LinkedIn has today launched its fourth annual State of Sales report, which looks at key market trends and shifts, based on surveys of over buyers and sellers across the US.
And based on the topline findings, it's clear that COVID-19 has significantly altered the current sales landscape.
The pandemic has impacted almost everything we do, and as such, these trends will likely come as no surprise. But it is interesting to note how businesses are now changing their approaches in line with the new sales environment.
First off, LinkedIn notes that the measures for success have changed, with more organizations moving to longer-term growth goals.
"Our survey data indicates that measurements of long-term value are moving to the forefront over traditional short-term metrics, such as quarterly quota. When asked to identify how sales reps should be measured, four metrics were selected by more than a third of respondents. The top two metrics looked past the quarterly horizon."
That, of course, makes sense - most businesses would be struggling to meet their original, short-term goals in light of the current situation. But the responses here may provide some context as to where you should be looking instead, with solidifying customer relationships the key focus.
A specific area of focus for LinkedIn is the use of data to help improve the sales process, and how businesses are adapting to new data streams and tools.
As it turns out, there's still a way to go on this front:
In the age of social media, where businesses have more access to more consumer data and insight than ever before, it's surprising to see that only around half of all salespeople are tapping into those streams. That figure is on the rise, but it may point to expanded opportunity for such within your process, if you're not already utilizing customer and audience analytics to inform your approach.
The same is also reflected in responses to a question about sales tech.
In relation to what customers are looking for in dealing with salespeople at present, trust is key.
"Not surprisingly, as organizational trust erodes, buyers seem to crave it even more. When asked what qualities they value in a salesperson, buyers ranked “trustworthy (47%) at the top, followed by “responsive” (44%) and “expert in the field” (40%)."
And interestingly, in order to establish that trust, consumers are looking for salespeople to establish a better understanding of their individual circumstances and needs.
Which, of course, could be better established by utilizing the available data sources, reinforcing the need to consider how you strategize and target your efforts via the tools available.
There's a heap more insight in LinkedIn's full "State of Sales Report 2020", which you can download here (with email sign-up). And while business and sales processes have, inevitably, been altered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the insights here could help to point you in the right direction, and prompt you to look into new ways to connect with your key audience groups.