Lessons from sales trends for B2B brands and marketers

The best performing sellers use technology to humanise interactions with buyers and connect with them, instead of engaging in ill-advised outreach simply because they can.

Now more than ever, B2B sellers and marketers need to up their game.

For decades, what has set top performing B2B sellers and marketers apart from their peers is their ability to understand their prospects’ needs, and then exceed their expectations to deliver tailored content and customised service.

With the pandemic accelerating the use of technologies and the rise of remote work, a new differentiating factor has more clearly emerged: the ability to use digital tools effectively.

In LinkedIn’s State of Sales APAC survey conducted across 4,500 buyers and sellers across Australia, India and Singapore, we found that the best performing sellers use technology to humanise interactions with buyers and connect with them, instead of engaging in ill-advised outreach simply because they can.

Grace Kerrison, Head of Sales Solutions – APAC at LinkedIn

How is this relevant to B2B marketers? As someone who found first love in marketing and true love in sales, I have seen first-hand how the customer experience can be elevated when sales and marketing are aligned. The B2B buying process is a complex journey, and marketers play an increasingly vital role in influencing the purchasing process across a multitude of platforms.

When marketers and sales unite around a common understanding of their audience and objectives, this contributes to the joint goal of boosting the business bottom line. Here are some lessons B2B marketers can glean from recent sales trends to better engage audiences, and work hand in hand with their sales counterparts for success.

Finding the right balance with hybrid selling

B2B buyers are relying less on sales reps in their purchase decisions, and this trend has been accelerated by the pandemic. According to LinkedIn’s research, close to 7 in 10 of B2B buyers say that remote working has made buying easier. At the same time, B2B buyers are choosing to spend more time doing their own research, as compared to meeting a seller.

Sellers need to adjust to this new reality, and partner with their marketing teams to reach customers where they are. Consistent messaging becomes even more crucial to bring audiences from brand awareness to quality engagement across the buying committee.

At the same time, despite the popularity of remote work, face-to-face interactions are still in demand, with in-person events ranking second amongst buyers’ preferred contact methods by sellers. It’s clear that there is no shortage of engagement channels available. Marketers will have to identify the channels that their target audiences are most inclined towards, and tailor their marketing approach to better engage them.

Embrace data for closer “smarketing” alignment

Amidst the Great Reshuffle, the call for sales and marketing to work more closely has gotten even louder. Besides internal team movements, 8 in 10 sellers have seen a deal lost or delayed in the past year by a decision-maker changing roles, which can be absolutely frustrating especially after so much time has gone into cultivating a relationship with the buyer.

Having a centralised platform for marketing and sales teams to manage multichannel campaigns enables them to share and stay updated on the latest movements of customers and prospects, and make informed decisions based on the same set of data. Choosing the right customer relationship management (CRM) and sales intelligence platform also ensures both teams have all the data they need to keep deals on track – including when buyers are shifting roles, and when a deal or a customer may be in danger.

Less time selling, more time researching

With less organic opportunities for in-person meetings and the option to reject unwanted calls, the process of sellers reaching their buyers is becoming more difficult.

As a result, sellers are eschewing the cold call to focus on personalised outreach. 71% of top performers do research “all the time” before reaching out to prospects. This allows them to better understand their prospects’ objectives, build rapport and increase the likelihood of a positive response. One way they’re doing so is by leveraging the use of technologies to zero in on the prospects that the data says are most likely to buy.

Like sellers, marketers can also use sales technology to better target and connect with potential customers, instead of spamming audiences with generic messaging for products they do not need. Sales can also share what resonates with prospects in sales conversations, so marketing can create more effective content, ads and call to action. This can drive more meaningful interactions, persuasive messaging, and ultimately, better conversion rates.

Thriving in a data-driven world

As marketers, understanding your audiences, finding out their needs and the ability to connect with them is key to converting them into paying customers. By making the most of powerful sales technology, and combining this with a buyer-first mentality, B2B marketers will be well-positioned to help companies secure deals and pursue further business growth opportunities.

“Top Performers” are defined as the most successful sellers, reaching more than 150% of quota, in LinkedIn’s State of Sales APAC Report 2022