LinkedIn cites ‘low adoption’ for decision to end Sales Navigator integration with Gmail

A promotional image for the free version of the LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension for Chrome, showing the email detection feature inside Gmail. (LinkedIn Image)

LinkedIn plans to pull the plug next month on a Chrome browser extension that lets Gmail and GSuite users see mini LinkedIn profiles for their email correspondents in a sidebar next to email messages, citing low adoption.

The extension, part of the broader LinkedIn Sales Navigator service, was formerly known as Rapportive, prior to its 2012 acquisition by LinkedIn. It is available in free and premium versions. Users of the extension are able to see details such as profile pictures, title, location and “icebreakers,” such as shared connections and experiences, and initiate a LinkedIn connection without leaving the email interface.

Microsoft acquired LinkedIn for more than $26 billion in December 2016, the largest deal in the Redmond company’s history.

Users of the Sales Navigator extension for Gmail started seeing notices this week informing them that it would be discontinued in mid-March.

“We continuously work with our customers and partners to focus on building and supporting the features that best help them build and maintain relationships with their buyers,” said Lindsey Edwards, senior director of product management for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, in a statement. “As a result of low adoption, we have decided to sunset the Sales Navigator for Gmail feature on March 18, 2020.”

Responding to GeekWire’s inquiry this week, LinkedIn didn’t address a question about whether competition with Google played into the decision. LinkedIn does offer similar Sales Navigator integration with Outlook in Microsoft’s Office 365.

But the extension also works against LinkedIn’s interests in another way: Users are able to leverage the extension’s email detection capabilities to confirm that they have the correct email address for someone they’re seeking to reach, as long as the person registered the address with their LinkedIn account. By guessing a variety of logical variations, it’s possible to reverse-engineer the accurate email for someone whose address is otherwise unknown. That reduces the need to subscribe to premium versions of LinkedIn with paid messaging capabilities.

The tool is commonly used by salespeople looking to find accurate contact information and details about decision-makers as they pursue leads and new deals.

Some alternatives are available, such as Discoverly and SalesQL, but they generally don’t offer the same level of LinkedIn integration as the first-party extension.

The move comes as LinkedIn tightens the integration of Sales Navigator with Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 customer relationship management platforms.

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