7 Insights for Marketers from LinkedIn’s New State of Sales Report

August 9, 2020

Illustration for Global State of Sales Report

It’s no secret that sales and marketing alignment is growing increasing crucial.

As Jill Rowley, Advisor at LoopVOC, puts it: “The new reality is that sales and marketing are contiually and increasingly integrated. Marketing needs to know more about sales, sales needs to know more about marketing, and we all need to know more about our customers.”

Because alignment between sales and marketing is so important, it’s critical that marketers understand their counterparts in sales. That’s where LinkedIn’s new global State of Sales report can help. The report, which surveyed 10,000 sellers and buyers around the globe, provides insights into the sales profession and where it’s headed.

Here are seven insights that marketers can glean from the new report.

1. Sales is always a challenging profession and never more so than right now.

With its impact on the economy, COVID-19 has hurt many industries and the sales professionals who serve them. In a survey conducted in North America this spring, 60% of salespeople expected a decrease in hitting quota/closing deals — with 18% anticipating a significant decrease. Additionally, 44% of salespeople expected a decrease in responsiveness to outreach — with 8% anticipating a significant decrease.

Insight for Marketers: The sales department may be more open than ever to new ideas from the marketing team to help spark conversations with potential buyers.   

2. The sales profession is undergoing significant changes.

In the global State of Sales survey, 76% of sales managers agreed that their capacity to adapt to change was more important than it was five years ago. Managers in three countries rated this capability to adapt to changes at even higher percentages: India (87%), Mexico (87%), and Brazil (86%).

Insight for Marketers: Sales leaders are extremely aware of the changes — such as increased usage of sales technology — that are transforming their industry. The current situation may be an opportune time for marketers to sit down with sales leaders at their organization and plan for a future of closer sales-marketing alignment.   

3. The lack of face-to-face meetings has led to a rise in virtual selling.

Traditionally salespeople have thrived on travel, conferences, and face-to-face meetings, but COVID-19 has limited all of these methods for connecting with customers. In this new reality, the State of Sales report found that 77% of salespeople are having more virtual meetings and 51% are sending more emails.  

Insight for Marketers: Virtual selling was already becoming more important, even before COVID-19 arrived on the scene. Marketers can help by their sales counterparts by producing scripts to support virtual meetings and content for emails. 

4. Data is increasingly crucial in sales.

Sales teams are relying on data for many aspects of sales, from measuring performance (49%) to prospecting (49%) to targeting the appropriate the industries (47%). “Having access to timely and relevant data will be key to success. Sales organizations with a clear data strategy for their go-to-market efforts reported that 11% more of their sellers made goal and they won forecasted deals 8% more of the time,” Joseph DiMisa, Sales Effectiveness and Rewards Leader, Korn Ferry, said in the State of Sales report.

Insight for Marketers: The number of Sales Operations professionals have grown 2.8x faster than the sales function overall, according to LinkedIn data. With more data-oriented personnel in sales, marketers must approach these teams with data-driven proof that marketing is helping drive success for the sales team.

5. Salespeople need to gain the trust of buyers — and marketers can help.

Globally, only 32% of buyers described the sales profession as trustworthy. Nonetheless, 58% of them described trust as critical to getting deals done. Successful salespeople are the ones who are able to get from Point A to Point B and gain the trust of buyers, because 88% of buyers describe the salespeople they ultimately do business with as “trusted advisors.”

Insight for Marketers: The State of Sales report shows that salespeople begin earning the trust of buyers even before the initial outreach: 92% of buyers say they’re more likely to consider a brand when a sales rep “shares content applicable to my role in the buying process.” To help salespeople marketers must focus on helping the sales team create relevant sales enablement content for every member of the buying committee.   

6. Top performing salespeople have a better relationship with the marketing department.

The State of Sales report found that 53% of top-performing salespeople (defined as achieving 125% quota or above) called marketing leads “excellent” compared to just 23% of their counterparts.  

Insight for Marketers: Marketers may benefit from understanding what process top performers at their company use to handle leads compared with regular performers. The exercise could yield insight that would benefit marketing, sales, and the entire organization. 

7. LinkedIn is playing a larger role in the buying process.

Data from the State of Sales report show that almost four in five buyers (78%) say it’s important for a salesperson to have an informative LinkedIn profile. Salespeople seem to understand this fact, with 84% of them saying they are active on LinkedIn. That’s up from 70% just two years ago.

Insight for Marketers: LinkedIn is playing a larger role in the buying process for both buyers and sellers. Marketers should consider developing sales enablement content specifically designed for the platform to support their counterparts in sales.

To discover more insights into how sales is changing and how marketing can support their sales counterparts, download LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2020: Global Edition.