TORONTO—Organizations have invested billions in sales productivity solutions to enhance performance by giving the sales force more time to sell, but according to new research from Accenture, the investment strategy is not paying off.
According to new research from Accenture and CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, 59 percent of global executives say they have access to too many tools and are bombarded by too much “disaggregated” customer data to be effective.
Another 55 percent say their sales tools are an obstacle to selling. Consequently, ‘sales distraction’ is hindering business performance, causing more than half (56 percent) of global organizations to miss annual forecasts.
The Accenture Strategy report, ‘Selling in the Age of Distraction’, examined the challenges impacting sales performance of global organizations with revenues of more than $1 billion, featured in CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Benchmark Study.
“Current productivity investment strategies are overwhelming sales executives with too many sales tools, too much customer data and siloed insights, which have become a distraction. Many are inundated with more information than they can effectively use or absorb, and are tied up with unproductive administration,” said Jason Angelos, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Pivoting from productivity to ‘outcome selling’ – which helps sellers to hone in on the insights and actions that matter most – can help them regain focus and deliver the tailored solutions and experiences customers expect.”
The high cost of distraction
The era of productivity has given rise to ‘the age of distraction’. Many sales-enablement programs intended to boost productivity have instead contributed to diversions that pull sellers off course. According to the research, just 22 percent of sellers’ time is taken up with lead generation, and only 36 percent of their average work week is spent selling. Sales productivity has also decreased from 41 percent five years’ ago, to 36 percent today. Another 58 percent of executives are concerned about achieving this year’s sales targets.
“To help sellers deliver the experiences customers crave and the offers they find meaningful, organizations can leverage technology to deliver predictive and prescriptive insights to sales,” said Berkeley Warburton, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Analytics, big data and machine learning capabilities can bring the right insights to sales representatives, at the right time, empowering them with the information they need to deliver stronger customer experiences.”
Boosting sales performance
Organizations that want to boost their sales performance can shift to ‘outcome selling’ by connecting customer insights and actions that matter the most, and giving sales executives the best opportunity to deliver more tailored solutions.
Organizations can move to this approach by:
• Connecting customer insights: Crush the silos that slow efforts to capture and share customer insights across touch points – from call centres, kiosks, social media networks to and post-contract service channels. Also, push past static profiles to understand customer behaviors and preferences, and identify the best opportunities for sellers to advise and influence customers.
• Predictive insights: To help sellers deliver the experiences customers value the most, organizations should look to build predictive sales insights and an execution model to deliver them. Central to this vision is a “sales intelligence hub,” which delivers forward-looking recommendations to salespeople.
• Top performer seller insights: Organizations need to understand what differentiates the top sellers in their own business, and in the organizations of their channel partners. To help position the right talent with the right opportunities, sales leaders need to understand as much about their top sellers as their customers.