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, lingering health scares, and supply chain breakdowns are ever-present.
The good news is, they’re finding a forward by maximising efficiency, taking advantage of cost saving technology, and boosting sales rep productivity. Here are ten stats from our State of Sales report that tell the story of a sales world adapting to meet the moment by making the most of available resources.
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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 high-risk strategies and tactics, sales leaders are pulling back and focusing on what they know works. In fact, 55% of sales leaders say they’re prioritising low-risk initiatives with guaranteed modest growth.
2. Sales reps spend only 28% of their week selling – down from 34% in 2018
It’s clear that operational efficiencies are holding back the sales process, with reps bogged down with too much manual work. Sellers want to sell, but they spend more than two-thirds of their time distracted by record keeping, broken processes, tool management, and administrative work like data entry and lead management.
3. 66% of sales reps say they’re drowning in tools
As noted above, tool juggling 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, create click overload, 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 getting rid of non-essential or redundant ones. Sellers indicate there’s plenty of opportunity here: only 37% strongly agree that their org takes full advantage of their CRM.
5. 97% of sales leaders and sales ops professionals say AI has improved use of rep time
Not only are sales orgs working to consolidate tech stacks to boost efficiency, they’re also keen to remove the manual work that plagues reps’ workdays. AI (paired with automation) removes busywork like updating deal records and scoring leads, keeping sellers focused on conversations with buyers and improving CRM ROI. This isn’t just a theoretical productivity booster, either.
6. 90% of sales reps on high-performing teams say their leadership encourages them to prioritise long-term customer relationships over short-term wins
With so many challenges, sales leaders are looking for revenue they can rely on. That’s why they’re emphasising customer relationships and leveraging the value of a CRM system over quick deals. This allows reps to build solid connections that foster loyalty, which leads to cross-sells, upsells, and renewals (read: predictable revenue).
To shore up these relationships, reps are 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 nuanced needs.
“As we’re in our early days with a lot of our customers, we really demonstrate that we’re listening, they have an impact on what we’re doing, and that we are invested in their success — that’s really how we establish the early days of trust,” said Jen Howard, Global Head of Sales and Vice-President Canva.
7. 81% of sales representatives say team selling helps them close deals
Another shift sellers are adapting to – more savvy buyers. 81% of sales reps say buyers are conducting research before they reach out, which means sellers must pool resources and knowledge to address questions that go beyond basic product functionality.
The bad news: 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. 25% of sales professionals are expected to turnover in the next 12 months
Tight budgets are increasingly an issue for sales leaders — which means doing more with what they have. That adds stress to teams asked to hit revenue targets without added headcount or resources. This can lead to frustration and, in many cases, turnover.
That’s why leaders are keeping employee experience and engagement top of mind, offering regular one-on-one coaching, increasing tool training, prioritising work-life balance, and upping 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. When managers do sit down with reps, they likely have a lot to cover. Maybe too much.
One possible solution: enablement technology that automatically surfaces big-impact areas for rep coaching. 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 upcoming 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 gloom and doom. Even facing very real financial difficulties, 75% of sales professionals have confidence in their organisation’s ability to re-skill 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 lean into 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, and maximising the use of tools and technology. These will be key to driving success in 2023 — and are instrumental in ensuring success now.
As Brian Millham, President & COO, Salesforce notes, the rest is all about controlling what’s controllable.
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This article was authored by Colin Timm and Hamish Miles.
Colin Timm, SVP, Strategic Customer Executive, Salesforce A/NZ
Colin has been in the I.T sector for over 30 years. He joined Salesforce over a year ago as Senior Vice President of the Strategic Advisory Services group in ANZ, where he leads a team of highly skilled and experienced professionals who advise customers on how to optimise their approach to digitally transforming their business.
Hamish Miles, Managing Director, Salesforce New Zealand
Hamish is Managing Director at Salesforce New Zealand and leads a growing team of over 140 who help New Zealand businesses transform the way they work by enhancing their customer connection through the Salesforce platforms. Hamish has over 25 years experience in the Information, Communication and Technology industry, including 15 years as a software vendor.