How a new sales methodology accelerated indirect sales
The national accounts team at a global insurer asked Korn Ferry for help recapturing market share, resulting in a 52% rise in win rate.
Sales leaders today agree that there’s an increasing gap between buyers and sellers. In our annual sales performance studies, sales leaders tell us that organizations struggle with advanced engagement capabilities and they’re challenged to strengthen sales relationships.
The implications for enablement, operations, technology, strategy and more are far-reaching. We can’t ignore the most fundamental element of the sales equation: people.
In our recent Korn Ferry Research 2021 Buyer Preferences study, we heard directly from B2B buyers and one thing was clear: most sellers didn’t impress them.
These buyers reported that most sales talent met but didn’t exceed expectations. And buyers said that they didn’t view salespeople as a resource for solving business problems. Further, when picking a solution, buyers said that most of the time they saw the winning seller’s solution and approach as only slightly better than the competition.
In the Korn Ferry Research 2020 Sales Talent Study, we asked over 1,000 sales leaders about the state of sales talent in order to understand how organizations were transforming the people processes of their sales systems. We learned about several key — and costly — gaps.
The top performers in an organization produce, on average, 62% of the revenue. This leaves the sales organization in a vulnerable position, as the entire team’s sales talent is not being utilized.
Sales leaders can’t identify exactly which sellers have the potential to take them forward and who isn’t a good fit. Therefore, they’re reluctant to discipline or dismiss underperformers. With an average B2B sales quota of $2M, keeping underperformers on the team results in large quota gaps.
Not surprisingly, our study also found that the average sales force is in a constant state of flux. Voluntary and involuntary attrition was 22% combined. Around half of sales organizations are planning to grow over the next 12 months.
Combining these findings, on average, means sales leaders may need to replace a quarter or more of their sales force in any given year.
When sales managers do make a change or are forced to make one due to involuntary attrition, the result is costly. It takes four months on average to find and hire new sales talent. And it takes an additional 9 months to get a new seller up to full productivity.
Given these challenges, it’s no wonder that the vast majority of sales leaders (69%) didn’t feel like they had the talent they needed to succeed in the future.
The sales talent gap may sound like another item to add to the list of challenges above. But we see it as an opportunity.
Sales talent can accelerate or stall sales initiatives such as new methodologies, changes to processes, deployments of new technologies, exploration of new coverage models and more. If a sales leader hires the right people and engages and develops them appropriately, the face of the sales organization can change substantially in less than two years, accelerating a tipping point for change.
And the effort is worth it.
While much has been made of dire predictions that millions of sales jobs will go away, the truth is that we need people to sell. It’s not a sustainable position to have the majority of sales organizations suffering from poor talent fit. The minority who are confident their talent will carry them forward into the future are already a lot more successful today than their peers with acknowledged talent gaps.
Organizations confident in their sales talent had a higher percentage of salespeople making or exceeding goal (61% vs 49%) and higher win rates of forecasted deals (52% vs. 45%). By creating an integrated talent strategy and turning hiring into an organizational strength, sales leaders can help accelerate sales transformation initiatives.
For more information on the current state of sales talent and to learn how you can accelerate your sales transformation strategies, download the Korn Ferry Research 2020-21 Sales Performance Study or contact us today.