LinkedIn starts piping sales data to Salesforce and Dynamics

Remember when Marc Benioff said Microsoft buying LinkedIn was dangerous?

LinkedIn has revealed a new version of its SaaSy Sales Navigator that pipes activities from the network into Salesforce.com.

Sales Navigator has been around for years and offers subscribers the chance to pursue their prey within the walled garden of the social network for suits.

But as the company explains, that activity took place in a silo that made it hard to understand the progress of sales efforts conducted inside LinkedIn.

That's not how things are supposed to happen, because when CRM burst onto the scene in the late 1990s one of its main selling points was that it offered an application for sales people to record every call, mail, and sideways glance in the direction of a customer or prospect. Sales people using LinkedIn to do their jobs without their efforts being recorded in CRM is therefore an oddity.

Which LinkedIn has now fixed with a new “CRM Sync” feature that lets LinkedIn users send activities in the network with their CRM.

For now, this is working in Salesforce only. LinkedIn promises links to other CRMs will arrive soon.

That choice is significant, as Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff objected to Microsoft acquiring LinkedIn on grounds that members data would henceforth flow only to Microsoft.

Those worries look a little mis-placed, for now, because CRM Sync won't share LinkedIn members' data, but does at least show that Microsoft's ownership isn't stopping the network from letting data flow. Choosing Salesforce as the service into which LinkedIn data will flow also shows that Microsoft and/or LinkedIn understand the CRM pecking order. Links to other CRMs will arrive soon.

But we're not out of the woods altogether, though. One of the things Sales Navigator can do is list who has viewed a LinkedIn user's profile, a handy tracker for sales people as it lets them know who's looked them up. Those profiles can now flow into Salesforce and Dymanics, and LinkedIn says similar integrations will soon come to Oracle, SAP Hybris, Netsuite, SugarCRM, Hubspot and Zoho in the near future. ®


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