After our successful launch of the Sales Navigator platform, feedback started funneling in on a daily basis. The team sat down and started going through them one by one. We identified improvements to the homepage would be the most meaningful and impactful improvement to the product. I was the lead designer on this initiative.
UNDERSTANDING OUR USERS AND THEIR PROBLEMS
The homepage is the main experience that greets our users when they first enter Sales Navigator. Despite finding the some updates extremely valuable, sales professionals who are used to other enterprise products see the feed like homepage experience as a missed opportunity. They also described the process as “sieving through the noise”, as not all insights are particularly valuable, depending on the state of their sales process.
Other users have expressed concerns with the steep learning curve of our product. As mentioned previously, the sales process has long been established as a numbers game. With the introduction of Sales Navigator, we introduced the concept of social selling, where the quality of the reach out is far more important than the number of cold calls one makes. Our users were not getting used to the new interface, but also trying to learn a whole approach to selling. One account executive famously remarked -
“it’s like giving an iPhone to a caveman.”
Most important of all, the old sales process was much more measurable. Sales managers would look at how many calls a sales is making versus how many deals they are closing, and track his or her performance easily based on those numbers. With social selling, it was incredibly hard to measure your daily performance based on “numbers of engaged updates”.
DEFINING THE EXPERIENCE GAP
After reviewing feedback received from our customers, talking to our corporate support teams, as well as observing the LinkedIn sales' teams on a regular basis, the team defined the two experience gaps (or user problems) we wanted to focus on bridging with design:
- The insight stream was very serendipitous and the experience was not productive
- Social selling had a steep learning curve for novice users.
To address these problems, I took a step back and asked myself, what are the real values we are trying to provide to our users with the insight stream? What actually helps them close their deal, or move their leads along the sales funnel? What is their flow in the existing product to achieve such value? From there, we started exploring different potential solutions.
EXPLORE, EVALUATE, ITERATE, REPEAT.
To make stream less serendipitous, we studied productivity tools that gave people a strong sense of progress. We looked at the usage of products that allowed people to take notes, and create to do lists. We studied the experiences of going through an email inbox, and how people used RSS readers to consume content from different sources. From there, we tried applying some of these experiences for our use case, and diverged into a massive amount of different ideas.
Throughout the process, testing and validating all these concepts and ideas became increasingly more important. Partnering closely with our Product Marketing team, we formed a research SWAT team, consisting of the most passionate, knowledgeable sales professionals within the LinkedIn sales team. With the SWAT team, we started a rolling study where ideas and prototypes were tested against real sales professionals on a biweekly basis. This process quickly surfaced many key elements that resonated extremely well with our user base.
A few themes started to emerge from all the research and testing. Sales people really don't enjoy being told what to do. And realistically, its extremely hard to anticipate the need of any specific sales person on a specific day. As customers who used the product from 9-5, they really wanted the power to control and fine tune what they are seeing. On top of that, we started exploring many different options to make each update more actionable.
Exploring different options to find a fine balance between what we already know about our users, and what we want the user to implicitly tell us.
Different explorations on a insight update design that guides our users through the process of social selling, while helping them understand why these insights could be valuable.
Evolution of the homepage designs, as we iterated based on user feedback after each weekly research session with sales professionals.
The total effort, from kicking off research to end of development took a little over 6 months. The team worked extremely close together and achieved great results. Since launching the new experience, we've heard great feedback from our users. More and more people are finally starting to realize the true value behind Sales Navigator and social selling.
As a result of the redesign, we were able to increase our Net Promoter Score by more than 10 points. As for the insight stream, we saw a 14% uplift in actions taken, 30% more saved leads, and 6% lift in messages sent all from the new and improve insight update designs.