When Forecasting for 2017, Have You Thought of Everything?

by Steven Newman


If you rely on B2B sales as your primary source of revenue (regardless of your industry or area of expertise), the only constant in 2016 for you was change. We often glaze over the philosopher Heraclitus’ theory that we are in a constant state of change only to retrospectively evaluate how we failed to capitalize on the past’s opportunities. As with all change, it’s the lens we choose to view these obstacles through that allows the future to come into focus more quickly.

Acknowledging that transformation is constant is vital for success, but how prepared are you to capitalize on what’s to come in 2017? More importantly, when was your last organizational analysis and comparison to the latest industry benchmarks?

Use Your Imagination

The first steps in executing an organizational change is defining what is needed to level set with the industry standards. Although the idea sounds simple, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to address barriers of dominant logic that have crept into your organization over the years. Famed professor and author, C.K. Prahalad, suggests that “executives are constrained not by resources, but by their imagination.”

So I ask, have you thought of every possible way for your business to grow in 2017? Better yet, have you allowed your imagination to have a seat at the table when forecasting for the year ahead?

Whether you’re an early or late adopter of technology, it’s safe to say that our world has been transformed by and embraced the digital era. Sales and marketing practices such as micro-segmentation, persona-based marketing, interactive content, and account-based marketing are just a few digital items that saw major growth in 2016 and will continue to expand in 2017. All are vital tools used to gain the attention of new prospects, further client relationships, and assist your sales team with selling more, faster. Generally, marketing-based sales efforts only account for 30-35 percent of your annual sales revenue.

Many B2B companies are leveraging these marketing strategies and tactics to enhance communication with prospects and clients. However, the largest transformation impacting the top and bottom line is the development of inside sales teams. Inside sales teams allow for a strategic and tactical approach, which aggressively takes aim at the remaining 70 percent of your sales revenue.

The Modern Way to Sell

In 2013, InsideSales.com founder and CEO David Elkington was quoted as saying, “Organizations like ADP, IBM, HP and Google are shifting resources from expensive field sales models and deploying massive inside sales departments. This shows that the inside sales industry is ready to explode.”

Elkington was correct with his prediction. A research study (completed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics with assistance from InsideSales.com) projects that 750,000 net new inside sales jobs will be created by 2020, outpacing field sales growth by nearly 300 percent.

As we engage with our clients, one topic that often arises is the notion that their product is extremely complex, and they question if an inside sales team can effectively produce consistent results. While it’s a valid concern, most of the heartburn stems from the assumption that inside sales equals call center. While they serve a valuable purpose, there is a vast difference between call centers and inside sales teams. For those new to the modern inside sales concept, those concerns are addressed with a customized sales solution, leveraging best-in-class technology and resources.

The digital era has allowed customers to become more informed long before the transaction takes place. Just think of the last time you made a significant personal purchase. How much time did you spend researching the product, reading consumer reports, combing through customer reviews, and shopping for a competitive price? All that information was at your fingertips and empowered you as the consumer to make a decision that met your needs.

inside-salesA Strong Team Is Key

Nearly 60 percent of the buyer’s decision-making process is now conducted digitally. The traditional way of knocking on doors and weekly sales call quotas simply doesn’t produce the results we all desire. An omni-channel approach allows inside sales reps to meet customers where they are and more effectively prospect, build relationships, provide relevant content, present a valuable solution, and close the sale. Cutting-edge technology (such as SalesForce.com, InsideSales.com, ClearSlide, WideAngle, and inContact) allows for increased productivity, contact rates, call times, and overall sales activity.

One specific example that provides insight into the production of a properly equipped inside sales team is how we are able to provide a client with 30 percent year-over-year revenue growth for the last five years. In addition, the team has allowed the client to realize a return on investment exceeding 150 percent over the past 10 years.

Inside sales teams are typically established to address one of the following concerns: gaining new customers, launching new products, growing market share, optimizing sales expense, or maximizing a mature product. With each, there’s a specific strategy developed to ensure favorable results are defined, executed, and delivered. While the teams are tasked with specific sales initiatives and success is well defined, there have been a few unforeseen benefits that have come into focus, as well. One specific and often overlooked benefit is a reduction in vacancy rate and lost revenue. This is addressed when there is an investment in the professional development of sales associates, otherwise known as developing your “bench.”

A strong bench team allows an organization to reduce the average 40-day backfill timeline and return to a steady state much quicker. Have you considered how much revenue is lost with an unfilled position? Below is a quick equation to determine your tolerance for an open sales position.

R/E = Revenue per Employee

Revenue per Employee/365 = Daily Revenue per Employee

(R = Annual Sales Revenue; E = Total Sales Employees)

As an example, an organization that produces $50 million in annual revenue with 50 sales reps has a daily revenue per employee of approximately $2,740. The organization would lose nearly $110,000 over the average vacancy period. This doesn’t include the ramp time for a new sales rep, which is generally considered to be your average sales cycle plus 90 days. Combining the two equals a lost revenue amount of nearly $250,000 when a sales rep is lost.

Click here to calculate potential lost revenue for your own organization.

Leave the Comfort Zone

Our world continues to evolve with the digital age, the organizations that will survive are those willing to embrace change, adapt and dare to be bold with new ideas. Our comfortability prevents us from pushing boundaries, challenging dominant logic within our company and settling for the responses we’re given.

Well-known author C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.”

Are you going to go bad in 2017 or hatch and explore limitless new opportunities for growth?

If so, you can learn more about aligning your sales and marketing through a MarketSource assessment. MarketSource sales experts will work with you to define your challenges and design a turnkey solution that produces results in the areas of gaining new customers, launching new products, growing market share, optimizing sales expense or maximizing a mature product.

Our sales teams deliver more than $6 billion in revenue for many of the most iconic brands in the world and a diverse mix of forward-thinking small- and medium-sized businesses. You can learn more about this topic and MarketSource’s proprietary process, empowered people and proven performance by contacting us today.

Topic: B2B

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Steven Newman, Practice Leader, Commercial Business Unit for MarketSource, leverages best practices and intellectual property to define success scenarios, model potential performance outcomes, and design and implement sales teams focused on helping clients experience better sales in their respective markets and sales channels.

At MarketSource, we believe better sales begin with better relationships. Our proven alternative to traditional outsourced sales is led by a proprietary process that helps businesses thrive by fostering deeper connections between people and brands.