Only 53 percent of salespeople made their quota in 2017 according to The Miller Heiman Group and CSO Insights “2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study”. This was across the board regardless of company size, industry and location. But obviously if your small business employees a sales team, you should examine their numbers to see whether they are part of the trend.
2017 World-Class Sales Practices Study
The 53 percent figure represents the lowest success rate since 2012 when only 63 percent of salespeople made those all important sales targets. And the lower number comes even as new tools such as mobile, social media, analytics and others have entered the marketplace. The report says, “Salespeople are working harder to achieve the same results or worse.”
As the report  points out, even larger businesses were not immune. However, small businesses without large sales teams, must work especially hard using existing tools , methods and models and the research outlines some of the most effective for getting better results.
CSO Insights says it has conducted more than two decades of studies of the nuts and bolts of sales including the processes, practices and operational metrics used. Seleste Lunsford, senior director of CSO Insights, outlines the importance of the study in a press release saying , “Data uncovered in this report is relevant to anyone who makes or influences decisions about sales strategy or who needs to understand the factors that go into making such decisions.”
The 2017 CSO Insights World-Class Sales Practices Report surveyed 1,289 participants worldwide representing multiple industries and companies ranging from small businesses to global enterprises.
Findings from the Study
The shrinking quotas are being driven by a downward momentum created by buyers who are getting better at buying and sellers who are struggling to keep up.
The study analyzed 60 businesses using its Sales Relationship Process Matrix framework. The framework quantifies performance levels and offers tools sales organizations of any size can use to assess their position and recognize practices which will help them achieve higher numbers.
12 Top Sales Best Practices in Order of Significance
In the report, CSO Insights identified 12 of the top best sales practices distinguishing world-class companies. It concluded these practices can be taught, applied and measured. These practices include:
- Articulating a solution aligned to the customer’s needs. (Relationship practice)
- Delivering a consistent customer experience that lives up to and aligns with the company’s brand promise. (Relationship practice)
- Continually assessing why top performers are successful. (Process practice)
- Consistently determining the reasons for loosing sales people either voluntarily or involuntarily. (Process practice)
- Effectively collecting and sharing best practices across sales and service organizations. (Process practice)
- Holding sales managers accountable for the effective use of sales tools and resources by the sales force. (Process practice)
- Consistently and effectively communicating appropriate value messages aligned to a customers’ or prospects’ needs. (Relationship practice)
- Supporting continuous development of salespeople and sales leaders. (Process practice)
- Consistently developing and ensuring implementation of personalized performance improvement plans as part of any performance review process . (Process practice)
- Giving customers consistently positive interactions regardless of which channel they use when working with a brand. (Relationship practice)
- Effectively surfacing the specific reasons why certain customers stop doing business with the brand. (Relationship practice)
- Effectively selling value to avoid discounting or gaining comparative value in return for price concessions. (Relationship practice)
The report also said downward momentum can be overcome using the Miller Heiman Sales System as a roadmap through a strategic and intentional approach. The system provides clear directions to sales organizations and individual salespeople with a model covering every facet of the sales function. This includes: people and organization, operations and enablement, and management execution at the broadest level, and, with the customer always in mind.It then extends to create and manage opportunities and relationships important to the sales process.
The report recommends having better processes and relationships because these eventually deliver better results. In order to make this possible, organizations must take extensive action to succeed and action planning has to be focused and systemic.
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