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Accenture’s analysis of the 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study findings indicates the challenges facing chief sales officers as they seek to optimize the sales function and support the company’s drive to become a high-performance business.
Accenture identifies three areas that any road map should use to improve sales effectiveness.
Chief sales officers (CSOs) are breathing a cautious sigh of relief. The global economy has modestly improved from a couple of years ago, bringing optimism along with it. Customers are spending again, albeit in a more measured way, which is giving rise to investments in sales effectiveness. However, while the business mood is more ebullient, the economic rebound will take sales organizations only so far.
In fact, Accenture analysis of the 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study, sponsored with CSO Insights, shows traditional sales approaches will no longer drive desired sales outcomes. To boost sales effectiveness, CSOs should look deeper to fix a fundamental disconnect between where they see problems in their sales organizations versus where they are investing. The analysis of the CSO Insights 2012 data shows that many CSOs are missing an opportunity to address their organization’s underlying sales effectiveness issues.
The research surveyed more than 1,500 companies worldwide to assess current sales performance, challenges facing sales teams, the reasons those problems exist and what organizations are doing to effectively address these issues.
Key findings from the 2012 Sales Performance Optimization Study, on which our analysis is based, include:
CSOs say their top priorities this year are increasing sales effectiveness (56 percent), followed by increasing revenues (52 percent) and improving up-selling/cross-selling (39 percent).
Sales representatives are not consistently using their organization’s sales methodologies or common go-to-market processes. The top two improvements CSOs cite for their sales teams are “thoroughly researching prospects prior to call” and “sell value/avoid discounting.”
Sales cycles (especially for new customers) are getting longer: 42 percent say new sales are taking in excess of 6 months to close.
CSOs who cultivate better customer loyalty by becoming trusted partners or strategic contributors achieve better results: 68 percent of their sales representatives made quota (compared to 55 percent in other companies), and these organizations report six percent greater plan achievement. Only 12 percent of CSOs believe their companies have achieved trusted partner status.
Sixty-five percent of CSOs believe that competency testing can improve hiring success rates, though fewer than half (47 percent) are currently doing it.
Thirty-five percent of CSOs are consistently hiring representatives who are successful—a 10 percent improvement on 2011 data; however, 65 percent of new hires are not succeeding.
More than 90 percent of sales organizations are using tablet devices. But, nearly half of the organizations do not yet have a formal program around tablet usage, and almost as many report low adoption rate of CRM tools.
The majority of sales effectiveness initiatives involve deploying technology. However, less than 15 percent of organizations achieved improved win rates from implementing technology-driven sales tools, and 85 percent did not increase revenue from technology deployments.
Based on its analysis of these results, Accenture draws the following top-line conclusions:
The top priority is to increase sales effectiveness.
Consistent, customer-centric sales methodologies and processes are underused, which hurts sales outcomes.
Current hiring practices are not sufficient to identify sales representatives who will be successful. Scientific practices can improve the acquisition and retention of sales talent and even improve up to 10 percent of top-line revenue per year—but too few companies are actually using these practices.
Mobile devices help deliver a distinctive sales experience, but simply transitioning existing CRM functionality to mobile devices is insufficient.
CSOs identified three areas in which to drive strategic change in their organizations: existing sales methodologies and processes; sales talent acquisition and retention practices; and sales tools adoption. Despite this, most of their investment focus is on technology, which on its own has consistently failed to achieve results.
Accenture believes that CSOs must approach sales effectiveness holistically, as a multi-year journey guided by the principles of standardization, consistency and collaboration, ease of use, quick start up and modular roll out with localization capabilities.
To get started, Accenture recommends defining what sales effectiveness means in your organization. Based on the collaborative definition of sales effectiveness, develop a plan that addresses the key challenges your sales organization faces. Then create a business case that clearly defines how to drive sales productivity within the organization with a road map focused on three points:
Increase maturity and customer centricity of sales methodologies and processes, across business planning and strategy, sales execution and sales operations.
Embed more science into sales talent acquisition and retention practices to create a measurable impact on finding and keeping the right sales representatives.
Automate with sales force technology that delivers distinctive value to sales representatives and ultimately customers.
July 25, 2012
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