Handshake Marketing

LinkedIn's 3rd Annual State of Sales Report finds that buyers expect personalized experiences and can see through cold or impersonal outreach. Sales is also navigating a more complex buying process that involves more people and distributed decision-making. Technology, and particularly sales automation, is bringing new levels of productivity to selling, but in today’s climate, productivity alone isn’t enough.



Relationships, built on a foundation of trust, are now more crucial to sales than ever. Sales professionals, particularly those from younger generations, are embracing new strategies such as marketing and sales orchestration, a sales approach that involves tighter collaboration between marketing and sales departments to better target prospects, finds the report. Today’s top-performing sales people are working more closely with their marketing teams to target leads and are closing more deals as a result.

LinkedIn State of Sales report explores this evolution from the point of view of B2B sales professionals and decision makers. The research revealed some notable trends in the technologies and strategies that set top-performing salespeople apart, as well as the considerations that are most important to buyers today.
Sales technology helps to close deals, but it’s ineffective without a human touch, says the report. Technology is helping sales professionals extend their impact by automating administrative  tasks and gathering intelligence about prospects. It’s no wonder that since the first survey in 2016, planned investment in sales technology has grown by 53%.

  • 73% of sales professionals use technology to close more deals
  • 97% report that sales technology is either important or very important to closing deals

While technology plays a significant role in modern sales, decision makers still want their purchasing experiences to feel personalized. They’re more likely to engage with sales professionals who show they understand their needs and take a tailored approach to selling. Decision makers say they’re more likely to consider a brand’s products or services if a sales professional:

  • Has a clear understanding of their business needs: 96%
  • Provides personalized communications: 93%

Marketing and sales orchestration helps to close deals, but data silos remain, says the report. As more businesses pursue marketing and sales orchestration, sales professionals are starting to work more closely with marketing to target leads.

  • 44% of sales professionals say they work more closely with marketing than in past years
  • The number of sales professionals who say they work “very closely” or “closely” with marketing has grown 35% since 2016

Top sales performers (those who exceed their sales target by at least 25%) work more closely with marketing. On a scale from one to 10, 57% of top sellers rank the importance of working with marketing at an eight or higher, compared to 41% of their average counterparts.
However, data silos still stand in the way of successful orchestration. Just 20% of salespeople say there’s a significant overlap in the data used by marketing and sales to target leads. This misalignment could explain why only 22% of sales professionals say leads from marketing are excellent, says the report

Millennials (ages 21-38) tend to be early adopters of new strategies and technologies. While sales professionals across generations plan to spend more time in 2018 using sales technology than last year, millennials were the highest at 62%, compared to 56% of both Generation X and Baby Boomers.

Millennials are also more likely to bring together different tools as part of their modern sales technology stack:

  • 56% of millennials are using collaboration tools such as Box, Google Docs, Microsoft Office and Dropbox, compared to 40% 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

Since our first survey in 2016, says LinkedIn, we’ve seen that trust consistently influences deals. Sales professionals rank trust as the No. 1 factor in closing deals (40%) above ROI and price. 51% of decision makers rank trust as the top factor they desire in a salesperson. Professional and social networks are helping sales professionals better understand buyers’ needs and establish trust early on:

  • 77% of decision makers 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 professiona

Technology is no substitute for human connection, concludes the study, and the State of Sales report shows that when used strategically, it can help bring you closer to who you want to reach. This approach, combined with marketing and sales orchestration, will help you better target prospects, personalize their experiences and build long-lasting relationships at scale.

To read the full report, download The LinkedIn 2018 State of Sales Report. 

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