In an increasingly competitive and turbulent economy, closing deals and automating tasks are considered top priorities. The most valued Salesforce Admins are helping their sales teams close deals in record time using Salesforce’s many features.
Using the State of Sales report, we’ll explore the learnings from 7,700+ sales pros. How can you put their tips and tricks into practice to become an MVP in your company? Let’s find out!
What Is the State of Sales Report?
Salesforce Research surveyed more than 7,700 sales professionals worldwide to create the fifth edition of the State of Sales report. The report provides insights into how successful sales teams address economic hardships, boost sales by meeting buyer expectations, and increase efficiency using AI.
As an admin, why should you care? What’s in it for you? Well, after analyzing the report, there are clear ways that we Salesforce professionals can configure our Salesforce orgs to support our companies and become one of the most valued employees around. Let’s see how…
The New Sales Mantra: Maximizing Impact
In the face of heightened challenges, sales reps are grappling with a more competitive and resource-constrained environment. Despite these obstacles, the pressure to meet revenue targets persists, prompting companies to adapt rapidly by focusing on productivity and efficiency.
Sales leaders, recognizing the complexities, are prioritizing factors within their control to drive predictable revenue, with 70% stating that their sales organizations are now taking fewer risks.
The top five tactics to drive growth include:
- Improve cross-functional alignment: Use features such as team selling and opportunity splits to ensure your departments are working together and business silos are being removed.
- Adapt to hybrid or virtual selling: Sales Engagement helps reps to sell faster and more efficiently. This product suite is focused on taking virtual selling a good few steps forward, with more custom automation and clear tracking for actions. From the first meeting to a closed deal, every step of the process will be significantly more streamlined.
- Improve data accuracy and quantity: Poor quality data in Salesforce starts a vicious cycle where users mistrust the data, which hinders user adoption and further degrades data quality when users are not actively adding and updating records. It’s best to “nip it in the bud” as soon as possible. Find out how here.
- Target new markets: To target new markets using Salesforce, start by clearly defining your target market and segmenting existing customer data. Implement data enrichment to enhance information, use lead scoring and qualification for prioritization, and create custom dashboards to monitor key performance indicators.
- Modernize tools/technologies: Make sure you are up to date with the latest Salesforce Clouds and offerings so you can help inform your business about the tools that could help them modernize. If you’re looking for an ‘all-singing, all-dancing’ Salesforce Cloud, take a look at our guide to Sales Cloud Unlimited.
Reps Strive to Meet Rising Buyer Expectations
Buyers today expect sales organizations to engage with them across various digital channels, with 57% preferring digital interactions. Nearly one-third of closed deals are now fully virtual, and top-performing sales organizations leverage multiple channels, including online portals, to provide self-service options and allow sales representatives more time for strategic activities.
To meet the demands of informed buyers, sales reps must offer sophisticated insights and act as trusted advisors. The most successful sales organizations equip their reps with the necessary tools, training, and organizational support, which enables them to build trusting relationships and secure recurring sales.
81% of sales reps say that team selling helps them to close deals, however, achieving cross-functional alignment can be complex due to differing perspectives and goals. Recognizing the importance of consistency across departments, sales leaders prioritize improving alignment with other teams as their top tactic for driving growth.
The top five ways reps maintain relationships after a sale include:
- Value-based communication: Rather than focusing solely on features or attributes, value-based communication goes a step further by highlighting the positive impact or outcomes the customer can expect. It involves understanding the customer’s pain points, desires, or objectives and tailoring the communication to demonstrate how the offering meets or exceeds those expectations. Value-based communication takes considerable effort, so as Salesforce Admins, we can support this by utilizing AI within Salesforce and using automation to reduce manual tasks.
- Active listening: Active listening is a communication skill that fosters effective relationships by engaging in a conversation instead of simply hearing words. Similar to value-based communication, active listening takes time and a personal touch that can be facilitated through better use of Salesforce to reduce manual work.
- Follow-through/accountability: Follow-through and accountability in sales are integral to building lasting relationships, maintaining a positive reputation, and fostering customer satisfaction. It refers to the commitment and responsibility of sales reps to see through their promises, commitments, and obligations to customers or prospects. As admins, we can help facilitate this by using automation to create follow-up tasks, meetings, or automated check-in emails.
- Seeking feedback on the selling experience: Help your sales reps by automating the creation of follow-up activities or emails to ensure follow-up conversations are being had. You might also consider using Salesforce Surveys to collect feedback.
- Troubleshooting/customer service: It is far easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to generate new business with someone who has never bought from you before. Customer service is therefore crucial to retaining customers, but we don’t want to add a ton of work for our sales reps. Instead, we can focus on using Service Cloud and its features to encourage customer self-service and easier management and visibility of customer support requests. This way, reps will be better informed and notified of potential issues.
Sales Operations Boosts Efficiency
Sales operations are taking on an increasingly pivotal role in shaping the strategies of sales organizations. In 2020, 54% of sales leaders recognized sales operations as integral to defining strategy – a figure that has surged to 65%.
On average, sales reps spend only 28% of their week actually selling. Sales operations can leverage processes and efficiency to reduce mundane, repetitive tasks to help sales reps focus on selling.
