Sales leaders: the next three months can change the way your team sells
It’s becoming impossible to ignore the value of modern selling strategies – and the summer months are the ideal time to embed new approaches within your team
June 19, 2019
Evidence of the value of modern selling is increasing rapidly across Europe. In LinkedIn’s latest State of Sales survey, 90% of sellers in the region describe sales technology as important for their ability to close deals. Social media powers both sides of the buyer journey, as the favoured option for buyers researching their choices and the environment where three quarters of sellers seek insight on their prospects prior to reaching out. Top-performing sellers are noticeably more likely to depend on professional social media, use a broader range of sales tools, and prioritise sales intelligence technology.
The numbers show that modern selling offers massive competitive advantage. However, it doesn’t happen magically overnight. When you’re managing a sales team that’s working flat out to contact clients, make meetings and achieve their quotas, it’s tough to find the necessary time to invest in new platforms, set out a strategy and support your reps with the training they need. After all, the pressures of admin and internal meetings mean that sales professionals across Europe only get to spend around 40% of their time actually selling. Time is at a premium for most of the year.
That’s why the next three months are the most important opportunity you have to unlock the potential of modern selling for your organisation. The summer months mean fewer client meetings – and more time for your team to engage in building a modern selling strategy from the ground up.
Here are five ways to use the time and opportunity effectively:
Benchmark your use of sales tools and technology
Are your sales reps heading into the field with the same level of tech support as their competitors? The State of Sales survey provides some important points of comparison. Three types of sales tools are used by over half of all sellers in every market: CRM platforms, social networking and collaboration tools. Top sellers who exceed their quota by more than 25% use up to 50% more tech tools than their peers. And more than half the sellers in Europe expect their company to increase its investment in sales technology over the coming year.
Model integrating tech into selling routines
It’s not just the range of sales tools available that decides competitive advantage – it’s also the extent to which they are integrated into selling routines. Across Europe, around 80% of sellers use technology at least every week – and in France and the UK, a third use sales tech every day. If you’re investing in new sales technologies, don’t just leave reps to get on with using them. Integrate tech tools into team meetings, celebrate those making most effective use of them, and aim to model modern selling from the top of your organisation down.
Invest in Sales Intelligence tools – which mark out top sellers from the rest
Sales intelligence technology is quickly emerging as a point of difference for the top-performing sellers in Europe. Those who exceed their quota by 25% or more are significantly more likely to use tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator as a key part of their prospecting strategy. In France, 58% of those using sales intelligence tools spend three hours a week or more with them. This matters when B2B buyers across Europe consistently demand that sales reps reach out with bespoke insights tailored to their needs. In the UK, 78% say they won’t engage with a sales rep who lacks business-specific insight.
Encourage a learning culture
Targeted training can help your sales team to unlock greater value from the tools they already have available – and summer is a great time to work on encouraging a learning habit. LinkedIn Learning offers popular courses on getting started with Sales Navigator and social selling foundations, plus essential training for Europe’s most popular CRM and collaboration tools. However, it’s not only technical skills that can benefit from a learning mentality. Across Europe, sellers consider the ability to establish trust as the most important quality for closing deals. Soft skills-based courses such as the Science of Selling detail how to build that trust using insights from modern sales tools.
One of the great advantages of LinkedIn Learning is the flexibility that it provides for your team to consume content in bite-sized chunks, via mobile or desktop, whenever they have time available. However, you won’t build a learning culture among your colleagues just by providing them with training content and leaving them to their own devices. Try using the extra time you have over the next few months to organise learning sprints, setting aside an hour in the office each week. Making time for group discussions of courses keeps things interactive, provides room to share insights from personal experience – and makes learning far more effective.
Make time to move forward on marketing alignment
The State of Sales study highlights another clear source of competitive advantage in modern sales: effective marketing alignment. Across Europe, top sellers are up to three times more likely than their peers to rate the quality of their marketing leads as ‘Excellent’. B2B buyers demand consistency between the messages they receive from sales and marketing, with 78% describing this as important. And yet standards of sales and marketing alignment still vary significantly. In France, 40% of buyers report a lot of overlap in the data used for targeting. This drops to 31% in Germany and 25% in the UK.
The quieter summer months can provide the breathing space that you need to sit down with marketing colleagues and check that the objectives of the two teams are properly aligned: are you targeting the same audiences? where do your views of the buyer journey diverge? And how can you use shared data sources to bring them back together? Perhaps most importantly, does the way that marketing qualifies leads fit with the priorities and expectations of your sales teams? Making the time for open dialogue over the summer will help to identify practical steps for more meaningful sales and marketing orchestration going forward.
Becoming a modern selling organisation isn’t a case of making one investment or unveiling one new strategy. It involves making a habit of trying new tools and learning new techniques. Setting aside time to do so during the summer won’t just help you find competitive advantage this year. It’s a habit that will help your sales team stay successful as modern selling continues to evolve.