THE STATE OF SALES EXECUTION

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1 THE STATE OF SALES EXECUTION 2015 Trends Report Top Objectives and Challenges Facing Sales Leaders and Sales Teams Organizations in 2015 are continuing to make a fundamental shift toward more aggressive growth, and from enablement to execution. Sales leaders must now refocus on making their existing teams more successful by looking beyond tactical sales enablement and empowering sales forces with strategic end-to-end sales execution.

2 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Over the past several years, Qvidian has surveyed hundreds of executives and sales leaders around the world from various industries, markets, and company sizes to create a comprehensive ongoing study of the changing objectives and challenges facing sales leaders. Survey Highlights Not surprisingly, key priorities for executive management for 2015 remain focused on increasing win rates (94%) and improving quota attainment (87%). Interestingly, increasing win rates has risen in importance (+7% since 2014), while closing more business at a lower cost dropped (-11% since 2014), further validating that the majority of companies remain in growth mode, and for many, moving from prudent to aggressive growth. With increasing win rates being the most important to executive management, it s especially noteworthy to see that the leading reasons for not reaching quota attainment for organizations this year are: opportunities ending in no decision sales unable to effectively communicate value 42% 41% sales burdened with other administrative tasks ramping up reps takes too long 36% 36% sales managers aren t able to effectively coach reps 30% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 1

3 Executive Summary As buyers are presented with more choices in an increasingly complicated and ever-changing landscape, the rise from 2014 in both sales unable to effectively communicate value (+11%) and selling content not personalized to buyer (27%, +10% since 2014) as reasons organizations are not reaching quota is of little surprise. To further add to the already complex environment, the pressure to sell more effectively to an increasingly savvy buyer is at an all-time high. Understandably, organizations reported top objectives for optimizing revenues as being capture new accounts (59%), upselling /cross-selling existing accounts (43%), increase sales effectiveness (31%), and increase win rates of forecast deals (35%). Moreover, today s organizations are realizing the need to be more predictive in their sales tactics. Almost 46% of respondents report their understanding of the customer buying process is in need of improvement when asked to assess sales performance to-date. This is an 8% increase since Sales leaders need to capitalize on the activities that proved successful in 2014 in order to improve the customer experience, reinforcing what works in a cost-effective way in order to remain flexible and execute effectively. Accordingly, in an attempt to drive more closed won business, CRM adoption (9%) remains on the rise (+7% since 2014), all while inaccurate pipeline (22%) continues to escalate (+11% since 2014); indicating an evident gap that continues to exist in sales initiatives with the selling process still not defined or easy to follow. This Sales Execution Trends Report investigates new obstacles sales organizations face to meet these objectives, as well as explores current conditions and investment areas needed to improve sales execution; providing further market insight into the state of sales today. Communicating Value +11% more important over 2014 CRM Adoption +7% key challenge over 2014 Personalized Content +10% more important over 2014 Inaccurate Pipeline +11% key challenge over

4 The Relentless Hurdle to Quota Attainment Today s selling environment is rapidly changing, from one day to the next as buyers and salespeople alike are inundated with what to buy and how to sell. Ramp Up Sales Reps Faster An ongoing commitment to change is a necessary component to any successful onboarding initiative, without which new hire progress is doomed to stall and prolong an otherwise successful selling year. At the same time, it takes a new sales rep an average of 7-9 months to be fully productive, slowing down time to revenue, and applying added pressure to sales leaders. Regardless of company size, organizations continue to struggle with slow ramp up time for new sales reps, with only 3% ramping up new reps in less than 3 months, and 71% taking longer than 6 months. Although this is common and not surprising, this year organizations that now take over 10 months to ramp up rose 10% compared to those in previous year. Moreover, organizations cite onboarding taking too long as a key challenge in the way of achieving objectives (16%), which is an increase from 2014 (+7%). Reducing ramp up time increased (+2% since last year) as the top objective for sales organizations to optimize revenues. 71% of sales reps take longer than 6 months to ramp up 16% cite onboarding taking too long as a key challenge 3

5 Sales Rep Ramp Up The gap only widens when we consider the reasons for sales organizations struggling to make quota. Of organizations not reaching quota attainment, 46% report that understanding the customer buying process stands as the number one area in need of improvement. The continuous struggle to ramp up new hires faster is a serious detriment to an organization s bottom line. Eighty percent (80%) of companies that rate ramping up new reps as very important to reaching quota attainment report that their systems are not connected or streamlined. 80% of companies systems are not connected or streamlined It s clear that one of the leading obstacles to a smooth sales rep ramp up initiative is the disorganized flow of content and resources via disconnected systems, stalling the selling process and contributing to a poor understanding of buyers. Internalizing a learning sequence that aligns with buyers and masters best practices, sales reps are better positioned to address unique buyer needs while improving the overall customer experience. 4

