Enterprise sales in 2018 is a lot like rush hour on an NYC subway: it’s noisy, it’s crowded, and when it stalls, no one really knows what’s going on. And just as the subways are getting worse, sales is getting harder. New competitors, changing priorities, more decision-makers, and the sheer amount of noise buyers have to sift through in order to find the right solution—all of these factors are making sales teams’ jobs harder and harder.
At the same time, we couldn’t help but wonder, is it really getting harder, or does it just feel that way? To find out, we looked at the most relevant, up-to-date enterprise sales statistics from around the web.
Spoiler alert: it’s getting a lot harder.
That said, there are some tools you can leverage—and behaviors you can encourage—that may make hitting your numbers a little easier. But first let’s look at the stats.
Cutting through the noise
- 46 percent of salespeople say it’s harder to get a response from prospects than it was just two years ago. (HubSpot)
- 42 percent say it’s harder to connect via phone.
- 25 percent say it’s harder to connect via email.
So if your reps are struggling with outreach, they aren’t alone. It’s clear that salespeople are increasingly struggling to get their messages heard. With more and more competitors entering the fray, key decision- makers are simply inundated with outreach. And with sellers relying on data from prospecting platforms that could be inaccurate or outdated, little wonder that so few buyers are engaging. In fact, just 23.9 percent of sales emails are opened.
Chalk that up to one (or more) of the following four causes: sellers don’t have what buyers need, they aren’t providing crucial details during their outreach, they’re targeting the wrong person, or they’re targeting the right person at the wrong time. Without knowing who to target, what messaging to use, or when to use it, salespeople are resigned to a “spray-and-pray” approach—and in today’s crowded marketplace, that’s hardly a solution at all.
- 28 percent of sellers say it’s harder to engage multiple decision-makers during the sales process. (HubSpot)
- 6.8 stakeholders are involved in the average B2B buying decision today, a distinct rise from 5.4 just two years ago. (HBR)
It used to be the CMO, the VPM, an IT guy, and a lawyer. Now the rules of procurement have changed, and it’s the CMO, the VPM, the head of security, a whole compliance team, eight lawyers, and Frank. As more and more stakeholders get involved in the sales process, it’s easy to see how sales folk would struggle to keep them all straight—or determine who to prioritize.
Salespeople need insider insight from someone who knows the org—lacking that, they have no way of knowing who’s calling the shots, and who’s just along for the ride.
Trifling with tech
- 800+ sales technology platforms available as of 2018 (Sales Hacker)
- 38 different categories of sales tech
- 15 percent more sales tools in 2018 than the previous year
- 230 providers of sales intelligence data
- 18 percent of sales reps’ time is spent in a CRM (Inside Sales)
Wasn’t tech supposed to solve our sales problems? As it turns out, it’s only making them worse. With so many different tools on the market today, many organizations are paralyzed by the fear of making the wrong decision. And when they do decide to pull the trigger on a new platform, many do so with no real strategy in place for using them. As a result, reps are forced to spend valuable time entering data into tools that may or may not be helping them close.
Add to that the fact that many organizations seem to view shiny new tech as a kind of cure-all for their revenue ills. But even when used for maximum effectiveness, sales tools will only ever be a third of the equation. The other two ingredients? An effective salesperson, together with someone who can provide insight into the way that enterprise organizations actually work—who to target, what messaging to use, when to reach out, and so on.
How to close in 2018
There was a time when the best salespeople could make it rain with only a deck and demo. Those times, it seems, are long gone. Today’s successful sales teams need to know their prospects intimately, and that’s not going to come from any tool on the market. And since conducting dead-end meetings with prospects costs salespeople nearly $39,000 a year, going in blind is seriously hurting your bottom line.
In short, the stakes are higher and the ask is tougher. Only the best-equipped teams will hit their numbers and drive revenue in 2018 and beyond, and that means not relying on the old ways to get deals done. Now, sales needs the right mix of talent, training, tech, and insight—otherwise, you’re going to fall behind the competition.
The numbers don’t lie: closing a deal is harder than ever. The competition is fierce, buyers are overwhelmed with outreach, and all the tech in the world won’t save you if you don’t have the insights you need to leverage it effectively. The next time you rake your team over the coals for missing their numbers, ask yourself if you’ve truly prepared them for the reality of enterprise sales in 2018. If you haven’t, you better start—before you become just another statistic.
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