4 Sales Insights We've Learned from Customer Calls

November 12, 2019

4 Sales Insights We've Learned from Customer Calls

At LinkedIn, we listen to our customers. It’s part of our buyer-first philosophy. 

As part of putting this philosophy into practice, LinkedIn’s sales leaders regularly have wide-ranging conversations with sales leaders as our customers and prospects. As part of the team that organizes these calls, I have a front-row seat to the opportunities and pain points that these leaders see in the sales landscape.

Here are the four biggest takeaways that have stuck with me after hearing the reflections of more than 20 sales leaders:  

Data is (still) king

This isn’t a big surprise. What was surprising was just how many leaders expressed exasperation when faced with the prospect of pulling useful, actionable insights from the shadowy corners of the CRM systems. The wealth of data in these systems can often be out of date and difficult to decipher. 

Even though there is a ravenous appetite for data, our conversations with sales leaders highlighted that the perfect technology for capturing, slicing-and-dicing, and packaging data doesn’t exist. Not yet at least. So if you’re a sales manager concerned about data hygiene or imperfect CRM integrations and syncs, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Quantifying the value of sales tech is necessary – but difficult.

Across the board, sales leaders struggle to successfully advocate for sales technology. It is difficult to find sales software and technology that can perfectly demonstrate its ROI. Leaders find it a challenge to discern what metrics spell out a convincing story for leaders to pour more budget into the sales tech stack.

When researching this story, I typed the following into a search engine:

  • “Sales tech ROI”

  • “How to measure sales tech ROI”

  • “Best way to track sales tech ROI”

Mind-bogglingly enough, I only found one source that was credibly related to tracking the ROI for sales technology, and the content was gated. Womp womp.

So believe sales leaders when they say they love their sales tech, but are having a difficult time convincing other executives to jump on board — and to find more budget support. 

Adoption is tough work, but incentives work

Most sales leaders are closely, even obsessively monitoring how many users are adopting the sales tech they’ve installed and who’s using it to its fullest potential. Otherwise, you’re bleeding money and resources.

However, getting your salespeople to adopt new technology on top of their already-existing toolkit is a losing battle unless you’re able to:

1) illustrate the tool’s ROI 

2) create new behaviors

So how to encourage sales technology adoption? There are interesting tactics where gamification or peer-to-peer recognition is employed – not just within the tech itself, but around access to the tech itself. Several sales organizations directly tie performance and metrics to whether or not employees are granted a license. 

But most importantly, we confirmed that when sales leaders involved themselves by cascading communications about the technology, awarding recognition, and building it into their daily vernacular, their positive behaviors trickled down the organization and were the biggest influence in encouraging adoption.

Customer education puts the product front-and-center

Let’s face it. With today’s flood of never-ending product releases, sales organizations are finding it harder to stay up to date with their tech stacks. How can their teams even try out new features if they’re struggling to develop expertise on existing features?

“Self-serve” has become the buzzword for sales pros who don’t have time to wait for an answer, but a little white-glove treatment from the account team goes a long way. 

Leaders noticed that their sales teams are far happier and engaged using the technology when customer success managers help conduct tailored training programs on new features and best practices. Take note – your sales teams are hungry to learn; they just might not know exactly how to go about it. Even if it requires investing more time in training, don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

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