2021 was a pivotal year in many ways for global sales - a ‘reboot’ of sorts for many industries. With this in mind, LinkedIn revealed their State of Sales Report for 2021 mid-way through the year. In this report, sales intelligence reveals more than a few interesting new trends. Let’s consider the main seven points raised.
Virtual Selling Supports Sellers and Buyers
The report confirms that virtual sales are not purely beneficial to buyers. In fact, given the shifting landscape over the past two years, virtual sales uptake was to be expected. Around 43% of buyers surveyed, in fact, didn’t intend to meet sellers face to face until later in the year.
That’s a massive shift with regard to this pivotal relationship standard. However, remote listings on LinkedIn have multiplied five times since March 2020. For sellers, this shift is still lucrative - statistics show more than 30% of those surveyed closed half-million deals virtually.
Sales Managers Need to Adapt to Hybrid Working
Statistics let us know what we assumed all along. Compared to 28% of sales specialists in 2019, 51% worked remotely in 2021. Salespeople report that moving to remote working was a challenge – in fact, 59% of those surveyed. However, sales roles are expanding and increasing - and buyer demands are evolving, too.
Therefore, inarguably, LinkedIn’s research proves sales experts need to embrace hybrid working (at least). Much sales intelligence takes place virtually and online - this is only set to continue.
Sales Organizations are Restricting Buyer-Seller Relationships
On a slightly negative note, buyers seem to disagree that sales organizations are prioritizing their needs. A ‘buyer first’ model identifies that traditional sales techniques are quickly growing outdated. One facet to this is that customers increasingly demand ‘instant service’ - to select and buy products without the patter.
There seems to be disagreement over this shift in attitude. Sellers and organizations to the tune of 60% believe that they are consistently putting buyers first. Only around a quarter of buyers, meanwhile, agree. Therefore, this data suggests sales professionals may need to rethink their assumptions heading to mid-decade.
Deal Blocking is Rife
Deal blocking, despite the strides made in buyer-seller relationships, is still a huge concern. Buyers, again, appear to lead the way with regard to insight. Recent reports suggest 48% of consumers see misinformation as a deal-breaker. Close behind, 44% of buyers feel a seller’s inability to understand or demonstrate their products kill deals.
However, these two core issues are quickly bolstered by concerns that salespeople may not fully understand their corporate needs. 44% of buyers won’t close a deal if a seller doesn’t fully comprehend what they require.
Beyond this, a classic deal-breaker - persistent, unwanted communication - aggravates 34% of buyers surveyed. The same number of respondents also feel that a failure to understand the market, or even close rivals, breaks down deals.
Finally, an emerging concern in deal-breaking trends is the concept of dubious partnership. Specifically, if a seller is affiliated with a brand believed to be untrustworthy, 32% of buyers will close down. While this is the minority of buyers surveyed, it remains a concerning trend.
On the positive side, buyers most appreciate brand trustworthiness, value pricing and ROI, salesperson trust, and salesperson knowledge. Regardless of data and intelligence, buyers appear to value seller knowledge and legitimacy. This may be obvious to an extent - but thanks to LinkedIn, we now have data to back this up.
Closing out this point, sellers show curious introspection about what may break deals. Specifically, they worry that misleading marketing, impersonal approaches, and knowledge failures are the biggest causes of breakdowns. Refreshingly, they are not too far from the truth.
Sales Intelligence Technology is Breeding Trust
As mentioned, buyers in the modern age value trust. LinkedIn’s further polling data suggests that intelligence data, tellingly, is helping to bolster this. Specifically, it is the adoption of technology and its insight that may be building such bridges.
Up to 93% of sellers polled believe intelligence tech is helping them to broker stronger sales relationships. 94%, impressively, also feel it’s helping to close deals, period. Up to 58% of those surveyed intend to invest more time and money in such technology in the year ahead.
Above all, CRM software, sales engagement, and intelligence platforms appear to be garnering the most trust. That is, in a sense, they help to close deals. Collaboration and demonstration tools, as well as sales planners, help to a large extent, too.
Data’s Never Been More Important to Sales
LinkedIn’s survey results identify that incomplete data and inaccurate data on wider markets restrict sales. Sellers use data to identify performance trends and deal closing patterns across the board.
Tellingly, data usage is swaying more towards meeting quotas than customer satisfaction outright. Both metrics are crucial - but are these necessarily falling in line with buyer demands explored above?
LinkedIn Usage is on the Rise
Finally, LinkedIn claims that 69% of sellers polled were committed to developing their profiles in 2021/22. In fact, rather tellingly, up to 79% of buyers surveyed confirmed that a seller’s use of a profile would help close a deal.
However, LinkedIn remains only one piece of the larger puzzle. Intelligence in sales is growing ever-important for both sides of the buying relationship. Therefore, it will be necessary for sales professionals to pay attention to this data and the trends that arise from here.
Intelligence operates on precedence to a degree - however, it’s highly beneficial to building predictions. As recent reports show, it’s clear that there are still a few disconnects between buyers and sellers. Therefore, the next few years will likely be pivotal to developing these relationships further. What might future reports reveal?
In the meantime, sales intelligence is all around us - for example, through data available via Fundz. Now’s the time to start pooling and correlating data so we can all build more satisfying sustainable deals.
Topic: Sales Intelligence