According to the report, the top five most useful CRM features for sales reps are:
- Process/workflow automation: This is one area where we Salesforce Admins can be exceptionally helpful! We can use automation features such as Flow to automate repetitive, manual tasks. This will free up the sales reps’ capacity so they can focus on selling and crafting meaningful relationships with customers. Just getting started within Flow? Check out our Salesforce Flow Cheat Sheet here.
- Data entry automation: There are plenty of third-party tools that can be connected to Salesforce to enhance your existing data and add missing data. Check them out on the AppExchange.
- Intelligent customer insights: There are a ton of AI features designed to help your teams get impactful customer insight. Since Salesforce Einstein was first unveiled, there are now 60+ AI-driven products sold by Salesforce – check out our complete guide here.
- Integration with internal systems: Salesforce Integration is the process of bringing two or more systems together, which allows you to streamline separate processes. Think of cases in your own technology stack in which information is kept in one system but also required in another. By integrating them, you can easily manage all that information through multiple business processes that run across multiple systems. Get started with our Ultimate Introduction to Salesforce Integration.
- Ability to replace other sales tools: Salesforce works best when it’s the single source of truth. The saying “if it’s not in Salesforce, it doesn’t exist” helps align reps and managers by encouraging the use of Salesforce instead of disparate sales tools (or the dreaded spreadsheet!).
In particular, the abundance of disconnected tools means that sales reps are wasting precious time switching between tools, with sales teams using an average of 10 tools to close deals! Unsurprisingly, 94% of sales organizations plan to consolidate their tech stack in the next 12 months.
The top five tools used by Sales organizations are:
- Sales reporting/analytics: Salesforce reports and dashboards are out-of-the-box analytics, and as you would expect from the #1 CRM in the world, they are powerful, intuitive, and customizable. Empower your users to build their own so they always have the data they need at their fingertips.
- Customer relationship management (CRM) system: If you’re reading this article then you are most likely already using Salesforce as your CRM tool! It’s the #1 CRM in the world for good reason…
- Account and contact management: Out of the box, Salesforce has quite a few objects and fields readily available for you and your team to use. These help you make the most out of your CRM right from the get-go. Opportunities, Leads, Contacts, and of course Accounts, are examples of such objects and can be customized to suit your needs.
- Mobile sales app(s) for employees: Optimize your Salesforce setup for mobile so that your sales reps can make deals while on the move.
- Sales forecasting tools: Salesforce Forecasting is evolving for tomorrow, evolving for the future, and evolving for the next generation of sales leadership. This feature of Sales Cloud has undergone a transformation over the past few releases to reveal a slick, modern interface and a host of new functionality, propelling forecasting into the spotlight. Be sure to follow our 10 Salesforce forecasting best practices to ensure a successful implementation!
The Seller Experience Gets a Second Look
As of September 2022, nearly one in four sales reps are actively seeking a new job, with almost half open to leaving for better opportunities, creating retention concerns. Sales leaders, grappling with budget constraints for necessary headcount, reported a 25% average turnover in the last 12 months.
To combat this, companies are focusing on making sales professionals feel more set up for success, addressing issues like unrealistic targets, improving training, and increasing benefits. Prioritizing the employee experience correlates with a significant increase in customer satisfaction and retention, with B2B companies experiencing a 1.8x lift in customer KPIs.
Effective coaching is crucial for engagement, but preferences vary across generations. While valuable coaching is acknowledged by managers, only 26% of sales professionals report weekly sessions, potentially leaving issues unaddressed. Technology solutions could supplement coaching, yet only 53% of sales leaders currently use these tools, suggesting an area for improvement in achieving more with limited resources.
You might argue that as Salesforce Admin we have little control over the coaching of sales reps. However, there are many things we can do to support coaching efforts.
- Analytics: Ensure both reps and managers have the reports and dashboards needed to run effective sales meetings and 1-2-1 reviews.
- Data Quality: Those reports and dashboards are only ever as good as the data in them, so be sure to implement a strict data quality plan. Data quality is a continuous process, not a one-off project!
- Help Text: Utilize the help text on fields to explain their use to users.
- Page Layouts: From classic page layouts to Lightning record pages, to Dynamic Forms, there are multiple ways to design efficient pages that will reduce clicks and increase how intuitive Salesforce is for your users.
- Path/Guidance: Salesforce Path visualizes a record’s progress through a process in a chevron diagram, plus key fields and guidance for what should be completed at each stage. Path is a Lightning component that can be placed on Opportunities, Leads, Campaigns, Contracts, Orders, and even custom objects. If your org uses record types, adding Path is an added bonus to clearly show which record type the record belongs to, for example, a “New business” opportunity Path will look different to the “Renewal” Path.
- In-App Guidance: Salesforce In-App Guidance is an out-of-the-box tool that empowers Salesforce Admins to create custom training for user enablement or onboarding, displayed on Salesforce Lightning pages as prompts.
We’ve seen multiple ways we can leverage Salesforce to support our sales reps to close deals efficiently. How are you supporting your sales teams? Do you have any top tips? Let us know in the comments.
You can also view the State of Sales report here.