During any downturn, the amount of focus on sales generally increases as it becomes all the more challenging to close that next deal. Most organizations during a downturn are not inclined to hire additional salespeople, so there’s a need to increase the total number of potential deals that the existing sales team is trying to bring over the goal line in any given quarter.
The challenge is that most sales representatives don’t spend the bulk of their time selling. A global survey of 7,700 sales professionals conducted by Salesforce finds, on average, sales representatives only spend 28% of their time in any given week actually selling. The rest of their time is spent navigating various administration tasks, with 70% of sales representatives reporting they are overwhelmed by the number of tools they are expected to master. Sales teams use an average of 10 tools to close deals, while nearly one-third of deals close completely virtually, the report finds. Well over two thirds of respondents (69%) said selling now is harder.
Not surprisingly, 90% of the sales organizations participating in the survey plan to consolidate their technology stacks over the coming year to enable their representatives to spend more time selling. The need to achieve that goal is pressing because, as the report notes, less than three out of 10 sales representatives expect their team to hit their full quota this year.
Making matters more challenging still, sales teams experienced a 25% average turnover rate over the past year. It generally takes at least six months to make a new sales representative productive, so the loss of one often has a major impact on both the top and ultimately bottom line.
Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to sales, notes Rob Seaman, senior vice president for product management at the Slack unit of Salesforce.com. In addition to consolidating tools to reduce friction and costs, better collaboration is needed, he says. Tighter integration between Salesforce, Slack and email systems, for example, will make it simpler for sales teams to focus their collective efforts on specific accounts, he notes. “Organizations need to grow more efficiently,” says Seaman.
The truth is too many sales representatives are contacting the same potential customer via email without ever realizing one of their colleagues has already engaged that same customer. Salesforce as part of an effort to streamline communications is now finally making good on a promise to more tightly integrate the Salesforce customer relationship management (CRM) application with the Slack messaging platform it acquired in 2021. Sales teams can, for example, create a Slack channel for each account through which all interactions with customers are streamlined and tracked, notes Seaman.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic most organizations digitally transformed how they engaged customers. However, most of those efforts consisted of sales representatives mastering the nuances of video platforms such as Zoom. The next wave of transformation clearly needs to be focused on makes sales teams more efficient in an era where many of them are spending too much time entering data rather than actually leveraging it to make their next sale.
Fortunately, business leaders that have an appreciation for that venerable time equals money equation shouldn’t need much prodding when it comes to make a case for building a more efficient sales process.