Where Trust and Technology meet: The State of Sales in the UK

Our latest survey of the state of buyer and seller relationships shows insights and marketing alignment making a difference for top performers

March 11, 2019

Where Trust and Technology meet: The State of Sales in the UK

LinkedIn’s annual state of sales report is a snapshot of where the relationship between B2B buyers and sellers stands across different markets worldwide. It identifies the key trends and tools that are driving sales forward, the expectations that buyers have of sales reps, and how effectively those expectations are being met.

In the UK, we surveyed 500 sales professionals and 510 buyers about the factors that they consider most important in closing deals, the technologies and platforms they rely on to make those deals happen, and the moments that decide whether a productive conversation happens – or not. Looking through the data there are some fascinating insights that leap out at me. They show that successful selling continues to depend on human qualities and human relationships. However, they also show that real competitive advantage for sales reps depends on supporting those qualities with the right technology and tools.

Top sellers depend on sales tech

More than three quarters (79%) of UK sales reps now use sales technology as part of their strategy for closing deals, and effectively every one of these sales reps considers their tech tools to be important to their ability to do so. Of those using sales technology, 56% describe it as ‘Very Important’ and a further 43% describe it as ‘Important’. A third of UK sellers use this technology on a daily basis, and just under half (48%) use it every week. And adoption of tech tools correlates with performance in exceeding sales targets. Among sales reps who exceeded their quotas by 25% or more in the last year, 74% say their use of sales technology is increasing.

However, it would be naïve to assume that tech tools alone can close deals. Their importance comes from the way they enable skilled sellers to leverage their expertise in establishing trusted, value-adding relationships. As a group, UK sales reps rate ‘Trust’ as the single most important factor in helping them to close deals, with 35% listing it as the number one driver of sales success, followed by ROI (28%) and price (18%). In total, more than half of sellers (57%) rank ‘Trust’ in the top two.

Applied insights deliver all-important trust

Trust comes from the ability to apply insight to the specific needs of a buyer and his or her business. Of the B2B buyers in our UK survey, 43% described a sales professional being informed about their business needs as the most important factor leading them to award business, making this joint top with price as the most significant issue in closing deals. Over three quarters (78%) said they wouldn’t engage with a sales rep who lacked such business-specific insight. Applied sales intelligence is even more effective when supported by a strong brand (named by 38% of buyers as a key factor) and recommendations from someone in a buyer’s network (listed by 36%).

It’s therefore no surprise that top-performing sales professionals tend to be those making greatest use of social media to find relevant insights and establish common connections prior to reaching out. Among all sales professionals, 87% describe networking platforms as very important to their ability to close deals, and this rises to 95% among those exceeding their quota by 25% or more. LinkedIn is the platform of choice for UK salespeople, with 71% using it help close deals, and 80% describing themselves as very active on the network.

The importance of a strong brand also means it’s no surprise that top sellers are more likely to value collaboration with marketing as providing a significant competitive advantage. Among top performers, 75% believe that marketing plays a ‘very big’ role in their success. That co-ordination between marketing content and insightful sales conversations increasingly takes place on LinkedIn.

You can find more details on the state of sales in the UK in our full summary of the research results.