Given years of investment in sales effectiveness technologies, today’s B2B sales teams should be more efficient and productive than ever before; however, recent studies have revealed that sales teams spend just 41 percent of their time selling by phone or face-to-face, versus 46 percent in 2006. The remainder of their time is increasingly being spent on administrative tasks, research, service calls, and training. In order for companies to make their numbers each quarter, many sales leaders agree that companies should enable their sales teams to maximize the time spent talking to customers.
Selling Time by the Numbers
There is strong evidence that correlates selling time with quota achievement. In fact, an increase of just a few percentage points in selling time across an entire sales force leads to higher overall profitability for the sales organization and can equate to additional sales headcount, at no additional expense. According to the Sales Benchmark Index, within a sales force of 100 reps at 50 percent selling time, a 5 percent increase in selling time equates to five additional sales heads without the incremental cost. So where are reps spending their time? It varies by company, industry, and sales process, but here are a few key areas:
Technology’s Impact on Sales Effectiveness
When sales force automation (SFA) systems were introduced, they promised shorter sales cycles, higher win rates, and increased sales rep productivity. In fact, an entire ecosystem of vendors, consultants, and system integrators has been created over the past two decades in pursuit of this value proposition.
While SFA tools provide companies with a multitude of benefits, it’s hard to link them to increased sales effectiveness or revenue growth. More often than not, sales reps spend more time entering information into their SFA system than deriving useful information from it to close more sales at a faster rate.
Instead, sales effectiveness solutions should help sales teams focus on revenue-generating activities. They should provide clear and actionable guidance, help sales reps focus on the best opportunities, and integrate easily with existing systems and processes – and they shouldn’t require reps to spend time on data entry. Ultimately, these tools should add a few percentage points to average time spent selling and give companies the equivalent of additional sales headcount without the incremental cost in order to help companies make their numbers.
Getting Results with Sales Guidance Applications
Fortunately, a new class of sales effectiveness technologies has emerged. Predictive guidance applications apply math and science models to a company’s existing transaction data to deliver valuable sales opportunities. They require little to no work on the part of sales reps and deliver specific, actionable opportunities directly to the field, enabling salespeople to spend more time selling.
Many B2B sales reps have very large books of business, spanning hundreds of accounts and hundreds of thousands of products. This results in data sets that are too large to analyze and mine for opportunities through traditional means. Rather than create more work for sales reps, predictive guidance applications based on companies’ existing data act as virtual sales analysts, working around the clock to pinpoint the best opportunities for sales to pursue.
Ultimately, sales tools that provide actionable, predictive guidance enable sales teams to spend more time talking to the right customers with the largest opportunities for wallet-share growth. Companies can get the benefit of additional sales headcount without the extra cost.