A Guide to Deep Sales Success in 2024

B2B sales are more competitive than ever, and adopting deep sales habits is not just beneficial—it’s crucial. Our analysis of LinkedIn’s 2024 B2B Sales Playbook has unearthed three pivotal sales habits that, when implemented, promise to elevate sales performance substantially.

The 2024 B2B Sales Playbook, underpinned by comprehensive research conducted by LinkedIn and Ipsos, unveils key insights into the current sales landscape. The playbook introduces the concept of “deep sales,” a methodology derived from analysing behaviours and practices directly linked to sales success. By examining responses from over 2,000 B2B sellers and buyers across various industries and regions, including the UK, the playbook identifies three core habits that significantly enhance a seller’s likelihood of surpassing their sales quotas. These habits prioritise high-potential accounts, nurturing key buyer relationships, and leveraging hidden allies and timely intelligence. This strategic approach not only demystifies the buyer-seller dynamic but also sets a new benchmark for achieving excellence in the competitive field of B2B sales.

What it discovered:

Deep Sellers have 2x the chance of exceeding their quota vs shallow sellers (but only 18% of sellers globally are deep sellers)

From the research, these three deep sales habits were proven to pay off for deep sellers.

Three Deep Sales Habits of High Performers

1. Prioritising High-Potential Accounts

To excel, sellers must:

  • Conduct thorough research on prospects and customers.
  • Utilise sales intelligence tools for account prioritisation.
  • Engage in cross-sell and upsell strategies informed by customer and industry insights.

2. Identify and Build Key Buyer Relationships

This involves:

  • Establishing multiple contacts within an account.
  • Creating warm paths through existing connections.
  • Dedicating time to nurturing these relationships.
  • Seeking feedback to strengthen trust and understanding.

3. Uncovering Hidden Allies and Timely Intelligence

Effective sellers:

  • Leverage insights from outside the buying committee.
  • Monitor social networks and industry news for relevant outreach opportunities.
  • Use intelligence to time their communications precisely.

Sellers who exhibit most, if not all, of these behaviours, routinely excel within their sales organizations as top performers, or as LinkedIn calls them, “deep sellers.” The sellers who do the least of these behaviours are low performers or shallow sellers.

The Buyer-Seller Relationship

The research investigates the relationship between buyers and sellers and reveals some key points. These are worth taking note:

Buyers

  • are trying to fix a business problem.
  • typically form buying committees.
  • want to invest in multi-year solutions.
  • are risk-averse (getting it wrong could cost their job).
  • value a consultative approach.
  • want to meet in person. 87% of sellers say it is important to meet decision-makers in person before closing a deal.
  • people buy from people. Even when switching companies 54% of buyers continued sales with an existing seller. The reverse is also true with 50% of sales continuing when sellers switched companies.
  • buyers expect sellers to understand their business. 41% of buyers expect sellers to take the time to understand a buyer’s business needs, and 36% expect them to understand their industry.
  • disengage when sellers product or service is not relevant to their company, when the sales professional doesn’t have industry knowledge, or doesn’t have insights into their business.
  • expect first contact to be by email (57%) and to be personalised (78%).
  • value trustworthiness (44%) and transparency (40%).
  • expect complete transparency on pricing (86%).
  • want sellers to stay activity engaged after the sale to ensure delivery (82%).
  • expect sellers to align with them on success metrics (78%).

Deep Sellers Embrace Sales Intelligence Technologies


Chapter Two of the playbook delves into the strategic embrace of AI and sales intelligence technologies by deep sellers, positioning these tools as crucial for gaining a competitive edge in B2B sales. It reveals that deep sellers are not only utilising AI to save time, conduct in-depth research, and engage in meticulous account planning but are also leveraging sales intelligence tools to enhance all three core deep sales habits. This widespread adoption is underpinned by a compelling insight: 82% of sellers acknowledge the importance of AI in research and customer prospecting, with a vast majority (84%) expressing a desire for training on optimal AI usage.

