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Sales Trends to Keep Up with in 2021

I remember sitting down with my team last year to plan our end-of-the-year customer webinar, where we’d look back at the highlights of 2019 and talk about where we, as a product team, would invest in 2020. It was a normal year that followed a regular structure. But when we jumped on Zoom to plan for this year’s webinar, we knew the normal formula was not going to work. 2020 was… a lot. But I don’t need to tell you that. We all lived through it together. So, let’s skip the part of the new year kickoff where we talk about how the world has changed and get right to what it means for selling teams! 

The evolution of the digital seller and CRM frustrations

The role of the salesperson has fundamentally changed, permanently. What we’re hearing is that sales organizations are reframing how they measure sales effectiveness.

Last summer, we asked more than 500 people about their jobs as inside sellers and their evolution to an increasingly digital role. We also asked about the tools they use to complete tasks related to that role. We initially set out to learn about sellers in an SDR (sales development representative) or BDR (business development representative) role, but what we’ve learned actually applies to anyone now engaged in virtual selling of any sort.

The research shows that 86% of our respondents are frustrated by their jobs as sellers.

Top complaints include: 

  1. Doing repetitive administrative tasks that could be automated 
  2. Updating multiple systems that ought to be connected 
  3. Following up with a prospect they know isn’t interested 
  4. Re-entering email data into a CRM 
  5. Entering notes into a CRM

There’s a theme here. Think about it. If you ask most sellers what they want from their CRM, none of them will likely say, “I wish I had a tool to help me forecast better!”

It’s not surprising that while 66% of sellers say they believe their CRMs are important for them to get their jobs done, less than half use it every day. There’s a big disconnect between what they’ve been told is important throughout their whole career and what actually helps them do their job.

Even more revealing is that among the most common tools used by sellers, CRM isn’t even in the top five! Email, internet, phones, video conferencing, and even Microsoft Word documents beat out the CRM.

And for some sellers, it’s not just that they aren’t using their CRMs. They actively avoid it. In fact, 66% of digital sellers would prefer to go to the dentist, wait in line at the DMV, do jury duty, or perform another unpleasant task than update their CRMs.

Sales force automation that helps sellers sell more

Hopefully, you were able to attend or watch the replay of our CX Virtual Summit from November. During the event, Oracle’s Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison made a really important point about Oracle’s sales automation strategy that punctuates how this broad disconnect between the seller and the CRM has become so pervasive. He gave a bit of history on how Sales Force Automation started as just a way to manage accounts and opportunities – to give managers some visibility into activity so they can forecast. That’s what the first generation of sales automation solutions focused on, to varying degrees of success. 

But Oracle’s strategy is to make it so much more. We want to make sales automation the service that helps sellers sell more, not just forecast better. This shift requires solving some challenging problems in ways that Oracle is uniquely positioned to do very well. Some of these ways, which are key focus areas for us in 2021 and beyond, include;

  1. Setting sales teams up for success with a connected planning and performance management solution, including advanced forecasting capabilities.
  2. Pulling sales and marketing closer together with unified lead management and campaign management.
  3. Making sellers more productive with tools that work for them and with them
  4. Giving those sellers better customer intelligence than ever before so they can reach out to the right people at the right time with the right message.
  5. Taking a fresh look at all the systems and processes that make up a successful renewal selling program to help businesses earn more from their customer base

Check out these posts in our 2021 sales trends series for more details and to learn more about how you can increase sales productivity and improve every customer interaction with Oracle Sales Force Automation.

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