Most Canadian sales reps probably assess their performance based on how they’ve done in the past and how their coworkers are doing, but a true benchmark that compares what’s happening here and around the world has been hard to come by. That’s what makes the third edition “State Of Sales” report a vital resource for anyone trying to work in -- or manage -- a sales team.
Based on survey responses from more than 2,900 sales professionals from around the world, the 2018 State Of Sales report provides one of the most comprehensive views into the day-to-day challenges of those on the front lines pitching to customers and prospects. This includes how confident reps are in meeting their quotas, how much time they actually spend selling and how often they’re connecting customers virtually and in person.
Maybe even more important, however, is how the research tells the ongoing story of sales teams’ shift from an instinctual approach to forecasting and prioritizing leads to one based on data. This not only refers to the data they could get from tools like Sales Cloud, but the data that comes from artificial intelligence tools such as Salesforce Einstein, which help predict the most likely outcomes and allow sales teams to change or optimize their strategy for success.
While the report offers rich global findings, it also breaks out country-specific snapshots that can serve as a dashboard for those trying to set goals for managing a sales team in Canada. This post will look at some of the key local findings and how they compare with what’s going on internationally:
As with the rest of the world, Canada’s sellers are clearly falling short of rising customer expectations to personalize the way they engage and act as trusted advisors. That said, Canada’s shortfall is less than the global average of 57%, and the U.S. average of 58% the shortfall for some countries is even higher.
There may be several reasons why reps miss their quota, but it probably comes down to how they’re managing the information that leads to a closed deal, and how they balance the various priorities that involve using that information in a strategic way. So what are they doing?
The global findings in the State Of Sales report break down the top five things reps say they spend too much time on vs. what they’d like to be doing. Some of the former include chores that would be common to most information workers, like managing e-mail, but others -- like finding the right contact within a customer account -- suggest tools like CRM are still being under-utilized, or perhaps not used properly.
In fact, when inputting sales data and notes becomes a more seamless part of a rep’s process, they’ll likely find they can shift to the things they care about most, like understanding their customer’s needs and researching competitive offers to win them over. It all comes down to having a more data-driven mindset, which leads us to:
The troubling finding here is not the 18% who admitted they go with their instincts when evaluating leads. It’s the 52% majority who marked “Other,” suggesting a lack of consistency in how they approach one of the most critical aspects of the selling process.
On the flip side, 51% of Canadian reps said they use data-driven insights to forecast sales, and another 37% said it was a fairly even mix between data and their own gut feelings. Overall, however, Canada has catching up to do compared with the global average of 33% who said they look at data based on propensity to buy.
No matter how you slice it, the move to data-driven thinking isn’t going away. It will only increase as AI becomes more commonplace, which is a good time to point out:
Canada may lag the global average here of 21% of organizations who said they use AI, but it’s important to think long-term when you consider this data. On a worldwide basis, for instance, the use of AI in sales is expected to grow 155% over the next two years. That makes sense, considering the technology is relatively new and the time it takes for organizations to figure out how to make it a part of their business processes.
The State Of Sales also puts to rest the idea that AI will put sales reps out of a job. In fact, the research shows 75% of teams using AI have increased staff in the last three years. That just proves how important it has become to encourage sales teams to apply their empathy, creativity and other human qualities to make the best use of the insights they can get from an algorithm. It’s a matter of treating AI as a member of a team. Oh, and by the way . . .
Experts have been worrying about a lack of alignment across key business functions for years, but the 2018 State Of Sales report suggests things are changing for the better. That said, it may be time to rethink whether those shared metrics should include the vagueness of customer satisfaction, or CSAT, versus Net Promoter Score (NPS), which can be a powerful indicator of whether you’ve simply gained a customer or a true advocate.
There is a lot more in this research, including additional Canada-specific stats, industry profiles and key recommendations on how sales teams can make use of the study to move the needle by the time the survey is conducted again next year. Get the complete picture by downloading The State Of Sales today.