Despite the abundance of digital tools, turnover rates of sales reps are rising and 60% sales representative lack confidence in meeting their targets. At the root of this dichotomy appears to be a disconnect between the Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) who design and implement the tools and the reps who use them, a latest study by Accenture found.
According to the study, Global 2000 firms spending an astounding $2.4 trillion on digital sales channels and tools, yet despite the increased investment in automation and the growing sophistication of tools, companies have yet toÂ maximiseÂ their potential.
The study titled, â€śEmpowering Your Sales Force: Itâ€™s Not Just Automation, Itâ€™s Personal,â€ť conducted byÂ Accenture Interactive, found organisationsÂ have a tremendous opportunity to rethink their approach to sales enablement by aligning digital tools to the evolving needs of todayâ€™s sales representatives and their customers.
The globalÂ studyÂ surveyed more than 800 sales professionals across seven countries and seven industries regarding the challenges faced in meeting sales objectives, satisfaction with job areas, availability and usage of sales tools, opinions on tool usage and expectations of tools. It combined the insights with data from theCSO Insights: 2015 Sales PerformanceÂ OptimisationÂ StudyÂ toÂ gain a holistic understanding of sales tools usage and perceptions.
It found that 80% of companies have adopted a CRM system and a large majority have deployed tools across the entire sales process yet the transformation isnâ€™t seamless.
The disconnect begins with expectations.Â For example, CSOs cite â€ścapturing new accountsâ€ť as their number one objective (58%), while sales reps cite â€śimproving customer satisfactionâ€ť (36%).
This reflects an underlying shift in the repsâ€™ approach, which has evolved toward a pull-based, collaborative, guided selling approach that values lasting customer relationships beyond the transaction, according to the study.
The result is a disconnect between the tools sales leadership are providing â€“ even mandating â€“ versus what sales reps actually need to be successful and feel empowered.
â€śAs companies strive to improve sales effectiveness, they need to fundamentally rethink their approach to digital within their salesÂ organisations,â€ť JoseÂ Goncalves, MD and global digital sales lead, Accenture Interactive, said.
â€śRather than a top-down, enterprise approach, companies need to take a people-first approach that listens to the sales force and marries their needs with tools that deliver data-driven, flexible andÂ personalised omni-channel experiences that help them sell smarter and drive the bottom line.â€ť
Opportunities toÂ maximiseÂ adoption and usage
While sales tools grow increasingly sophisticated,Â customisableÂ and flexible â€“ packed with enhanced features and functionality — only 13% of sales professionals utiliseÂ their full capabilities. Almost 75% acknowledge the sales tools provided are an important part of the sales process, but more than half find them more an â€śobstacle than a facilitator to their sales performance.â€ť
- 59% reported they are required to use too many tools
- 58% felt tools are used more to monitor performance than to increase performance (trust)
- 56% felt tools are notÂ customisedÂ to their needs
Making it personal: A service-design approach
To address this gap, Accenture proposes rethinking sales tools through the lens of service design. Todayâ€™s sales reps expect their tools to deliver the same simple, seamless andÂ personalisedÂ experiences theyâ€™re accustomed to as consumers, when and wherever they are — on web, smartphones or tablets.
When designed through the eyes of the rep, sales tools can match the way salespeople sell and engage in customer dialogue â€“ no longer just providing reporting and tracking features, but ones that are asÂ personalisedÂ and easy to use as the services reps are using in their daily lives.
TheÂ challenge facing salesÂ organisationsÂ is to take advantage of the technological sophistication and flexibility available by implementing tools that areÂ customisedÂ to the evolved way sales reps engage customers and nurture relationships.
According to Accenture, sales organisations must shift away from a top-down approach designed from an enterprise lens. Instead, organisations should adopt a service design lens that puts salespeople first and adheres to three principals:
- Follow human-centreddesign
2. Identify critical data to measurably improve the guided selling experience
3. Leverage the highly flexible technology platforms available
â€śOrganisations stand to benefit by amplifying sales talent, creating engaged customer conversations and boosting team performance. Research shows that improving sales team performance can deliver a 5-10% lift in a companyâ€™s sales or revenues,â€ť the study said.