6 The Buyer s Perspective Matters Buyers have evolved. Overwhelmed with an increasing number of choices, buyers are no longer willing to wait patiently for reps to make that perfect pitch. Personalize to Improve Sales Performance Year after year, 50% of sales reps fail to meet quota 1. What s more, survey respondents report only 41% of forecasted opportunities actually result in wins. Even among organizations that report a high degree of confidence in quota attainment, the same applies only 40% of forecasted to close opportunities result in actual wins. Weak forecast predictability reveals the need for all organizations, even for those confident in making quota, to reassess their predictions and ask: What about the remaining 60%? How will organizations reach their goals and make quota if the majority of deals are likely to result in stalled/no decision or losses? 41% of forecasted to win are actually won And while a leading objective in 2015 is to increase overall sales effectiveness (31%), a 5% increase since 2014, the struggle to do so continues, thereby hindering quota attainment. Organizations surveyed report selling content not personalized to buyers (27%), and sales unable to effectively communicate value (41%) are top reasons for not achieving quota. Both display a healthy increase from 2014 at 10% and 11% increases respectively. 1 Source: Top Sales World 5

7 Personalization Likewise, when asked to assess the performance of key areas in the sales cycle, companies revealed the following as top areas in need of improvement: Identify and gain access to all decision makers (47%) Clearly understand the customer s buying process (46%) Close deals in timeframe originally forecast (44%) Conduct a thorough needs analysis (43%) Differentiate versus the competition (42%) The awareness of the need to improve the buyer experience is evident in those factors that have increased since 2014: Clearly understanding buyer process (+8% since 2014) Content specific to buyer stages (+5% since 2014) Differentiate from competition (+3% since 2014) Of organizations surveyed, 55% have difficulty finding tailored selling content at the time they need them. Furthermore, over 60% of organizations that have a high expectation of quota attainment find it difficult to locate tailored selling content. While it s evident that selling content personalization remains a leading obstacle to securing a sales win, there s also a clear disconnect with companies that expect to make quota and their ability to easily do so given the challenge of locating the selling content they need. 55% have difficulty finding tailored selling content when they need it For these organizations to succeed, it s therefore imperative to make it easier for sales reps to find tailored content to sell effectively and meet expectations of quota attainment. 6

8 Personalization The buying process has changed, yet of all organizations surveyed, over 46% report clearly understanding the customer s buying process as a leading area in need of improvement. However, when looking at those organizations that are specifically struggling with quota attainment and rep ramp up, it is over 55% where clearly understanding the customer s buying process is in need of improvement, indicating a correlation between ability to meet quota and ramp up reps effectively with an organization s understanding of their customer s buying process. The disconnect between what the buyer wants and what the sales rep provides is at the crux of a persistent problem: the strategy and sales execution gap. Increasing lack of sales alignment with buyers and failures to provide real added value to the customer contribute to the cycle of inefficiency in a sales organization, facilitating the need for sales leaders to make investments in helping to drive more closed won business and improve the customer experience. While 65% of surveyed organizations have deployed a CRM system to help them conquer these very problems of streamlining sales complexity, the gap remains, underscoring the CRM s inability to truly deliver on expectations. 46% report clearly understanding the customer s buying process as #1 area in need of improvement Since 2014, the inability to generate enough qualified leads has dropped 17%, but inaccurate pipeline forecasts have increased 11% It s evident that managing pipeline stands in the way of most sales organizations, with 28% of those surveyed reporting the inability to generate enough qualified leads and 22% reporting inaccurate pipeline forecasts as top challenges to achieving objectives. While the inability to generate enough qualified leads dropped 17% since 2014, an 11% increase in inaccurate pipeline reveals that while the top of funnel is improving, the middle and end of the funnel continues to struggle. 7

9 It s All About Efficiency Today s world moves faster than ever. With competition on the rise, improving the efficiency of the sales team is critical to any organization s bottom line. But just how to do so is a whole other question... Optimize & Streamline Sales Processes Not surprisingly, capturing new accounts (59%) and up-selling/cross-selling existing accounts (43%) remain top objectives. However, one of the leading challenges standing in the way of sales leaders succeeding in these initiatives is the inability of managers to coach effectively (24%). As a 15% increase, this is a material jump from 2014, revealing the growing need for real-time coaching and reinforcement. A lack of interconnected systems may be exacerbating the problem, with over 70% of all organizations reporting that the tools or systems their sales reps use in the sales process are only somewhat or slightly connected. A shocking 22% report their systems are not at all connected. Of companies that are confident in their sales teams making quota, over 57% of respondents stated their sales tools or systems are totally to somewhat connected through one interface. In other words, more than half of those with confidence in overall quota attainment noted that the sales process and tools are streamlined for sales reps. Meeting quota requires consistency and speed. A streamlined strategy of content accessibility will save sales teams time and increase data accuracy. Confidence in quota attainment +15% increase in sales managers not able to coach reps effectively over 2014 Connectedness of tools & systems 8

