6 minutes
April 29, 2022

LinkedIn free vs premium vs. Sales Navigator: What’s the difference? [Updated for 2024]

LinkedIn Basic and LinkedIn Premium and LinkedIn Sales Navigator, oh my. What LinkedIn tier works best for your sales organization in 2024? Let's take a look at the differences.
Anthony Mennie
Marketing Manager
Table of Contents

Ready to create more pipeline?

Get a demo and discover why thousands of SDR and Sales teams trust LeadIQ to help them build pipeline confidently.

Book a demo

Last Updated:

Key Takeaways

  • LinkedIn offers three options: Basic, Premium, and Sales Navigator. Basic is their standard free platform, Premium offers enhanced insights and access to additional content, and Sales Navigator provides tools specifically for sales professionals.
  • LinkedIn Basic suits general networking, Premium benefits job seekers and network expanders, while Sales Navigator targets sales professionals with advanced lead generation and CRM integration.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator stands out for its specialized sales tools and functionalities beyond the capabilities of Basic and Premium.

At LeadIQ, we often discuss how to use LinkedIn to advance 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, and create and share media, among other things. At the same time, sales reps and companies turn to its robust database to develop professional relationships and grow their business. 

To date, LinkedIn is available in over 200 countries, with 1 billion members worldwide. Each week, 65 million people use LinkedIn to search for jobs, and four out of five LinkedIn users also drive business decisions.

Add it all up, and it’s easy to see that LinkedIn is integral to today’s business world. That said, it’s far from a one-size-fits-all platform. 

In this piece, we 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 the platform to enhance prospecting outcomes.

Screenshot of LinkedIn open in a web browser

LinkedIn Options: An overview of LinkedIn Basic, Premium, and Sales Navigator

LinkedIn offers three different subscription tiers: Basic, Premium, and Sales Navigator:

  • LinkedIn Basic is free and provides networking and job searching tools. Users can create profiles, connect with professionals, join groups, and search for jobs.
  • LinkedIn Premium delivers enhanced features for professionals seeking to expand their network, find job opportunities, and gain insights into profile views. Premium members can also send InMail messages to anyone on LinkedIn, see who’s viewed their profiles, access additional job insights, and enroll in online learning courses.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator is designed for sales professionals and teams wishing to build and manage customer relationships effectively. This tier provides advanced search and lead generation tools, allows for targeted outreach, offers insights into potential leads, and integrates with CRM systems for seamless workflow management.

Now that you have a better high-level understanding of each of these tiers, let’s dig a little deeper.

LinkedIn Basic (Free)

Basic LinkedIn is the most accessible account and the platform’s entry point for most people. This free tier allows users to create profiles that detail their job history and career path. 

LinkedIn is a social network for businesses and career-minded professionals, giving users the ability to match with each other. Individual users and companies can create and share content, post updates about job changes, crowdsource opportunities and advice, link up with like-minded folk, receive updates from their network, and more. The main features of the free tier include the ability to:

  • Build and list a professional profile with your education, job history, current employment, and skill sets.
  • Network by linking up with people you find in searches and access their profiles, along with those of second-degree and third-degree connections and members you share groups with.
  • Receive messages from people within and outside your network.
  • See up to 1,000 people in search results across 100 pages of results (i.e., 10 results per page).
  • See the last five people who viewed your profile.
  • Get weekly alerts on up to three searches.

Basic LinkedIn is a must-have for anyone who wants their foot in the door in their profession or take their careers to the next level. 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. They use the data to recruit talent, target advertising, and prospect effectively.

LinkedIn Premium

Users who’ve outgrown LinkedIn Basic might opt to upgrade to Premium. There are two different types of accounts within this tier: Career and Business.

Premium Career

For $39.99 per month — or $19.99 per month if you pay annually — users can opt to upgrade to LinkedIn Premium Career, which enables them to take the platform’s capabilities to the next level. With a Premium Career 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).
  • The ability to see everyone who’s viewed your profile over the last year
  • Industry-specific insights on jobs and salary to see how you compare to other applicants
  • Leverage personalized AI-powered advice and takeaways
  • Stand out for recruiters when you apply to jobs
  • Unlimited people browsing for profiles up to third-degree connections
  • Access to more than 22,000 LinkedIn Learning courses and interview prep tools

According to LinkedIn, folks who sign up for Premium Career are 2.6x more likely to get hired.

Premium Business

For $69.99 per month — or $44.99 per month if you pay annually — users can also opt for the Business version of LinkedIn Premium. This subscription tier includes several distinct features, including:

  • 15 InMail credits per month
  • The ability to see everyone who’s viewed your profile over the last year
  • Insights into company growth and hiring trends
  • Unlimited people browsing
  • Top applicant job recommendations
  • Access to more than 22,000 LinkedIn Learning courses and interview prep tools

According to LinkedIn, Premium members get 4x more profile views on average.