The data presented in the chapter underscores the tangible benefits of integrating AI and sales intelligence into sales strategies. A striking 75% of salespeople who exceeded their sales quotas utilised AI, compared to only 25% of top performers who did not. This statistic illustrates a clear correlation between the use of AI technologies and sales success. Furthermore, over 60% of deep sellers employ sales intelligence platforms to prioritise high-potential accounts, a practice significantly more common than among shallow sellers, who stand at a mere 15%.

The chapter concludes with a powerful message: embracing AI and sales intelligence is not merely about adopting new technologies but about fundamentally transforming the sales approach to be more data-driven, efficient, and effective. It paints a picture of the modern sales environment where deep sellers, equipped with the latest in AI and sales intelligence, are setting new benchmarks for success, demonstrating the undeniable value of these technologies in achieving and exceeding sales quotas.

Integrating a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, such as BuddyCRM, into the fabric of sales intelligence and AI technologies offers a significant advantage for deep sellers. This integration amplifies the capabilities outlined in Chapter Two, enabling sales professionals to not only gather and analyse vast amounts of data but also to streamline their interactions and manage relationships more effectively. A CRM system acts as a central repository for all customer interactions, enriched by AI-driven insights and sales intelligence, thereby providing a holistic view of each customer’s journey. This approach ensures that every communication is informed and tailored, increasing the likelihood of converting prospects into customers. Moreover, CRM tools facilitate the prioritisation of high-potential accounts and the timely engagement with decision-makers, directly aligning with the strategic behaviors of deep sellers. By harnessing the power of a CRM, sales teams can further refine their sales strategies, ensuring they are not just data-driven but also highly personalised and efficient, thereby maximising their chances of exceeding sales quotas.

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The Ten Behaviours for Becoming a Successful Deep Seller

Becoming a high-performing deep seller requires dedication to the following behaviours:

  1. Rigorous industry research.
  2. Pre-outreach research.
  3. Leverage sales intelligence tools to identify potential opportunities and key contacts.
  4. Warm outreach methods.
  5. Investing time in relationship building.
  6. Establishing multiple contacts within accounts.
  7. Seeking and acting on feedback.
  8. Utilising social networks for research.
  9. Identify the best time to reach out to decision-makers based on alerts.
  10. Gathering intelligence from hidden allies.

Embracing these habits and behaviours is essential for sales professionals aiming to meet and exceed their targets.

Let’s look at those 10 behaviours in more detail.

1. Rigorous Industry Research

Prioritising industry research isn’t just a box to tick; it’s the sharpened edge your sales strategy needs. Sure, diving into a potential client’s website or LinkedIn profile is standard practice—essential groundwork, you might say. But here’s where the plot thickens: the analysis revealed a striking divide between the good, the average, and the truly exceptional. A staggering 62% of the ‘deep sellers’ immerse themselves in the intricacies of their target’s industry—trends, competition, the whole nine yards. On the flip side, the ‘shallow sellers’? Merely 20% of their time goes into such research. This isn’t just about meeting expectations; it’s about surpassing them. Buyers aren’t just impressed by this—they demand it. Demonstrating a nuanced understanding of their industry isn’t just beneficial; it’s critical, catapulting the likelihood of sealing the deal sky-high.

2. Pre-outreach Research

Investing time in pre-outreach research isn’t just a good practice; it’s a game-changer. Deep sellers, those who truly excel in their craft, understand the immense value of digging deep into their prospects’ worlds. The findings are telling: a whopping 95% of these top-tier sellers dedicate more time to researching prospects than they did a year ago, a stark contrast to the 87% of average and a mere 70% of shallow sellers. This meticulous preparation sets them apart, making their outreach not just noticed but appreciated.

But here’s the clincher: 61% of deep sellers report a significant increase in their research efforts, dwarfing the 36% of average and 13% of shallow sellers who say the same. This isn’t just busy work; it’s strategic. Buyers have spoken, with 88% more inclined to consider a product or service when the seller shows a profound understanding of their business challenges. Moreover, 41% of buyers admit this depth of understanding directly increases their likelihood of purchase.

