Sixty-nine percent of sales professionals say selling is harder now than before the pandemic, according to Salesforce Research’s State of Sales 2022 report.
In the fifth edition of the “State of Sales” report, Salesforce Research surveyed more than 7,700 sales professionals worldwide to uncover how sales organizations are maximizing value amid economic headwinds, responding more effectively to changing buyer expectations and leaning more into sales operations as a strategic partner. in company success and using activation tactics to turn all reps into MVPs. Here are four key findings from the report:
- The New Business Mantra: Maximize Impact. Companies are moving away from high-risk strategies as they battle inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, regulatory uncertainty and political disruption. And yet, salespeople are under pressure to achieve their goals. It’s a huge challenge.
- Sales operations increase efficiency. Operational efficiency is becoming increasingly important. Sales operations are expanding into a more strategic role, responsible for enabling sales reps to spend more time in conversations with customers. Sales reps only spend 28% of their week selling.
- Representatives Strive to Meet Growing Buyer Expectations. Buyers are looking for sales people to meet them wherever they are, whatever the channel: e-commerce platforms, social networks and personal assistants. Buyers then expect salespeople to act as sophisticated and trusted advisors. Organizations connect with buyers on an average of 10 channels.
- The seller’s experience is given a second look. Companies are reviewing training programs and benefits, while optimizing territories and sales enablement tools to set employees up for success. New headcount is limited and 25% turnover is expected in sales organizations over the next 12 months.
A closer look at sales status reports highlights these 10 key business trends in sales:
- Selling has become more difficult – 69% of sales professionals agree that their job is harder now. And 82% of salespeople say they had to adapt quickly to new ways of selling. The top five challenges for sales are: 1. supply chain issues, 2. inflation, 3. changing regulations, 4. political instability, and 4. health precautions. Additionally, 70% of sales leaders say their sales organization now takes less risk. To improve sales growth, companies are adopting these top five tactics: 1. Improve cross-functional alignment, 2. Adapt to hybrid or virtual selling, 3. Improve data accuracy and quantity, 4. Target new new markets and 5. modernizing tools and technologies .
- Organizations use an average of 10 channels to sell to a customer. The report found that buyers expect sales organizations to show up wherever they are – via email, social media and all emerging channels. In fact, 57% of buyers prefer to engage with businesses through digital channels. Companies report that almost a third of the transactions they close are entirely virtual.
- Buyers expect knowledgeable sales teams with sophisticated insights. The report found that 81% of sales reps say buyers are doing more and more research before contacting them. This finding was telling: 87% of sales buyers expect sales reps to act as trusted advisors.
- Sales growth is a team sport and requires business alignment. Cross-functional alignment is the #1 tactic for business leaders to drive growth. Two key stats from the report: 81% of sales reps say selling 81% of the team helps them close. But 82% of sales reps say aligning with other salespeople is at least somewhat difficult.
- The marriage experience must be better than the courtship experience. The report found that 80% of sales reps say it’s increasingly important to maintain customer relationships after the close. Value-based communication, active listening, and follow-up/accountability were the top 3 ways sales reps maintain a healthy relationship with customers after the sale is over.
- Effectiveness of sales operations is a key performance capability. The role of sales operations is becoming increasingly important for sales organizations. In 2020, 54% of sales leaders said sales operations were key to setting strategy – a number that has since risen to 65%. More than eight in 10 sales professionals say sales operations play a critical role in business growth.
- Most of the time, sales teams don’t sell. As it stands, reps only spend 28% of their week selling. The rest is made up of critical but tedious tasks such as transaction management and data entry. Only 37% of sales professionals strongly agree that their organization makes full use of their CRM. The most useful CRM features for sales are: 1. automation of processes and workflows, 2. automation of data entry, 3. intelligent customer information, 4. integration with systems internal and 5. the ability to replace other sales tools.
- Sales teams are overwhelmed with tools and overwhelmed with data. The report found that 94% of business organizations plan to consolidate their technology stack over the next 12 months. To promote effective selling, business operations can prioritize their consolidation around the features most popular with sales organizations: reporting, CRM functionality, and account/contact management, among others. The top 5 tools used by sales organizations are: 1. Sales reporting and analytics, 2. CRM, 3. Account and contact management, 4. Mobile sales apps for employees, and 5. sales forecasting tools.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) is at a tipping point. The focus on efficiency and cost savings may make the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) more urgent. Only a third of commercial organizations currently use AI. Over the next two years, an additional 20% of organizations plan to do so. Eight in 10 executives and sales ops professionals with AI say it has improved sales reps’ use of time at least moderately. High performers are 1.9 times more likely to use AI than low performers.
- Employee retention is always a concern for sales organizations. Commercial organizations have recorded an average turnover of 25% over the past 12 months. In September 2022, nearly one in four sales reps were looking or planning to look for a new job within 12 months. In total, almost half of the representatives were at least ready to leave if something better came along. At the same time, 85% of sales managers say they struggle to get a budget for the necessary headcount. This number could climb if economic changes force executives to reduce their operating expenses. Coaching is a way for organizations to keep sales professionals engaged and productive. Sales professionals largely agree that they receive valuable coaching from their manager, but only 26% say this happens weekly. Only 53% of sales managers use coaching solutions.
The sales outlook is largely optimistic. The report found that 75% of sales professionals are confident in their sales organizations’ ability to requalify reps, up from 63% in 2020.
The Sales Status report has also been segmented by industry, country, company size, and sales roles. Drivers of sales growth vary by industry. With increasing challenges and changing economic conditions, it’s no wonder that most sales professionals don’t expect to meet their quota this year. To learn more about how the sales teams plan to grow in the near future, you can access the Sales Status report here.
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