Our recent State of Sales survey, featuring insights from more than 7,700 sales professionals, shows how teams are maximising value amid economic headwinds.
There’s one thing that’s certain in sales: things are never certain. That’s underscored in our latest State of Sales report, which found 72% of sales professionals don’t expect to hit their annual quota. Why? Challenges like inflation, the continuing effects of the pandemic, and supply chain breakdowns are ever-present.
The good news is sales teams are finding ways forward by maximising efficiency, cutting costs, and boosting sales rep productivity. Here are ten stats from our State of Sales report that tell the story of sellers adapting to meet the moment.
State of Sales highlights
1. 70% of sales leaders say their company takes fewer risks now than before the pandemic
Despite economic uncertainty, companies still need to hit their targets. Instead of gambling on higher-risk strategies and tactics, sales leaders are focusing on what they know works. In fact, 55% of sales leaders say they’re prioritising low-risk initiatives with guaranteed modest growth. The headline message is that sure bets are preferred over bigger, but more uncertain gains — especially in rocky times.
2. Sales reps spend only 28% of their week selling — down from 34% in 2018
Sales teams are being asked to cope with too much manual work. Sellers want to sell, but they spend nearly three-quarters of their time distracted by admin. This includes tasks like record keeping, solving broken processes, tool management, data entry, and lead management. This creates a hurried sales process and less time to hit quota.
3. 66% of sales reps say they’re drowning in tools
Jumping between different sales tools is a big reason reps don’t spend enough time selling. On average, sales teams use 10 tools to close deals. Many of these have a role to play in the sales process, but they can be costly, hinder productivity, and take reps away from connecting with prospects and customers that move deals forward.
4. 94% of sales organisations plan to consolidate their tech stack in the next 12 months
To address tech overload, sales organisations are looking to streamline their stack. But the way forward isn’t simply ditching tech. It’s about optimising critical tools and removing nonessential or redundant ones. Sellers indicate there’s plenty of opportunity here — only 37% strongly agree that their organisation takes full advantage of their CRM.
George Carrera III, Senior Manager of Systems Technology at Mitsubishi Elevators, emphasises the importance of both consolidation and optimisation, “As sales teams look for new paths toward efficiency, endless technical solutions are often viewed as silver bullets. But you have to analyse your process to see what’s really needed, make the most of tools you need to keep, and cut legacy tools that don’t help.”
5. 97% of sales leaders and sales ops professionals say AI has improved use of reps’ time
Not only are sales organisations working to consolidate tech stacks to boost efficiency, they’re also keen to remove the manual work that keeps sales reps from spending time selling. Artificial intelligence (AI), paired with automation, removes admin tasks like updating deal records and scoring leads. This keeps sellers focused on conversations with buyers. This isn’t just a theoretical productivity booster, either — as our report reveals, high-performing reps are 1.9x more likely to use AI.
6. 90% of high-performing sales reps say their leadership encourages them to prioritise long-term customer relationships over short-term wins
Facing uncertainty, sales leaders are looking for revenue they can rely on. That’s why they’re emphasising customer relationships over quick deals, allowing reps to build solid connections that foster loyalty, leading to cross-sells, upsells, and renewals. All these lead to more predictable revenue.
To establish these relationships, reps are increasingly acting as more than just transactional salespeople. In fact, 82% of sales reps say their company enables them to act as trusted advisers to buyers, helping them solve complicated problems and address their customers’ specific needs.
7. 81% of sales representatives say team selling helps them close deals
Sellers are also adapting to increasingly savvy buyers. 81% of sales reps say buyers are increasingly conducting research before they reach out, which means sellers must pool resources and knowledge to address questions that go beyond basic product functionality.
Unfortunately, cross-functional alignment could use some work. Most reps agree team selling helps them close deals, but say it’s tricky for everyone to sync up. Addressing this will be top of mind for sales leaders, who say cross-functional alignment is the #1 tactic for driving growth.
8. 85% of sales leaders say they’re struggling to get budget for needed headcount
Tight budgets are increasingly an issue for sales leaders, which adds stress to teams asked to hit revenue targets without added headcount or resources. This can lead to frustration and, in more than just a few cases, turnover.
That’s why it’s important to make sure every rep has the resources and support they need to be successful. Leaders are keeping employee experience and engagement top of mind, offering regular one-on-one coaching, increasing tool training, prioritising work-life balance, and offering more benefits.
9. 81% of sales reps say they get valuable coaching from their manager
That’s the good news. The problem is one-on-one coaching is relatively infrequent — only 26% of sales professionals say it occurs weekly. And when managers do sit down with reps, they likely have a lot to cover.
One possible solution is enablement technology that automatically surfaces big-impact areas for training. It’s a big area of opportunity, as only 53% of sales leaders say they use coaching solutions like this.
10. Only 28% of sales professionals expect to meet or exceed quota in the following year — but sales organisations are offering support
With so much global economic uncertainty, sales professionals worry about hitting revenue targets. But it’s not all bad news. Even facing very real financial difficulties, 75% of reps have confidence in their organisation’s ability to prepare them for the current selling landscape.
Sales statistics to drive success in a new era of efficiency
Winning sales leaders know they can excel in lean times if they emphasise efficiency and productivity. Our State of Sales report underscores this, with sales leaders saying their focus over the next 12 months will be on:
- Embracing hybrid and virtual selling for more flexibility
- Improving cross-functional alignment
- Maximising the use of tools and technology
These will be key to driving success in 2023 — and are instrumental in ensuring success now.