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He Feels Alone at the Quota Club

Sellers and their managers should celebrate the economic gains of recent years, but for many of them, the gains can be illusory .

There is evidence that these will not be remembered as the good old days in the sale, suggests a new report from
CSO Perspectives, "Running Up the Down Escalator".

Overhiring or Underusing Tech?

Seventy-three percent of salespeople made quotas in 2012, but five years later – despite an improving economy – this number has dropped to 53 percent, according to CSO Insights' ongoing research, which extends to more than two decades. A variety of factors explain the decline. A nugget of the report:

"Buyers are getting better at buying faster than sellers are doing better at selling. momentum down : to immobilize (trying to maintain the status quo) is going backwards. sell the escalator fast enough to counter the forces (buyers' expectations, new competitors, etc.) that combine to knock them down. "

In other words, some companies sell better and, in previous years, this logic makes sense. However, companies are still doing their numbers, which suggests to me that they may have outbid sales talents, which is confusing.

A traditional sales manager branches bodies in a territory to ensure that no opportunity is ignored. It was once understandable. Today, we have so much technology to plan the territories, guide the sellers, suggest the next actions and goals to achieve given the time left in the neighborhood, that it is important to think that many things go through the cracks.

In short, all the online sales tools over the past two decades should have allowed everyone to do more with less.

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If that is the case, the conclusion I draw is that organizations have been overestimated or underutilized, but the question is why.

Trust Equals Deals

Perhaps, and this is only an intuition, although we have a lot of sales tools today, we still plan and manage the territories by hand: by estimating the number of target companies and dividing them; keep notes in our phones or in pieces of paper; rely on memory to remember someone. It's a long list.

Perhaps a better analysis is that according to the data, nearly half of the companies surveyed (48.4 percent) had poor sales processes, while 24.8 percent had chaotic processes.

CSO identified four levels of sales process: random, informal, formal and dynamic. Nearly 75% of sales organizations do not come out of the first three categories of processes.

CSO also identified five types of sales organizations as they appear on the market. From bottom to top: Approved Supplier, Preferred Supplier, Solutions Consultant, Strategic Collaborator and Trusted Partner. The higher you go in the hierarchy, the better. Trusted partners gained a place at the decision table; they discuss larger transactions, and these transactions close more quickly.

It is the trusted partners – with dynamic processes – who conclude the contracts, while the others work very hard to attract income – income. Of course, there is excessive simplification, but aspire to the combination of process optimization and become a trusted provider have been longer than SFA.

It is difficult to access these high places. Representatives who are new to their job know that they must produce or perish, and turnover leads to bad habits – like using a random or informal sales process and not being too fussy about the products that customers buy so much that they buy something.

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This may be reflected in too many representatives who are not looking for enough opportunities. Or maybe that translates into lower sales, so the territories have new people running them all the time by repeating the same rookie mistakes. Whatever the analysis, all this suggests that some attention to how people sell and how we support them can pay off.

My two bits

One of the great things about CSO Insights is that it collects the same data every year for a long time. The matrix of the sales relationship process has been around for a long time and, although the percentages are moving a little bit from year to year, I have not seen any appreciable change in distribution over time.

I would like there to be more data. Things I would like to know:

  • To what extent has the number of sales changed over the past five years as quotas reach their limit?
  • What is the average time in position for sellers?
  • Of the 53% of people who meet or exceed the quota, do they reach more or less the percentage of goal than the 63% from five years ago?

Bottom line, sales are a GIGO business: garbage, garbage. Above all, it's a process – and if you do not follow the precise points of your process, you lose more often than you should.

My hypothesis is that the people who make quotas today have killed their numbers with margins greater than five years ago. To change this dynamic, we do not need less software – but we have to take the time to learn how to use it optimally, and we also need to think about why we always allow random or even informal sales processes. exist in our companies.

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Denis Pombriant is a well-known researcher, strategist, writer and lecturer in the CRM industry. His new book, You Can not Buy Customer Loyalty, but You Can Earn It is now available on Amazon. His 2015 book, Solve for the Customer is also available here.
Email Denis.