As mentioned in my Analyst Perspective, Revenue Performance Management: Leadership and Operations for Optimal Outcomes, there is continuing pressure on sales leaders to deliver against sales targets in increasingly competitive markets. Among the various levers that sales leadership can use to support these efforts, are applications and processes that best position sales teams to achieve targets, such as planning and allocating territories, establishing quotas and devising incentive compensation plans supportive of organizational revenue goals. Once in place, continuous monitoring of lead-to-opportunity progress and pipeline health can aid in identifying areas for improvement as well as solidifying sales forecasts to better indicate gap-to-target issues and necessary adjustments to territories and compensation incentives.
Observed both here and elsewhere, average sales quota attainments appear to be in an exorable decline. As I discussed in my recent Analyst Perspective, "The Art and Science of Sales from the 'Inside Out'," vendors of sales technology have reacted to this by adding a slew of new functionality including the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to be a game changer for sales. One can argue that this use of AI is still relatively immature having been generally available only since 2014, but that is still over five years of market availability.
As I have discussed in my Analyst Perspective, The Art of Sales, from the Inside Out, the challenges facing direct sales leaders are not going away. Declining quota attainment, lack of visibility into deal health and difficulty in forecasting quarterly sales remain a challenge for sales leaders, resulting in a continuing reduction in duration of tenure.
There is no doubt that the pandemic has accelerated the existing need for new technology that can help sales professionals do their jobs well in this quickly evolving market. In addition, market trends are driving the need for functionality that is aimed at the front-line sales professional and the manager, highlighting the demand for tools that can help arrest the decline in quota attainment, as well as helping salespeople supplement their traditional focus on sales quotas with activities such as prospecting.
The current pandemic has disrupted many of the traditional sales methods used by field-sales organizations to engage, and sell to, buyers. In an effort to provide help, many vendors have recently announced new features that focus less on the management of sales organizations and more on tools to help salespeople sell. This has been coupled with a renewed interest in using data to help with the science, alongside the art, of selling, as referenced in my AP: The Art and Science of Sales from the “Inside Out". Oracle has called this new emphasis “Responsive Selling,” with an aim to harness data and machine learning (ML) to aid sellers in this new, challenging environment.
True leadership is the ability to motivate sales organizations to perform at their best. But the demand to do so requires the support of an orchestrated process and tools designed to help sales teams work in a directed manner that can help attain quotas through compensation plans. To manage quotas and resources and optimize sales compensation, everyone in the sales organization, from managers to selling professionals, needs unified and planful sales leadership and operations.
Although historically there has been a hard divide between what are colloquially called “Inside and Field Sales,” changes over the last 10 years have narrowed the distinction. The pandemic has only accelerated the path to unifying sales activities commonly performed to engage buyers and customers. Characterized by a very disciplined and controlled endeavor, inside sales teams have been heavier users of technology. This has enabled more productive engagement including emails and calls, as well as provided techniques such as gamification to set competitive internal dynamics that help motivate sales professionals.
Topics: Sales, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Sales Performance Management (SPM), natural language processing, AI and Machine Learning, intelligent sales, sales enablement
The last decade has seen exponential growth amongst subscription-based business models. Pioneered in the B2C market with cloud-based SaaS offerings, the last decade has seen exponential growth in the share of the economy that is now subscription based. Increasingly, this modern business model is permeating throughout more traditional style industries and companies. But regardless of whether a company is natively subscription based, or is transitioning, maintaining this growth requires organizations to foster long-term relationships with customers and deliver products and services that get better over time.
Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, business intelligence, embedded analytics, Analytics, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, agent management, intelligent sales, sales enablement, subcription management
Subscription-based business models have seen exponential growth over the last decade. The growth of this recurring revenue business model, where a subscriber commits to repeatedly pay for a good or device for a fixed or indefinite timeline, has been caused by the shift from the one-time selling of physical products to selling digital services on a subscription basis. The first phase of this transformation was led by “digitally native” organizations, typically B2C, that have only ever offered services via subscription. Although a large market in its own right, it is still dwarfed by businesses selling physical products. But this market is also changing, as more and more traditional organizations transition some or all of their revenue to the subscription economy. Ventana Research asserts that through 2023, fewer than half of organizations will have the correct technology in place to support such a transition. This Analyst Perspective looks at some of the key implications of this transition and what it means for technology choices as companies move toward a subscription management approach to overseeing the subscribers and usage of their products and services.
Topics: Sales, Customer Experience, Office of Finance, Voice of the Customer, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Internet of Things, Contact Center, Product Information Management, Price and Revenue Management, Digital Commerce, Enterprise Resource Planning, ERP and Continuous Accounting, natural language processing, robotic finance, AI and Machine Learning, revenue and lease accounting, subscription management, agent management, intelligent sales, sales enablement
I’m very excited to announce to my network as well as the ever-expanding Ventana Research community that I’m now directing Ventana Research’s Office of Sales practice. The focus is to guide and educate sales and business professionals on the selling applications and technology including digital commerce, price and revenue management, product information management, sales enablement, sales performance management and subscription management. While these are the main topics of our Office of Sales practice, my decades of experience in analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and planning are part of what I bring to the firm to help advance the science of selling.
Topics: Sales, embedded analytics, Analytics, Business Intelligence, Collaboration, Data, Product Information Management, Sales Performance Management (SPM), Digital Technology, Work and Resource Management, Digital Commerce, Conversational Computing, AI and Machine Learning, collaborative computing, mobile computing, intelligent sales, sales enablement