There have been stirrings in the market about changes to the LinkedIn UX (user experience). I’ll be the first to admit these changes are inevitable. Just like with any company, LinkedIn as a product must continue to evolve. I’m more concerned with the lessons LinkedIn’s evolution can teach us. But first, the updates.
The New UX: What to Expect
First and foremost the new LinkedIn will absolutely be a game changer in terms of UX. There is no question about that. LinkedIn has decided for good or bad, the future of the web platform is going to have to be as similar as possible to the mobile experience. Because, a majority of their traffic is coming from the mobile site. So as a result, they want to unify the approach and the look and feel across both mobile and desktop platforms.
That being said, LinkedIn also has decided to take features away from free users. Last week our good friend Brynne Tillman highlighted some of the key changes:
What LinkedIn Will Keep for Free Users:
The ability to use Boolean searches to create a list of very targeted buyers.
Identify who in your network can introduce you to those buyers.
Drill down within a company page to find your stakeholders.
Notifications of new connections within your inbox that allows you to engage easily.
The list of people also viewed when you view a profile which allows you to identify more people.
What Features Will Move Exclusively to Sales Navigator:
Notes and Tagging.
The ability to mine your connections’ connections.
Advanced Searches (Lead Builder).
Saved Searches that are updated weekly.
Brynne also makes note that rich media such as Slideshares or videos will be be removed from your profile, so make sure to save them before they’re Internet history.
I don’t believe LinkedIn is maliciously trying to take features away from its users, but I think LinkedIn is asking itself, “How are we really helping help the sales community use our product in the most effective ways?”
There are going to be people who will be forced to migrate to a more premium or paid version of LinkedIn, no question. I think LinkedIn will probably come out with certain packages to reflect this in the future as well. So, ultimately the overall changes coming to LinkedIn will be shocking to people, but everything will settle down and all will make sense again.
It’s Not About A New UX; It’s About Change Management
This post really isn’t about LinkedIn. It’s about change management. It’s about understanding that every single tool, every single process, and every single training you put in front of your sales team has to be thought about in terms of change management. Because, if you teach your sales team something, you better have a plan if that thing changes.
As an example, when Microsoft changes its features in Microsoft Office, Microsoft partners routinely go out and retrain workforces. They’ll find ways to re-educate their old students because no one can slip back into their old habits.
If we all wake up one day and LinkedIn has changed and we don’t know how to navigate it, all of the time, energy, and resources we put into a social selling project can potentially be wasted. If sales pros go back to their old habits, then what is the point of entire exercise?
So this is not just about LinkedIn, because in the future Facebook may have a product that salespeople can use it. Twitter may have a product. There could be other emerging platforms that have a product with specific applications for your database.
What you really need to do from a sales enablement level is figure out ways you can comfortably get your hands around the product, or find someone to work with that already does this, so that change management is always front in starting out new strategy.
Did you know 4 out of 5 companies aren’t able to train as many sales professionals on the skills they think they need? Yet Salesforce has found continuous training can yield up to 50% higher net sales per professional.
Time and time again we hear how best-in-class companies invest time and financial resources into ensuring their team can evolve with the trends. Change management is a function that you have to keep in mind.
The Bottom Line
The byproduct of change management is: you teach something to someone, you train something to someone, but then if that product or service changes, you have to redo training continuously to ensure that you end up becoming one of those high performing sales teams.
So while this is about change management, it’s ultimately also about training. It’s about the ability to continuously train your salespeople to ensure that they always have the latest information. And that they have the easiest ways to apply that information to turn it into revenue for your business. Data shows companies that do this are the ones that are high performing.
LinkedIn is always going to change. It’s a product—it has to. And some people admit they believe LinkedIn is trying to take away features and move people up the chain to a paid product. You can’t complain about that. That’s like saying, oh my gosh it’s going to snow every December! It’s not wise, nor is it worth our time to complain about things we have no control over. LinkedIn is going to change their product for good or better. We have to learn how to thrive amid change and go with the flow.