But human relationships are still the heart and soul of sales, says LinkedIn.
Businesses are increasingly investing in sales technology, according to a new report from LinkedIn, to help their staff close deals, gather information about customers, and automate tasks.
The Third Annual State of Sales Report says that 73 percent of the 500 B2B sales professionals it surveyed this year use tech to secure more sales — 97 percent of whom consider sales tech “very important” or “important”.
Ninety-three percent said they are using sales tech just as much as, or more than, they did last year.
Examples of tech used to help sales were named by top sales professionals as networking platforms, collaboration tools, sales intelligence solutions, and email tracking tools.
Adoption of customer relationship management (CRM) tools has grown 113 percent since 2016, with 64 percent of sales professionals reporting that they use CRM applications – up from 28 percent last year.
Some 62 percent use collaboration tools like Box, Google Docs, Microsoft Office, and Dropbox – up 5 percent from last year. 40 percent, meanwhile, use enterprise communication platforms, up 8 percent from last year.
Since 2016, planned investment in sales technology has grown by 53 percent.
Social Media Relied Upon for Business Sales
LinkedIn described social platforms as “table stakes” for the modern seller: 59 percent of the sales professionals surveyed said they use networking platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook in the interest of clinching deals, up 5 percent from last year.
Seventy percent of sales professionals in the report said they’re most active on LinkedIn for business purposes. This compared to 64 percent for Facebook, 43 percent for Twitter, 41 percent for YouTube, and 39 percent for Instagram.
Elsewhere in the report, LinkedIn said that sales and marketing teams are working more closely; however, their data is often siloed by their respective technology platforms.
Partly because of this, only 20 percent of sales professionals said they see significant overlap in the data used by marketing and sales to target potential leads.
Sales Tech Ineffective Without Human Touch
B2C companies have “conditioned” customers to expect increasingly tech-assisted services, such as recommendations, content, and personalised interactions. Now, B2B companies are following their leads, the report says.
But despite this, LinkedIn said that personal human connection still matters for business, and that decision makers are more likely to consider a brand’s services when they receive a more personalised experience.
Of the 500 business decision makers LinkedIn also surveyed, 93 percent said they would be more likely to consider a product if the sales professional provides personalised communications
92 percent said they would be more likely to consider a product when they’re contacted by people for initial discussions.
Factors described as influencing decision makers included those unrelated to tech – including representing a well-known company (cited by 52 percent), referencing a colleague they both know (39 percent), and having good charisma (32 percent).
“Relationships are still the heart and soul of sales, and the most successful relationships are built on a foundation of mutual trust,” LinkedIn said.
“Technology is no substitute for human connection …when used strategically, it can help bring you closer to who you want to reach. This approach, combined with marketing and sales orchestration, will help you better target prospects, personalise their experiences, and build long-lasting relationships at scale.”