Sales Navigator Mobile

In the year 2014, after being at LinkedIn for a little less than a year, I had the incredible opportunity to join the Sales Navigator founding team. As one of three designers working on the platform, I was in charge ofdesigning the end to end mobile experience.

 
Photo by Thomas Northcut/DigitalVision / Getty Images
 

LEARNING ABOUT THE PROBLEM SPACE

As a designer who have never worked in the B2B selling space until that point, I started out by learning as much as possible about the sales process. By observing the sales team at LinkedIn, bringing in potential customers for user research, I was able to establish a strong knowledge base on the B2B selling space. Learning about the different roles of a hunter and farmer, an account executive and relationship manager. I really emerged myself into the world of a sales person, the traditional sales process can be broken into the following steps:

  • Reaching out to as many leads as possible
  • Giving leads your sales pitch to peak people's interest
  • Converting cold leads into potential opportunities
  • Turning these opportunities into actual paying customers

As you could imagine, this a very funnel like experience. Sales professionals usually starts off by cold calling a very large number of leads, and at end of the day, converting very few of these into actual paying customers.

 
 modern day sales funnel via google image

modern day sales funnel via google image

 

BUSINESS GOAL

I've always believed that product design stood at the intersection of business and creativity. From the very beginning, I partnered closely with the head of product to get a clear vision and mission he had in mind for the product, and understanding the importance of having a mobile experience for the initial launch.

The business goal was focused around the idea of social selling. The idea leverages the professional graph on LinkedIn seamlessly to focus on two things:

  1. Give sales professionals real time insights on key decision makers;
  2. Allow sales professionals to reach out to their target leads via mutual connections that they didn't know they had.

DEFINING GOALS AND SUCCESS THROUGH RESEARC

After familiarizing myself with the problem space, and the users we are designing for, I dug deeper into the mobile use case. Throughout our early research sessions, I partnered closely with our researcher to understand how people are doing sales beyond their desk. And we studied the competitive landscape for other sales intelligence tool in the mobile space.

As it turns out, the idea of "the traveling salesman" have long been an term of the past. Most sales professionals sit at their desks equipped with multi monitors, and communicates mainly through email and phone calls.

Equipped with the research learnings,  I worked closely with product to align the goals of the mobile component, and defining the key design goals we wanted to achieve:

  • Designing for moments instead of 9-5 usage
  • Focus on creating a very complimentary experience to our desktop offering

When it came down to defining success, we aligned to focus on viewing instead doing (desktop success metrics). So instead of things like numbers of searches, and messages sent, the mobile team focused on things like profile views and open rates from push notifications.

EXPLORING ON A SCALE

 
 One of the early idea was to highlight the most important insights via a personal assistant like experience

One of the early idea was to highlight the most important insights via a personal assistant like experience

 

With a clear business goal, and well defined design goals, I started to explore different possibilities. As with all my design process, I like to focus the explorations on a single, well defined experience scale. In this case, I focused on the extreme ends of the scale - a smart, assistant like experience VS a more traditional, enterprise tool like experience.

 
 Early versions of the two ideas we iterated on.

Early versions of the two ideas we iterated on.

 Working through the app's information architecture

Working through the app's information architecture

One of the many wireframes we did before adding pixels (click to view full image)

 Earlier iterations. The design can be easily dated by the phone in the background ;)

Earlier iterations. The design can be easily dated by the phone in the background ;)

 

Iterating on user feedback

Due to the scope and timing of this particular project, the team did not have any formal research support during the development process. I managed to obtain feedback from two main sources by doing it ad hoc style

  • Working closely with the LinkedIn mobile team at the time, to receive value mobile design expertise
  • Showing early concepts and prototypes to internal sales team at LinkedIn to get user feedback

Through these two sources, we were able to quickly iterate on ideas and concepts for different parts of the app.

 
 

SALES NAVIGATOR MOBILE

Working closely with engineering and product counterparts, we evaluated the trade off and advantage of each solution, against timelines and engineering constraints. Below is the strongest solution that the team landed on as version One. Our plan was to get it into the hands of customers, and iterate quickly from there.

 
 

Real time updates

Insights such as when a lead changes job, gets promoted, or mentioned in the news are what turns regular selling into social selling. We decided to put these insight updates front and center as part of our mobile experience. Whether it's during the commute to work, or during a short coffee break, the insight feed on the phone enables the user to quickly turn these “micro moments” into productive work time, and keep up to date with their leads at all times.

 
 A few examples of the real time updates found in the Sales Navigator Android insight stream

A few examples of the real time updates found in the Sales Navigator Android insight stream

 

Easy access to leads and accounts

Another one of these micro moment opportunities presented to us when we thought about the meeting scenario. Every day, sales professionals jump in and out of meetings (sales calls) with their leads. We made sure the mobile experience enabled quick look ups of of lead and account pages, and we took it a step further to enable the seamless hand off between our desktop and mobile experience.

As a sales person, he/she can not only quickly access the same list of leads and accounts they have saved, but the app syncs to the desktop experience in the order of recently accessed, so they can pick up the exact same list in the same order on the go.

 
 An example of an account page, on desktop and mobile

An example of an account page, on desktop and mobile

 

Social graph on the go

LinkedIn’s strength lies in its people and connection data. Whether it's a VP of Marketing or Director of Product, you can always reach that person via a coworkers’ friend's coworker. The app is tailored around the importance of the social graph on LinkedIn. Every entity page in the mobile experience is highlighted with different ways you’re connected to a lead or account.

 
 A sample flow of reaching out to a stranger, via a 2nd degree coworker who is connected to the lead (in this case, they went to the same school)

A sample flow of reaching out to a stranger, via a 2nd degree coworker who is connected to the lead (in this case, they went to the same school)

 

OUT IN THE WILD

While working on the team, I had the amazing opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the industry. One of them was the head of product at the time, Sachin Rekhi.

One day I asked him “As product manager, what really drives you to do what you do everyday? Is it seeing the numbers go up? Is it shipping as many product as possible? Is it creating business opportunities at massive scale for the company? What is it?”

“It’s funny you ask” he said, “For me it's not any of those. It's all about seeing the delight users have on their face when they use your product for the time. When they use it to do something they weren’t able to before.

His answer have stuck with me to this day, as I believe this is what every product designer should truly strive for. It's hard collecting facial reactions from our users, so quotes will have to do. Below are some quotes we’ve heard from folks since shipping the app :)