The message is clear: deep, thoughtful research before reaching out doesn’t just warm the cold call—it ignites a fire of interest and trust that’s hard to extinguish.

3. Leverage sales intelligence tools

Deep sellers are 4.1 times more likely than their shallow counterparts to leverage sales intelligence tools (like sales navigator) for uncovering opportunities across accounts. This strategic use of technology extends to identifying key players too, with deep sellers 1.8 times more likely to employ sales intelligence to pinpoint members of the buying committee.

4. Warm Outreach increases Chance of Engagement

The art of warm outreach is a hallmark of deep sellers, setting them apart in a world where cold calls and emails often fall flat. A significant 51% of deep sellers forge connections through mutual acquaintances or existing customers, a testament to the power of leveraging networks. This method isn’t just preferred; it’s proven. An impressive 19% of deep sellers report that over half of their warm outreach efforts yield a response, dwarfing the mere 8% of shallow sellers achieving similar success.

The disparity doesn’t end there. In scenarios lacking a mutual connection, the effectiveness of cold outreach plummets, with only 1% of deep sellers hitting a 50% response rate.

Building your personal network on LinkedIn, Facebook, and other platforms is crucial for creating the chance of warm outreach.

5. Nurture Key Relationships

The linchpin of successful sales lies in the strength of relationships, a principle deeply ingrained in the practices of deep sellers. High performers recognise the immense value of investing time in nurturing relationships. A notable 47% of deep sellers have ramped up their efforts in strengthening bonds with current customers, and 50% have intensified their focus on building relationships with prospects compared to the previous year. This commitment starkly contrasts with shallow sellers, of whom only 12% and 9%, respectively, have increased their relational efforts.

This disparity highlights a crucial insight: Deep sellers don’t just sell; they build lasting connections that transcend the transactional. By dedicating more time to understanding and addressing the needs and challenges of their customers and prospects, deep sellers not only enhance their immediate sales prospects but lay the groundwork for enduring loyalty and repeat business.

6. Establishing Multiple Contacts Within Accounts

Expanding your network within an account doesn’t just increase your points of contact; it fundamentally amplifies your chances of sales success. The research reveals a striking trend: 46% of deep sellers maintain relationships with 7 or more decision-makers within a single account, which far outpaces the 24% of average sellers and a mere 13% of shallow sellers who can say the same.

This pattern holds true across the board, from members of the buying committee to key purchase influencers. Deep sellers understand that the breadth and depth of their relationships are directly tied to their performance. This approach isn’t about casting a wider net for the sake of it; it’s a strategic effort to embed themselves within the fabric of an account. As the findings reveal, such an approach is not just beneficial; it’s a clear differentiator between those who merely meet their quotas and those who consistently exceed them.

Deep sellers recognise that as buying committees grow, you need to have contact with more people. This becomes even more imperative if your “champion” were to leave the organisation, and you’d be forced to build up trust with someone new.

7. Ask for Buyer Feedback

Seeking feedback isn’t just about ticking a box; it’s about embracing the transformative potential of genuine insights. The adage that feedback is a gift couldn’t be truer, especially in sales, where every interaction can be a stepping stone to success. Deep sellers, those who consistently outperform their peers, understand this profoundly. They don’t settle for superficial yes or no answers; they dive deep, asking open-ended questions that begin with how, what, and why to gather actionable insights for refining their approach. They practice active listening and push rich dialogues with questions demonstrating true interest in the account.

This commitment to seeking feedback is evident in the research: almost 9 in 10 deep sellers actively pursue feedback after every interaction, with 53% doing so all the time and 36% most of the time. This level of engagement is significantly higher than that of average sellers (27% all the time, 44% most of the time) and shallow sellers (12% all the time, 41% most of the time). The lesson is clear: integrating feedback into your sales process isn’t just beneficial—it’s essential for those aiming to excel.

