The debate over whether or not LinkedIn is a viable stand-alone CRM system is an often discussed issue in business.
On the one hand, some believe that you need to integrate it with an existing CRM system in order to get the best of both worlds. Others think that the former can provide enough support via its Sales Navigator system.
However, in recent months LinkedIn has announced that there will be some changes to its tool, which could well prove to be beneficial to both sides of the argument.
Will LinkedIn integrate easily to your CRM?
The answer is, a very vague ‘possibly’. At the time of writing, it will only be possible if you have one of two existing systems on the market, so it’s quite limiting.
LinkedIn’s existing Sales Navigator tool only provides a very basic lead management service that takes data from users’ connections, and then helps to make potential account prospects that are based on demographic criteria.
This is great, but it does lack some of the more essential features that businesses need from a professional CRM system, such as forecasting, marketing, calendars, external mail, and monitoring tracking opportunities.
LinkedIn have announced that they’ll launch a CRM Sync function, which will be able to create and add new contacts that aren’t already in an existing business system, but again, only if the CRM is compatible with theirs.
In the meantime, they will continue to work on and develop the Sales Navigator system in order to make it more user-friendly, for those businesses that are still without a fully functioning CRM service.
Will LinkedIn ever fully replace a professional CRM system?
The improvements that the company have made are welcome, but it’s highly unlikely that in the near future it will make any real dent in the need for businesses to invest in high-quality professional CRM systems from independent organizations.
Those who would like to think more about using both an existing system and integrating with LinkedIn need to bear the following pointers in mind. If you do want to integrate, you’ll have to already be using one of two other systems, one of which is operated by Microsoft. Many companies, therefore, will simply choose to stick to their existing service and leave it at that.
The other major factor is the cost. Companies who want to integrate will have to pay a monthly fee to do so, and this can be as much as $135, depending on your level of commitment to it as a business. A free LinkedIn account won’t cut the mustard here!
Many experts believe that there never will truly be a fully integrated LinkedIn and CRM system. There are also business users who report that their levels of spam communication have already risen due to unscrupulous people taking advantage of the messaging tools that already exist on the platform.
If CRM systems are allowed to access more data via LinkedIn, this could open up the pathway for more of the same. In the long run, this will put many businesses and business users off.
The watchword here is to keep an eye on LinkedIn, but stick to investing only in professional stand-alone CRM systems for your business as a means of gaining a better outreach.