Continuing from yesterday’s discussion of LinkedIn’s State of Sales Report 2021…
Sales managers are looking to diversify their hiring across two dimensions: geographic and cultural. With work from home proving itself over the past year, managers are now confident that they can hire the best talent, regardless of location.
Likewise, sales professionals believe that their firms have succeeded in their efforts in opening up sales teams by gender, race, etc. 35% of sales professionals believe their sales organizations have “exceeded goals around diversity hiring initiatives,” while another 45% say their sales organization has “met” their diversity hiring goal.
On the buying side, 83% of purchasers said that all things being equal, they would give a preference to more diverse teams.
LinkedIn argues that Sales Intelligence is a crucial tool for building trust in the absence of face-to-face meetings. LinkedIn broadly uses the term to include Conversational Intelligence tools such as Gong and Chorus, which help understand the prospect’s state of mind, and sales intelligence solutions such as Sales Navigator.
“With in-person meetings limited, sales technology provides a key pathway to gaining insight and understanding into potential customers. It’s no surprise, then, that our survey indicates that both usage of and investment in sales technology are increasing,” stated LinkedIn.
73% of respondents employ a sales intelligence solution weekly, and 23% use one daily. 54% said SalesTech helps reps build stronger relationships, and an equal percent said it helps them close more deals. The top three categories for closing deals were CRM (70%), sales intelligence (69%), and sales enablement (69%).
Both usage and investment in SalesTech will increase in 2021, with CRM (49%), Sales Intelligence (43%), and Sales Planning (42%) seeing increased usage. On the investment side, the top categories are CRM (41%), sales intelligence (40%), and sales engagement (40%). Nearly seven in ten sales professionals anticipate greater SalesTech investment this year.
Data continues to be seen as critical, with 47% of sales organizations using it for account targeting, 44% for industry targeting, 43% for performance assessment, 41% for geographic targeting, and 39% for defining the buying committee.
While LinkedIn did not delve further into buying committee discovery, this is a nascent development area with multiple approaches, including conversational intelligence (meetings, emails) and machine learning.
Understanding the demand unit is critical for sales teams. 85% of reps reported that at least one opportunity was lost or delayed due to the departure of a client stakeholder.
Sales Navigator usage continues to be robust, with a 400% increase in self-bought Sales Navigator licenses over the past two years, “a surge that indicates sales professionals are investing in their own growth and have a willingness to use sales tech even if not prescribed by their company.”
59% of the Forbes Global 500 companies and 64% of the Forbes fastest-growing companies have Sales Navigator users.
Finally, message quality trumps quantity. Simply sending high volumes of email or sharing many content pieces does not move the revenue needle. The key is quality outreach that generates engagement and message acceptance. “This is a strong indication that salespersons ought to be mindful of the value to the customer before sharing content or sending an InMail.”
InMails should be “short, personalized, and conversational.” Messages with fewer than 400 characters are the most effective, with a sharp drop-off in response rates for long-in-the-tooth messages.
LinkedIn surveyed 400 sales and 400 US and Canadian purchasing professionals in January 2021. Separate surveys were conducted for other geographies but have yet to be published. [Original Report]