Organizations have invested billions in sales productivity solutions to enhance performance by giving sellers more time to sell—but the investment strategy is not paying off. According to new research from Accenture (NYSE:ACN) and CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, 59 percent of global sales executives say they have access to too many sales tools and are bombarded by too much disaggregated customer data to be effective. Another 55 percent say their sales tools are an obstacle to selling. Consequently, ‘sales distraction’ is hindering business performance, causing more than half (56 percent) of global organizations to miss annual sales forecasts.
The Accenture Strategy report, ‘Selling in the Age of Distraction,’ examined the challenges impacting sales performance of global organizations with revenues of more than $1 billion, featured in CSO Insights’ 2016 Sales Performance Optimization Benchmark Study.
“Current productivity investment strategies are overwhelming sales executives with too many sales tools, too much customer data and siloed insights, which have become a distraction. Many are inundated with more information than they can effectively use or absorb, and are tied up with unproductive administration,” said Jason Angelos, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Pivoting from productivity to ‘outcome selling’—which helps sellers to hone in on the insights and actions that matter most—can help them regain focus and deliver the tailored solutions and experiences customers expect.”
The high cost of distraction
The era of productivity has given rise to ‘the age of distraction.’ Many sales enablement programs intended to boost productivity have instead contributed to diversions that pull sellers off course. According to the research, just 22 percent of sellers’ time is taken up with lead generation, and only 36 percent of their average work week is spent selling. Sales productivity has also decreased from 41 percent five years’ ago, to 36 percent today. Another 58 percent of sales executives are concerned about achieving this year’s sales targets.
“To help sellers deliver the experiences customers crave and the offers they find meaningful, organizations can leverage technology to deliver predictive and prescriptive insights to sales,” said Berkeley Warburton, Managing Director, Advanced Customer Strategy, Accenture Strategy. “Analytics, big data and machine learning capabilities can bring the right insights to sales representatives, at the right time, empowering them with the information they need to deliver stronger customer experiences.”
Boosting sales performance
Organizations that want to boost their sales performance can shift to ‘outcome selling’ by connecting customer insights and actions that matter the most, and giving sales executives the best opportunity to deliver more tailored solutions.
Organizations can move to this approach by:
- Connecting customer insights: Crush the silos that slow efforts to capture and share customer insights across touch points – from call centres, kiosks, social media networks to sales and post-sales service channels. Also push past static profiles to understand customer behaviors and preferences, and identify the best opportunities for sellers to advise and influence customers.
- Predictive insights: To help sellers deliver the experiences customers value the most, organizations should look to build predictive sales insights and an execution model to deliver them. Central to this vision is a sales intelligence hub, which delivers forward-looking recommendations to sales executives. The blueprint calls for next-generation analytics tools and data collection methods, predictive analysis, and detailed sales guidance for executives.
- Top performer seller insights: Organizations need to understand what differentiates the top sellers in their own business, and in the organizations of their channel partners. To help position the right talent with the right opportunities, sales leaders need to understand as much about their top sellers as their customers. The research shows that when sales leaders leverage these insights through coaching sessions on how to implement an outcome-driven sales process, sellers perform 10 percent better than the peer average.
About the research
Accenture Strategy, in collaboration with CSO Insights, a leading research and benchmarking organization, completed the 22nd annual study on sales performance optimization. The survey of 500 sales executives from different industry groups around the world assessed current sales performance, challenges facing sales teams, and what organizations are doing to address those challenges. In this year’s study, conducted in February 2016, 65 respondents represented organizations with more than $1 billion in sales.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions—underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network—Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 375,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business and technology. We bring together our capabilities in business, technology, operations and function strategy to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific strategies that support enterprise wide transformation. Our focus on issues related to digital disruption, competitiveness, global operating models, talent and leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth. For more information, follow @AccentureStrat or visit www.accenture.com/strategy.
About Miller Heiman Group
Miller Heiman Group has historically been recognized as one of the largest training companies in the world, but is quickly becoming one of the most prolific business solutions provider in sales and service performance development. Built on legacy brands such as Miller Heiman, AchieveGlobal, Huthwaite, Impact Learning Systems, Channel Enablers and CSO Insights, Miller Heiman Group is backed by more than 150 years of experience and performance. Our Be Ready solutions offer more sales- and customer service-based solutions than anyone in the industry, and empower people across the entire organization to perform at peak potential by bringing game-changing insight to sales performance and customer experience. This allows you to build and sustain a successful, customer-focused organization that drives profitable revenue and top-line growth on a global scale. To learn more, visit our website. Follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google+.