Sometimes it feels like the web is overflowing with advice on how to leverage tech tools to attract new and relevant audience, capture leads, nurture relationships and close deals. If it’s a step in the sales process, there are thousands of bloggers and experts touting tools to help with it.
You’ll find recommendations, commentary on trends, best practices and case studies. But there’s a gap when it comes to understanding how precisely the industry as a whole is utilizing all these tools to manage their customer acquisition pipelines.
That’s the main reason why LinkedIn’s new study, "The State of Sales in 2016", is so eye-opening. It details the extent to which today's marketing and sales pros have adopted the "new sales stack," as LinkedIn calls sales intelligence, CRMs, social selling productivity apps and email tracking solutions.
LinkedIn’s research also paints a precise picture about the extent to which utilizing these tools is a predictor of sales success.
Here are the most important highlights and takeaways from the study.
1. The CRM Is Ground Zero
LinkedIn found that some 24% of CRM users spend more than 10 hours per week working within their preferred CRM tools.
For marketers and salespeople at organizations that rely heavily on CRMs, this should come as no surprise. But for those who haven’t yet been on-boarded or begun to really maximize the functionality of their company’s CRM, this should be a wakeup call to head their quick.
2. Social Selling is Widespread
Some 62% of employees at large companies strongly agree that social selling tactics enable them to build stronger, more authentic relationships with customers and prospects.
It’s highly likely that this number will continue to rise as more and more brands develop large and engaged social media presences.
Platforms like Facebook and Twitter are great equalizers where prospects and companies can communicate in the same way you might talk to a friend and there’s plenty of evidence to show this approach works.
This means that relationships develop in a more authentic way than with cold sales calls giving marketing and sales reps a chance to build trust with their leads over time.
3. Sales Intelligence Drives Business Development
Sales intelligence tools are gaining in popularity, although interestingly enough, their biggest users and fans don’t have the word “sales” in their job titles. Business development professionals use sales intelligence tools at about a 17% higher rate than any other job function, meaning that you might want to reconsider precisely who is the end user for your tool.
Consumer-facing salespeople might not be adopting sales intelligence data as quickly as business development executives, but that might tell us more about B2B job title methods than software. Next-generation intelligence tools like Leadfeeder can show you who’s on your site when, what pages interest them most, and what LinkedIn connections you have in common.
4. Sales Pros Love Social Media
Far too many business leaders still think of social media as a helpful but not central part of their marketing and sales strategies. They’ll dabble with social presences because someone told them they have to, without truly attempting to use social to actually nurture leads.
The data shows that social platforms are now integral to the modern-day sales tech suite. Approximately 70% of sales pros use LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, making these 3 platforms the most widely used sales technology.
Social media enables sales reps to meet customers as they go about daily life, and it’s powerful for building strong relationships, thanks to social media’s authenticity and intimacy.
5. The Best Sales Pros Really Love Social Media
Social media is the most popular sales tech overall, but it’s especially popular with the standout performers. 90% percent of the top-performing salespeople use social selling tools, compared with 71% of salespeople overall.
Social selling is for closers because it’s great for lead nurturing. Social media’s informal banter culture is perfect for top-tier sales pros, who know how to use their people skills to make deals – no matter what the platform.
6. Top Performers Give Credit Where It’s Due
Did you know that these aforementioned top-performing salespeople are also 24% more likely to attribute their success to their tech tools than salespeople overall.
What does this say about the nature of sales success?
Not only do skilled sales reps know how to give credit where it’s due, but they also make good use of all the new tools available to them. As with any job, having the right tools and knowing how to use them is a key tenet of scalable success.
7. Millennials Use Sales Intelligence Tools Most
LinkedIn found that Millennials are 33% more likely to use sales intelligence tools to generate background and contact information on leads than their older industry colleagues. Old-school marketers and salespeople, on the other hand, may still believe myths about LinkedIn that prevent them from maximizing its effectiveness.
This isn’t really surprising, since Millennials invented Facebook and a slew of other leading social platform for Millennials to encourage this exact type of sociability. All that time spent procrastinating really did pay off!
The Numbers Don’t Lie
The data gathered by LinkedIn for "The State of Sales in 2016" has a few surprises, but more importantly, it quantifies lots of trends that people talk about but haven’t studied.
Understanding which roles favor what tools and how the industry is leveraging technology to maximize sales and marketing efficiency is essential to keeping your business competitive. Tools don’t have to be overwhelming — when you pick the ones that are likely to serve you best and use them well, they just make your job that much easier.
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