CSO Insights’ 2009 Sales Performance Optimization Report is the latest industry report to confirm declines in B2B sales productivity and note that associated challenges faced by sales reps and their managers.
For anyone looking to confirm their instincts that ‘life just ain’t what it used to be’, this report is a sobering read. It should sharpen a reader’s resolve to try for something better. Of particular note:
- the amount of time Reps actually spend selling continues to erode. In 1998, sales reps spent 47% of their time actually selling. By 2009, it was down to 37%. It matters. The more time Reps spend selling, the higher their close rates.
- the time it takes to get a new sales rep fully productive is long and getting longer. In 2003, 59% of firms reported ramp times of 6 months or less. By 2009, this figure was less than 30%. Today, 69% of sales execs report it taking 7 months or longer to ramp new sales hires. Reps now have much steeper, longer, learning curves before reaching peak performance.
- companies that have invested heavily in training or sales processes have failed to shrink their ramp times. On the other hand, those companies that improved access to sales knowledge are seeing shorter ramp times.
In terms of optimizing chances for success in 2009, they conclude firms may see better returns by optimizing the performance of their existing reps rather than trying to hire their way to success with a fresh new crop of reps. In their view, there’s a new + emerging role for ‘digital assistants’ which can automate away non-selling tasks, giving Reps more time for selling.
Hear. Hear. There’s evidence, from our work, that such ‘digital assistants’ can do more than just give reps more time for selling; they can also seed discoveries that shrink ramp times.