THE BLOG
09/13/2015 10:06 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

2015 State of Sales -- Data-Driven, Mobile, Tech Savvy and Collaborative

"The most disruptive thing in the market is not technology, but rather the customer." - Tiffani Bova, Gartner Vice President and Distinguished Analysts

Bova is one of the top enterprise technology sales analyst in the world and an authority on the topic of sales transformation. Bova is helping companies improve their effectiveness and efficiency of their sales models and motions. After speaking with Bova, there is little doubt that the entire sales and marketing world is being disrupted in age of the empowered customer. To solve the seller's dilemma, business leaders must recognize that all companies will become digital companies.

Bova said:

The reality is, your sales teams are no longer in control of how customers explore or evaluate you as a provider, and sales needs to step up.

Today's sales organizations must shift from trying to control their internally driven sales cycle and truly embrace the new customer-driven buying cycle -- otherwise prospects will eliminate you from their consideration list and buy from your competition.

To learn about the state of sales, Salesforce Research surveyed more than 2,300 global sales leaders to discover:

  • The unifying goals, stumbling blocks, and success metrics for today's sales teams
  • How high-performing sales teams are evolving to stay ahead of the curve
  • Areas where sales is doubling down to supercharge business in the next 12-18 months

You can learn more about the research methodology here.

Here are some of the key findings:

  • Top teams are 3.5x more likely to use sales analytics
  • Nearly 60% of high performers already use or are planning to use a mobile sales app
  • High performers are nearly 8x more likely to be heavy tech adopters
  • Achieving sales excellence takes a village. High performers are nearly 3x more likely than underperformers to view sales as 100% the responsibility of the entire organization.

I analyzed the research summary and here are my 20 key takeaways:

1. The top 3 sales objectives are:

  • Acquire new customers - 80%
  • Grow the value of existing customers - 55%
  • Create deeper customer relationships - 46%

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Figure 1: Top 3 sales objectives

2. Top 3 sales success metrics
  • Amount of new revenue - 57%
  • Number of new customers - 56%
  • Amount of recurring revenue - 35%

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Figure 2: Top 3 sales success metrics

3. Top 3 sales challenges
  • Increased market competition - 58%
  • Customers seeking the lowest price possible - 57%
  • Customers' needs have grown more sophisticated - 47%

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Figure 3: Top 3 sales challenges

4. High performance sales teams are 3.5X more likely to use sales analytics than underperforming teams. Top teams are also 4.6x more likely than underperformers to rate their basic sales analytics capabilities as outstanding or very good.

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Figure 4: High performance sales teams are 3.5X more likely to use sales analytics

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Figure 5: Broad adoption of sales analytics

5. Among all sales organizations surveyed, there's a 58% increase in planned sales analytics use from 2015 to 2016. 74% of sales analytics are either in use (47%) or planned to be used in the next 12-18 months (27%).

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Figure 6: High performance sales teams rely on more than basic analytics

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Figure 7: Huge growth expected for use of sales analytics

6. 60% of high-performing sales teams already use or are planning to use a mobile sales app. High performers are 2x as likely as under-performers to use or have plans to use a mobile sales app.

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Figure 8: Strong sales teams are mobile

7. Top teams invest in training - Companies with high-performing sales teams are 2.6x more likely than under-performers to invest more than $1K in annual training.

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Figure 9: High performing sales teams are well trained

8. Use of mobile apps for salespeople will more than double in the next two years (125% growth). - I recently read that 86% of time we spend on smart devices is behind apps, 14% on web browsers. It is no surprise that high performing sales teams are mobile app users.

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Figure 10: Accelerating sales through customer-facing mobile apps

9. B2B sales leaders lag in delivering sales via mobile apps

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Figure 11: B2B sales lag with usage of mobile apps

10. Achieving sales excellence takes a village - selling is a team sport. Survey results: High performers are nearly 3x more likely than underperformers to view sales as 100% the responsibility of the entire organization, discerning that customer behaviors are transforming siloed roles and creating a need for a team-selling mindset. Here we see how teams view the responsibility of sales.

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Figure 12: Selling is a team sport

11. Top sales performers are also connecting with customers in more ways than ever before.

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Figure 13: Connecting to customers across multiple channels

High performers, for example, are 4.7x more likely than underperformers to rate their capabilities in omni-channel sales interactions as outstanding or very good.

12. Connecting with customers is a top priority

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Figure 14: Connecting to customers is a top sales team priority

13. Top teams supercharge their processes with technology - Survey results: High-performing sales teams use nearly 3x more sales tech than underperforming teams, freeing them from process-heavy tasks and giving them more time to actually sell.

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Figure 15: High-performing sales teams embrace technology to ensure customer success

14. High-performing sales teams are first to embrace technology

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Figure 16: High performing sales teams are tech savvy and early adopters

15. 76% of sales teams say that wearables are or will be strategic to their company's future business success.

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Figure 17: The impact of connected devices and growth

16. Predictive analytics leads sales tech growth - top 5 technology currently in use for sales:
  • Account and contact management
  • Activity management
  • Opportunity management
  • Sales planning and forecasting
  • Sales analytics

The highest growth areas - top 5: 1. Predictive analytics, 2. Mobile business card scanning, 3. Shared web browsing solutions, 4. Targeted sales content, and 5. Sales coaching tools.

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Figure 18: Predictive analytics leads sales tech growth.

17. Predictive analytics will see triple-digit growth in B2B2C space

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Figure 19: Predictive analytics will see triple-digit growth in the B2B2C space

18. High performers using cloud solutions leverage more tech solutions

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Figure 20: High performers using cloud solutions leverage more tech.

19. What makes a winning sales team in 2015 - use of analytics, mobile, connected within the organization, tech savvy and highly innovative.

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A customer-driven sales organization will not develop overnight. It will be the result of an entire organization embracing and improving customers' experience during their buying cycle, not just when they become a customer. - Tiffani Bova

20. Precision selling cannot be achieved without use of analytic, mobile, social and cloud technologies. Every company is a technology company. Smart sales organization can leverage market, account, and buyer segmentation strategies, coupled with supportive analytics. Sales insights must be mobile ready and integrated into all-lines of business, including marketing - orchestrating every sales touch point with meaningful content, delivered at the right time and channel - and customer service.