“Can I finally do away with my CRM?”
Sadly, the answer is no 😦 LinkedIn Contacts is not going to solve my number one database marketing problem, which is keeping my data current.
I want my contacts automatically updated within my CRM every time they move companies, they change job titles or even change departments.
Looking to LinkedIn for a solution is entirely logical because the site hosts all of this information (I do realise there are likely regulations on how much of it they are allowed to freely share). Quite a few CRM companies boast LinkedIn integration (Salesforce has probably gotten the furthest with it, but even the Salesforce/LinkedIn integration (featured on the LinkedIn website actually) doesn’t seem to have specifically what I want).
Enter LinkedIn Contacts and I wonder if my CRM-related prayers had been answered. Alas, no. For the reasons I’ll list below, LinkedIn Contacts is not going to solve my dated data problem any better than the so-called LinkedIn integration features many of the CRM companies offer. In fact, having not even yet used LinkedIn contacts (I am on the waiting list) I can tell you that it while it will be a freelance/contractor’s dream, it won’t actually help companies that much.
Here’s why LinkedIn Contacts isn’t going to be your new CRM
1. Because it’s a PRM, not a CRM. What I mean is that it’s a Personal Relationship Management system designed to help you manage YOUR contacts. Not your company’s contacts. On LinkedIn, companies have “followers”, but not contacts in the same way an individual does. Apparently LinkedIn Contacts is in no way linked to your company’s page, so for a marketing manager, it’s a bit useless.
2. The same way you don’t access LinkedIn Contacts via a company page, you don’t have the option of grouping your contacts in any sort of company or account structure. A CRM gives you the option to group contacts in any way you want – usually the top level is “company” or “account”. And clicking on an account’s history, you can usually see interaction with all members of that account mapped to members of your sales and marketing team. None of this would be possible with LinkedIn Contacts because it’s a personal communications tool that acts against your personal LinkedIn contacts.
3. There appears to be no way to group contacts into stages such as “suspect”, “prospect” and most importantly, “opportunity”. This is disappointing even when looking at LinkedIn Contacts as a Personal Relationship Management system. What about freelancers? Surely they apply the same sales cycle logic as many slick sales managers in bigger organisations?
4. There doesn’t seem to be any way of segmenting your contact list. What if you’re travelling to New York and want to invite all your technically inclined contacts to a Manhattan-based Meetup? In times like this, I’d turn to my CRM. **Apparently there will be some TripIt integration so that you can get in touch with your contacts when planning a trip. So in this sense, it’s kind of “segmentation-lite”.
5. The most obvious of all…..not everyone is on LinkedIn. I know, can you believe it! For this reason, even if I had my wish-list LinkedIn integration layer, I’d still not be able to rely on LinkedIn to keep me totally up to date. LinkedIn Contacts sounds like a great tool, but if someone doesn’t sign up, they won’t exist in this universe and unlike a CRM, you’ll have no way to manually enter them as a contact.
I’m not knocking LinkedIn Contacts
I actually can’t wait to get my hands on it because I think it’s going to be a great personal communications tool that I’ll leverage a lot. But my interaction will be very much on more of a personal level rather than a company supporting one.
What I foresee is that LinkedIn contacts is going to be an awesome tool for a number of people including freelancers who use LinkedIn to market and who want more visibility into their universe of suspects/prospects, AND LinkedIn savvy sales people who can juggle enough balls to incorporate using this service AS WELL AS their CRM systems.
Having written this post, I’m not sure I’ll get an invitation to be a beta tester any time soon, but I assure you I’ll be an early adopter and a vocal one!
Do you have any thoughts about LinkedIn Contacts?