8. Use social networks for research

Social networks — spanning the professional and personal — are indispensable tools in the modern sales arsenal. The distinction between deep sellers and their less successful counterparts becomes starkly evident in their utilisation of these networks. Nearly two-thirds of deep sellers leverage social networks to pinpoint decision-makers (64%) and influencers (62%) within their target accounts. This strategic use of social platforms underscores a fundamental difference in approach and results compared to shallow sellers, who significantly underutilise this resource, with only 27% employing it to identify decision-makers and a scant 24% for influencers.

This vast disparity highlights the critical role of social networks in today’s sales landscape. It underscores a key attribute of deep sellers: their adeptness at integrating digital tools into their sales strategy. By tapping into the rich vein of information available on these platforms, deep sellers can more effectively map out the buying committee, understand the dynamics at play, and tailor their outreach accordingly, significantly enhancing their chances of exceeding sales quotas.

9. Identify the Best Time to Reach out to a Decision Maker Based on Alerts

Timing, as they say, can be everything, especially in the nuanced dance of B2B sales. Deep sellers, those at the vanguard of sales excellence, harness the power of search alerts to master the art of timing. This strategic approach allows them to pinpoint the most opportune moments for outreach, with nearly 4 in 10 deep sellers using search alerts on decision-makers for this purpose. This compares to 23% of shallow sellers adopting this practice. Furthermore, over 3 in 10 deep sellers utilise company search alerts to time their outreach, which only 25% of shallow sellers employ.

A pro tip that emerges from this data is the heightened receptivity of buyers following a job change. In fact, buyers are 62% more open to outreach after transitioning to a new role, a critical insight supported by the LinkedIn State of Sales report. This report also highlights a common challenge: 86% of sales reps have experienced lost or delayed deals due to a buyer’s job change. Keeping tabs on buyer movements proves invaluable, offering a prime opportunity to engage when they are most ready to consider new solutions. This insight underscores the importance of timely outreach and highlights the strategic use of sales intelligence tools in identifying and acting on these pivotal moments.

10. Gather Intelligence from Hidden Allies

Discovering a “hidden ally” is akin to unearthing a diamond in the rough within the sales landscape. This term refers to individuals outside your immediate network who are connected to your solution or sector. These hidden allies are significantly more inclined to entertain a discussion or champion your proposal, acting as pivotal catalysts in generating referrals and, ultimately, closing deals.

The value of these hidden allies is not lost on deep sellers, who actively seek them out to gain insider knowledge on deals, buyer preferences, and the procurement process. A substantial 68% of deep sellers strongly affirm that engaging with contacts outside the buying committee to gather insights about a company is instrumental in advancing a deal. This conviction starkly contrasts the 38% of average sellers and a mere 10% of shallow sellers who recognise the same potential. This approach underscores a strategic dimension of deep selling: leveraging every possible advantage, including the often-overlooked insights from those not directly involved in the buying process, to facilitate success.

Hidden allies can give you a window into use cases, decision-making circles, and challenges among cross-functional teams giving you the power to deliver a better solution from these insights.

Summary

The insights gleaned from the 2024 B2B Sales Playbook, powered by research from LinkedIn and Ipsos, highlight a path for sales success.

This playbook not only identifies the habits that set apart top-performing sellers but also underscores the critical role of leveraging advanced sales intelligence tools, like BuddyCRM, in achieving these best practices. With strategies ranging from deep industry research to tapping into hidden allies, it becomes evident that integrating a robust CRM system is no longer optional but essential. BuddyCRM, with its sophisticated capabilities, empowers sellers to embody these deep sales practices, providing the data-driven insights, automation, and connectivity needed to thrive.

For those ready to adopt these “deep sales” practices, the research from the playbook serves as both a guide and a beacon, highlighting the path to sales excellence through smarter, more meaningful interactions. The ten critical behaviours listed make clear that the future of sales lies in the depth of one’s commitment to truly understanding and connecting honestly with their prospects and customers.

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