Study Finds Customer Retention is Number One Strategic Imperative for 2017, Sellers Still Struggle to Access Key Buying Influencers
Digital Transformation Outranks Political Instability, Currency Volatility and Global Terrorism as the Most Significant Cause of Enterprise Disruption
Dublin and Seattle — Mar 29, 2017 — Altify, the global leader in sales transformation, today released its highly anticipated 2017 Business Performance Benchmark Study. Key findings from the study include:
- The number one strategic imperative for 2017 is customer retention.
- While 83 percent of professionals believe the customer is more in control of the buying cycle than ever before, only 65 percent of sales organizations have a sales process aligned to the customer’s buying process.
- Forty-two percent of sales professionals say their marketing function does not understand the customer.
- One in three sellers feel they cannot effectively uncover customers’ business problem.
“Sales has always been about the customer, and every business that is growing in today’s subscription economy needs to be laser-focused on customer retention,” said the study’s author, Donal Daly, executive chairman of Altify. “Companies that worry about selling the right solution to their customers and care deeply about the value they deliver – before, during and after the deals close – are the ones who are achieving sustained differential advantage and leading their markets.”
The study of 833 participants from 60 countries uncovered a positive outlook among business leaders with 87 percent expecting business performance improvement in 2017. According to the study, in which the researchers correlated results with execution of best practices, the top five business performance levers for sales and marketing organizations are:
- Solution is aligned to customer’s needs (win rate up 33 percent, sales cycle down 21 percent).
- Salespeople can gain access to key buying influencers (win rate up 28 percent, sales cycle down 21 percent).
- Sales process is aligned to buying process (win rate up 22 percent, sales cycle down 22 percent).
- Sales and marketing aligned around the customer (win rate up 26 percent, sales cycle down 18 percent).
- Effective first-line sales management is in place (win rate up 26 percent, sales cycle down 12 percent).
“We have seen winning companies excel when they apply digital transformation to all customer-facing activities, starting with sales and marketing, but going all the way through to customer service,” said Anthony Reynolds, CEO Altify. “These high-performing companies are leveraging account planning best practice in software to get closer to their customers. Through guided selling, we are enabling our customers’ sales organizations with the tools they need to get closer to their customers, significantly impacting win rate, deal size and sales cycle length.”
In addition to pure revenue performance, the study examined other macro issues that impact confidence and outlook, with the following findings:
- Forty-eight percent of respondents believe that digital transformation will cause significant disruption to business in 2017. It has rocketed to the top of everyone’s list of priorities, well ahead of advancement in AI (27 percent) and currency volatility (26 percent), which come in second and third.
- Perhaps unsurprisingly, those in EMEA fear disruption in 2017 from currency volatility (41 percent) and Brexit (39 percent) almost as much as they expect disruption from digital transformation (43 percent).
- Diversity pays off: 70 percent of respondents believe that a diversity policy has impact on the business performance of their organization, and the results suggest that they are right. Companies with a positive track record in diversity have 50 percent better customer retention and 17 percent shorter sales cycles.
- Trust in government is significantly down from last year, with 42 percent saying they trust government less.
- When it comes to making a purchase, people look to the company’s reputation and peers in other companies to give them advice. Social media and the company’s CEO are the least trusted sources.
The study’s findings were based on quantitative analysis of the submissions of 833 respondents between December 6, 2016 and January 16, 2017. The analysis was also expanded to consider demographic, firmographic and geographic factors to establish further insights. Where mathematical calculations were conducted based on ranges, the median point of the range was used. Where outliers existed in any of the data submitted, outliers were subjected to qualitative assessment for inclusion or exclusion.
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About Upland Altify
For B2B sales organizations, Altify provides proven enterprise sales methodology in software sellers want to use. The Altify platform helps sales teams win the deals that matter and increase wallet share in existing customers. With Altify, sales people, managers and executives achieve revenue growth consistently.
Customers include: Autodesk, BMC, Brocade, BT, GE, Honeywell, HP Enterprise, Johnson Controls, Optum, Salesforce, and Software AG.