The LinkedIn report highlights seven trends that are expected to shape up the future of sales. They include virtual selling and work-from-home practices.

The LinkedIn State of Sales Report 2021 sheds important light on trends that are expected to shape the future of sales. The report points out that a number of factors influenced sales in 2020. COVID-19, of course, took the first spot followed by virtual selling, work-from-home policies, zoom meetings, and canceled business trips.

The report highlighted that the socio-economic changes brought about by the virus ‘intensified’ the above-mentioned factors. The pandemic-induced lockdowns led to a global surge in smartphone use. Service providers like Charter also recorded a huge call jump on the phone number to Spectrum for their products.

That being said, here are seven trends that are predicted to influence the future of sales:

1. Virtual Selling Is Even Greater for Buyers Than It Is for Sellers

The pandemic affected businesses around the world. Many suffered tremendous losses. Others developed contingency plans to ensure their survival. With movement restricted, virtual buying and selling came to replace the traditional shopping experience. Sellers capitalized on the opportunity. Buyers saw it as an added convenience.

In fact, 50% of the buyers surveyed say they prefer remote work and virtual shopping. The reason is that both works from home and online shopping provide comfort and convenience. Industry experts are of the same opinion. The internet has made communication much faster and easier. Face-to-face meetings are taking a backseat. Companies are shifting to zoom meets and data tools to run their day-to-day operations.

Digitalization is increasingly replacing the communication approaches of yore. New eCommerce ventures are entering the market on a daily basis. The market is becoming increasingly competitive. Demand for virtual selling and telesales skills is witnessing a surge. Surveys show that the majority of buyers say they would stick to online shopping for years to come.

2. Sales Organizations Are Preventing Sellers from Prioritizing Buyers’ Needs

Almost 65% of the seller survey respondents say they prioritize buyers over everyone else. However, only 23% of buyers agree sellers put them first. While sellers know keeping buyers first is the approach they need to follow, they say their organizations are a major hurdle to implementing consumer-focused behavior. Only 39% of the sellers say their organizations provide free and convenient access to product reviews.

Similarly, only 43% of the respondents indicated that their organizations actively pursued after-sales services to ensure smooth delivery. The report advocates putting buyer’s interests above everything else. Implementing buyer’s first behavior necessitates the need for five principles. Sales organizations should be able to define, solve, sell, provide value, and earn trust.

3. These Behaviors Are Killing Sales Deals

Survey respondents also identified habits and behaviors on part of sellers that could kill sales deals. Around 48% of the buyers were not in favor of sellers who provided inaccurate and misleading information. Respondents said they would willingly strike a deal with vendors having a clear understanding of the situation.

The report highlights that market research and competitor analysis are crucial to building trust with clients and consumers. Developing a keen understanding of market trends and industry practices can create favorable circumstances for sales organizations.

4. Companies Must Adjust to Remote Working Practices on an Immediate Basis

The latest LinkedIn report puts the number of sales managers who agreed that adapting to changes was more important now than it was five years ago at 86%. The last State of Sales Report revealed that only 70% of survey respondents agreed with the statement. Most sales professionals said they found that overseeing remote teams was a challenging task.

The report adds that the rise of remote work has prompted companies to conduct virtual interviews. With digital communication tools in place, geolocation barriers are no longer a hurdle for businesses and organizations. It states that companies must learn to adapt to remote working practices in order to ensure continued success and growth.

5. Sales Technology Is Crucial to Building Trust with Buyers

The pandemic brought about a lot of changes in the world of sales and marketing. Historically, buyers were accustomed to face-to-face interactions with sellers. COVID-19 disrupted that pattern. To deal with such an unprecedented change, businesses turned to technology. Companies have begun to invest in technology to stay on par or ahead of the competition.

In fact, the report found 77% of sales professionals said that their organizations intend to invest in sales intelligence tools. It states that the use of technology is imperative to the success and growth of a business. Experts concur that the shift to technology will determine which business will stay in the market. Companies that utilize advanced tools can analyze consumer behavior and tweak their strategies accordingly.

6. Data Is More Crucial than It has Ever Been

The importance of data cannot be overstated in this digital age. Analytical tools and metrics allow organizations to determine the changing roles of their prospects. The report found that 85% of sellers couldn’t finalize a deal because their key clients had switched jobs. Experts say that companies need data to identify their audience and assess performance.

There’s no denying that data is more crucial for a sales organization than it has ever been. The early days of the pandemic were seen as the ultimate test for businesses. Those who were able to adapt to the sudden shift from physical to virtual survived. But how could such a shift be predicted in the first place? The answer is focusing on data and building a technologically-driven infrastructure.

7. More Buyers & Sellers Are Turning to LinkedIn

The report found a surge in LinkedIn use among both buyers and sellers. The increase can be attributed to the disruptions in physical buying and selling created by the coronavirus pandemic. Seventy-four percent of survey respondents said they would ramp up their use of LinkedIn in 2021. Similarly, 82% of buyers opined that they were more likely to communicate with sellers having active and informative LinkedIn profiles.

LinkedIn is a premier platform for companies to connect with their employees and clients. Businesses are increasingly relying on LinkedIn to expand their networks and improve their profit margins.

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