Advances in technology mean that sales professionals should act more like business consultants, according to LinkedIn.
The findings have been published as part of the State of Sales 2017 study.
The survey of over 2,000 sales professionals and business decision makers shows that top performing sales people are the ones that take the time to understand a client’s business before making their initial pitch.
The decision makers surveyed said that having good knowledge and insight into their business is the main reason they would choose to engage with a salesperson.
So what insights do the findings give us?
Understanding how a business works
The technological advances of the last decade have allowed people to gain unprecedented access to company information, as well as other things like consumer opinions.
The findings of the study, however, seem to suggest that it is not doing your homework on what the company does that is the most important aspect, but how it does it.
89% of the decision makers surveyed are more likely to engage if they think the salesperson has a clear understanding of where they fit in the company’s decision-making hierarchy. 88% will be more likely to engage if the brand is able to target the right people for discussion or share the applicable content.
79% would not engage if it was clear that little homework had been done beforehand, and 62% will not take a non-personalised approach forward.
In a press release, LinkedIn states that the findings show that sales teams “need to behave more like informed business consultants” that use technology to “gain valuable insights on prospects and their challenges to win in today’s competitive environment”.
Liam Halpin, head of LinkedIn Sales Solution, EMEA, said:
“Now that customers can get the information and products they need at the click of a button, sales professionals can no longer rely on the steak dinner and hard sell approach. They need to add value through their expertise, insights and knowledge of a client’s needs, otherwise they will struggle to get anywhere in today’s hyper competitive business landscape.”
Trust trumps ROI
43% of decision makers value trust above all other factors when it comes to closing a deal with salespeople, compared to 23% who cited ROI. Only 18% listed price as the most important factor.
81% said that a salesperson should be considered as a trusted advisor to their business.
“Trust sits at the core of our mission to modernise the sales profession,” continued Halpin.
“Good relationships are built up over many years, but can fall apart in a matter of minutes. Investing time in sales technology to make an informed approach is a must for sales professionals to build and foster powerful, long-term relationships with customers.”
Old strategies not as effective
Technological advances are increasingly leaving sales team that cling to the more established ways of doing things out in the cold.
45% of decision makers said that they respond to cold calls around 10% of the time. Of the top performing sales professionals surveyed, 94% reported that technology was an important tool in their arsenal.
Social media is, perhaps predictably, the most popular way of reaching the right people, with 88% of sales professionals saying it helps them close deals. In fact, 74% said that they plan to spend more time on social media in the future, and half expecting their company to invest more in sales technology.
The message is clear: do your homework.