April 11, 2016

Accenture Survey Finds Evolving Role of Digital is Reshaping Sales Organizations in the Quest for the Ultimate Customer Experience

Combining technological automation with personalized, experience-driven empowerment is key to strengthening sales rep intimacy with customers

NEW YORK; April 11, 2016 – A new study by Accenture (NYSE: ACN) found that digital is transforming sales organizations, with Global 2000 firms spending an astounding $2.4 trillion on digital sales channels and tools1. Yet, despite the increased investment in automation and the growing sophistication of tools, companies have yet to maximize their potential. The study titled, “Empowering Your Sales Force: It’s Not Just Automation, It’s Personal,” conducted by Accenture Interactive, finds organizations have a tremendous opportunity to rethink their approach to sales enablement by aligning digital tools to the evolving needs of today’s sales representatives and their customers.

The global study surveyed more than 800 sales professionals and combined the insights with data from the CSO Insights: 2015 Sales Performance Optimization Study to gain a holistic understanding of sales tools usage and perceptions. It found that 80% of companies have adopted a CRM system and a large majority have deployed tools across the entire sales process. Yet despite the abundance of tools, turnover rates of sales reps are rising (22+%)2 and 60 percent lack confidence in meeting their targets3. At the root of this dichotomy appears to be a disconnect between the Chief Sales Officers (CSOs) who design and implement the tools and the reps who use them.

Misaligned Objectives
The disconnect begins with expectations. For example, CSOs cite “capturing new accounts” as their number one objective (58 percent), while sales reps cite “improving customer satisfaction” (36 percent). This reflects an underlying shift in the reps’ approach, which has evolved toward a pull-based, collaborative, guided selling approach that values lasting customer relationships beyond the transaction. The result is a disconnect between the tools sales leadership are providing – even mandating – versus what sales reps actually need to be successful and feel empowered.

“As companies strive to improve sales effectiveness, they need to fundamentally rethink their approach to digital within their sales organizations,” said Jose Goncalves, MD and global digital sales lead, Accenture Interactive. “Rather than a top-down, enterprise approach, companies need to take a people-first approach that listens to the sales force and marries their needs with tools that deliver data-driven, flexible and personalized omni-channel experiences that help them sell smarter and drive the bottom line.”

The Sales Expectation Divide

Opportunities to Maximize Adoption, Usage
While sales tools grow increasingly sophisticated, customizable and flexible – packed with enhanced features and functionality – only 13 percent of salespeople utilize their full capabilities. Seventy-five percent acknowledge the sales tools provided are an important part of the sales process, but more than half find them more an “obstacle than a facilitator to their sales performance.” Additionally:

Making it Personal: A Service Design Approach
To address this gap, Accenture proposes rethinking sales tools through the lens of service design. Today’s sales reps expect their tools to deliver the same simple, seamless and personalized experiences they’re accustomed to as consumers, when and wherever they are -- on web, smartphones or tablets. When designed through the eyes of the rep, sales tools can match the way salespeople sell and engage in customer dialogue – no longer just providing reporting and tracking features, but ones that are as personalized and easy to use as the services reps are using in their daily lives. The challenge facing sales organizations is to take advantage of the technological sophistication and flexibility available by implementing tools that are customized to the evolved way sales reps engage customers and nurture relationships.

Accenture Recommends
Accenture believes sales organizations must shift away from a top-down approach designed from an enterprise lens. Instead, organizations should adopt a service design lens that puts salespeople first and adheres to three principals:

1. Follow human-centered design
2. Identify critical data to measurably improve the guided selling experience
3. Leverage the highly flexible technology platforms available

Organizations stand to benefit by amplifying sales talent, creating engaged customer conversations and boosting team performance. Research shows that improving sales team performance can deliver a 5-10% lift in a company’s sales or revenues.

About the Study
Accenture Interactive conducted primary and secondary research to gain insights into the usage of sales tools and the differences in perception between the sales force that uses the tools and the C-Suite (CSO) that procures, designs and develops the tools but are not end users. Accenture surveyed 800+ sales staff across seven countries and seven industries regarding the challenges faced in meeting sales objectives, satisfaction with job areas, availability and usage of sales tools, opinions on tool usage and expectations of tools. A mix of agent roles was surveyed from field to branch to call center, and tenure in the role ranged from one to 10+ years. Accenture also leveraged the CSO Insights: 2015 Sales Performance Optimization Study to understand global sales challenges from the executive perspective and interviewed Accenture’s own professionals on digital engagement, sales and customer service.

About Accenture
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network –Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.

Accenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, helps the world’s leading brands drive superior marketing performance across the full multichannel customer experience. Accenture Interactive offers integrated, industrialized and industry-driven digital transformation and marketing solutions. To learn more follow us @AccentureSocial and visit www.accenture.com/interactive.

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David LaBar
+ 1 646 456 4505

1-3 CSO Insights: 2015 Sales Performance Optimization Study