With the tremendous resource and technology investments into the sales process, you would expect great improvements in productivity. But a new report by Accenture Strategy found the opposite to be true.
The global survey of sales executives finds that investments that electronics and high-tech companies are making in sales productivity are not paying off. Among the many reasons for this are that sales people are distracted from selling by an excessive number of complex sales tools and a deluge of disaggregated and inaccurate sales data. Distraction has contributed directly or indirectly to productivity declines. For example:
- Over the past five years, distractions have reduced sellers’ performance by 14%; and
- Sales productivity has declined over the past five years from 41% to 36%.
Additional survey findings are summarized in a new report, Selling In the Age of Distraction.
Abandon obsession with sales productivity, focus on outcomes
Given these problems, the big change sales executives need to make is to abandon their obsession with sales productivity – aimed at trying to give sellers more time to sell – and instead focus on outcomes.
'Outcome selling' guides sellers to deliver outcomes their organisations want and experiences customers demand. Embracing the complex reality of today’s selling environment, outcome selling recognises that the path to incremental growth is not paved by more available selling time. Outcome selling cuts through the 'noise' of distraction and zeroes in on insights and actions that matter most.
Many sales executives believe the secret to balancing immediate and long-term sales requirements that need improvement center on providing their reps with more time to sell. But when sellers have more time, it’s often consumed with unproductive administration – not with more sales. This problem is especially acute for mediocre sellers.
Three types of insights deserve attention:
Connected customer insights: While business-to-business companies value customer insights, most either admire them in the rear-view mirror or limit their application to planning exercises disconnected from day-to-day sales execution. It’s time for organisations to crush the silos that slow efforts to capture and share customer insights across touch points such as call centers, kiosks, social media networks, as well as sales and post-sales service channels.
High-performance seller insights: CSOs need to know what differentiates top sellers in their companies and those of their channel partners. To help maximise the impact of talent management programs and help position the right talent with the right opportunities, CSOs should understand as much about their high-performing sellers as they attempt to know about their customers. Knowing what skills they have mastered, characteristics they possess, and behaviors they consistently demonstrate is paramount.
Predictive insights: To help sellers deliver the experiences customers want and the offers they find most meaningful, companies should build predictive sales insights and an execution model to deliver them. Central to this vision is a sales intelligence hub that analyses customer insights for causation and propensity and helps deliver forward-looking recommendations to sales reps.
The blueprint calls for next-generation analytic tools and data methods, predictive analysis, and detailed sales execution guidance for sales reps.
Sales organisations needs to focus more sharply on outcomes, which means the identification and use of higher-quality data, a more connected understanding of the customers, and a contemporary sales operating model that translates predictive insights into winning sales actions. When sales executives cut through the noise with targeted insights and action, they can shape their sellers’ behaviors to deliver the experiences their customers demand.