2021 Buyer Preferences Study: Reconnecting with buyers
Buyers are becoming harder to please, and sellers are failing to prove their value. Discover how sales organizations can overcome this gap.
In the past few years, three waves of change have rocked the sales industry:
Sales managers sit squarely at the intersection of these trends. Yet, for most organizations, sales management strategies have hardly changed.
In fact, the changes that have occurred in the managerial ranks have intensified managers’ internal and administrative focus. In part, that’s because managers have more responsibilities than ever before. It’s also because managers, fueled by a tsunami of data, have focused more on administrative activities, including sales forecasting and reporting.
But it’s not too late to transform. Sales organizations whose sales management strategies haven’t changed with the times can address three key gaps identified in our 2020 Trends in Sales Management report that will improve sales manager performance and, in turn, raise seller performance.
For all of its promise, technology hasn’t yet led to greater seller efficiency for many sales organizations. Despite relying on technology that is supposed to drive efficiency and boost sales, sellers report spending the bulk of their time on administrative activities and only one-third of their time selling.
The disconnect between technology and sales results lies in part with poor tool adoption. An organization can deploy every tool on the market, but unless sales managers coach their sellers to engage with those tools, a robust technology stack won’t drive sales. Managers should take the lead on driving adoption, but only 26.7% of organizations agreed that this was a strength.
Our 2020 Sales Management Study listed sales coaching as a top practice linked to higher quota attainment and win rates. But less than a quarter (24.6%) of organizations reported that sales coaching is a strength.
Overloaded sales management often struggles to find time for coaching. Even when managers do find the time to coach their sellers, they take a narrow approach. They focus on ways that their sellers can position themselves to close a specific opportunity, like acquiring a new piece of business.
But coaching on individual opportunities doesn’t help the seller grow. Nor does it drive long-term sales success. Instead, sales management needs to take a holistic approach. They should focus not just on lead and opportunity coaching but also skills and behaviors coaching and funnel, account and territory coaching.
Managers also need to follow a formal, consistent coaching process, so the time — however limited — that they spend with their sellers is more effective. The more formal the coaching process, the higher sellers’ win rates. A dynamic coaching process — one that is defined, taught, reinforced, adopted, and aligned with sales enablement activities — led to a gain of 32.1% in win rates than a less formal approach, according to our 5th Annual Sales Enablement Study.
Hiring presented the biggest gap for sales managers in the 2020 Trends in Sales Management report. Only 22% of sales organizations said they consistently hired sellers who succeeded. Furthermore, 84% of sales leadership reported that they don’t have the sales talent they need to succeed in the future.
Sales organizations’ continued growth through a combination of higher attrition and a strategy that prioritizes the quantity of sellers over the quality of seller performance creates a talent gap. This gap requires the attention of sales management and sales leadership alike.
The key to solving the hiring problem is a full-fledged talent strategy that spans recruiting, hiring, development and transition. The cornerstone of that strategy is a data-driven process that identifies what makes top performers tick.
Unfortunately, less than a quarter of sales organizations currently assess their top performers. That means they have to rely on proxies for success, such as industry expertise, and unreliable subjective impressions of attributes such as “assertiveness,” in defining a candidate profile.
An informed approach based on leading and lagging indicators of sales competency is an untapped sales management best practice that will yield higher quota attainment while lowering seller attrition.
Our research will help your organization identify whether it suffers from these gaps and offer strategies to address them. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you build a sound sales management strategy.