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Sales Force Effectiveness

Sales leaders are painfully aware of the fact that customer buying behavior has changed more in the past 10 years than it did in the previous 30.

Today’s customers have access to a vast array of information – from suppliers, purchasing consultants, and social networks – which has enabled them to learn on their own. They typically complete more than 50% and, in some cases, nearly 75% of their purchase journey before they engage a sales person.

Customers are also far more risk averse. As technology enables suppliers to offer more complex, expensive and risky solutions, customers are responding by bringing more and more stakeholders to the table to weigh in on the purchase decision—leading to elongated consensus-building processes that, often, result in no decision for the seller. 

  • Today, 50-75% of a purchase journey is made before engaging a sales person.
  • Yet, a typical purchase journey now involves 6.8 unique stakeholders.
  • And less than 50% of CSOs think they have the right talent to close deals.

These trends have had a significant impact on sellers. While high performers learn to adapt to this increased complexity, other members of the sales team tend to fall further and further behind. Less than 50% of Chief Sales Officers questioned in a recent Korn Ferry survey believed that their sales teams were effectively equipped to sell in today’s market, with 68% saying that sales roles had become more complex.

The result of all this has been a historic decline in global sales productivity. Only 53% of sales reps hit their quota in 2016, down from 57% just one year before. And it’s not just productivity that is suffering. As quotas are missed and the organization fails to make the right investments in sales force effectiveness, engagement and discretionary effort begin to slide, further compounding the productivity problem and leading to further erosion of top performers, managers and leaders.

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