In 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 new product, I was in charge of designing the end to end mobile experience.
Sales, on the go.
UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM SPACE
B2B sales is a space with a lot of domain expertise. As someone have never even interacted with a B2B sales person before, I started out with zero knowledge. One of the first task I assigned myself is getting to know the space and its people. We sat down with the sales team at LinkedIn to observe their day to day, we interviewed outside sales professionals through research sessions, and even shadowed people as they jumped on sales calls to understand the selling process
From there, I was able to have a solid understanding of our users, everything from their daily lingos, to the customers they sold to (our users' users).
LEARNING MY ABC's
The sales space is very much a "numbers and conversations" game. You reach out to as many potential leads as possible, despite your best intent and efforts, you may close on a small number of these people. The more you reach out, the more potential converts, and the more business you end up doing.
We found that good sales people did their research before their calls. They study up on the company, the people, and any unmet needs their customers might have. This not only greatly increased their conversation rate, but also helped build long term relationships between the sales professional and their customers.
This presented a perfect opportunity for LinkedIn. With its vast profile data and company analytics, we can provide strategic business intelligence to help sales professionals to reach out at the right time with the right conversation pieces. With the right experience for our users, we can elevate the sales profession into a more calculated, strategic operation, and help our customers to "always be closing".
After familiarizing myself with the problem space, 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, while we reviewed the competitive landscape for other mobile sales intelligence products.
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 emails and phones.
Equipped with the research learning, I worked closely with product to align the goals of the mobile product, and defined the user scenarios we wanted to focus on -
Designing for moments instead of the 9-5.
Focus on creating a very complimentary experience to our desktop experience.
When it came down to defining success metrics, we aligned to focus on consumption instead "creation" (or seeing over doing). Instead of metrics on number of searches, and messages sent, the mobile team focused ourselves around profile views and open rates from push notifications.
DESIGNING THE DREAM
To kick off the exploration, I wanted to push the boundaries. Working closely with our sales team, we asked ourselves a simple question: in a world with no resource constraints, what would be the ultimate weapon of choice for a sales professional.
With enough information on the user and their target accounts, we can leverage vast amounts of profile data and personal updates on LinkedIn to generate timely insights. Ultimately, we synthesized our user's needs into one single scenario statement -
"When I open my phone in the morning, the app highlight a few key insights that I can take quick actions on, today"
From there I explored an almost calendar like experience. Based on what we know about our user and their leads and accounts, we hand pick the top 5 most important insights surfacing them to our users. From there, users can choose to dig deeper into people and companies of interest, quickly consuming information and make on the moment decisions.
BRINGING IT BACK TO EARTH
With the vision and dream established, it was time to bring the ideas back to reality. We met with stakeholders and engineers to talk about timelines and constraints. We outlined what's doable today, especially given the time frame and what are the "must haves" in this experience.
From there, we experimented with different concepts to extract the core needs from our users, and narrowed down to two key moments that the app truly enhance the life of our users.
EXECUTION AT SPEED
Before a meeting and during idle times such as people's commutes are the two key moments we decided to focus on. During these moments, our users can quickly pull out their phone to check on a company or the person they are meeting with, or just browse through some insights that they can take action on later at their desks.
With scenarios defined, I started to focus my time on execution. We had a hard launch date coming up for the entire Sales Navigator product line, therefore speed became our number one priority. I leveraged design patterns from LinkedIn's latest mobile app redesign, so that 1, we don't have to reinvent the wheel and focus on interaction differences; 2, our users are familiar with the current LinkedIn experience and it will lead to very minimal learning curve.