Few outside of the sales industry may know this, but LinkedIn puts out a Global State of Sales report each year. The focus of the last report was centered around how the pandemic disrupted the sales process for the better, how the rise of tech stacks is impacting performance, and how top performers are leveraging these trends to get ahead.
With LinkedIn being the leading social media platform for B2B sales, many sales representatives and managers will use these findings to adjust and confirm they’re utilizing best practices, but there are many takeaways Marketing teams should acknowledge as well.
What sales learned – research is king. What Marketing can takeaway – names & contact info aren’t enough for sales to outreach
One thing that is undoubtedly true is the fact that the top sales performers all do a lot more research than other sellers. A total of 76% of the top sales performers stated that they “always” do research before reaching out to a potential sales prospect. Only 47% of other sellers made the same claim.
This is in-line with the report’s findings that true “cold” calls are on the way out, and “warm” calls are the standard of top performers with 88% of sellers saying they engage in “warm” calls.
The report states that sellers need to do “significantly more” research on buyers prior to reaching out than they did before the pandemic.
68% of buyers say they’re unlikely to engage with a seller who reaches out with information that’s irrelevant to their job so it’s important sales professionals understand the following before reaching out:
- Have an idea of their business needs
- Have an understanding of the prospect’s role in the buying process
- Provide personalized communications
When buyers receive messaging relevant to them or that challenges their current way of thinking, they respond well to it.
Marketing can assist their sales team by providing leads that are enriched with meaningful sales intelligence data…
What sales learned – sales tech stacks are growing. What Marketing can takeaway – CRM & sales intelligence tools are the most important to invest in for #SMARKETING
The overwhelming majority of sellers said they planned to use sales technology “significantly more” or “more” often this year than in years prior.
The top ranked most important types of sales tech were CRM and Sales Intelligence tools which tied for first.
Sellers say in large part that incomplete data is a major problem for them. Nearly half of all sellers (45%) say that they have lost sales because they have incomplete data that does not fully correspond with what they know to be true about their customers.
Using buyer intent technology to find prospects who are ready to buy right now is increasingly central to the sale process. Almost 85% of sellers say determining buyer intent is important for their sales organization.
Sales organizations are using a variety of tools to gauge buyer intent. Topping the list is LinkedIn Sales Navigator, but I’d like to shamelessly include another technology, Ion, Rock Content’s interactive platform, which can be used to gather meaningful business data on leads, and fuel sales with personalized sales intelligence information ;).
What sales learned – sellers only spend about 25% of their Time Selling
What Marketing can takeaway – when you look at sales ‘activities’, you’re only seeing one small portion of their job
Sellers, according to our data, spend about a quarter of their time (27%) selling products and services. The remainder of their time is spent updating their CRM, administrative tasks, internal meetings and training.
In addition to these findings, top performers (identified as selling +150% of quota) spend 10% less time selling and replace it with additional research – and spend an additional 18% more time updating the CRM than their more average performing counterparts.
The report quotes David J.P. Fisher (President, RockStar Consulting) as saying: “Don’t be so quick to dismiss ‘non-selling activity.’ The modern sales cycle requires more than just smiling and dialing to be successful. Research, training, and collaboration are key elements required to move deals forward. The key is asking if an activity has either short-term or long-term value or if you are just doing it because of inertia or poor planning.”
Marketing leaders can recognize that the time allotment that differs top from average performers are skills that can be taught, and can work with sales management to ensure that relevant research topics that resonate with their messaging are being performed.
What sales learned – top performers work closely with Marketing
What Marketing can takeaway – meet monthly with sales and use their feedback
70% of the top performers in the Linkedin survey rated the leads they receive from Marketing as “excellent” whereas only 43% of average sellers rated Marketing sourced leads the same.
The conclusion drawn here is that top performers work with their Marketing teams to understand the buyers intent from various lead sources, and know what Marketing messaging resonated the most with the buyer, and therefore know how to work them.
The report advises that sales and Marketing teams meet monthly so that Marketing can keep sales up to date on the buyer’s journey and how to best approach the leads, but also to receive feedback from sales on what content sources are performing best, topics and questions that are arising in their sales calls, and then Marketing can adjust their content strategy accordingly.
Sellers that are making the most significant sales are those who are reaching the right customers. They are using the proper technology, collecting the best data, and using that data to make sure they are only sending messaging that is appropriate for the customers that they want to reach.
At the end of the day, sales and Marketing should all be working for a common goal, and while the world of Marketing and sales are both independently evolving, understanding the trends and challenges of both will fuel a thriving organization.