How to prevent sales team attrition
Jamie Anderson, Chief Sales Officer, Xactly

Member Article

Remote working has pushed salespeople away: What is the solution?

The sales industry has been turned completely upside down, as a result of the pandemic. Traditionally operating through in-person meetings and handshakes, sales teams had to reinvent standard systems and become more agile and flexible in the way they operated and conducted business. This introduced an opportunity for the sales industry to evolve and progress thanks to digital transformation. However, this was not without significant challenges.

Xactly’s recently released State of Global Sales Enterprise Performance report reveals that the challenges of navigating this new virtual world took a demonstrable toll on sales decision-makers and their teams, displayed via higher levels of attrition than usual.

In a survey of more than 2,000 revenue leaders across the U.S., Canada, UK, France, and Germany, 58% of sales decision makers reported that salespeople departed their teams at higher rates than normal over the past 12 months. This trend accounts for both sales decision-makers exiting staff at a higher rate than usual (60%) and salespeople choosing to depart teams at a higher rate (58%).

With the majority of organisations being forced to work remotely for at least part of the past 12 months, a correlation can be seen between higher levels of departure from sales teams, and the experience of remote working.

Sales teams under pressure

It is not new nor surprising to state that remote working is, at least at times, challenging and difficult to adapt to. Xactly’s recent report goes a step further by identifying a number of specific issues related to remote working which salespeople have grappled with over the past year, that could be responsible for the departures of sales reps.

The report’s findings reveal that the top three challenges to achieving sales goals are the lack of in-person meetings with clients (33%) and internally (27%), budgetary constraints (28%) and lack of certainty in pipeline and forecasting projections (26%).

Despite these considerable challenges faced by sales teams due to the pandemic, salespeople are being held to the same standard of high performance as pre-pandemic, if not higher. The majority of sales leaders maintained the same or higher revenue goals in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic (26% the same, 38% higher), as well as the same or higher sales rep quotas (30% the same, 35% higher).

The fact that sales teams were expected to perform at the same level as normal during 2020 is further shown through the report’s findings that progress to revenue goals (29% pre-COVID, 29% today) and achieving sales quotas (28% pre-COVID, 25% today) remain the most commonly used measures of team success.

These findings indicate that for the majority of sales leaders, their teams have been under remarkable pressure, facing new and unique challenges to their job, with no reduction in expectations despite the extraordinary circumstances. Xactly’s report revealed that 67% of decision makers are personally stressed and worried about lagging performance. This increased pressure and sense of underperformance could be identified as the reason for the unusually high levels of attrition experienced in sales teams over the past year.

The solution to sales attrition

The answer to salespeople’s dissatisfaction with performance lies in the adoption of digital transformation. Not only will digital transformation ease the collaboration and communication problems faced by sales teams, but it will, as an example, enable more effective forecasting.

With 50% of sales decision makers reporting that it is more difficult to forecast bookings as a result of the pandemic, implementing AI-driven technologies will enable organisations to predict the likelihood of bookings more accurately. This forecasting, based on accurate data, will make it easier for salespeople to plan and prepare, thus helping them to achieve goals and quotas.

Whilst 16% of decision-makers believe that AI is overhyped, a significantly larger number (41%) reported that AI should be an established element of any high-performing sales team, thus making digital transformation a realistic goal. It is now up to sales leaders to implement the digital transformation which they know is necessary in order to elevate their teams and reverse the high levels of attrition.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Xactly .

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