Meet Flo the Flying Squirrel: Salesforce’s Newest Character
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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 that 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: sellers are finding ways forward by maximizing efficiency, cutting costs, and boosting sales rep productivity. Here are 10 sales statistics from our State of Sales report that tell the story of sellers adapting to meet the moment.
Dig into our latest State of Sales Report, where sales pros share insights on how to increase productivity with automation, leverage big-impact efficiency tactics, and hit revenue goals during uncertain times.
Despite economic uncertainty, companies still need to hit their targets. Instead of gambling on higher-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 prioritizing low-risk initiatives with modest guaranteed growth. The big takeaway: sure bets are more favorable than bigger, but more uncertain gains — especially in rocky times.
Reps are 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 tasks like data entry and lead management. This opens the door to a hurried sales process and less time to hit quota.
As noted above, tool juggling is one of the reasons 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.
To address tech overload, sales organizations are looking to streamline their stack. But the way forward isn’t simply ditching tech. It’s about optimizing critical tools and getting rid of nonessential or redundant ones. Sellers indicate there’s plenty of opportunity here: only 37% strongly agree that their company takes full advantage of its CRM.
George Carrera III, Senior Manager of Systems Technology at Mitsubishi Elevators, emphasizes the importance of both consolidation and optimization: “As sales teams look for new paths toward efficiency, endless technical solutions are often viewed as silver bullets. But you have to analyze 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.”
Not only are sales organizations working to consolidate tech stacks to boost efficiency, they’re also keen to remove the manual work that plagues sales reps’ workdays. Artificial intelligence (AI), paired with automation, removes busywork like updating deal records and scoring leads, so sellers can focus 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.
Facing uncertainty, sales leaders are looking for revenue they can rely on. That’s why they’re emphasizing customer relationships over quick deals, allowing reps to build solid connections that foster loyalty, leading to cross-sells, upsells, and renewals (read: predictable revenue).
To shore up 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 nuanced needs.
“Prospects need ways to prove the value of a purchase, and are partnering with sellers to focus on tangible outcomes,” said Alexine Mudawar, Strategic Account Executive at software company Alyce.
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Another shift sellers are adapting to: the ever-more-savvy buyer. Over 80% of sales reps say buyers are conducting research more often 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.
Tight budgets are increasingly an issue for sales leaders. Teams are being asked to hit revenue targets without extra headcount or resources, leading to frustration and, sometimes, turnover.
That’s why it’s important to make sure every rep has the resources and support they need to be an A-player. Leaders are keeping employee experience and engagement top of mind, offering regular one-on-one coaching, increasing tool training, prioritizing work-life balance, and upping benefits.
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.
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 organization’s ability to train reps to handle the new selling landscape.
Winning sales leaders know they can excel in lean times if they lean into efficiency and productivity. Our State of Sales report emphasizes this: over the next 12 months, sales leaders plan to embrace hybrid and virtual selling for more flexibility, improve cross-functional alignment, and maximize the use of tools and technology. These efforts will be key to driving success in 2023 — and are instrumental in ensuring success now.
The rest is all about controlling what’s controllable. As Lindsey Boggs, Global Director of Sales Development at Quantum Metric notes, “The theme [now] is about stability and results. Hone your craft and focus on what you can control.”
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