In an increasingly complex business landscape, B2B sales teams face significant hurdles. Sales cycles have lengthened, competition has intensified, and customer indecision has surged.
Simultaneously, sales organisations are investing heavily in technology and building team capability, yet the results remain far from satisfactory.
The reality of sales investment
Each year, billions of dollars are being funnelled into improving B2B sales results. In the US alone, spending on sales technology has reached a staggering $37 billion annually, dispersed across a multitude of solutions – over 12,000, to be precise.
The average selling technology stack incorporates 13 different technologies, reflecting the breadth of digital tools available. Additionally, organisations are investing significantly in building team capability to drive results.
With $70b a year spent on this in America, you would expect to see a boost in sales performance. However, despite these considerable investments, the prevailing reality is quite disconcerting: the sales system is broken.
Rapid staff turnover
A closer look at the data reveals a bleak picture. Only 39% of sellers manage to hit their quotas. The average tenure of a sales professional is now just 14 months, suggesting a rapid turnover rate in the industry.
Most worryingly, new hires have a failure rate of 25%, painting a stark picture of the challenges inherent in hiring new people and getting them up to speed.
Sales organisations are constantly adopting new technologies, but the constant influx of productivity and enablement tools that promise efficiency is actually exacerbating the problem.
The sheer volume and complexity of these solutions can overwhelm sales teams and their customers. Less than 30% of sellers' time is actually spent with customers, and clients are switching off to over-automated communications.
Empathy at heart of sales
So, what's the way forward? The answer lies in a holistic approach that combines technology and empathy, a strategic fusion of technology and the human touch.
While artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools can offer significant benefits in terms of data analysis, lead generation, sales forecasting and providing customer insights, these aids should complement, not replace, the empathy at the heart of sales. Technology, and AI in particular, needs to serve as a tool that empowers sales professionals, not a solution that replaces them.
Moreover, the focus should shift from merely increasing the number of sales technologies to evaluating their effectiveness and ease of use. Instead of investing in the next flashy tool, organisations should assess whether the technology truly enhances the sales process and the customer experience or simply adds another layer of complexity.
When it comes to building team capability, the focus should move beyond hitting quotas to nurturing long-term relationships.
The aim should be to build long-tenured, high-performing teams that can empathise with customers, adapt to their changing needs, and offer creative, customer-centric solutions.
Moreover, it is crucial to address the high turnover and failure rates in sales. Investing in the professional development of teams, fostering a supportive work environment, and ensuring a good fit during the hiring process can enhance job satisfaction, reduce turnover, and increase the success rate of new hires.
The current crisis in B2B sales calls for a fundamental rethink of strategies. The solution isn't another billion-dollar investment in technology or traditional capability building. Instead, it's about harmonising technology with empathy, streamlining solutions, and cultivating high-performing, customer-centric teams.
The path to revitalising B2B sales lies in this holistic approach, where technology enhances rather than complicates, where empathy resonates more than robotic efficiency, and where building team capability focuses on fostering enduring relationships.
As sales organisations navigate this path, they can turn the challenges into opportunities, propelling B2B sales towards a more promising future.