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The TOPO Sales Sentiment Index (SSI) is out! Based on sales representatives on the frontline (instead of sales directors), SSI offers profound insights into the reality of what it’s like to work in sales teams.
TOPO does a great job with offering insights about how the survey was conducted and who participated. This is vital because you need to have confidence that the survey results are relevant to your company, industry, and target market.
Most importantly, the survey was heavily reliant on feedback from sales reps in high-growth B2B companies — which also explains why lead generation was tagged as a primary issue faced by sales reps.
Lead generation and nurturing demands more attention and focus from sales reps in B2B compared to B2C, as well as the right tools for boosting productivity, such as those offered by Cirrus Insight.
Though the size of the companies the sales reps worked for ranged massively (from 100-employees companies to 50,000-employees companies), the SSI also managed to span a wide spectrum of industries:
However, respondents were not limited to those four primary industries. About 25% came from other industries.
Respondents answered five questions:
The answers to these questions provided the raw data needed for TOPO to tease out significant changes in the climate for sales reps, as well as release their SSI.
The index is based on a survey of 500 U.S. sales reps taken in mid-2019. It was designed to establish benchmarks for success in hitting quotas, views on working environments, challenges in their market, and overall optimism with the state of sales in the U.S.
The index is broken down into five sections to help you better understand the results:
By unpacking all the data and findings of the survey used to establish the SSI, you can test the temperature of your sales team to see which insights most impact your members. Then, you can adjust and adapt to improve your retention rate and boost your bottom line.
It should be no surprise to see insufficient pipelines near the top of the list of issues that sales reps are struggling to navigate. This tends to be an ongoing issue.
The best way for sales leaders to combat this chronic issue is through the use of powerful customer relationship management tools — and productivity tools that integrate with your CRM.
However, the SSI revealed that the most significant challenge sales reps are facing is a hyper-competitive environment. What they are facing on the frontline involves negotiating non-competitive pricing as solutions and products are quickly brought to market.
Another primary issue that was identified is non-sales related responsibilities. It’s best to keep your sales team focused on developing relationships and moving the sale forward — not administration. The suite of sales productivity tools offered by Cirrus Insight can help you cut down on time otherwise spent on CRM data entry, follow up emails, and more.
Despite the hyper-competitive marketplace and several significant obstacles to performance, the SSI reveals that sales reps are optimistic about their ability to meet or exceed quotas.
The established scale runs from zero to 200. A score of zero indicates that a sales rep believes that they and their team will fall short of a target quota, while a 200 means that they expect to exceed their quota.
The SSI score (114) was established by using a weighted average, which means that the calculation accounted for the varying degree of the importance of various indicators within the data set.
It’s best to consider the SSI score as a benchmark, as it is most likely indicative of sales reps’ optimism about the economy in general.
The SSI score can be further broken down to give you a better idea of the numerous indicators that went into assessing the overall optimism.
Though there was not a significant difference between sales reps expectations of meeting goals personally and as a team, there was a lot of variance between organizations.
The optimism was measured in terms of:
After sifting through all the data, TOPO recognized that the current market environment across sectors demands that sales teams deliver value and develop true partnerships with clients.
The pressure on sales reps to better connect with customers (especially those working in B2B), requires easy-to-use, advanced tools. These include drip email campaigns, attachment tracking, and the complete integration of everything they need right in their email.
In addition to getting sales reps the right tools, sales organizations are adapting to the changes in the market by providing better training, marketing support, and day-to-day processes.
One of the biggest changes TOPO saw in sales organizations was a move away from tactical, ad-hoc training to regular, year-round training. This training focuses on becoming fluent in the necessary technology, changes in strategy, soft people skills, and processes.
Based on survey results, TOPO also indicated that it was vital for organizations to do a better job of tracking sales productivity.
This should include a day-in-the-life audit of your sales reps. This kind of audit will allow you to identify and eliminate unnecessary tasks and meetings from their schedules, opening up more time for lead development and nurturing.
One final major takeaway offered by TOPO’s survey is the placement of the sales pitch and demos in the sales timeline.
Because of an increased emphasis on creating longer lead nurturing programs, both the sales pitch and demos are being pushed further down the sales funnel. The idea is to work with leads (and listen to them) so that your sales reps can prove they are the right organization to provide solutions to prospects’ problems.
The TOPO SSI provides vital insights for B2B sales teams across a variety of industries. The hyper-competitive marketplace (despite the relative economic prosperity of the time) demands that you pay attention to the SSI and survey your team members to identify which identified problems exist within your team when it comes to trying to hit or exceed target quotas.
By weighing the general optimism of sales reps, the economic conditions, and the market environment, you will be able to adapt and adjust in ways to improve your bottom line. One essential change you’ll have to make is better supporting your sales team with the right tools.
Talk to the customer relationship management experts at Cirrus Insights to see how our tools can boost your sales reps’ productivity in a highly competitive marketplace.