It’s a confusing time.
Over the past year and a half, COVID-19 has transformed the sales profession and brought Zoom calling, virtual selling and remote working to the fore. To understand exactly what has changed, we polled more than 7,500 buyers and sellers in 11 countries, and examined the effects of the pandemic for the LinkedIn State of Global Sales report.
In the report, we’ve outlined five key stats that shape the future of sales, helping to make sense of it all. They are:
1. 55% of buyers say remote work has made their purchase easier.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been difficult to reach buyers in any way but almost. And they seem pleased with the situation, according to the State of Global Sales report.
Fifty-five percent of buyers surveyed said that remote work made the buying process easier. And nearly three-quarters (71%) of buyers want to continue working remotely.
What these stats say about the future of sales: Virtual selling – or at least a combination of virtual and in-person selling – is here to stay.
This fact will require adjustment from many vendors, but the switchover isn’t necessarily bad news. That’s because 36% of sellers who responded to a Sales Condition survey said they closed deals worth $500,000 or more without meeting the buyer in person.
2. 60% of sellers say they always put the buyer first – but only 24% of buyers agree.
Three out of five sellers say they “always” put the buyer first. But less than a quarter of buyers (24%) agree.
This is a huge separation between sellers and buyers. What is at work here?
According to our Sales Status Report, the problem may lie more with the sales organization as a whole, rather than with individual salespeople. Sellers have identified six critical areas where sales organizations prevent salespeople from acting on the buyer first:
- Organization focus on achieving short-term sales/revenue goals (42%)
- Lack of the right skill set among existing sales talent (41%)
- Limited budgets (39%)
- Limited commitment to training (39%)
- Insufficient training (38%)
- Weak approach to talent recruitment (37%).
What these stats say about the future of sales: It is critical for sales managers to enable their organization’s sellers to put the buyer first, whether to gain new customers or maintain existing ones.
Here’s how to achieve that.
3. 48% of buyers say that providing misinformation is a direct deal killer.
In our survey, we asked buyers about seller behaviors that instantly kill deals. At the top of buyers’ list of seller actions that will stop deals in their tracks, misleading information about a product or its price is presented.
The fact that misinformation is at the top of the list highlights the importance of trust for buyers. They look to sellers to provide accurate information and insight into the often baffling buying process.
Of the top five kill deals, four involve failure to provide useful or accurate information:
- Providing misleading information about a product, its price, etc. (48%).
- Not understanding their product or service (44%)
- Not understanding my company and its needs (43%)
- Not understanding their competitors’ products and services (34%)
What these stats say about the future of sales: Trust has always been crucial. But now, as the world is more connected than ever, trust is even more important.
To be reliable, you need to be clear about pricing. But it also means understanding your own product, your competition, and the customer you’re selling to.
4. 80% of sellers say they have lost or postponed a deal in the past six months because a major customer stakeholder changed jobs.
Here’s a great statistic: 80% of sellers say they’ve lost or postponed a deal within the past six months because a major customer stakeholder changed jobs.. In an age when purchasing committees continue to add more members, it is more important than ever for sellers to keep track of the decision makers and influencers of their customers and prospects. (Forrester’s research found that 63% of purchases now involve four or more people, up from 47% four years ago.)
What these stats say about the future of sales: This number highlights the growing importance of data for sellers to help them stay in touch with buyers. The major cabinet reshuffle currently underway makes it even more important for sellers to stay abreast of job changes by buyers.
In addition, it emphasizes the importance of multithreading in the account and the presence of many heroes.
The combination of sales techniques allows sellers to stay on top of these types of moves. For example, LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables sellers to receive alerts when saved leads take on a new role.
The bright side? When product champions switch companies, it can open up an opportunity for sellers to open a new account.
5. 74% of sales professionals say their organizations plan to invest more in sales intelligence tools.
The increased investment in a suite of sales techniques is all about helping sellers build trust among buyers. That’s because only 37% of buyers say salespeople are trustworthy, according to LinkedIn’s State of Global Sales report.
At the same time, buyers say that trust in a salesperson is a major factor in choosing the companies they do business with. In the Sales Status Report, buyers rank “trustworthy” as the #1 trait they value in a sales professional. In fact, 89% of buyers describe the salespeople they end up dealing with as “trusted advisors.”
So it seems obvious that for sales professionals, getting past the initial mistrust is critical to closing deals. The question, of course, is how to get from point A (distrust) to point B (confidence).
What these stats say about the future of sales: Increasingly, with face-to-face meetings limited, the way to gain buyers’ trust and close deals is through virtual selling backed by sales technology. Salespeople can use sales technology to understand a potential customer before any communication occurs.
For example, sellers can use Gong to analyze sales call transcripts to understand a typical customer’s state of mind and to anticipate their objections.
Not surprisingly, then, our survey indicates that both use and investment in sales technology are increasing. Three-quarters (75%) of survey respondents say they use sales technology at least once a week; Almost a third (30%) use it daily.
Some technologies gain more investment than others. Specifically, 74% of sales professionals say their sales organization plans to invest more in sales intelligence tools, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator, that can provide the insights needed to build trust with buyers.
To dig deeper into the implications these five stats have for the future of sales, download the State of Global Sales report.