Today, CSO Insights released the results of their 20th annual Sales Performance Optimization (SPO) Study, in which they surveyed more than 1,200 firms worldwide regarding top objectives for 2014 as well as some of the significant challenges their sales teams are facing. As an underwriter of the study, we got a preview of the results and hence are able to provide you with a number of key insights.
“One of the most significant trends this year’s study surfaced was a decrease in quota attainment by sales people,” said Jim Dickie, Managing partner at CSO Insights. “After seeing individual sales rep performance improvements in 2010 and 2011, it leveled off in 2012. In 2013, we saw a noticeable drop in the percentage of sales professionals who were able to hit their revenue targets.” (See chart)
What’s a little concerning about this trend is that 94.5 percent of the firms taking part in the 2014 Sales Performance Optimization survey stated they had increased their revenue targets for 2014.
The Find More Analysis from CSO Insights, also released today, drills deeper into what the top performing sales organizations are doing to find more opportunities and stay competitive in a fierce marketplace. Here are just four of the key takeaways:
- Firms with a formalized lead definition experience higher conversion rates – The study found that nearly 50 percent of firms have a “formal definition” of a qualified lead, an increase of only six percent since 2011. While the numbers continue to trend toward formal definition, the progress is slow for defining success when considering the potential upside. Data shows, as firms move from “no definition” to “informal definition,” there is an increase in the lead to first discussion conversion rate and a more significant increase is seen when companies move to a “formal definition.” (See table)
- Big data and sales analytics are starting to help companies identify qualified buyers – The CSO Insights report demonstrates that many teams are using sales intelligence solutions and services to help research accounts as well as big data analytics to help identify lucrative prospects. “The reason sales intelligence is becoming a must-have for salespeople,” CSO Insights remarks in its latest findings, “is that they (sales reps) need to earn the right to have a prospect agree to let them be part of their buy process. This means reps need to have done their homework before they make that first call to try to get into the game.” Below is a chart that highlights the top ways sales teams are leveraging sales analysis and big data solutions in the sales process:
- Prioritization is proving useful in keeping reps focused on best prospects – Many sales organizations make the mistake of sending all leads generated to the sales team. This dilutes the pool of leads, making it difficult for sales reps to decipher which leads should be a higher priority or treated differently. Lead scoring and prioritization can help keep sales reps focused on the best prospects and the right activities to save time.
- Sales orgs that invest in sales rep training convert more leads – Today sales reps should have a deep knowledge of the product or service they sell that goes beyond what perspective customers can find on the internet. In other words – sales reps need to be indispensable to their customers, providing consultation, and deep expertise. The right training for sales reps on market trends and conditions driving the buyer’s needs adds a level of depth and knowledge that can go a long way in increasing the value a rep can provide to the prospect or customer. The chart below highlights the impact of an effective training program on lead to initial sales conversation conversion rates.
For more insights into today’s top sales challenges and how best in class sales organizations are succeeding, download the new CSO Insights study for free from our website.