Sales people want to see you, buyers not so much, says LinkedIn

LinkedIn's State of Sales 2021 report highlights how buyers like remote purchasing. The catch is salespeople want to hit the road. Welcome to the new normal.

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LinkedIn

Sales teams are often struggling with remote sales sans conferences, in-person meetings and travel, but 50% of buyers say remote work due to COVID-19 has made purchasing easier, according to a LinkedIn survey.

LinkedIn's State of Sales 2021 report is based on a survey of more than 400 buyers and 400 sellers in the US and Canada. At a high level, 48% of respondents said they closed deals of $500,000 or more without ever meeting a buyer in-person.

On the flip side, LinkedIn's survey found that 65% of salespeople say working remotely is more challenging than anticipated and 67% of sales manager said the same about overseeing a remote team.

Like business travel overall, how the remote vs in-person sales game plays out is going to be fascinating. Salespeople can't wait to get back on the road, but CFOs are going to question the travel and entertainment expenses more and marketing chiefs will have to balance productivity with costs and returns.

This calculus will also apply to in-person conferences, business travel and throughput. For instance, high-level consultants can meet with three clients in a day vs. the one they would see in person. Toss in travel time spent on planes, trains and automobiles and you have a lot of productivity lost. Sales is no different.

Another issue: 70% of buyers want to stay remote.

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LinkedIn

It's likely that sales pros will have to be more data driven. LinkedIn found that 77% of sales professionals said their orgs plan to invest "significantly more" or "more" in sales intelligence tools. Indeed, 47% of sales orgs are using data to select accounts to target, but accuracy is tricky given 25% of buyers change roles every year. And 85% of respondents said that they had lost or stalled at least one deal in the past year because a client stakeholder left the prospect company.

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LinkedIn

Other findings include:

  • 65% of sellers say they always put the buyer first, but 23% of buyers agree.
  • 76% of buyers said providing free and easy access to product reviews and content is a behavior of putting a buyer first.
  • 82% of buyers said staying actively engaged after a sale is putting the buyer first. The same tally cited transparent pricing.
  • 86% of sales managers agree the ability to cope with change is more important than it was five years ago.
  • 51% of sales managers are measuring the sales process and outcomes in different ways.
  • 70% of sales pros say CRM systems help close deal followed by 69% each citing sales engagement and sales intelligent software.
  • 49% of sales pro say incomplete data is a top challenge with 38% citing inaccurate market data and 37% citing inaccurate CRM system data.