Four mistakes companies make when scaling sales

24th Nov 2021

The current B2B sales landscape looks much different than even a year or two ago. Traditional methods of non-targeted slide decks and mass-produced collateral no longer move the needle as B2B buyers expect the customization and speed of digital models. Forrester Research’s 2021 B2B Buying Study found roughly one-third of B2B purchases were made through an e-commerce site or marketplace. Yet despite the increasing availability of, and demand for, self-service style purchasing, nearly two-thirds of B2B buyers report finding value in discussing their needs with salespeople, and a mere 3% want to make all their purchases online and avoid sales teams altogether. Excellent customer engagement is still the ultimate key to boosting sales, it just has to clear an ever-higher bar.

B2B sales teams looking to grow their sales in these conditions have to be relentlessly focused on optimizing sales productivity. It’s a company-wide commitment, one that emphasizes a holistic, customer-centric model that ensures sales can be scaled both expertly and efficiently. Below are four common mistakes sales teams make and tips for avoiding them.

Mistake 1: Failing to measure sales productivity

Many teams fail to define effectiveness clearly enough to determine measurable - and useful - KPIs. There are three critical elements to consider: sales efficiency, sales effectiveness, and sales performance. Sales efficiency metrics are fairly straightforward, including those like average quota attainment, average length of sales cycle, and revenue growth at an individual level, and cash burn and revenue level at a team level. Sales effectiveness includes broader metrics like pipeline replacement and forecast accuracy, and can highlight where teams may have issues with prospecting, too many administrative tasks, or a lack of skills that’s preventing deals from closing. Lastly, sales performance is the most holistic measure of sales productivity, and has the goal of examining the whole of business, from total open opportunities to revenue growth per territory. Defining these metrics, capturing them, and analyzing them regularly offers operational observability into the sales process and can identify trends and weaknesses that aren’t available without an intentional process.

Mistake 2: Mismanaging your sales team

Skilled sales reps are the engine behind enterprise growth, and retaining those that can successfully navigate a true omnichannel process is crucial. Intuition and expertise need to be supported by solid training and coaching, especially given the rapid transformation of the sales cycle and the broader demands it places on reps. Certainly, training, developing, coaching, and encouraging teams are essential, yet CSO Insights finds only 51% of organizations report their sales managers effectively inspire, motivate, and engage sales teams to leverage their resources. Coaching and support go beyond morale, they’re also necessary for sales success. The same report also found organizations employing a dynamic sales approach realized double-digit improvements in sales performance on both quota attainment (21%) and win rates (19.0%) over the study’s average. To avoid mismanaging your people, ensure you manage their development and support with the same consideration and intention as you treat your customers.

Mistake 3: Ignoring or misimplementing technology

As personalization, AI, and big data have introduced process efficiencies and automated sales, failing to implement the technology B2B buyers are accustomed to can result in lost opportunities. At the same time, technology by itself is by no means a panacea. Oracle found that sellers use an average of eight tools just to do their daily jobs, and the National Association of Sales Professionals reports reps spend 63% of their time on sales technology, yet only 35% of their time on selling-based activities. With multiple applications for communication, collaboration tools, market intelligence research, prospecting, reporting, scheduling, and more, having an overly complicated sales tech stack can be just as damaging as ignoring sales tech innovations. When evaluating solutions, be sure that new tools are easy to use, that reps receive adequate training, and that applications genuinely improve the daily experience of reps by soliciting their honest feedback.

Mistake 4: Ignoring retention in favor of acquisition

Businesses with relentless focus on new customer acquisition and new business leads are missing out on major revenue opportunities. This can be due to organization misalignment: Gartner found that 50% of C-level execs with revenue of over $100 million worry about customer churn, yet only 29% of technology marketers report being similarly concerned about it. Or it can also be because incentives are geared toward signing new customers rather than positively managing the relationship of loyal ones. Bonus structures that reward customer longevity and evaluate customer acquisition campaigns based on retention, rather than acquisition, can help reframe an organization’s sales approach.

The challenge facing sales leaders may be significant, but savvy professionals can capitalize on the new landscape with a new sales approach. It requires avoiding the mistakes of taking your people and customers for granted, and failing to integrate data-driven, innovative technology that lays the foundation for success - and clears the path to scaling successfully.


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