The pressure to improve and ensure customer success has never been higher for sales teams. In the wake of a global pandemic, reps have far greater mandates than before. Technology is pushing customer expectations to all-time highs and sales organisations into uncharted territory. So how are sales teams coping?

New data-driven approaches to sales, increasingly underpinned by AI, are emerging in tandem with a new landscape. Big changes regarding customer engagement, staffing models, and cross-functional collaboration are already underway.

For the third edition of the State of Sales report, we surveyed over 2,900 global sales professionals and leaders to discover which trends are transforming the profession. In the past, sales teams were confined to the purchasing step of the customer journey. Now, they are having to cultivate customer relationships, provide tailored services, and closely monitor for their customers’ success.

Below, we reveal four practices that sales teams can use to support and improve customer success.


Technology causes customer expectations to rise

Technological innovation is changing everything at breakneck speeds, the moment companies meet the standard, customers again raise the bar. Great products or low prices alone are not enough, today’s customers expect superior experiences in exchange for their business and loyalty. When customers demand more personalised, consultative engagement, it’s the salespeople on the front lines who carry the onus to deliver.

Selling to today’s savvy customer base is no easy task. Adjusting to this new reality is proving difficult for sales reps. In fact, well over half of sales reps expect to miss their quotas this year. So what tips can drive sales and customer success?


1. Make Time for Selling

To find the crux of what sales reps grapple with, look no further than their time management. Today’s sales reps have far more on their plates than their predecessors. They must cater to the unique needs of individual customers and close deals to keep revenue flowing. All the while, days have not gotten any longer; the result is an environment in which sales reps spend a mere 34% of their time actually selling.

More often than not, reps are bogged down with data entry, quote generation, and other administrative tasks. This prevents them from cultivating meaningful and profitable customer relationships.

Winning deals and fostering loyalty with today’s customers takes far more than a good product at the right price. Salespeople must look beyond the transaction by demonstrating a thorough understanding of their customers’ unique needs, expectations, and circumstances. When weighed down by processes and tasks, sales teams may struggle to meet elevated customer expectations.


2. Trade Intuition for Insights

Data insights are emerging as the weapon of choice for top sales teams, and lead prioritisation is a prominent use case. In the past, sales reps relied on intuition when weighing which opportunities to pursue — and how to nurture them. Yet as reps’ mandate to develop deeper customer relationships has intensified, intuition is no longer the status quo.

Selling is an art form, but that doesn’t mean we can ignore the science behind it. Sales teams in general, and particularly high performers, are sharpening their skills with data-driven insights. As these insights become more ingrained in top teams’ processes, those without them risk falling behind the competition.


3. Get Smart About AI

Sales teams are looking to do more with their data than basic organisation and analysis. In the near future, sales leaders expect a groundswell of intelligent tech adoption. While only 21% of sales leaders say their organisations use artificial intelligence (AI) today, adoption is set to skyrocket by 155% over the next two years.

AI is projected to grow faster than any other sales technology — and little wonder, since teams expect it to make a tremendous impact on a variety of use cases. Rather than viewing AI as an existential threat, teams that embrace AI to bolster reps’ performance may have an advantage in meeting and predicting their customers’ expectations.


4. Rally around the Customer Journey

As executive leadership focuses on delighting customers, sales teams recognise that connected experiences entail far more than sales interactions. In fact, 75% of business buyers say connected processes — across marketing, sales, and service interactions — are very important to winning their business. Top sales teams are breaking the silo mentality across the customer journey.

With customers demanding consistent, contextualised, and personalised experiences, selling is a team sport with reps playing quarterback. Shared views of customer data across not just sales and marketing or sales and service — but the three together — are a critical ingredient for customer success.