- Tommy Boy/Paramount
Most people think sales is more art than science. But those at the top of the game are increasingly relying on an important tool to get an edge: sales software.
According to a new LinkedIn survey called “State of Sales 2016,” an overwhelming 82% of the top-performing salespeople cited sales software, like CRM or social selling tools, as “critical” to their ability to close deals.
Almost all of them said they spent hours in some sort of sales-related software.
The survey polled 1,017 sales or business development professionals in the US.
“Individuals are recognizing the lift they get out of technology, but companies are also starting to recognize the impact ofwrapping the sales process around it in order to make sure that people are using it,” Justin Shriber, head of marketing for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, told Business Insider.
That means sales representatives no longer rely only on wining-and-dining tactics to lure prospects into buying their products. Instead they go through LinkedIn profiles to learn more about potential buyers while joining certain groups to find more leads. They use Twitter and Facebook to gain real-time insights into what they are interested in, and they keep track of their contact history with a variety of CRM software like Salesforce. Some of them might even use more sophisticated tools, like Insidesales.com, to predict the best time to make a sales call.
Other key findings from the survey include:
- More than 70% of sales professionals use social selling tools, including LinkedIn,Twitter, and Facebook, making them the most widely used sales technology.Millennials are 33% more likely to use sales intelligence tools than industry peers ages 35 to 54. Ninety percent of top sales representatives use social selling tools, compared with 71% of overall sales professionals. Twenty-six percent of email-tracking-tool users spend 3 to 5 hours a week using these tools. One-third of CRM users spend 3 to 5 hours a week using CRM tools. Almost a quarter (24%) spend more than 10 hours a week using CRM tools.
The results are not too surprising, as the trend has been building up for a few years now. LinkedIn’s Shriber said he had seen technology and software play a bigger role in sales for at least the past five years.
In fact, sales software has become one of the most heated battlegrounds for tech companies lately. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, companies are spending $23 billion a year on sales software, while startups in this space have amassed roughly $400 million in funding in the past two years. It’s not too surprising that Salesforce, one of the fastest-growing CRM software makers in the world, has more than doubled its stock price over the past five years.
And don’t expect a slowdown in this space anytime soon. As the survey showed, sales reps are more likely to rely on technology the younger they are, and they could make sales software the norm as they grow into more senior roles.
“This is just going to become table stakes – it won’t necessarily be an advantage, but anyone who doesn’t embrace it will be in a tremendous disadvantage,” Shriber said.