate I don't recommend using it. If you need to target technologies you will be better off with specialized tools such as Builtwith.
- Job opportunities: This can be useful if you're looking for companies that are currently hiring. The only downside is that it's hiring in general and you can't specify eg. hiring only new sales.
- Recent activities: Very useful, senior leadership changes and funding events are usually highly relevant signals you absolutely want to pick up.
- Companies in CRM: Self-explanatory, use it if you have your CRM synchronized.
- Saved accounts: can be useful once you have started actually saving accounts
Most of these filters are "include only" but some of them can also be used to build exclusion. For example if you want all except one specific industry you can exclude it from your search.
Now let's do the same for lead filters:
- Company headcount: Same as the filter in the Accounts section. It shouldn't be needed though if you already filtered your accounts and put them in a list.
- Current company: If you want to do some sniping inside a specific company otherwise no utility.
- Past company: Same as 2. but in the past.
- Company type: Can be useful if you're targeting a specific type of company only eg. Non Profit
- Company headquarters: Same as 1. shouldn't be needed.
- Function: What area they work in. Depending on the area this can be very accurate or very inaccurate. If you need to use it will mainly depend on what job titles you're targeting and if those job titles are specific to a department or generic.
- Job title: One of the most useful filters here you will use it all the time. Make sure to include all possible variations of your target job title!
- Seniority level: Same as 6., if you know the job title to target I wouldn't rely on it much.
- Years in current company: Can be useful if you want to target somebody that has been X years working at a company.
- Years in current position: Same idea as 9.
- Activities: Very underrated filter. Some hidden gems are here, highly recommend having a look. One of my favorite filters is "Changed jobs in last 90 days" as it's a highly relevant signal -> people starting a new position are often expected to make changes and try new tools etc.
- Keyword in articles: I don't recommend using it for the simple reason that almost nobody is posting articles on Linkedin so you will get rid of 99% of your leads
- Connection: Are they a 1st, 2nd, 3rd-degree connections on Linkedin? Do you belong to the same group?
- Geography: Can be useful even if you filtered for the geography of the company as some companies are multinational.
- Industry: /!\ warning there, it's NOT the company industry but the self-selected industry on the user's profile. Often not accurate, I recommend using the company industry instead
- Years of experience: self-explanatory
- Connections of: If they're a connection of somebody. Can be useful to target the connections of your competitors 👀 or of a friend
- Groups: If you want to target people in a specific Linkedin group
- First Name: No use except if you're looking for someone in particular?
- Last Name: No use except if you're looking for someone in particular?
- Profile language: Can be useful if you want to make sure they speak a given language
- TeamLink connections of: Same as 17. but with TeamLink
- School: Not very useful unless you want to do a campaign with school personalization.
- Lead lists: Very useful once you start organizing yourself in different lead lists. This will help you create relevant sub-lists. You can also use those as exclusion to only find new people you haven't reached out to.
- People in CRM: Again, can be useful if you have your CRM synchronized.
- Account lists: A must! Once you've created an account list you will use it here to find the right people in those companies.
- People you interacted with: Exclude people where you already saw their profile or contacted them.
- Saved leads and accounts: Self-explanatory
I've already written about it here and this guide is already quite long so here you go:
Sales Navigator advanced tips & tricks
Using lists effectively
Lists are really helpful to segment your data so you should be using them all the time. With effective lists built, your leads & accounts searches will become much easier because you will be able to leverage the "Leads lists" & "Accounts lists" filters we've seen above to create highly relevant searches.
One trick is to use lists to build other lists: you start by building one broad list and then use that list as a filter + some additional filters to narrow it down. At the end of the process you end up with multiple nicely-segmented lists you can work with + master lists if needed to easily create new segments.
Leveraging saved searches
Saving a search is a very underrated tactic on Sales Navigator. If you configured your Sales Navigator right as described above, it means you will receive a notification whenever a new lead/account is added to one of your saved searches. And that's your opportunity!
The goal will be to save searches that have events where timing is important so that you can be notified and act on them instantly.
For example :
- on a lead search: save a search with the filter "Changed jobs in the last 90 days" (and your other filters) and you'll find out right away when say, a new hire is on your target role.
- on an account search: the "Funding event in the past 12 months" filter can be a bit outdated... but if you save the search, you'll get notified instantly of that funding event
Understanding the filtering system
To get the most out of Sales Navigator you need to really understand how each part works otherwise you will get unexpected results.
For example, do you know where the "keyword" filter is looking the keyword for?
You must assume it's looking at the profile headline + description, maybe the job description?
But the correct answer is it's looking for the keyword everywhere in the profile. Including in past experiences, education, etc. that are in most cases irrelevant to your prospecting effort.
Quick tip: if you're using Findymail to extract your Sales Navigator results, you will have an additional column "keyword_match" telling you if yes or no the lead actually matches your keyword filter in the profile description + job description. This can help you quickly clean your results.
Create an account list via CSV upload
Do you have a list of accounts from somewhere else (maybe your CRM) and want to use it in Sales Navigator?
Say no more, if you have it as a CSV file you can upload directly as an account list to use it directly in Sales Navigator. Follow the guide :
- Click Accounts at the top of the page.
- Click the Account lists tab.
- Click Create account list and select Upload accounts from CSV from the dropdown that appears.
- Add your CSV to the Upload account list window, then Map the column headers in your CSV to LinkedIn’s account fields.
