You know it's true: Sales velocity drives growth for a business. Yet a new study shows that when it comes to sales reps' actual work, the vast majority spend most of their time performing non-sales activities.
According to a recent article by Salesforce, sales reps only spend 28% to 34% of their time actually selling.
Anyone who has worked in sales understands the hassle of completing the countless administrative and transactional tasks needed to execute a sale. Anyone who has ever worked in the C-suite understands the impact it can have on revenue if their sales team spends close to 70% of their time doing things that aren't generating revenue.
Why does this happen? Typically, this is due to the pressures of offering a wide range of services, navigating a highly competitive business services landscape, shifting client needs, and overly complex sales cycles.
Then there are the sub-industries within business services—management consulting and market research firms, global systems integrators, managed services providers (MSPs), professional employer organizations (PEOs), and outsourcing firms—all of which face their own unique challenges. But that's a post for another day.
Let's dig into the challenge of overly complex sales cycles that hamper business services sales teams.
Complex sales cycles and outdated processes = limited time for selling
Sales processes become outdated as sales cycles become more complex over time. Sales reps in the business services industry may spend a significant amount of time performing non-selling tasks, such as manually updating their CRM, drafting and redrafting proposals, managing lead qualification, and other administrative duties, leaving less time for actual selling. This can impact their productivity and ability to drive revenue growth.
The surprising truth: The reason that reps spend roughly only a quarter of their time actually selling is that they are too busy trying to navigate antiquated, broken business processes that they don't have the power to change, which results in consistent revenue loss.
Poor or antiquated sales processes steal too much time, leading to a demoralized and inefficient sales force, greater attrition, diminished customer satisfaction, and lower overall financial performance.
The most talented team members will quickly move to another company that has modernized its processes so that they can close more deals. At the same time, prospects will abandon the sales cycle at an increasing rate, and remaining team members will be left to scramble to preserve the current client roster.
Scaling sales activities to a manageable yet productive level is critical for any company that aims to compound its sales volume. The key to achieving that is to streamline the sales process and mitigate revenue leak.
Revenue leak is essentially the breakdown of any process intended to generate revenue. Like an actual leak identified by a sudden spike in the water bill, this systemic breakdown can prove costly for a firm over time.
Free up the sales team to free up revenue dollars
The need to free up the sales team to sell more should be considered a high business priority. In the same way that a critical software outage can hurt a business, so can a sales organization be hindered by a dysfunctional process that ultimately leads to revenue leak. The problem requires a systematic approach.
Find the leak
The first step to stopping revenue leak is to establish a framework to identify the breakdown in the sales process. Set up metrics for each area. How many marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) are transitioning to sales-qualified leads (SQLs)? How many SQLs converted into closed deals? If you notice a significant discrepancy between any of these, determine where prospects and customers drop off. This requires real-time visibility into pipeline and sales data, ideally all in one place.
Automate the heck out of things
There is no sensible case to be made to forego investing in automation tools only to continue to burden sales teams with non-selling tasks that eat their time. If your product or service provides actual value, any investment made in automation will be quickly offset by the additional revenue generated by a sales team that is free to do what they do best.
Stop the leak
Implement a modern integrated sales and Revenue Platform (such as Clari) to provide clear visibility into the whole sales lifecycle while identifying and calling out revenue leaks throughout the pipeline. This will facilitate greater communication and collaboration between sales and other teams. Once it's understood what needs to be addressed objectively, everyone can focus on solving the actual problem and hone in on the right opportunities to close more deals.
With a Revenue Platform doing most of the heavy lifting, sales teams will spend more time on tasks that improve the bottom line. This is exactly what happened with Sodexo.
Food giant Sodexo increases its velocity through Clari
Sodexo, a multi-billion dollar on-site food services company managing 400,000 employees across 50+ countries, wanted to increase sales velocity while optimizing operational efficiency to achieve revenue precision—an operating standard that ensures repeatable revenue generation. The challenge of sharpening the performance of a widely distributed sales force was not a unique one, especially for large service-oriented companies sprawled across vast distances.
They implemented Clari to understand which deals to connect with which reps, where deals stood within the pipeline in real time rather than several months later, and how to continually compress the sales cycle.
By leveraging the platform's AI capabilities to quickly flag areas of weakness within each account, producing clearer forecasts and dramatically simplifying the use of the CRM, Sodexo's sales teams could devote more time to selling. All of these improvements had a compounding effect that immediately accelerated sales velocity.
"We're testing Clari in our healthcare division in North America, and the opportunity grid has proven beneficial to extract key data from our CRM," said Sodexo's Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Bruno Vanhaelst. "It gives instant visibility into the health of each relationship."
Find a Revenue Platform that prioritizes productivity
The message is clear: To maximize revenue, business service companies need to ensure that their sales teams devote a large portion of their time to sales-related activities. The only way to achieve this is through strategic automation designed to deliver total visibility into the sales pipeline, mitigating revenue leak and attaining revenue precision.
Currently, Clari is the only Revenue Platform on the market that can do all three. To learn more about the power of running revenue, schedule a demo today.