Sixty-nine percent of sales professionals say sales are tougher now compared to the pandemic, according to the State of Sales 2022 report from Salesforce Research.
In the fifth edition of the “State of Sales” report, Salesforce Research surveyed more than 7,700 sales professionals worldwide to find out how sales organizations are maximizing value in a changing economy, meeting changing customer expectations more effectively, and relying more on sales operations as a strategic partner. to business success and using strategies that enable turning all reps into MVPs. Here are four key findings from the report:
- The new marketing mantra: increase influence. Companies are moving away from high-risk strategies as they battle rising prices, supply chain bottlenecks, regulatory uncertainty, and political turmoil. And yet, marketers are under pressure to hit targets. It’s a big challenge.
- Marketing activities promote efficiency. Efficiency takes on increasing importance. Sales ops is growing into a more strategic role, tasked with allowing reps to spend more time on customer conversations. Sellers only sell 28% of their week actually selling.
- Reps are trying to meet increasing customer expectations. Customers are looking for sales reps to meet them wherever they are, regardless of the channel: ecommerce platforms, social media networks, and personal assistants. Consumers expect sales reps to act as sophisticated, trusted advisors. Organizations communicate with customers through an average of 10 channels.
- The seller’s experience gets a second look. Companies are reviewing training programs and benefits, while preparing locations and marketing tools to set employees up for success. New headcount is limited, and 25% revenue is expected from sales organizations in the next 12 months.
An in-depth look at the State of Marketing reports highlights these 10 key trends in the Marketing industry:
- Marketing has become difficult – 69% of marketing professionals agree that their work is difficult right now. And 82% of marketers said they had to quickly adapt to new marketing methods. The top five marketing challenges are: 1. supply issues, 2. rising prices, 3. changing regulations, 4. political instability, and 4. health protection. Additionally, 70% of marketing leaders say their marketing organization is taking fewer risks now. To improve sales growth, businesses adopt these five top strategies: 1. improve cross-functional coordination, 2. adapt to hybrid or virtual marketing, 3. improve data accuracy and quantity, 4. target new markets and 5. tools and and technology. .
- Organizations use an average of 10 channels to market to a customer. The report found that consumers expect marketing organizations to be visible wherever they are – in email, social media, and any other emerging medium. In fact, 57% of consumers prefer to engage with companies through digital channels. Companies report that nearly one-third of the deals they close are completely honest.
- Customers expect marketing teams with relevant information and advanced insights. The report found that 81% of sales reps say that customers conduct research before reaching out. This was an eye-opening finding: 87% of business customers expect salespeople to act as trusted advisors.
- Marketing growth is a team sport and requires business coordination. Cross-functional coordination is marketing leaders’ #1 strategy for driving growth. Two key statistics from the report: 81% of sales reps say their sales team helps them close. But 82% of marketing reps say coordinating with other marketers is at least somewhat difficult.
- The experience of marriage should be better than the experience of dating before marriage. The report found that 80% of sales reps say maintaining customer relationships after closing is very important. Value-based communication, active listening and follow-up/accountability were the top 3 ways sales reps maintain healthy relationships with customers after the sale is complete.
- Marketing efficiency is a key performance factor. The role of marketing functions is becoming increasingly important in marketing organizations. By 2020, 54 percent of marketing leaders said marketing activities were central to defining strategy—a number that jumped to 65%. More than eight in 10 marketing professionals say that marketing activities play an important role in growing a business.
- Often times, sales teams don’t sell. As it stands now, reps only spend 28% of their week actually selling. Some are done with important, but tedious tasks like contract management and data entry. Only 37% of marketing professionals strongly agree that their organization is fully utilizing their CRM. Most of the CRM features that are useful for sales are: 1. process and automation workflow, 2. data entry automation, 3. smart customer understanding, 4. integration with internal processes, and 5. ability to change other marketing tools.
- Sales teams are drowning in resources and overwhelmed by data. The report found that 94% of marketing organizations plan to integrate their tech stack in the next 12 months. To promote effective sales, sales ops can prioritize their integration around the most popular features in sales organizations: reporting, CRM functionality, and account/communication management, among others. The top 5 tools used by sales organizations are: 1. sales reporting and analytics, 2. CRM, 3. account and contact management, 4. mobile marketing apps for employees and 5. marketing forecasting tools.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on hiatus. The focus on efficiency and cost savings may bring greater urgency to the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI). Only one-third of marketing organizations are currently using AI. In the next two years, an additional 20% of organizations plan to do so. Eight out of 10 leaders and sales ops professionals with AI say it has improved the use of reps’ time at least moderately. High performers are 1.9x more likely to use AI than low performers.
- Employee retention is still a concern for marketing organizations. Marketing organizations reported a 25% average increase in revenue over the past 12 months. As of September 2022, almost one in four people were looking for or planning to look for a new job within 12 months. Overall, at least half of the reps are open to moving if something better comes along. At the same time, 85 percent of marketing leaders say they struggle to find the budget they need to do the math they need. That number could rise if economic changes force leaders to cut operating costs. Training is one of the ways organizations keep sales professionals engaged and productive. Sales professionals overwhelmingly agree that they receive valuable training from their manager, but only 26 percent say it happens weekly. Only 53% of sales leaders use coaching solutions.
The market outlook is largely optimistic. The report found that 75 percent of sales professionals are confident in their sales organizations’ ability to recycle reps — up from 63% in 2020.
The State of Sales report is segmented by industry, country, company size and sales roles as well. The drivers of sales growth vary by industry. With the growing challenges and changing economic conditions, it is no wonder why most marketing professionals do not expect to hit the quota this year. To learn more about how sales teams plan to grow in the near future, you can access the State of Sales report here.