- Name your list and click Finish
A few things to note :
- Make sure your accounts are in CSV (comma-separated values)
- Maximum 1000 accounts at once
- Make sure your CSV file includes columns containing the account name (required) and other relevant fields (optional)
Mastering the boolean search
Remember the keyword search bar? It's actually more than a simple keyword research... It supports boolean search.
Boolean search? Wat means??
Boolean search is a search based on boolean algebra, that is in plain English: logic based on two variables only -> TRUE or FALSE.
Boolean algebra has 3 operators: "AND", "OR" and "NOT". Let's say you have two variables "x" and "y", that can be true or false. Rules are as follows:
|x AND y||x OR y|
It actually makes a lot of sense in plain English.
- "x AND y" is true only if both x AND y are true
- "x OR y" is true if x is true OR y is TRUE
Remains the "NOT" operator that is simply a negation. NOT(true) = false, NOT(false)=true.
Those 3 operators help us to build much more powerful queries than a simple keyword research.
Example: (Saas OR “Software as a service”) NOT (Agency OR Consultant)
--> will include profiles having either "Saas" or "Sofware as a service" keywords present somewhere WITHOUT those having "agency" or "consultant" keywords in their profiles.
The only limit is your imagination!
This ALSO works in the other filter fields such as the job title filter:
Example : (Head OR Chief OR VP) AND (Sales OR Growth) NOT (Intern OR Assistant OR Consultant)
--> Will include titles like :
- Head of Sales
- Chief of Sales
- VP of Sales
- Head of Growth etc.
If your query has a space in it, you NEED to enclose it in quotation marks, otherwise it will default to an "AND" and not what you want.
For example: if you write product manager it will be equivalent to product AND manager whereas what you want is the full expression product manager only. In that case, you need to write it as "product manager" (quotes included in the query)
I could write another thousand-word guide on this alone so I will stop there for now but that's something you need to explore & understand to be able to make really powerful searches!
edit: I actually did end up writing a full article on this 🙈
Sending unlimited inMails
You're limited to a few inMails every month... it's not enough!
How can you get more inMails? 🤔 ...
Remember that "open" tag in Sales Navigator profile?
It means you can send an inMail to that person for free. That's right, sending an inMail to that person won't cost you one of your inMail credits.
That means you can find profiles matching that criterion and send them inMails for free - this will greatly increase the amount of inMails you can send per month.
Quick tip: if you use Findymail to extract your Sales Navigator results, you will have an "open_inmail" column telling you if yes or no that profile is open to inMails. That means you can easily find & contact those profiles!
Maintaining a blacklist
A best practice on Sales Navigator is to maintain a special list of accounts that you don't want to contact ie. a blacklist.
This will include accounts such as your customers, your competitors etc.
You can then use that as an exclude filter in your searches so that you're sure you don't contact such accounts by mistake. This is especially useful if you don't have the CRM integration enabled.
Getting Sales Navigator for cheap/free
If you're on a budget, there are a few ways you can get Sales Navigator for cheaper than the full price tag.
The first thing to do if you haven't already is to leverage the one-month free trial. When you first subscribe to Sales Navigator, Linkedin offers you one month for free. If you don't want to pay/continue after that, you can cancel your subscription for free.
Now if you already used this tactic, another thing you can do is go on fiverr.com and look for "activate sales navigator" gigs. You can usually find some reselling seats from enterprise plans at discounted prices...
Don't tell Linkedin though 🤫
Extracting emails from Sales Navigator
Sales Navigator is very good to filter & find relevant leads to contact.
But how to actually contact them?
Sure, you have inMails as described above but you don't have a lot of them and having to go through Linkedin is not optimal.
What we really want is emails!
The fastest way to find emails on Sales Navigator is to use Findymail's chrome extension.
Looks like this:
- Install Findymail's Chrome extension
- Get your Findymail API key (click here)
- Click on Findymail's extension and enter your API key to login
- Go to Sales Navigator and do a search
- Click on "Export CSV" to export your search
And it will go page by page, exporting all your leads with verified B2B emails. You end up with a CSV file containing all needed data columns (first name, last name, company, industry etc.) and the verified B2B email (if found), ready to be used for outreach.
I actually made a video showing how to set it up (it's me going through the list above)
Scraping searches bigger than 2500 people
When you start scraping Sales Navigator, you will encounter the following problem: Sales Navigator only shows you the top 2500 results for a given search.
That means if your search yields more results than that, you won't be able to see (and scrape) them all... 😥
But there's a solution!
To get around this, you will have to "slice" your search into multiple, smaller searches. The goal will be to have searches smaller than 2500 leads so that you can scrape them entirely... then repeat with different filters to get the whole pie.
Example: Let's say you want to target all the CEO of XYZ industry in Europe Instead of doing that search directly (will yield > 2500 people), you can split it by country
- one search for France -> scrape
- one search for Spain -> scrape
etc. until you've done all European countries
OR if you target multiple job titles, filter them one by one instead of all of them together
OR if you target multiple industries, filter them one by one instead of all of them together etc.
You have to adapt it to your specific search and filters but the idea remains the same
-> split a large search into multiple chunks that you can scrape
Bonus point: it gives you built-in segmentation as you'll end up with different lead lists with at least one data point different each time.
Meaning you can adapt & improve your outreach for each segment!