Despite the abundance of data available to sales teams, only one third use data-driven lead prioritisation as a default methodology, according to Salesforce’s annual State of Sales report, published today.
The survey, which taps over 2,900 sales professionals for industry insight, found 57 percent of sales reps expect to miss their quotas this year – blaming an environment in which just 34 percent of their time is spent actually selling.
“Some seasoned salespeople, used to unpredictable opportunities and prospects, may view forecasting as a fool’s errand. Many teams, however, have made strides in leveraging data to produce timely, accurate forecasts that spur action,” Salesforce notes in the report – highlighting that underperforming sales teams are 1.7 times more likely to forecast based on gut feeling than data.
AI and Marketing Automation
Sales leaders expect a groundswell of intelligent tech adoption, the report emphasises. While only 21 percent of sales leaders responding to the survey say their organizations use AI today, adoption is set to skyrocket by 155 percent over the next two years.
Sales leadership foresees AI reaching a critical mass by 2020, when 54 expect expect to use the technology. The projected growth of other task-streamlining capabilities — from marketing and sales process automation to configure-price-quote tools — further emphasizes the rise of intelligence.
Sales automation is a hugely growing area. This week sales automation startup Outreach for example raised $65 million in a funding round led by Spark Capital.
Sales roles are pivoting towards virtual interactions with virtual customer and prospect interactions increasing 3.2 times over in person meetings and UK, sales reps spending almost half (45 percent) of their time meeting with customers and prospects virtually.
“Looking at the most widely used sales technologies could help explain the shift to virtual selling. Sales reporting and analytics tops the list of technologies used, with over two-thirds of teams keeping tabs on the state of their customers, opportunities, and pipeline. Other data-centric technologies popular among sales teams include account and contact management, sales forecasting tools, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems that organize all this data in a central location”, Salesforced noted.