Industry Predictions from Leslie Stretch, CEO of CallidusCloud (NASDAQ: CALD)
A/I: Efforts to create a machine learning-based tool to help sales people will speed ahead, but will be met with mixed results because the emphasis will be on the A/I platform rather than the data. Without a rich set of data from a variety of sources, these platforms will offer limited insights of limited effectiveness and will force salespeople to switch back and forth from the A/I platform to traditional computer-based data sources. Until these A/I tools provide context, they may be more trouble than they are worth to the average salesperson.
"Sales and marketing believe they’re operating efficiently even as the technologies they use – which are often disconnected – continue to re-build data silos and reinforce misalignment. 2017 will be the year when more leading CROs and CMOs start acting more like CIOs by recognizing this trend and taking steps to combat it through greater investment in integration or through the use of better integrated technology stacks."
Leslie Stretch, CEO of CallidusCloud
Commissions: As measurement of sales performance has become more nuanced and has identified more areas where sales behaviors can be modified, sales managers have discovered they have more levers to use to drive better sales outcomes.
We all know the value of customer experience, for example. Compensating salespeople for their roles in influencing the customer experience for the better helps motivate them to emphasize improving the buying experience. We expect businesses to start aggressively using post-sales surveys to assess the customer experience impact of individual salespeople and to build that measurement into compensation plans.
At the same time, there’s little desire to make commissions plans more complex or to make them infinitely granular. Consequently, gamification techniques will become a real and practical part of the compensation landscape, allowing managers to influence more behaviors without overstressing comp plans.
Marketing: Sales and marketing believe they’re operating efficiently even as the technologies they use – which are often disconnected – continue to re-build data silos and reinforce misalignment. 2017 will be the year when more leading CROs and CMOs start acting more like CIOs by recognizing this trend and taking steps to combat it through greater investment in integration or through the use of better integrated technology stacks.
Sales Operations: As customers continue to become more empowered by their ability to research purchases on their own, and as customer expectations from salespeople change, sales ops will find 2017 as the year when content management reaches its breaking point without a comprehensive enablement strategy. Because of its growing criticality to sales, responsibility for enablement will shift from marketing to sales ops. The winners will be the teams already thinking about how to best organize and deliver the most pertinent content to very specifically-defined customer types.
Sales Enablement: Delivery of the right sales content for each customer at the moment it is needed is now table stakes. In an information-intensive era, sales enablement is now vital to salespeople as well and any modern platform should offer targeted access to training content, and should provide analytics to help managers better understand the impact and adoption of sales training materials. Enablement should become the central nervous system of your sales organization.
Analytics: Pundits are already seeing 2017 as a big year for business intelligence tool kits. That’s a good investment – but they’re just tool kits. The trend we see is toward analytical applications that bring in a lot of data and then make it easy for line-of-business people to explore it quickly without the need for writing code or spending a lot of time constructing reporting or analytic processes from components. These solutions will democratize the examination of business data so that it’s more important that businesses think about what they want to learn and less important that they have the technical know-how to do the analysis.
Predictive Technology: Companies willing and able to embrace the first generation of predictive tools for sales will recognize an immediate jump in profitability compared to their slower peers. This will be caused by the increase in accuracy in setting quotas, planning territories, and anticipating training needs that predictive technologies will bring, which will result in greater efficiencies across the entire business.