Sales operations has become one of the fastest growing functions over the last few years. According to LinkedIn’s State of Sales Operations 2021 Report, the number of sales operations professionals increased by 38% around the world between 2018 and 2020.
What’s the reason behind this growth?
Bradley Gray, Director of Business Development at Enterprise Holdings attributes two reasons for the growth in this role.
- There has been a significant increase in the amount of data that gets generated within organizations.
- The proliferation of data is creating a need for sales operations to generate contextualised insights for sales teams to succeed.
A well run sales operations function enables businesses to operate efficiently with data-driven decisions, and also identify gaps that exist in the sales process, and help fill them up through analytical insights.
A great sales operations function can help an organization unlock massive productivity gains.
To make the most out of your sales operations function, it is important to be aware of the trends that will shape in 2022 (and beyond).
Let’s take a look.
1. Multithreading Will Be a Key Sales Tactic
The world is in the midst of a great reshuffle for talent. The turnover among corporate director-level-and above, that constitutes the majority of B2B buyers, increased by 31% in 2021.
With key people in the B2B buying committee quitting jobs so often, many deals fall apart because reps fail to develop strong relationships with more than one buyer.
With an average of 6.8 decision makers in every B2B purchase, not having strong relationships with all of the key players within the buying committee can be a big risk.
When a key stakeholder leaves the organization, reps are forced to start from scratch, causing 80% of them to lose deals.
Having just one primary contact for an account, or single-threading, thus increases the chances of missing out on deals.
This is where adopting multithreading as a sales practice becomes extremely crucial.
Multithreading is when reps form relationships with multiple stakeholders on the buying committee of an account.
This way, even if the primary stakeholder quits the organization, reps can capitalize on the relationships they have with the rest of the stakeholders within that account.
Multithreading increases the chances of closing a deal by 16%. Successful sales teams in 2022 will master multithreading by gathering champions, influencers and decision-makers, and engaging with them on a regular basis.
2. An Increase in Regulations Will Impact Tech Stack Decisions
There has been an increase in the number of regulations across the globe around protection of consumer information and data privacy.
Non-compliance of these regulations can be a huge cost. Organizations lose an average of $4 million in revenue due to a single non-compliance event.
To prevent such events from taking place, sales and revenue leaders must narrow down on their tech investments from a compliance-first lens.
With the world increasingly moving towards a cookie-less world, highly compliant first-party data will become key in helping sales teams make data-driven decisions.
First-party data is the information that is handed off with consent from a user to a company. This can be from sources like email, calendar, Zoom or other tools that buyers use.
For example, organizations can use their own first-party data to drive contextual insights that can help them make their sales operations function more efficient, while staying compliant with GDPR regulations.
Forward thinking leaders will realize this and take control of their first-party data in 2022, and use it to make powerful data-driven decisions.
Technologies like artificial intelligence can help enrich CRM with first-party buyer and seller interaction data.
For example, Nektar has built an advanced data capture solution that intelligently connects first-party data to the CRM and enriches it for sales teams.
3. AI Based Guided Selling Will Help Sellers Win More Deals
B2B sales is getting increasingly complex, with buyers getting bombarded with information across channels, and sellers tackling multiple tasks and responsibilities while chasing their quota.
AI based guided selling is helping sellers navigate this complex selling environment by helping them improve their sales execution through a data-driven approach.
Along with increasing productivity, AI based guided selling helps identify patterns that lead to more intelligent business decision making, ultimately helping in revenue generation.
The pandemic exposed cracks in many organization’s sales processes. Knowing that sales process discipline must be improved to increase the chances of closing new deals, sales leaders are investigating new data-driven, AI-based guided selling functions for improving sales execution.Tad Travis, VP, Gartner
AI-based guided selling offers prescriptive as well as predictive insights to sellers to close more deals.
From a prescriptive lens, it recommends the next best actions for sales reps and managers to undertake within the sales process. As an example, organizations can use AI to improve their playbook compliance within teams for consistent selling.
From a predictive lens, it offers insights that help identify lead indicators to make the sales process more efficient.
For example, by having insights on the activity data of sales reps, sales managers can define which deals are real and which need to be eliminated from the pipeline.
With such functionalities, sales teams can decide on what to do next to move a relationship, deal or quote forward on the basis of analytics (rather than relying on instinct to make decisions).
2022 will see organizations add AI based guided selling solutions to their tech stack.
4. Training in Consultative Sales Will Take Priority
Today’s B2B buyers prefer to conduct their own research before they speak with sales reps.
According to research, most buyers engage with more than 13 pieces of content before connecting with a seller.
Forrester’s research found that buyers went to all forums for information in 2021 – from webinars and online events to learn about the category and competitors, to speaking with peers and industry experts to have their questions answered.
These changes in buyer preferences have raised the bar for sales. Understanding the buyer’s intent and offering them personalized solutions in real-time is what will differentiate successful sales reps from the average ones in 2022.
With buyers being so aware of the market and products, the role of sales reps has shifted from someone who armours them with more information, to someone who acts as a trusted advisor who can help buyers reach a confident purchase decision.
Buyers are also drowned in a sea of digital content in their research phase. Too much information can prevent them from reaching a purchase decision.
Sales reps must understand these challenges that buyers face, and be able to help them make sense of their confusion through a consultative selling approach.
To enable reps to become trusted advisors to the new-age buyer, they need to be trained in consultative selling processes that can enable them to meet the record-high expectations of today’s buyers and help them navigate their buying journeys better.
5. Recruiting and Retaining Talent Will be Key
The Great Reshuffle has also impacted sales teams. 36% of sales operations professionals say it’s hard to recruit and retain good sales operations talent.
With selling shifting to virtual mode, the talent market for sales has become far more competitive. Since selling can happen from anywhere, keeping top sellers around for longer periods of time has emerged as a global challenge.
The number of sellers posting a job change on LinkedIn between July and September rose by 39% in 2021. Such attrition numbers can have a massive impact on existing deals, buyer relationships, and ultimately, revenue.
It takes up to 200% of a sales rep’s annual salary to find a replacement for that position. And with sales teams leaving in such large numbers, the impact on revenues can be catastrophic.
GenZers and millennials are the generation that are leading the Great Resignation, leaving companies or careers that they feel are not working in the best interest of the society.
49% of the younger workforce said they have made choices on their career path on the basis of the organization’s values and ethics.
This younger workforce wants to work in companies that choose a purpose beyond profit and their vision aligns with the generation’s moral code.
Companies need to understand this demographic better and offer perks like flexible options, transparent work culture, along with investing in their personal and professional growth.
2022 will be a year that will require sales leaders to prioritise the right talent hiring and talent retention strategies to avoid the pitfalls of The Great Resignation.
What do you think of these sales operations trends? Let us know in the comments below.