This is the second article on a recent study on the State of Sales. The research was conducted by XANT in partnership with the Association of Professional Sales (APS), Top Sales World, and AA-ISP. The study included nearly 1200 companies in 28 countries. The study focused on sales structure, systems, and processes for each of these companies. The findings revealed some really interesting insights.
How Technology Is Changing Sales Structure
Technology is also changing the structure of sales organizations. The customer today is self-educated and a large part of the buyer journey now takes place online. Most of the time, a customer will have made up their mind about the product they will buy before even talking to any sales representative.
This has had a profound effect on sales department structure over the years. The lines are blurring between sales reps selling remotely (inside sales) and the outside sales roles (reps who primarily sell face-to-face).
Outside sales reps now spend almost half of their time (45.4%) selling remotely (an increase of 89.2% from 2013). In the US, 47% of sales professionals are inside sales, while outside sales represent 52% of the workforce.
This trend is different in Europe, with companies reporting 37.1% of their sales force as inside sellers and 62.9% as outside sellers.
This shows us that the European sales organization is taking longer to adjust for the market changes. This has some worrying implications. Potentially European companies are simply having their existing outside sales reps sell like inside sales reps but at what cost? Alternatively, we are really seeing the rise of the hybrid seller. We are currently researching this further
The global numbers will most likely continue towards equilibrium. Companies report the ideal split of inside and outside sales should be nearly 50/50.
As far as sales compensation goes, sales professionals still earn a large part of their income as variable revenue (with a 47/53 split for the base and variable income). I expect this model will continue to be popular for the future.
Sales is inherently a competitive field, and variable rewards based on performance are not going anywhere anytime soon.
The study revealed the average base salary for inside sales account executives is $42,833 with an average on-target-earnings (OTE) of $96,299.,In the US, OTE tends to be higher ($111,170) than in Europe (£73,219 or $98,058).
The Future of Sales Is Here
The future of sales is here, and the State of Sales report from XANT gives us a good view of what it looks like.
A more empowered and impatient customer means we need to work faster and be more efficient than ever. We need to service them instantly and gain their trust before they are off to talk to the competition.
This is why the rise of AI-powered sales acceleration platforms can only be good news.
Recent research presented at the World Economic Forum in Davos shows that companies or countries which embrace Artificial Intelligence technology can see revenue rise around 40 percent by 2020. Forrester believes that those companies that do not embrace AI will be displaced to the tune of $1.2 trillion per year.
While I’m not expecting AI to ever replace sales reps, I do expect that intelligent systems will help us sell more, sell smarter and sell faster. AI can show you instantly which are your hottest leads, when you should contact them and whether you should use a phone call, email or voicemail.
We can eliminate valuable time spent researching and spend more time selling.
I would advise all sales leaders to read the executive summary of the State of Sales 2017 research. It’s a real eye opener.
If you’d like to get access to the executive summary of this study, please go here: