6 minutes
April 29, 2022

LinkedIn free vs premium vs. Sales Navigator: What’s the difference?

LinkedIn, Premium, or Sales Navigator? What LinkedIn tier works best for your sales organization, let's take a look at the differences.
Elisia Guerena
Table of Contents

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At LeadIQ, we often discuss how to use LinkedIn for advancing prospecting efforts. But the platform offers a variety of capabilities for a wider audience than just sales reps. Professionals and content creators rely on its social element to network, job hunt, create and share media, and more. Sales reps and companies turn to its robust database to develop professional relationships and grow their business. To date, over 200 countries use LinkedIn, with 810 million members worldwide. 49 million job searches take place on LinkedIn within the course of one week, and four out of five LinkedIn users also drive business decisions.

LinkedIn is integral to today’s business world, and it’s far from a one-size-fits-all platform. Here, we’ll break down the three main account types - Basic (Free), Premium, and Sales Navigator – what each is typically used for, and how sales teams can employ it to enhance prospecting outcomes.

Screenshot of LinkedIn open in a web browser

LinkedIn Basic (Free)

Basic LinkedIn is the most accessible account and the platform’s entry point for most people. This free version allows users to create a profile that details their job history and career path. It’s a social network for businesses and career-minded professionals, with the capabilities to match. Individual users and companies can create and share content, post updates about job changes, crowd-source opportunities or advice, link up with like-minded folk, receive updates from their network, and more. Main features include:

  • The ability to build and list a professional profile with your education, job history, current employment, and skillsets.
  • Networking capabilities–link up with people you find in searches, and access their profiles as well as those of second-degree connections.
  • Receive messages from people both within and outside your network.
  • See up to 100 people in a search result, and save a handful of those searches while also being able to set up alerts.
  • See the last five people who viewed your profile.

Basic LinkedIn is a must-have for anyone who wants their foot in the door (or more) in their profession. It’s a staple for professionals and businesses alike that want their industry to take them seriously.

The user-generated data on the free version of LinkedIn is really the backbone of what makes paid versions of LinkedIn so valuable to businesses and sales teams to rely on it for recruiting talent, targeting advertising, and effective prospecting.

LinkedIn Premium

This next-tier version of LinkedIn takes the platform’s capabilities to the next level. With a Premium account, users receive all the features of the basic plan, as well as:

  • The ability to message people outside of your network (these are called InMail credits, and you receive five of them per month).
  • See everyone who’s viewed your profile
  • Industry-specific insights on jobs and salary
  • Advanced searches that yield up to 1,000 results

Users can also opt for the Business version of LinkedIn Premium, which grants business insights on new hires and role breakdowns, as well as 15 InMails per month and unlimited people browsing. If you work in HR, Business Premium is for you; otherwise, most people will want to stick to the career version, which is ideal for people looking to optimize their network and advance their job search. Premium Career costs $39.99/month; Premium Business costs $59.99. Both subscriptions are less if you pay annually.  

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

This version of LinkedIn utilizes the platform’s social+networking capabilities to turn them into a powerful database for advancing sales knowledge and performance. Three different plans exist within this account: Professional, Team, and Enterprise. You can learn more about each of these versions here; for right now, we’ll focus on the core version, which is the one most widely used by sales reps in their prospecting efforts. What makes this version so powerful for sales is the fact that it mines the profiles of all its users and converts them into insights for prospecting. It builds upon all the features of Premium, and also includes:

  • Unlimited searches for people and companies
  • 20 InMail credits/month
  • Up to 2500 results per search
  • View up to 25 profiles per search page, making it easier to find prospects without combing through as many search result pages
  • Advanced search filters that allow you to hone specifications for qualified leads
  • The ability to save searches and get alerts whenever a lead or account goes through a change or makes an update
  • An algorithm that suggests leads based upon your vertical and your audience

This version also offers a Team account, which allows you to network within your team’s contacts as well. The cost? $79.99/month for the core plan; $134.99 month for the Team account. Both these prices are lower with annual billing.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is also ideal for pairing up with your favorite CRM. While you can do some cool stuff out of the box, sales teams can get even more value from their paid subscription by pairing it with LeadIQ.

Did you know?
LeadIQ works alongside Sales Navigator to help build lead lists, search within your target accounts, verify contact information, and push this information directly into your CRM in a single click.

Animated GIF showing LeadIQ Capture and Sequence from LinkedIn Sales Navigator in One Click

5 reasons Sales Navigator is better than regular LinkedIn

While we could (and in fact are) writing the Bible on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, for the purpose of this article we’ll keep it short and sweet. Before you go, here are five essential reasons why sales teams should choose LinkedIn Sales Navigator over the platform’s other versions.

1. Search results

Sales Navigator offers more search results per page: 25 to be exact, which is 15 more than the regular version. Having more results per page helps you build lists faster. You can search for prospects based on criteria such as title, company worked for, etc. An increased amount of leads means that you’ll want an effective way to capture them, which is why we recommend working with a tool like LeadIQ in order to further streamline the process.

2. Profile view limit

Regular LinkedIn puts a cap on how many profiles you can see and will freeze your account if you perform too many searches. Sales Navigator removes that cap, giving your reps unlimited searches. Given that a higher volume of leads translates to better chances of successful prospecting, you’re going to want to make sure you’re not stymied by technicalities.

3. Advanced search

While LinkedIn’s premium version does contain some filters, Sales Navigator offers significantly more. Search by company headcount, growth, location, mutual connections, and more. More robust search options mean contact lists that are more specific to your lead criteria. LeadIQ is helpful here as well since it allows you to quickly capture those leads in your quest to build a personalized outreach.

4. Lists

You can build lists that follow companies or even followers of companies. Sales Navigator will send you important updates on these accounts, such as job change notifications. By following companies instead of individuals, you get updates on both employees and the organization as a whole. These lists are a great source of truth for organizing your outreach, allowing you to seamlessly integrate other sales tools without confusing workflow.

5. TeamLink

With TeamLink, you can network within your entire organization and not just your personal network. Say your coworker knows Jim. You check out Jim’s information and find out that he’s a great qualified lead. You can leverage that mutual connection as a way to break into that account–a technique that greatly enhances your chances of successfully connecting with a prospect.

LinkedIn may have started out as a social network, but has now grown into so much more. When choosing what membership is right for you, we can’t stress enough the impact of using Sales Navigator if you’re in a sales, SDR, or marketing role. If you choose to sync the platform with LeadiQ, those results get even better. We recommend getting started with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and using it alongside LeadIQ.

You can take advantage of LeadIQ free which allows you to capture 15 people a week at no charge. You can sign up for a free LeadIQ plan here.

Once you sign up, check out these helpful tips for getting the most out of your free LeadIQ account.