You know as much as I do that achieving quota is tough. Okay, it’s real tough and the numbers show it. According to Miller Heiman quota attainment is at an all time low at 53% in 2017. That’s down 10% from just five years ago. You and I both know there are a lot of reasons for this but one reason that we found of interest was time management. Sales reps are not spending their time selling, and they are spending even less time with their Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software. So, what’s the deal– is CRM dead?
Sales reps require many different skills to be successful, but the most basic and potentially the most important of them all is time management. XANT Labs recently completed a study with 721 salespeople to determine how reps divide their time between sales tasks and sales systems.
Sales Reps Time Spent Selling
The big finding coming out of the study was, to sell or not to sell? That may sound silly but seriously, are sales reps even spending time selling or they getting caught up in non-selling activities? According to the data, only 35.2% of sales reps time is spent selling while 64.8% of time is spent on non-selling activities.
Don’t shoot me, I’m just the messenger.
With that said, if you’re a sales manager, you know deep down inside in places places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall. Sorry, a little reference to a Few Good Men. What I meant to say was you know deep down inside that these numbers are pretty accurate and if it doesn’t make you scared it should.
Once you come to grips with these numbers, you’re probably doing to do what I did and ask the question, “why?” So reps are only spending 35% of their selling, how is that possible? What else are they doing? All good questions. . .
To answer the ‘why’ question, we asked participants in our survey what tasks they were spending their time on and what system they were spending their times in. You’ll be interested to know, sales reps reported thirteen main tasks they spend their time on.
Sadly, administrative tasks was took the most amount of time in an average week with 14.8% of time. Thankfully customer meetings fell next in line with 14%. That was on the task side.
Most Effective Sales Systems
When we looked at systems, sales reps reported spending time in a total 17 main systems. Let’s double click on systems and time spent.
If you look at the top three systems that sales reps spend their time in, email 32.5%, CRM 17.9%, and spreadsheets 9.1%. These top three are followed by social tools and other sales technologies.
Does anything strike you as odd in the top three?
Certainly email makes sense, but the next two are a little strange, right? 17.9% of time spent in CRM is equivalent to a little over seven hours a week in that system.
That’s a lot.
To put this in perspective, salespeople report spending nearly 30% more time managing their CRM than in customer meetings. I sure hope that time is being effectively used and therein lies some of the problem. Truthfully, when we asked sales reps how effective their time was used in each system, CRM did make the top five.
However, when we conducted in-person interviews with 12 sales reps to dive in and take a closer look– we got some interesting results. With these reps, we mapped a general sales process and asked them to rate different tools either positive, negative, or neutral across key steps in the process.
Email vs. CRM
Look at email compared to CRM. CRM didn’t get one positive highlight at any stage of the sales process. In fact, it mostly received negative scores indicating tools that were explicitly called out as frustrating or not directly valuable to the reps objectives.
Listen to a couple of these real quotes:
- “My approach to contacting people is intuition-based. I keep track of whom I’ve contacted by color-coding in my Excel spreadsheet.”
- “I couldn’t keep up with setting tasks and logging activities in CRM.”
- “The CRM slows you down. I end up filling it out when I should be home with my kids.”
- CRM is just a system of record. It’s not telling me what I should do next. It doesn’t help me go about my day.”
So what’s next? What’s the next evolution of these systems? We call it an AI System of Growth. What is an AI System of Growth? An AI System of Growth uses AI to help sales reps sell more by answering two key questions:
- Who do you sell to?
- How to engage buyers?
AI System of Growth For Your CRM
There’s a lot of buzz around AI – in fact, it was marketing word of the year in 2017. Now, I’m a sales guy and the hair stands on my arm when I hear about marketing hype, but in this case I think we’re on the right path. Artificial Intelligence is the next step in the evolution of the CRM– and thousands of sales teams are already using it with brilliant results.
Artificial Intelligence is using a machine to understand past behavior in order to first predict, then potentially alter future behavior to produce more optimal outcomes. An AI System of Growth is a system that creates high performing sales teams. As sales reps use technology, data is captured in a standard format– and machine learning models analyze all this information to make accurate predictions. The more data you have, the better.
An AI System of Growth is not hyped. It has to be tied directly to revenue or how your company grows, period.
Let me give you a quick case study to demonstrate.
A Fortune 500 company needed a smart sales software solution to help them accelerate growth. Rather than just rely on CRM they turned to an AI System of Growth to boost revenue growth, shorten sales cycles and increased average deal size.
28% increase in revenue growth in three months. Not bad. . .