Over the last few years, enterprise sellers have enjoyed higher revenue plan attainment, and more salespeople made quota. But those gains haven’t translated into higher win rates and conversion rates, and seller attrition and customer attrition declined. These indicators reveal that sales have grown because of the booming economy, not because organizations have improved their sales methodology and processes.

With the prospect of a recession looming on the horizon, are your sales numbers poised for a fall? They may be, if you haven’t addressed these five challenges that plague many enterprise sales organizations.

1. Inefficient Internal Operations

Time is a precious resource for sellers and their managers. But because of inefficient internal operations, sellers spend less than a third of their time selling, and managers spend twice as much time doing internal work as they do coaching, according to the 2018–2019 Sales Performance Report.

One way to help sellers conquer their time challenges is to empower them with advanced selling tools. The right tools reinforce your selling methodology and fit easily into your sellers’ workflow by integrating with your CRM, helping sellers prioritize and improve performance. Another example is call planning. Sellers  report spending 20% of their time prospecting and preparing for calls. Though sellers have access to call planning tools, one-quarter of respondents to the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study reported that they weren’t using them effectively. After providing tools such as these, organizations must optimize the user experience and provide adequate coaching to encourage adoption and boost productivity.

2. An Ineffective Sales Process

Sales leaders cited an ineffective sales process as their second-biggest challenge in the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study. According to the 2018–2019 Sales Performance Report, only 34% of all salespeople regularly document their strategies for enterprise sales. Without documenting what works, the organization and its sellers flounder, forced to guess which strategies might be the most effective to help them close deals.

Consistently following a formal sales methodology—the framework that explains how to approach each phase of the sales process—leads to higher quota attainment and win rates and lower seller attrition. The more closely your organization reinforces your sales methodology, offering sellers feedback and coaching on that process and updating the process to reflect changing market conditions, the better their results.

3. Organizational Misalignment

The trifecta of key sales functions—sales management, sales operations and sales enablement—must be aligned to optimize sales performance. Ninety-six percent of world-class sales organizations have effective alignment among these functions, according to the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study. But, for almost two-thirds of organizations, these groups are out of sync, leading to lower productivity and performance.

The foundation for alignment is a sales methodology. A consistently followed sales methodology must be integrated into the sales process. If any function implements sales processes differently, sales teams get mixed messages and spend too much time doing the wrong things, leading to weaker customer relationships and fewer closed deals.

4. Inaccurate Sales Forecasts

More than half of all deals forecast to close don’t, according to the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study. This happens because these forecasts are informal or subjective, rather than structured and informed,  using informal approaches to data collection or undefined cadences. .

The more formal and rigorous the forecasting process, the higher the organization’s win rates: according to the 2018 Sales Operations Optimization Study, a structured forecasting review process increases win rates of forecasted deals by 25% over informal approaches.

To improve your forecasting process, two steps are essential:

  • Add structure around the forecast review process. Schedule regular meetings—weekly, monthly and quarterly—for forecast reviews and set guidelines for who should attend and what the meeting objectives are.
  • Use technology to mine historical data and gather predictive data. Reviewing the history of buyers and deals sheds little light on future performance. Today’s tools make it easier than ever to access predictive data, which deliver insights and create sales models that inform managers and sellers alike about what actions are most likely to influence deals to close.

5. High Seller Attrition

According to the 2019 World-Class Sales Practices Study, the average yearly seller attrition rate is 18%. It’s incredibly costly to find and onboard new talent, then coach them to full productivity, only to have them leave and start the process again. Today’s sellers aren’t “coin-operated”: they require more than just money for motivation and engagement.

To boost seller retention, organizations must demonstrate their commitment to their salespeople’s success, which they can do by building a culture of continuous development and implementing a formal talent strategy. Your talent strategy should cover learning and development for both sellers and leaders, using ongoing coaching and training geared to gaps identified by talent assessments.

How to Build Your Sales Transformation Roadmap

If a booming market allowed your organization to become complacent, it’s time to take a closer look at your organization and evaluate your ability to address these five challenges in any economy. The Sales Performance Meter evaluates how prepared and resilient your sales systems are, enabling you to make the necessary adjustments to defend against downward shifts in the market.

Take the Sales Performance Meter


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