17 Lessons Learned in B2B Sales and Business Development in 2017

May 03, 2018
Posted by Victoria Brown on May 3, 2018 10:53:54 AM

A recent Gallup Poll found that Americans vastly prefer spring to any other season. Everything is blooming, progressing from the previous dreary winter, and people tend to awaken and reevaluate. Sales reps have recovered from the end of the year crunch they had to do months prior and tend to be ready to ramp back into full work mode, ready to hit quota and make more deals than the year prior. However, you can’t expect to progress if you keep doing the same things over and over again. So in order to move forward, let’s move back for a second and reflect on some lessons learned in B2B sales and business development in 2017.

To no one’s surprise, technology continues to evolve and change the dynamic of the sales process. However, technology has altered the sales process so dramatically that those that choose not to progress immediately along side risk complete failure and being left behind. This brings me to my first point.

1. Sales Structures Are Changing

There is exponential growth of buyers doing their own research before even considering connecting with sellers. Sales teams are beginning to see that the ideal sales model consists of a 50/50 mix of inside sales representatives and outside sales representatives. Teams are seeing that this approach gives potential clients the best of both worlds. Inside sales gives a more automated, precise approach while outside sales capitalizes on face-to-face communication. The State of Sales report found that companies reported that 44.4% of their sales teams were insides sales while 55.6% were outside sales.

2. Sales Tech Spending Continues Exponential Growth

The 2017 edition of “State of Sales” report found that companies invest around $4,581 yearly on technology PER REP. This includes both inside sales and outside sales reps.

3. The 5 Top Used Tools Reps Use

-CRM Software, the foundation of your sales system

-Social Prospecting, in person or via social media

-Presentations

-Pipeline Management

-Data/List Services

4. CRM Systems are USELESS

A recent study showed that sales reps rated their companies’ CRM software systems as the most frustrating and ineffective sales tool. Sales Reps spend a grand total of 18% of their time on the CRM software, 9% of that time spent completing CRM-related tasks in spreadsheets.

5. Despite what it feels like, E-Mail is STILL key

To my novice sales reps, I know you feel like you send out a hundred emails a day and get about two replies back…on a good day. I promise you though, it’s worth it and I have stats to prove it! The State of Sales report showed that 82% of reps believe email is the most effective and valuable tool. The next two being phone and web conferencing. However, even those these methods have the most potential, it was found that they were also vastly underutilized.

6. Despite the title, most Sales Reps’ days don’t consist of selling

35% of a sales rep’s time is actually devoted to revenue-generating activities. WHAT.

7. Sales Reps habitually have horrible Time Management

I know the stat above is pretty shocking, but shockingly it’s common amongst those in the sales rep realm. Only 22.9% of sales reps actually use any sort of time management methodology. With a system in place they are able to spend almost 20% more time selling versus their peers with no system in place.

8. An Administrative Task is like throwing a monkey wrench into a sales rep’s day

Administrative tasks require the most time out of a sales rep’s day. This could range from internal policies and approvals to meetings with already established customers. Surprisingly, training took up the LEAST amount of time with a whopping 3.9%.

9. Almost Half of Sales Reps Aren’t Reaching Quota

Surprising for a profession that’s existence relies on selling, right? But 100% true. The average quota for an account executive is $793,566 with only 60.9% of sales reps actually achieving this goal.

10. Putting in the Extra Hustle DOES pay off—MAKE THAT PHONE CONNECTION!

If you’re a successful sales rep, you’re clearly having a lot of conversations or you wouldn’t be funneling in those leads! Those in that 60% that did achieve their annual goal had meaningful conversations that did not just consist of blasting them an email. The International Director of InsideSales.com, Martin Moran, stated:

“European reps close deals 13.2% more often than their U.S. counterparts. Why? They have 12.2 phone calls per day versus 10.6 for the U.S. That’s a whopping increase of 15.1%.”

11. Sales Reps Make Good Money

I know money isn’t the route to all happiness, but if you’re looking for a career will test this theory then look no further. According to the Social Security Administration, the national average wage index is $48,642.15. A base salary for inside sales account executives typically starts at $42,833 with an average on-target-earning of $96,299. A Sales Development Representative, a type of inside sales rep that strictly focuses on outbound prospecting, earns on average a base of $43,499 and an average on-target-earning of $83,484. Not too shabby.

12. But if You Want the Good Money You Have To Put In the Work

Sales Reps send on average 34.5 emails and 30 phone calls per day. Not just generic emails and voicemails, but researched, personalized and well thought out messages. Along with this, sales reps on average have 11.9 meaningful conversations with an ideal prospect happen per day.

13. Email Dominates

Like I said before, I get it. It feels so pointless crafting hundreds of these personalized emails that you feel aren’t even being read and just dropped into a spam folder. However, I’m here to tell you that you’re efforts are worth it! InsideSales.com researched how people prefer to be reached and found that email dominated every category given, with 61% of executives saying that they are likely to respond to an email. So keep on crafting and sending out those emails!

14. People STILL Listen to Voicemails

Ok, yes, most people screen their calls these days. However, this can work to a sales rep’s benefit. More than likely if we see a number we are not familiar with we send them straight to voicemail. Don’t be one of those people that see this as an early defeat and not leave a voicemail. Nearly 8 in 10 people say that they are likely to respond to a voicemail message at work.

15. Direct Mail Comeback

Data showcases that direct mail is one of the top five of B2B sales communication technologies expected to flourish this year. Even though only 38.5% of companies use direct main, 66.1% of responders of the “State of Direct Mail” study stated that they were likely to respond to a direct mail piece.

16. Could Optimism Kill the Sales Rep?

With the competitive atmosphere most sales rep have a very optimistic, glass half full approach. This helps resiliency when they fail and motivation when they catch themselves lagging. However, it is hard to appropriately judge your performance if you constantly have rose colored glasses on. According to a TOPO research report, sales reps believe they perform an average of 15.5 touches per lead.

17. Time To Take the Rose Colored Glasses Off

Many sales experts believe that 12 is the magic number when it comes to contact attempts. InsideSales.com’s “Sales Cadence” report found that most sales reps made ONLY four contact attempts per lead, most just sending a single email.

Hopefully, you can use this information as your “spring awakening” and help you re-evaluate your sales strategies for the rest of the sales year. Let’s take on the rest of 2018 with these facts in mind, may we learn from lessons past and work to make our goals come to fruition.

Any questions on this article? Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and chat.

 

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