Forced home office accelerates digitization of business-to-business sales

A Linkedin survey with professionals in the field shows that integration between sales and marketing is inevitable, and that Brazilians are the ones who most trust sales professionals

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A LinkedIn survey carried out in December, that is, even before the new coronavirus pandemic took over the world, shows that Brazilian companies are among those with the greatest intention of investing in sales technologies and that 64% of managers in the field see this type of investment as crucial to respond to disruptions and gain scale.

Through interviews with more than 1000 purchase and sales professionals in the country, the platform found that 57% of Brazilian companies intended to increase investments in the area by 10% or more even before the pandemic – followed by the Mexican companies, with 40% of them expressing the same intention.

READ ALSO: Uruguay, Chile, and Brazil are the Latin American countries most likely to expand remote work

Months later, companies around the world had to migrate employees to the home office and entire operations, to the digital environment. To paint the present and future picture of what this means for the B2B sales landscape, LinkedIn combined the December interviews with data from the McKinsey consultancy surveyed in May and insights obtained from 200 U.S. sales professionals between March and April, months when some regions of the country were already experiencing isolation measures amid the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

“The adoption of new technologies usually follows a curve, as pointed out by the study by Everett M. Rogers, The Law of Diffusion of Innovation. Developed countries present an investment and innovation environment that puts them at a more initial moment of the curve. In Brazil, we see that many companies are only now crossing what Rogers’ theory calls an ‘abyss’, which means that most of them are in an accelerated movement of investment in sales technology, although late in relation to the other countries surveyed,” explains LinkedIn Marketing Manager for Latin America, Ana Carolina Almeida, in an interview with LABS.

READ ALSO: Home office is set to keep growing after the pandemic

“This is one of the possible explanations of why the levels of investment in technology pointed out by the LinkedIn study are higher in Brazil compared to other countries: it is not that the other countries are not investing, but that they are already at a flattering moment of that curve.”

Anyone who is a sales or marketing professional already knows that there is no longer any possible separation between the two areas. With the pandemic and a severe budget cut (60% of B2B companies in Brazil reduced their marketing investments in early May, according to McKinsey), these professionals have to further optimize this partnership, rely on tools to attract and qualify leads, and set priorities, since sales cycles are longer than before, according to 44% of the American professionals interviewed by LinkedIn.

“Our study shows an evolution in this integration: the majority (48%) of sales professionals claim that today they work more in partnership with marketing than in the past. Most of them also evaluate the quality of marketing leads as excellent (47%). However, there is still an opportunity to bring more coherence and consistency to this partnership: 79% of the buyers surveyed said they were likely to find a discrepancy between marketing messages and their conversations with the sales professionals; 34% describe this as happening all the time,” reports Almeida.

READ ALSO: Retail will move towards full integration of ‘anywhere-channel’ in post-pandemic

When marketing teams need to do more with less, getting the right message out to the right potential customers matters even more

ANA CAROLINA ALMEIDA, LinkedIn‘ Marketing Manager for Latin America.

Social networks also became decisive, and not only as tools for prospecting customers: 86% of Brazilian buyers said they were more likely to accept contacts and proposals from sellers with an informative profile on LinkedIn; and 82% said they are more likely to do so if the seller contacts them via the platform.

Messaging and video conferencing applications also gained more importance as tools for maintaining and supporting customers – in the crisis, companies realized that more important than attracting new customers is to support current ones and keep the ecosystem alive. According to McKinsey, 77% of salespeople are holding more online meetings, 57% are making more phone calls, and 51% are sending more emails than before the pandemic.

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“With each industry and company being impacted differently by the pandemic, more than ever sales professionals need to be consultative, understand the client’s business so they can offer solutions that are worth the investment,” says LinkedIn’s marketing manager for Latin America.

Technological skills required versus time to use tools effectively

The LinkedIn survey also shows that technological skills have also become more relevant when hiring a sales professional in Brazil. The number of companies listing this competency as the main has grown from 17% to 31% in the past five years. According to the platform, this has also caused the number of Brazilians with functions related to sales operations to double in recent years, and today these job positions are growing 2.8 times more than the sales jobs in general in the country.

Sales technologies are already part of the daily life of sales professionals in the country. According to LinkedIn, 68% of Brazilian sellers use collaboration tools, 63% use networking tools, and 50% use CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tools.

Most of them, however, report that they spend a lot of time on bureaucratic, administrative tasks, and not on sales itself.

To face this new scenario, sales professionals would like to do more training or even have more time with managers for learning. But between what professionals want and what really happens there are differences:

LinkedIn points out that with the home office the demand for training and learning, in general, is even greater and could be better met, making better use, for example, of their now-free commuting time.

A curiosity of the survey about Brazil is that nowhere do sales professionals benefit more from levels of trust as in the Latin American country: 89% of buying professionals describe their impression of their sales colleagues as positive, and 49% as very positive.

READ ALSO: Almost 30% of Brazilian professionals are going to the office amid the pandemic, says LinkedIn

“I believe this is a very strong cultural factor. Brazilians tend to have a greater openness to new relationships, whether in the personal or business environment. In addition to this is the fact that sellers have already understood that obtaining the buyer confidence is a determinant factor for the negotiations success – and this is confirmed by our survey, where 44% of the buyers stated that this is the main factor for a successful sales relationship – and, therefore, they invest a lot in nurturing this trust,” points out Almeida.