On the surface, sales organizations seem to be flying high: enjoying a third year of some notably good numbers,  their revenue attainment is up to 101%, more than half of sellers made goal and win rates are on the rise.

But as the Shakespearean proverb tells us, “All that glitters is not gold.”

According to the new report “All That Glitters Is Not Gold: 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study,” several indicators suggest a less-than-sparkling state of sales. The study — which was conducted by CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group — surveyed nearly 1,000 sales leaders globally and revealed that despite posting solid revenue numbers, sales organizations still struggle to close deals, retain customers and prevent seller attrition.

As the study found, customer retention is down 3%, while seller attrition has reached 18% per year. In addition, sales organizations struggle both to close deals (despite a small uptick this year, the majority of forecasted deals still fell through) and to be perceived as true partners. Among the B2B buyers polled in the study, the percentage of organizations claiming deep relationships with customers fell 4% since the 2017 study.

While issues like these might fall below the radar in a flourishing economy, they can cause big problems in an economic downturn — especially a recession, which many economists predict will occur by 2020.

In 2019, sales organizations can’t afford to be complacent. Instead, they should proactively adapt to meet both fluctuating economic conditions and evolving customer expectations. The 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study analyzed over 50 sales practices to present the top 12 practices that differentiate World-Class sales organizations. These practices include:

  • Continuous development: Leading sales organizations appreciate that their people truly are their most valuable asset. To acknowledge that, they actively build an improvement culture — one in which salespeople not only have continuous development resources at their fingertips, but also clear and achievable opportunities for advancement.
  • Rigorous forecasting: Subpar forecasting processes yield predictably poor results. Yet only one-third of all sales leaders surveyed by CSO Insights endorse the quality of their forecasting functions. By contrast, the vast majority of world-class organizations recognize the importance of clear, standardized forecasting processes. These organizations prioritize a clearly defined review cadence, thoughtful use of predictive data and a deep understanding of all data sources.
  • Mature talent strategy: What drives the best performers to the top of the pack? How much is intrinsic ability, and how much is replicable? World-class organizations constantly ask these questions, using their high achievers to inform a better talent strategy across the board.

Complacency is not an option—and a thriving economy is the perfect time to holistically assess and level up strategic practices. Miller Heiman Group offers the support and tools to drive next-level sales performance.

Our transformation-focused sales training programs, including Strategic Selling® with Perspective and Conceptual Selling® combined with powerful technology solutions like Scout by Miller Heiman Group, can play a pivotal role in positioning sales organizations for world-class results in any economy.

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