Social media and time-saving tech have forever changed the way all of us function both in our personal and professional lives, so it was only a matter of time before they transformed B2B sales too.
Here at LinkedIn, we observe a lot of different behaviors in terms of how buyers and sellers interact. In recent years, we’ve seen a number of disruptive technologies and novel sales practices become mainstream.
Here’s what we see: technology is transforming the sales profession, from the way leads are generated, to the conversations that happen once the “digital handshake” is made. To a large extent, it’s accelerating connections, shortening sales cycles, and bringing a new level of transparency that is unlike anything buyers and sellers have ever experienced.
To shed light on the evolving sales landscape, we conducted our second annual State of Sales study to understand the impact social networks, business collaboration software and other technologies are having on the overall sales ecosystem.
We commissioned CensusWide, a market research agency, to survey over 2,000 U.S. based B2B sales pros and buyers, to capture a 360-degree view of the technologies and strategies that leading salespeople are using to stand apart from their peers, and how these approaches are landing with buyers. Here’s what we found:
Sales Tech Is No Longer A “Nice To Have,” It’s Table Stakes
The digital sales stack is now firmly established at the foundation of successful sales organizations. This year’s survey shows that companies are receiving the message loud and clear and accelerating tech use in sales strategies accordingly:
98% of top salespeople report using sales technology on the job
90% of salespeople report that sales technology is either “important” or “very important” to closing deals
62% of top salespeople — those who exceeded their projected target revenue by more than 25% — strongly attribute closing more deals to incorporating social networks into their sales strategy
94% of salespeople who are familiar with social tech say it provides them with valuable insights for connecting with customers and prospects
70% of salespeople expect to invest more time leveraging social tech strategies in the next twelve months, a striking 45% increase year-over-year
On the decision-maker side, leveraging social networks is having an impact, too. This year’s survey found that buyers prefer working with salespeople who use professional and social networks to better understand their needs and provide more tailored and timely offerings.
77% won’t engage with salespeople who don’t have insights or knowledge of their business
62% look for an informative LinkedIn profile when deciding whether to work with a sales professional, and 85% consider it important for them to have existing connections with people at their company
69% of millennial buyers are more likely to speak with a sales professional who has a professional social media presence
56% of Millennials are using collaboration tools such as Box, Google Docs, Microsoft Office and Dropbox, compared to 40% of Baby Boomers
40% of Millennials use productivity apps like Asana, Smartsheet and Trello as part of their daily role, compared to 17% of Baby Boomers
39% of Millennials use enterprise communication apps like Slack and Salesforce Chatter in their day-to-day role, compared to 15% of Baby Boomers
61% of those that have been in service for between 6-8 years use collaboration tools, compared to 48% of those with less than 2 years’ experience
Buyers Discredit Negative Media Portrayals of Salespeople
We found that perceptions of salespeople are changing as well. Results show that decision-makers increasingly view salespeople as trusted advisors — a far cry from the overtly opportunist image that once overshadowed the profession.
79% agree that the negative Hollywood portrayals misrepresent the profession
The top three terms used to describe how the media portrays salespeople are “sneaky” (38%) “devious” (35%) and “aggressive” (32%)
While sales tech has changed how the profession functions, relationships have always been — and still remain — at the heart and soul of sales. While tech is no substitute for the human element, our State of Sales report shows that when used strategically and appropriately, it helps overcome hurdles and brings buyers and sellers together for the greater good of both.
SOURCE: LinkedIn Blog