Deep sales – data and insights that lead to outcomes – is by far the best way to close the buyer-seller gap
If you’re starting to feel that, somehow, you’re not getting through to your sales prospects as well as you used to, you’d be right. The buyer-seller divide is wider now than ever before. Some lay it at the door of the trend towards working remotely, others, a growing cynicism from buyers because they feel relentlessly ‘sold to,’ buyers are harder to reach than ever. Faced with the clamour from the sheer number of pitches that swarm inboxes day in, day out, is it any surprise buyers tune out?
The problem isn’t that they’re switching off altogether, it’s just that they’ve run out of patience. In a digital-first world, the balance of power has shifted significantly to the buyer. First of all, cold-calling is all but dead. According to LinkedIn’s ‘State of Sales, 2022’ research report, only 14% of buyers welcoming a phone call from a salesperson they don’t know; worryingly, a third of salespeople persist regardless.
Instead, for the majority (61%) email is the preferred method of outreach, meaning they get to start the process on their own terms. However, this is not carte blanche to spam the buyer’s inbox.
“‘Spray and pray’ is still all too common in B2B selling,” says LinkedIn’s senior director, head of enterprise sales EMEA & Latin America, Paul Terry. “It’s based on the misapprehension that the laws of probability will kick in, from thousands of templated emails and cold-calls, one or two interested prospects is all you need. That’s why some chief revenue officers believe it’s still a successful plan – after all, what does it matter if, ultimately, a sale is made?”
It’s clear this strategy will rapidly run out of road. Not only does it create a poor impression of your company (if you get noticed at all), eventually those lists will run dry, targets get fed up and talented salespeople dispirited, hung up on for the nth time that week. That’s if they hit the right target at all – Hubspot recently estimated that nearly a third of sales databases ‘go bad’ every year.
Sales needs to change
Terry says: “[This] means turning cold calls into warm contacts, using data and insight to inform outcomes, to gain rich learnings around a honed target list that builds supplier brand and buyer trust, all in the same action.” Technology still has a central role to play in deep sales, with top performers 16% more likely than standard salespeople to use sales technology at least once a day. However, Terry adds: “Just not the same type of technology that got B2B salespeople into this mess in the first place.”
How today’s buyers buy
Spam email aside, sales technology has transformed how buyers and salespeople interact. Contact by email, for example, means the buyer can begin the process on their own terms and has the chance to do their due diligence. They’ve got a wealth of tools at their disposal. First, buyers check the company website or use Google Search. The next port of call is LinkedIn, with 40% of buyers checking the company page, 39% viewing the salesperson’s profile, 31% looking for company connections and 29% reviewing the salesperson’s content history.
“Great sales professionals are present where their clients gather. That used to be at conferences, trade shows or offices. Now, they’re congregating online, often on LinkedIn. Certainly, there are other, sector-specific platforms – Pinterest for interior design, for example – but with 850 million members and 57 million companies, LinkedIn is where the decision makers are,” Terry says.
Sales organisations also use their tech stack to find prospects and bridge the buyer-seller gap. All too often, relying on more technology has had the unintended effect of causing more problems for sellers and sales organisations. Only 53% of sellers say the sales tech stack helps boost productivity and affects results positively, according to Forrester.
The bottom line seems to be that more tools may not necessarily mean better data. Despite larger tech stacks, the same data problems persist. There’s too much reliance on stale data, on imprecise buyer intent signals, and on data that falls far short of covering the universe of potential prospects.
How sales organisations can thrive with deep sales
The most effective sellers use technology in intelligent ways. Counterintuitively, LinkedIn data indicates that top-performing sellers spend 10% less time selling than the average seller. Instead, top performers spend their time researching prospects. This preparation helps top performers map the buying committee and understand the right moments for delivering outreach that is customised and personalised.
Terry says that these behaviours needn’t be the preserve of the elite. “It’s possible for any sales organisation to build programmes that help replicate habits of top performers in average sellers.” He adds that, to arm their sales teams with the means to streamline effective research, sales organisations must give their sellers access to accurate data and real-time insights derived from predictive signals. Equipped with this valuable information, sellers can focus on the accounts and the leads most likely to become customers.
LinkedIn has termed this approach ‘deep sales,’ with the new approach bridging the buyer-seller gap. Deep sales helps sellers focus on high probability accounts. “Deep sales helps sellers reach out to buyers with information that is relevant – and welcome. It helps sellers close deals and drive better outcomes,” he suggests.
Deep sales: changing the game
Sales organisation that maintain results by expanding their tech stacks or increasing the volume of their outreach are likely unsustainable. From Gartner to Forrester to McKinsey, thought leaders are asking sales management to rethink the status quo.
The data provided to most sellers is not providing them with a complete picture of their target accounts and their prospects. They may know certain aspects of their accounts of their prospects, such as the ‘who’ and the ‘what.’ But do they know the ‘when,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ as they conduct outreach to prospects? Answering these questions is what a deep sales platform does, and it is how deep sales represents a positive change for B2B sales teams.
A deep sales platform processes data and learns from it, ultimately making predictions and recommendations to sellers on a scale and with a speed that is impossible for humans to replicate. LinkedIn refers to deep sales as nothing less than “a superpower.”
Deep sales has the power to turn every seller into a top performer. It automates some of the key behaviours that separate top performers from the pack, uncovering actionable insights in a seller’s book of business in three essential areas:
• Account insights - Locating accounts with the highest likelihood of success
• Relationship intelligence - Targeting decision makers and finding the most effective pathways for outreach
• Buyer intent - Identifying the most opportune moments for outreach based on data signals, such as organisational growth and prospect role changes
Terry is unequivocal in his belief that deep sales is the way forward: “Deep sales represents a massive shift in B2B selling. Using data, deep sales will help sales organisations uncover growth opportunities. Already, deep sales platforms are delivering faster deal cycles, high win rates, and revenue growth to the sales organisations using this technology that is transforming the world of sales.”
He adds: “Sales has reached a watershed moment. There’s no time like the present to get started on building a deep sales strategy that, in the end, enables sellers to help buyers buy the way they want to buy.”
Learn more about LinkedIn sales solutions at business.linkedin.com/sales-solutions/deep-sales
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