The Paradigm Shift in the Sales Process

Sales and sales processes across the globe are changing. There is a paradigm shift in the way sales is done. Sales have become more and more ‘Inside Sales’ driven. (Inside sales is the process of selling from an office via phone, email, or online, rather than traveling to meet clients) Be it a small startup or a big corporate everyone is changing the way they have traditionally done sales. Many large organizations that are field-heavy in sales are shifting sales responsibilities from field sales to inside sales. This is especially true now post the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The job of the inside sales team is becoming more and more important given that feet on the street sales have gone down drastically.

In the recent report published by “Insidesales.com”, the estimated number of professional salespeople in the U.S. in 2017 is 5.7 million and that number is expected to grow to 5.9 million by 2024. According to the research, inside sales professionals represent 47.2% of the 5.7 million, and outside sales professionals represent 52.8%. Also, this number is slowly reaching equilibrium. Job openings for inside sales on LinkedIn grew by 2.5x between Jan 2020 to August 2020, indicating more demand for inside sales and a mind-shift change in selling.

As it has become imperative for the salesperson in the current sales environment to have a wealth of knowledge about his/her customer, sales intelligence tools are slowly becoming an integral part of the daily life of inside salespeople. Across the world, sales development teams are increasingly spending more on sales technology and they expect this spend to increase even further over the next few years. Technology is playing a significant role in the way inside salespeople do their job and they rely on ‘Sales Intelligence Software’ to understand their customers better. Sales Intelligence software helps sales representatives navigate through a sea of data and provides insights into their prospects such as

· Why is the customer buying?
· When is the optimum time to approach the customer?
· What is the budget of the customer and who controls that budget?

Salespeople need to know these and many such datasets to successfully convert their leads into customers. Some of the most successful companies use the sales intelligence solutions very effectively to find new opportunities, improve the quality of the leads and use that intelligence most effectively to convert their leads. With sales intelligence solutions, sales personnel see much better engagement with prospects, reach the right leads with unique insights, and gain more selling time every month. Studies also suggest that in the current environment even the outside sales representatives spend an immense amount of time studying their customers before going and meeting them face-to-face and hence increasing their productivity and performance.

MarketsandMarkets estimates the global sales intelligence market to grow from USD 2.0 billion in 2019 to USD 3.4 billion by 2024, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 11.4% during the forecast period. Factors that drive the growth of the sales intelligence market are the imminent need for advanced software to improve customer targeting and connect rates, and the growing demand for data enrichment software to improve sales conversions.

In essence, it is the best time for startups in the sales intelligence space to create valuable companies due to the following reasons.

· Inside Sales is gathering momentum in the last couple of years and Covid19 has resulted in accelerating the same. Inside sales teams need to research to have better conversations with prospects and need tools for the same.
· Inside Sales teams are adopting Accounts Based Intelligence to get better insights about their customers to best close the sale.
· The market opportunity for Sales Intelligence startups is huge (2.0 Billion USD in 2019) and growing to (3.14 Billion USD in 2024). Also, as the spend on sales software for the sales team is increasing significantly the estimated market size may surpass the projected numbers.

Global Sales Intelligence Market Share

Here are some of the examples of how technology is disrupting sales.

A sales intelligence platform helps Inside sales personnel to better understand their customers and provide contextual intelligence, talking points, and relevant connections within the prospective organization. With AI-Powered Account Intelligence platforms, startups provide teams the ability to make B2B Inside Sales better. Sharp account intelligence is generated based on a comprehensive set of resources and understanding of the enterprise product value proposition and the role of the sales personnel. With the solution, sales personnel see 12% better engagement with prospects, reach the right leads with unique insights, and gain 33% more selling time every month.

Use of behavior design and AI to build high-performance sales teams. Its AI sales coach uses behavior design to boost productive behaviors and improve performance in sales teams. It uses machine learning and behavior design to track and interpret employees’ performance and their unique workplace motivations. Employees get customized actionable behavior nudges that coach them with specific insights on how to reach and exceed their performance expectations. This leads to higher sales productivity leading to better business outcomes.

Technology that finds which companies are visiting your website and from which geographies and based on this information and also through the pages on the website your clients are visiting and when this tech uncovers the intent of the client and determines behavioral patterns to take effective actions. Through all these datasets the technology provides meaningful insights to the inside salespeople to get the best leads and convert them better.

With growing spend on the use of technology in the sales process, startups in the sales intelligence and account-based marketing space will create a great and meaningful value proposition for the clients and definitely for the investors in this space.

An early-stage VC fund investing in technology product companies in India.