Most people who don’t work in sales will probably want to stick to the Career version, which is ideal for people looking to optimize their network and advance their job search. If you’re interested in LinkedIn Premium, ask your company to cover the expense. After all, it’s an invaluable tool for you and your organization.

Linkedin Premium vs. Free

LinkedIn Premium offers several advantages over the Basic version. With Premium, users get access to advanced features like InMail messages, expanded profile views, and additional job insights. Plus, users can also see who’s viewed their profile over the last year, allowing for better networking and engagement opportunities. Premium users also gain access to LinkedIn Learning, a robust library of online professional development courses.

While LinkedIn Basic is free, it has its limitations. Basic users have fewer search filters and can’t see the full list of people who’ve viewed their profiles. They also have limited access to InMail and can only access a free month of LinkedIn Learning.

Add it all up, and while LinkedIn Premium requires a subscription fee, it provides valuable tools and insights that can help you stand out, network effectively, and engage more prospects. As for the Basic version? Well, you pay for what you get.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

In addition to LinkedIn’s Premium tier, the professional social networking service also offers Sales Navigator, which is purpose-built for sales teams.

What is LinkedIn Sales Navigator? 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator utilizes the platform’s social and networking capabilities to turn the site into a powerful database for advancing sales knowledge and performance. 

Three different plans exist within the Sales Navigator tier: Core, Advanced, and Advanced Plus. You can learn more about each of these versions here. 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 Core so powerful for sales is the fact that it mines the profiles of all 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
  • 50 InMail credits/month
  • The ability to find leads that match your ideal customer profile
  • Access to Relationship Explorer, designed to help you discover target accounts faster
  • The ability to create Personas to reach your target audience
  • Real-time lead and account alerts
  • Automatic lead and account recommendations

According to LinkedIn, members with Sales Navigator are connected to 3.8x more decision-makers.

How much does LinkedIn Sales Navigator cost?

Core costs $99.99 per month, or $79.99 per month if you pay annually. LinkedIn also offers Sales Navigator Advanced for teams for $169.99 per license per month, or $135 per license per month if you pay annually. This package enables you to leverage your team’s network, manage multiple licenses for your team, and upload and manage your book of business, among other features.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is also ideal for connecting to 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 was designed to work alongside LinkedIn Sales Navigator as you prospect. With LeadIQ, you can pull contact information from LinkedIn Sales Navigator and sync it with your CRM and other sales engagement tools, streamlining workflows and helping you cover more ground faster. Schedule some time to chat with a prospecting expert at LeadIQ to learn how you can leverage LinkedIn in your pipeline and revenue building strategy.

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

LinkedIn Sales Navigator vs. Premium

While LinkedIn Premium offers enhanced features for professionals looking to expand their network and advance their careers, Sales Navigator is built for sales reps and teams in an effort to help them manage customer relationships effectively. 

With LinkedIn Premium, users get access to:

  • InMail messages
  • Profile views
  • Additional job insights
  • LinkedIn Learning courses

Sales Navigator users, on the other hand, benefit from:

  • Advanced search and lead gen tools
  • Targeted outreach capabilities
  • Insights into leads
  • Integration with CRM systems

Bottom line? While LinkedIn Premium is geared toward personal branding and career advancement, Sales Navigator prioritizes sales prospecting and relationship management, making it an ideal tool for sales reps looking to drive business growth. 

5 top benefits of Linkedin Sales Navigator vs. LinkedIn Free

While we could write the proverbial Bible on LinkedIn Sales Navigator, for the purpose of this article we’ll keep it short and sweet. 

Before you go, here are five key reasons why sales teams should choose LinkedIn Sales Navigator over the platform’s other subscriptions.

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 and company worked for, among other things. 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 altogether, enabling your reps to search without limits. 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 held back 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 instead of dealing with a 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 grown into so much more. When choosing what membership is right for you, we can’t stress the impact of using Sales Navigator enough 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 might be a wee bit biased, but we absolutely recommend getting started with LinkedIn Sales Navigator and using it alongside LeadIQ.

Is LinkedIn Sales Navigator worth it? 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a valuable tool for sales professionals and teams, offering advanced features designed to streamline prospecting and relationship management efforts. Its focus on sales effectiveness sets it apart from other LinkedIn subscription tiers. 

With advanced search filters, lead recommendations, and real-time insights, Sales Navigator empowers users to identify and connect with prospects more efficiently. The platform’s ability to integrate with CRM systems further enhances prospecting workflows, making it a comprehensive solution for sales professionals seeking to drive business growth and land more customers.

Ready to learn how using LinkedIn and LeadIQ together can supercharge your prospecting efforts? Schedule a personalized demo today.