With all of the elements of the sales environment that we cannot control, it's vital to streamline what is within reach.
There's a lot about the sales environment that sales leaders cannot control. The list includes the economic cycle, the growing size of the buying committee, a lengthening decision cycle, rising costs of doing business, and the behavior of the competition. Proof of this reality is the fact that 71% of the Fortune 400 missed their sales goals in Q1 of 2023- and the normal rate is about 40% globally. Focusing on what you can't control is a sure path to frustration.
Here's what you can control: the internal sales environment and the rhythms your salespeople use to engage the market.
When we think of the internal sales environment, we usually think of the culture, processes, and strategies within our teams. We know that by creating a positive and supportive environment, we can empower our salespeople to engage the market with confidence and effectiveness. It's all about finding the right rhythms and approaches that work for our unique team and market.
The sales opportunity we miss
One part of the sales environment that often gets missed, however, is the sales stack. Put simply, this is the technology that a salesperson will use to prospect, sell, and report on his or her work. The evidence that this part of the sales environment needs attention is the startling truth that more than 80% of sales leaders now believe that their biggest barrier in sales is not the external market, it is the productivity of their team.
Productivity is largely connected to the sales routines and processes that salespeople must use to reach not only their quota but also reporting requirements. This is where the rubber meets that road - and right now the estimates of time spent in administrative work vs. actually sales activity range from 25% to 40%.
Three areas of sales productivity to be focused on:
- Data- a large percentage of sellers indicate that incomplete data is a major barrier
- Targeting - lead intelligence and ease of research drive better sales
- Time management - time spent in non-sales related activities is a huge drag on seller productivity
In practical terms, the burden of administrative work means that the average salesperson spends between 1.2 and 2 days per week - not selling.
Salespeople need a streamlined and unified sales environment that allows them to complete administrative requirements as a part of their sales workflow, not as a frustrating quest to overcome the barriers of multiple systems, wrangle data, and juggle information between services.
Sales stack configuration and adoption by sellers is a big part of the productivity equation.
When you add frustrating internal processes to the normal pushback of the market it creates burnout with salespeople and depresses sales outcomes.
When the system isn't strong, prospecting takes longer, sales are more cumbersome and reporting is a painful experience that feels like pulling teeth.
With larger teams, the investment in the sale stack usually gets lots of attention. However, with smaller teams, the sale stack can easily become a hodgepodge of different tools, with even some DIY tools sneaking into the mix.
The sales stack can easily become a haystack of undefined processes that change from salesperson to salesperson, making coaching and supervision almost impossible. The worst part - the level of productivity can't really be improved without going one by one.
Three areas to identify gaps and pain points in your sales environment:
Prospecting- Do sellers have access to complete and integrated data when they are completing company or prospect research? Does the data about website, social, and digital ad interactions automatically flow into their dashboard when they look at a client?
Selling - Is the pipeline intuitive, informative, and useful for the seller? Can sales management review the pipeline easily? Do accounts that are not progressing in the pipeline prompt reminders or show up in reports?
Reporting - Are sellers able to quickly gather report data without having to use multiple spreadsheets and calculators? Does reporting support the ability of sales management to provide coaching and support?