The Selling Landscape Has Changed

At LinkedIn, we work with thousands of sales organizations every day. And when we step back and consider why companies are having more and more difficulty achieving their sales targets, it really comes down to one thing: Conventional sales tactics are limiting pipeline and losing deals. 
Here are three of the biggest trends we’ve discovered:
1. Salespeople are often missing critical players involved in the purchase. In other words, they might be speaking to 1 or 2 decision makers, but as a result of not having EVERYBODY at the table, deals often get delayed, stalled or even lost completely
2. Salespeople often lack credibility when they don’t understand their prospect’s business. Today’s buyers are savvy, busy people. They expect salespeople to know what’s going on in their businesses, and if they don’t, they just tune them out 
3. Salespeople are increasingly losing touch with prospects during the sales cycle because they use weak connections to get in the door and they don’t have meaningful reasons to stay in contact throughout the deal cycle
This is happening everywhere, and it’s all part of a larger trend: Conventional sales tactics simply don’t work as well as they used to! 

Enter a New Way of Selling

Some people call this “social selling” or “digital selling” -- we refer to it as modern selling: the leveraging of insights from digital platforms to better target, understand, and engage with your potential buyers. 
Here's a real example of how modern selling works: 
*One of our customers, Lisa, was an account executive at a multinational software company working on a very important account, but sut she was having difficulty getting in touch with a decision maker. 
*When she finally DID find the right person… they actually left the company a few days later!
*Under a traditional sales approach, Lisa would have to start all over again -- or worse, she might not even know this person had left
*But here's what happened next: A few weeks later, Lisa got an automated, proactive alert from Sales Navigator that a brand new Head of Sales had started at that account. She also learned that the two of them shared a mutual connection (one of Lisa's former colleagues) 
*And just like that, she was able to secure a warm introduction, schedule a meeting, and had a huge potential deal on the table!
Stories like this happen all the time. And here's the bottom line: Businesses that adopt modern selling secure higher win rates, close bigger deals and source more opportunities than those that don’t. 

So What Does This Mean For You?

After all, your company invested in Sales Navigator, so that should solve the problem, right? Well… not exactly.  
It’s not enough to simply acquire new tools. We've all had the experience of being introduced to a new tool or process or system, only to have nobody actually use it!  
The fact is, we’re not just changing tools -- we’re also changing attitudes and behaviors at an organizational level, and that’s much harder to do. 
What you need is a program -- a set of initiatives, measures, and activities designed to achieve a long term goal. And that’s where you come in: As the Program Manager, your job is to own the program that results in the implementation and widespread adoption of Sales Navigator in your organization. 

Step #1: Stakeholder Buy-In

So where do you begin? It all starts with one thing: Stakeholder buy-in. Studies show that as many as 68% of programs fail due to lack of management buy-in. 
The first thing you need to do before you actually build anything else is to identify and speak with all the relevant stakeholders of your program. 
There are four general types of stakeholders: 

1. Executive Sponsors

This is the person who serves as the face of the initiative -- often a Sales Leader or other high-ranking senior executive who is fully in support of the program. 

Having an executive sponsor is critical in order to give your program the authority and credibility it needs to be effective. They’re the ones who can truly speak to the “why” behind the program. They can also help clear any roadblocks you may run into down the linm. 

2. Sales Leaders

Depending on the size of your organization, you may have one sales manager or dozens! Regardless, it’s very important to get input from these sales leaders, as they’re the ones who will be responsible for actually implementing your initiatives with the field, as well as holding their teams accountable for results. 

Sales Professionals

This is your front line: your account executives and account managers that are going to be using Sales Navigator on a regular basis. You’ll definitely want to hear their perspective too, as well as identify any potential champions. 

Cross-functional partners

This could mean your marketing team, sales operations, business development -- anybody who might be interested in modern selling should be considered a potential cross functional partner, as they can also help drive your program goals forward. 

Action Step: Brainstorm Your Stakeholder List

Let’s pause for a second: What might this list of stakeholders look like at your organization? Pull out a piece of paper and start writing down a few names. Try to think of at least one name from each of these four categories before we move on. 
What you'll want to do next is begin meeting with these people, starting with your Executive Sponsor, and talk to them about what they consider important when it comes to modern selling. 
Your goal is to walk away from these conversations with clear answers to these 3 questions: 
1. WHY did we decide to invest in Sales Navigator? (Not just “why” at a high level, but “to do what”? What specific use cases?) 
2. What is our GOAL with Sales Navigator? (And where does this fit within your organization-wide goals?)
3. What METRIC (or metrics) will we use to track our goals?  
Here’s an example:
Let’s say the challenge is that your team has low-quality leads, resulting in salespeople wasting time trying to connect with people without any buying authority 
A goal might be that you’re going to use Sales Navigator to find key decision makers faster
A metric might be: Reduce the average sales cycle length from 120 days to 90 days 
This is just an example: Your situation might be different, or you may have multiple goals and metrics to consider. That's totally fine! 
Don’t worry about getting this perfect right away. Instead, think of this as the beginning of an ongoing conversation: An important first step to ensure that as you build your program, you do so with the right goals in mind AND the right people involved. 

 

5 Essential Elements of a Modern Selling Program

Once you've identified your stakeholders and aligned on key goals and metrics, it's time to get your modern selling program up and running! In the following sections, we'll walk you through the 5 essential components of every modern selling program. 
They are: 
*Administering Access 
*Enabling Users
*Driving Adoption 
*Managing Communication 
*Measuring Success
While this definitely isn’t an all-inclusive list, it’s a great starting point for those that are new to program management. To continue, simply click on the relevant section below.