Today's guest post is by Dan Perry, a principal at Sales Benchmark Index.
Sales forces today face a huge challenge: The buyer has been permanently changed. Expectations have been elevated. Decisions have been forever altered. Your world has changed – forever.
Our firm, Sales Benchmark Index, conducted extensive research this last year during our 6th Annual Sales Benchmarking Study. Analyzing more than 12,000 buyers, 10,000 sales reps, and 4,500 sales managers, and benchmarking 1,100 sales metrics, we have found seven major things your peers are doing differently this year. These are seven major ways your peers are allocating people, time, and money to make the 2013 number – seven things you should be doing now to keep the revolutionary pace and hit the number. Here's a preview of the new research:
More than 55 percent of a customer's buying process has already been determined by the time your sales rep engages (source: Sales Executive Council). Problems have been determined, needs identified, and options chosen before the sales rep walks in the door. To net it out, standard sales methods are in trouble. Sales reps bore buyers to death with "discovery" meetings, which are held because that is what they've been trained to do. Let's face reality: Buyers are educating themselves in a self-directed way. What should you do?
Here are 7 things you need to do today to make the number in 2013:
- Realize that buyer behavior has changed forever. You need a customized sales process mapped to the way your buyers purchase. Identifying where they are in the process is critical to hit the 2013 number.
- Lead generation will determine your future. Does anyone answer his or her office phone anymore? Buyers now investigate you long before you know it. The key is to get enriched content into demand generation so that when prospects look, they like what they see, which stimulates interest in you and your products.
- Talent management and the quest for the "A" player have never been greater. Talent is always at a premium. But how many of you have had your number raised without adding any sales reps? You need better talent to make the number in 2013.
- Time management needs improvement. Customer-facing time is at a premium, yet only 42 percent of a sales rep's time is spent with customers. Improve by 10 percent (on average, that's only four hours per week), and you could sell 8 to 10 more deals a year. Do the math: Increase your sales reps' selling time and win more deals; you need them to hit the number next year.
- Compensation mix has changed. It's all about the variable next year. As the variable component goes up, quota attainment should increase. We have noticed a significant change from 2012. Variable now makes up more than 50 percent of compensation plans.
- New product launches come with additional quota, but not much else. Is the new product going to save the day? Not if your sales force can't sell it. World-class sales forces are spending time ensuring that their reps can sell the new product. Sales enablement is a top priority for companies releasing new products in 2013.
- Inside sales is growing exponentially. What you had to sell face-to-face during the last decade now can be sold virtually. Why? One word: Internet. This lower-cost resource can increase revenue (and margin) and directly impact the 2013 number.
Research shows you are worried about 2013. CEOs indicate that they will increase investment in their sales teams in search of top-line revenue. Head-count budgets are expected to increase, demand generation spend is forecasted to double, sales training efforts are on the rise, and OTE for sales reps is expected to increase. Are you keeping pace with your peers?
Educate yourself in this year's Make the Number Tour. Start thinking in a new way; it will increase your chances of making the number in 2013. It will be here before you know it.