Despite the worst start to a year in the history of both the S&P 500 and the Dow, sales confidence across industries remains high. Our recent report, the Business Growth Index, looks at sales confidence, priorities and the impact of technology on a company’s bottom line.
Although there are still questions about the health of the economy, the general mood of business leaders is positive, and the forecast is growth. Here are some of the more salient findings of the report and how businesses can take advantage of the technology available to them.
Are the rumours of a tech bubble true?
Despite today’s economic uncertainty, leaders are bullish on revenue predictions for 2016 and InsideSales’ Business Growth Index reveals 75 per cent of business leaders predict steady or accelerated growth in 2016. This has had positive repercussions within the technology industry and its speculated 'bubble' may be more bluster than reality. The data shows that while technology companies closed 5 per cent fewer deals in 2015, sales opportunities increased by nearly 11 per cent and experienced an impressive 10 per cent increase in deal size. Not only are businesses surviving the turbulent markets, but technology companies, in particular, seem to be thriving off the volatility.
What does this mean for the technology industry?
Despite a global slowdown in the markets this year, which led some to believe that companies would have lower expectations for revenue, deal size and team growth in 2016, the reality is the opposite. Its business as usual for sales leaders, with the average deal size growing, especially for larger companies and those in the technology industry, with little sign of possible decline.
Technology companies are building up momentum with the highest 2015 growth (36 per cent) and largest projected 2016 growth (45 per cent) of any industry. Technology companies actually saw a 10.8 per cent bump in sales opportunities and a 10 per cent increase in deal size.
How can business leaders take advantage of the current state of the market?
Today’s business climate is very fast-paced and always rapidly changing. I would challenge business leaders to be sensitive to these changes and be ready to adapt when new business realities present themselves. For example, in high-tech, we are going through a significant transition. The old mantra was 'growth at all costs', and that model drove record valuations and created an unprecedented number of 'unicorn' companies worth at least a billion dollars. However, private and public markets are now demanding that companies prove they are either profitable or are on the path to profitability.
Challengers are more likely to succeed in the current market. Billion-dollar companies may have closed more deals in 2015, but companies with less than $1bn (£0.7bn) in revenue were able to increase the size of their deals while deal size of bigger players actually decreased.
Business leaders looking to diversify would be sensible to focus on strengthening sales teams. Women and candidates with resilience are top of the list for stronger and more efficient teams.
What do sales teams need to be aware of?
The alignment of mobile, social and cloud computing has sparked a data revolution, and companies today must leverage data-driven insights to connect with their customers in a whole new way. Through the use of predictive analytics, sales teams can work out exactly what a potential customer is more likely to buy from who. Having the ability to continuously learn from existing data and access to the resulting predictive information and prescriptive recommendations for the future empowers sales organisations to accelerate sales and increase revenue growth.
In a world of constant change, the ability to learn quickly and adapt accordingly is paramount to achieving and sustaining an advantage within any industry. Customers today enjoy access to more information than ever before. They’re digitally savvy and they are always connected. As as result, organisations must adopt an agile approach to dealing with current and prospective customers, across all areas of the business.
How can they use big data and predictive technology to increase productivity?
Just like professional athletes and teams, businesses need state-of-the-art, agile equipment and systems to elevate their game and stand out from the crowd. It’s an essential part of the innovation toolkit for businesses looking to sustain a competitive edge.
Businesses should begin by looking at their sales teams. It’s the perfect place to start given the kind of predictive, self-learning technology that’s available at the moment that can crunch some serious data in order to facilitate a more agile approach to sales. For example, with the right technology in place, sales teams can prescriptively target sales and conversion efforts by likelihood to contact and likelihood to close based on sales teams’ historical outcomes. Predictive analytics can even predict who to call, when to contact them, and what to say. It’s just this kind of agile technology that can have a direct, positive impact on a business’ bottom line.
Where are we seeing gains in the use of predictive tech?
The use of big data and predictive technology is being more widely adopted by businesses across a variety of industries. From enterprise sales to online shopping recommendations to sports, companies continue to rely on data to increase their odds of success. Predictive (and, in some cases, prescriptive) analytics are being used with customers across the different stages of the sales funnel. As companies continue to achieve more accurate sales predictions and success from these tools, their adoption will continue to see strong growth.
Martin Moran, SVP and general manager EMEA, InsideSales.com