In its recently published State of Sales 2021 survey, LinkedIn stated that “Virtual selling is good for sellers and even better for buyers.” 50% of buyers say that “working remotely has made the purchasing process easier.” Buyers have benefited from the greater acceptance of sales intelligence and sales enablement services.
Furthermore, 70% of buyers want to retain remote work at least half of the time. 48% of buyers do not expect to be meeting face-to-face until H2 201, and 17% anticipate waiting until 2022.
“The bottom line is this situation requiring virtual selling skills won’t be changing anytime soon,” commented LinkedIn.
59% of buyers do not anticipate attending live events until H2 2021. While 90% of the surveyed buyers have previously attended events, 48% of sales reps have now closed deals above a half-million dollars without meeting the buyer in person.
“Sellers will go back to face-to-face meetings but not remotely close to pre-pandemic levels. Digital transformation was coming no matter what. COVID-19 just accelerated everything. In other words, digital transformation is here to stay.”Gartner VP-Analyst Craig Rosenberg
Sales Managers recognize the acceleration of change and digitization, with 86% agreeing that “the ability to cope with change is more important than it was five years ago,” up 16% over the past year.
“Generally speaking, sales is slow to adapt,” opined Gartner VP-Analyst Craig Rosenberg. “If the way sellers are doing things works, then they will keep doing it. This drastic event is driving change. Also, when the buyer changes, sales is forced to change. We often think of ‘sales’ as having to move virtual as the driver, but actually our buyers moved virtual. Ultimately, sales is going to gravitate to the buyer’s preference. In other words, it is much easier to adapt to change when you have to.”
The top three sources of change cited by sales managers are measuring sales processes and outcomes in different ways (51%), adding new technologies (50%), and instituting new hiring policies (50%).
Remote sales job postings increased five-fold in Q3 2020 year-over-year, with remote positions growing 8.8X in Canada and 4.5X in the United States. The transition hasn’t been easy. 67% of sales managers said that managing remote teams is more challenging than expected, and 65% of sales reps found it more difficult than anticipated.
Sales Operations and Customer Success roles proliferated between 2018 and 2020. LinkedIn captured a 38% increase in Sales Operations roles over this period, 4.8X the growth of sales titles.
Customer Success positions trebled between 2018 and 2020.
Continue to Part II, which discusses diversity effort in sales, SalesTech, and Sales Navigator.