You wouldn’t implement an unproven strategy based on gut feeling alone, would you?
I hope not.
All good strategies are based on research, and your sales management should be no different.
Thankfully, organizations like Salesforce, Brainshark, and SPI regularly publish vital reports packed with trends, predictions, and statistics that will help you hit your targets by offering information on the changing state of B2B sales.
These reports are a must-read for sales executives that don’t want to be left in the dust, or confused by the fact that their proven strategy formed in 1998 isn’t working any more.
But, there’s always a problem with stats…
Facts and figures aren’t much use unless you act on them, and in this post we’ve tried to make that easy. Alongside the statistics, you’ll find pre-made sales processes you can use in your own organization.
Bookmark this list, and take a look next time you’re making improvements to your B2B sales management strategy.
✅ Why formal sales processes are important
In the move from informal, untrackable, paper-based business world to one empowered by technology, it’s becoming apparent that processes are not only easier for startups and SMBs to monitor and optimize, but vital.
In the chart above, you can see that 50% of high-performing sales organizations have sales processes that are “closely monitored, strictly enforced or automated” compared to just 28% from under-performing organizations.
Similarly, 48% of under-performing organizations have non-existent or informal processes.
There is a clear distinction between processes and sales performance, but there is still inaction in the industry as well as under-performance: LevelEleven research suggests that only 65% of reps achieve quota, even under the 25% top-performing sales managers.
So, what’s going on here?
44% of executives think their organization is ineffective at managing a formal sales process
Despite a vast array of hard research (e.g. most know that a formal sales playbook is critical) almost half of executives think their company fails to manage the process.
Clearly defined processes include: methods for managing the sales pipeline, time dedicated to upkeep it, and a budget set aside for process training.
Jason Jordan, a partner at Vantage Point Performance who authored the study, asks the obvious question that 44% of organizations haven’t been willing to face up to: “How can we expect our sales managers to do something well when we haven’t prepared them to do it?”
Companies with a formal sales process see up to a 28% improvement in revenue versus those which do not
A sales process makes the difference between stabbing in the dark and making concerted, strategic decisions. A 28% revenue boost is the stuff of dreams for sales executives. But the idea that creating a sales process means re-allocating chunks of a stretched budget or rolling out new methods to a resistant team might be one that holds decision-makers back from making the right choice.
Ask yourself: is the time or money you’re saving by not creating and rolling out a formal sales process worth forgoing a 28% improvement in revenue?
Almost half of sales teams don’t have a playbook
When we talk about sales processes, the concept isn’t a particularly clear one. It basically refers to the entire back end of sales, and the act of managing sales processes spans everything from designing a pipeline to fine-tuning a call script. A sales playbook, on the other hand, is concrete.
As defined by Nimble, a sales playbook includes information for reps on proven features that move prospective buyers through the funnel and persuades them to buy. It also explains how to counter objections, position your product against competitors, and get your value proposition across most effectively.
In the next half of the post, I’m going to offer you solutions to your sales operations nightmares. Proper, process-driven solutions.
📈 How to improve your sales operations
According to a Forbes Insights report conducted by Brainshark, organizations rank sales productivity as the most important key area of management focus ahead of product excellence and marketing effectiveness.
Optimizing sales operations and improving the sales productivity is obviously an issue close to the heart of many managers, which could indicate that sales management is yet to be perfected by most.
Counter-intuitively, the marketing department owns sales productivity in 52% of organizations, and allocates just 4% of the budget for that area…
The statistics agree: now is the time to question the amount of time spent on “non-revenue driving crap”, and focus on automation and formal documented processes.
One area that can especially benefit from processes is employee onboarding.
Businesses know that, too. In the same Forbes/Brainshark report, organizations report that cutting the time it takes for a new rep to close their deal first deal is the most important goal.
But, when it’s done well, it can improve retention by 25% and performance by 11% – going through an onboarding program makes an employee 69% more likely to stay with an organization for 3 years. That’s an improvement in retention sales teams could do with.
Let’s look at some statistics from these main areas, along with solutions you can start using today:
Reps spend only 32% of their time selling, with the remainder spent on admin tasks
Cutting these time-draining admin tasks like CRM upkeep, managing internal communication, and glazing over at spreadsheets would provide a massive productivity boost.
