3 Keys to Unlock the Potential of Sales Structure for Enterprises

Ryan Breneman

Last week, XANT, in partnership with American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP),Top Sales World, and the Association of Professional Sales (APS) released the results of a survey of 1,151 companies in 28 countries.

The State of Sales report analyzed three different elements of a sales team-structure, systems and people. Across the board, there were many interesting findings. What caught my eye was how enterprises are behind the times but catching up fast.

Enterprises Are Recognizing the Value of Inside Sales

From a market perspective, our Labs team estimates there are 5.7 million professional sales people in North America. Broken down, inside sales professionals represent 47.2% of the 5.7 million and outside sales professionals represent 52.8%. This trend is different if you only look at large companies (revenue over $500 million).

Large organizations are currently dominated by outside sales reps (71.2%),  but this number is expected to continue to decrease to 69.8% in 2018. When asked, large organizations believe the optimal split should be 60% outside sales and 40% inside sales.

Large organizations are seeing the writing on the wall when it comes to their go-to-market sales structures, and they’re making changes to fix it. Productivity gains from an inside sales mode, as well as the temptation of a lower cost approach, are difficult to ignore . In my conversations with leaders in these large organizations, the split of 60/40 is correct.

However, many leaders tell me the future isn’t too far away where their sales teams will be a 50/50 split of inside versus outside sellers.

The Gap is Narrowing Between Inside and Outside Sales

A key trend from the study is that outside sales reps are spending nearly half their time (45.4%) selling remotely. That’s an amazing 89.2% increase since 2013. Large organizations report their outside sales reps spend 38.2% of their time selling remotely. This number is only slightly lower than the overall average and 39.5% higher than it was in 2013.

This is a big trend that lends itself to the term often referred to as a “hybrid” sale rep. This is when reps spend half the time selling remotely while the other half they are selling face-to-face. This trend will most likely continue, as large organizations focus on minimizing costs involved with sales teams and introduce more sales technology to bring together the best of inside sales with the best of outside sales to optimize the sales process.

Large Organizations Are Beginning to See the Value of Sales Technology

According to the study, companies report the current average annual spend on sales technology is $4,581 per rep per year. This is including customer relationship management (CRM) software.

Interestingly, technology spend per rep varies significantly by size of company-favoring the medium-sized companies by a long shot. Medium-size companies ($50-$500 million in revenue) spend 65 percent more per rep than enterprises. At first glance, it appears that enterprises were simply getting better pricing while using the same number of tools, but a closer look at the data shows that enterprises act very similar to small companies (<50M in revenue) who are reluctant to spend big dollars on sales technology.

This is expected to change in 2018. The expected growth of spend on sales technology in 2018 is 108.8 % higher for large companies compared to small companies. There are many potential reasons for this behavior, but two of them stand out. Enterprises are just now starting to see the advantage software can bring to their sales teams and only a few sales technologies are reaching a level of enterprise readiness.

Every company is unique, and because of that, every company has to find its path. Enterprises are no different. Our study revealed that enterprises are behind the times in multiple areas, but the good thing is, they know it.

One secret to success is finding trends and acting on those trends.

And that’s exactly what enterprises are doing when it comes to structure how companies are using technology to accelerate the sales process.

Look to see continued changes in these two areas, especially for large organizations over the coming months and years.

This article was originally published in MartechAdvisor.com.

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