Is the sales talent gap holding back your revenue growth?

As the sales journey adapts to buyers’ digital expectations, salespeople need to shift their skillsets, mindsets and processes from being product-pushers to valued advisors. Does your organisation have the future-ready sales talent it needs to grow revenue?

Just as COVID-19 accelerated digital adoption in the way we shop, learn and work, it has changed the way buyers and sellers interact. With so many online resources and touchpoints, buyers don’t need to speak with a salesperson until they’re ready to make a purchase decision.

That gives sellers very little time to do what they used to do best – sell. Those salespeople who were once top of the leaderboard may not be as successful at smashing their targets in the future.

What’s more, when it comes to account management, less than a quarter of buyers value salespeople as one of their top resources for vendor problem-solving. Instead, they prefer to turn to colleagues, analysts or online communities.

In today’s virtual selling environment, deals get done differently. Salespeople who know how to provide data-led insights and add value to the decision-making process will be in a stronger position to build relationships and close the deal.

However, just 46% of companies in the Asia-Pacific region believe their salespeople have a good understanding of the decision-making process and buying criteria of their customers. And only 32% believe they can effectively cross-sell, up-sell or expand relationships.

There’s clearly a capability gap here – and it could limit your organisation’s ability to achieve revenue growth targets. A strategic approach to future-proofing your sales talent starts with these four areas.

1. Define your “top seller” DNA

First, sales and HR teams need to work together to define and benchmark how to excel in sales. These behaviours, traits and drivers will give you robust criteria for hiring and development.

It’s important to look to future potential, rather than relying on past performance data or experience. Success profiles will vary according to how buyers engage with your organisation. They typically comprise requirements for accountability (responsibilities and impact), capability (knowledge and skills) and identity (measurable personal traits such as empathy and confidence).

Less than half (47%) of APAC companies have a clear understanding of “what good looks like” for each of their sales roles. So success profiles are an investment worth making. Our research indicates a direct correlation between defining and using sales success profiles for hiring and development, with 15% higher quota attainment.

2. Align every aspect of your sales strategy to your talent lifecycle strategy

This is all about getting the process right. Hiring, onboarding, coaching, ongoing enablement, engagement, succession planning and transition all need to align. Start by understanding what each of those processes looks like today, and how well they are working.

In the APAC region, just 24% of organisations consistently assess why their top performers are successful. Only 34% provide ongoing enablement, and 28% provide salespeople with ample career development opportunities. Without these fundamentals in place, it’s no wonder 67% agree their structures fail to support optimal sales process delivery.

3. Agree on cross-functional roles, reporting structures and responsibilities

Sales cannot operate in a silo. It’s important for the Chief Sales Officer to prioritise collaboration across the organisation, and ensure frontline salespeople can share valuable insights with the rest of the business.

This collaboration may uncover early indicators that hiring profiles need to change or requirements for a different approach to sales enablement. Just over a third of organisations in APAC say they are structured to drive effective collaboration across the enterprise, so there is definitely room for improvement here.

4. Set new performance indicators

It’s time to rethink sales performance metrics. Beyond achieving quotas, sales organisations can measure talent based on behavioural indicators (such as demonstrating specific competencies), productivity measures (such as conversion rates or win rates) and lagging indicators that will impact revenue (such as customer satisfaction).

This broader set of data will help you understand how to refine hiring profiles or develop individual coaching and training programs.

For example, APAC companies know the top 20% of salespeople generate almost 60% of company revenues. But do they know how they achieve those outstanding results? These companies also know existing customers generate 75% of revenue – but are they prioritising new upsell and cross-sell solutions?

By turning this wealth of data into practical insights, you can find new ways to adapt to changing buyer expectations and transform your go-to-market strategy.

If revenue growth is on the agenda at your organisation, you need sales talent that is ready to add value to buyers throughout their engagement. Yet just 22% of APAC companies believe they have access to a big enough pool of sales talent. That gap will need to be filled – by evolving your recruitment practice and developing your talent from within.

The results speak for themselves. Organisations that ensure every aspect of their sales talent practice is effective also report better sales results. They are more likely to exceed revenue and quota targets and report higher win rates and lower customer churn rates than their peers.

That means they’re taking your market share. So now’s the time to take back the advantage, and make sure your sales teams are ready for the future of selling.

Do you have in-depth knowledge of who your sales talent are, what makes them tick, and how you can take them to the next level? Our guide, What’s Next for Sales Talent: Understand the Full Picture, offers strategies to set your organisation up for success.