At Process Street, our sales teams manages much of its administrative work automatically with Zapier. With connections to over 1,000 apps — many of which are CRMs and sales tools — Zapier can handle CRM data maintenance, lead scoring, and more.
Want your team to spend less time on admin, and more time making sales?
Here’s the solution:
Find out more about automating your business time-sucks in with our free 111-page guide to business process automation.
With Zapier, you don’t even have to roll a new tool out to your organization; just connect your existing tools together, and see an instant boost in your team’s productivity.
45% of sales teams blame excessive administrative tasks for hindered productivity
It’s not just intuitive that admin tasks and other maintenance work is a drain on productivity. It’s the single most widely reported problem by sales managers. This, according to Salesforce, impacts the success of not just sales, but the company at large.
The solution? Automate as much as possible, and reduce the amount of administrative tasks your reps have to do.
For example, instead of taking the time to create sales proposals for each new deal, you can use your existing CRM data combined with a Process Street checklist to generate them automatically:
Only 35% of organizations are improving content search and utilization
In many other areas of business, employees are equipped with an internal knowledge base of assets tied to their job. The marketing department, for example, will have a library of image assets, copy snippets and white papers from which to create new marketing content.
Sales teams, however, don’t seem to have the same advantage. Possibly owing to the widespread lack of formal sales processes, there is a disconnect between key job functions and the resources which enable SDRs to carry them out effectively.
This is a problem that could ultimately be solved by documented sales processes, especially processes fit for each specific part of an SDR’s job. For example, the cold calling process below which includes space for the specifics of a script, could be edited to act as a repository for useful content:
Organizations that onboard reps within three months or less see a 29% increase in PPS (Pipeline Power Score)
As a general trend, the average amount of time it takes to ramp up an SDR is falling. That’s likely because more organizations are taking a structured approach to new employee onboarding, and seeing the benefits that has on the bottom line. According to a report by DePaul university, turnover costs $97,690 per rep, so it’s in a business’ best interests to retain rather than replace.
Instead of stretching the onboarding process as long as 12 months — which is the case with 20% of reps — it pays to keep it short and sweet. A study by The Bridge Group found that reps who reach full efficiency within three months drive more sales (represented in the study with a 29% increase in what the group call Pipeline Power Score).
Formulate your onboarding process into a checklist. Assign the checklist to the manager in charge of getting the rep ramped up, and track each rep’s progress. You can do this easily in Process Street, and we’ve even got a pre-made onboarding template for that specific purpose:
Without systematic, ongoing learning and reinforcement, 84% of sales training is forgotten within the first 90 days
Sales Performance International research claims that most organizations take a one-shot approach to training before letting their reps loose on the phone. This fits well with research that shows the strength of B2B sales systemization… or lack thereof.
“Very few organizations implement the necessary assessment and measurement vehicles to determine if sales training investments yield the desired outcomes over some sustained period of time.”
With such a hard emphasis on getting a new rep ready to blaze through lead lists — and neglect of best-practice or process training — it’s not surprising how grim a picture of the state of sales these statistics paint.
High performing teams are 2.5x more likely to have outstanding or very effective sales training processes
The Salesforce State of Sales report reveals a strong link between teams with effective training processes and teams with high-performing reps. Eighty percent of the best teams are outstanding or very good at sales training processes, which, in the words of Salesforce is “imperative to effectively empower sales reps with productivity-enhancing technologies and ultimately better engage with customers.”
Similarly, on the management side, the most prominent trait of effective salespeople is sales process training. Those that know the sales process inside out are more likely to exceed expectations than employees with performance review or even pipeline management skills, according to Revegy.
HubSpot research indicates that most salespeople learn about their job from their peers rather than training material, which could be worrying for many organizations. With informal learning, the organization has no control over the quality of information.
The most logical solution is to create a structured training and continuous learning process based on the best-practices you have found for your organization.
Based on the findings of Brian Groth, Director of Partner Programs and Sales Enablement at Planet, we have created a checklist for a 90-day sales training process that you can adapt for your own organization:
📚 Further reading to tune up your sales processes
In this post, we’ve looked at the biggest sales management problems organizations face, and seen a set of solutions to overcome them:
- Documenting recurring processes
- Formal onboarding
- Ongoing training
Since Process Street is so well suited to streamlining the sales process (and integrates with a ton of tools that sales teams use every day), we’ve written a lot of super-useful content for sales managers and SDRs.