10 Streamline Processes CRM adoption is still a struggle, increasing as a key challenge in meeting quota (+7% from 2014). When asked what investments organizations plan to make, over 50% of all organizations surveyed report that they have deployed or plan to deploy Sales Playbooks Technology, with 34% of organizations still struggling with paper-based Sales Playbooks. Of companies that are confident in achieving quota, over 56% have already deployed, or are in some stage of deploying Sales Playbooks Technology, indicating Sales Playbooks technology may be the CRM complement that organizations need to be more confident in achieving quota. Sales analytics allow sales leaders to identify patterns and indicators of success or failure. Without visibility, proven guidance and predictability in forecasting, decisions are ad hoc in practice, and bottlenecks in sales processes are inadequately, if ever, addressed. On average, 42% of organizations reported their current sales analytics do not meet their needs - or worse, they don t have any at all. Over 85% of organizations create reports to share insights with the leadership team, and over 50% use their current sales analytics for dashboards where both employees and management track progress. However, in many cases the process is laborious or provides light analytic depth. 50% have deployed or plan to deploy Sales Playbooks Technology 42% of organizations reported their current sales analytics do not meet their needs Moreover, only 28% of organizations use those reports to improve training for field sales reps, and only 24% use them to provide alerts and notifications on mobile devices for reps to make better decisions. This indicates that most organizations are in the infancy of sales analytics capabilities where they are tracking and reporting progress, but not creating predictive models and alerts to improve sales execution. 9

11 CONCLUSION The Sales Organization: An Ever Growing Creature of Many Habits Key themes from this latest research show that while most organizations today are making the move from prudent to aggressive growth, obstacles such as rep ramp up, a lack of tailored buying process and content, and disconnected systems with limited analytics work to damage the bottom line and hinder quota attainment thereby preventing sustainable growth. In order to tackle these challenges, organizations must improve key areas of the sales cycle to successfully build, execute and optimize on sales initiatives. Ramping up new sales reps is an ongoing problem, delaying an organization s ability to reach yearly goals by stalling the selling processes. One of the top obstacles to onboarding new hires faster is the disorganized flow of content and resources via disconnected systems; contributing to a weak understanding of potential buyers. By spoon feeding sales reps only the data they need, dynamically, and in the context of the deal at hand, they re immediately better positioned to address unique buyer needs while improving the overall customer experience. The buying process has changed; increasingly savvy consumers are inundated with more solutions than ever, enabling attaining a competitive advantage an incredibly difficult feat. The growing disconnect between what the buyer wants and what the sales rep provides contributes to the systematic failure of providing real added value to the customer. Sales leaders need to optimize on the right investments to help drive more closed won business and streamline sales complexity. While coaching sales reps remains a top priority for sales leaders today, the impact of coaching tends to diminish as time to coach decreases accordingly. The problem of disconnected systems may lie at the heart of this problem, revealing the need for real-time coaching and reinforcement. KEY TAKEWAYS To achieve goals for 2015, organizations need to focus on: IMPROVING REP RAMP UP TAILORING THE BUYING PROCESS & CONTENT TO THE BUYER CONNECTING SELLING SYSTEMS INVESTING IN ADVANCED SALES ANALYTICS 10

12 CONCLUSION Organizations confident in achieving quota are investing in Sales Playbooks technology to complement their CRM implementations and repeat success. These themes all pivot on the fact that organizations continue to struggle with overall sales execution. Whether its scaling to meet new objectives by adding sales headcount and the need to improve how organizations onboard and ramp up new sales reps, to how sales teams better align with buyers to deliver an exceptional customer experience, sales leaders are recognizing the need to instigate transformation and reinvent success by making their teams more agile. Research Demographics Over 250 respondents, from varying industries, market, company sizes and roles completed comprehensive surveys which is the basis of this report. Company sizes of respondents ranged from hundreds of employees to tens of thousands, with almost 30% between 1,000-10,000 employees, and over 25% with over 10,000 employees, covering every major industry sector. Organizations from around the globe responded with 23% from outside of the United States. Respondent roles included CxO or Executive (30%), Sales Operations (40%), Marketing (10%), Sales Contributors (20%). 11

13 ABOUT QVIDIAN SUCCEED FASTER WITH QVIDIAN Qvidian provides cloud-based sales execution solutions that enable companies to exceed quota targets, accelerate sales cycles, and win more business by closing the gap between strategy and execution. The company s innovative software and advisory services offer real-time insight to ensure sales teams do what s needed to win, by driving repeatable methodologies and making the sales organization more agile. With over 1,200 global customers including Dell, Citi, ADP, CA, and Splunk, Qvidian is helping organizations significantly increase their profitable revenues while eliminating waste and reducing costs. For more information, visit or call or +44 (0) _0118as 12

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