article | January 1, 2013
The Next Big Prediction in B2B Sales
Sales leaders hire Mike to fix revenue shortfalls before they happen. For example, Sales VPs at HP, Phillips 66, and Dow Jones have relied on Mike’s advice to make their quotas. He wrote the book on sales benchmarking before most had heard the term.
Drapeau makes a lot of bonus dollars for his clients. He is usually right. Now let’s pray Drapeau is right – very, very right. In his December sales benchmarking report, Drapeau delivers the most optimistic commentary we have ever seen. In 7 years.
He writes: “The quota attainment rate that we have become accustomed to for years – 60% – is going to jump to 75%. It is going up permanently. Yet most sales leaders (and CEOs) assume that sales quota attainment will stay at its old rate. Going forward, the quota attainment rate (conventionally measured as the percentage of sales reps who make their number), is likely to be 75%.”
There’s optimism, and there’s Drapeau optimism. 75% quota attainment is positive enough. But Drapeau goes further. He takes the historical 60% quota attainment rate and ups it to 75%. And it is not for 2013. Nope. Drapeau predicts a 75% quota attainment as far as the eye can see.
Drapeau cites a single mega trend to make his case.
Social Selling – we in sales tend to think in linear terms. Our mistake is then to extrapolate the future in a linear way. See the future as linear extrapolations. But technology often surprises us with exponential gains, from the Rolodex to ACT to SFDC to the Social Graph. The sales productivity gains associated with Social Selling will dwarf the gains we achieved from previous technological advancements. If you are wondering how, attend this webinar to see what Social Selling can do for you. Brian Frank, the head of global sales ops at LinkedIn, will show you how the world’s hottest company got hot because of social selling.
Drapeau has studied the impact technology has had on quota attainment more than anyone else I am aware of. It is his thing. If you meet him, ask him about the increase in snake oil due to the horse and buggy. Or, inquire about how the catalog quintupled soap sales. If you have a lot of time, ask him how the telephone birthed the modern stock broker. He has an almost encyclopedic fact bank in his mind on this subject. For instance, he accurately predicted that 7 out of 10 CRM projects would fail. More recently, he pegged the failure rate of marketing automation software at 50%. As the old EF Hutton commercial stated, “When he speaks, people listen.” At least I do. I think you should.
Is this Gschwandtner Redux?
In 2011, Gerhard Gschwandtner, publisher of Selling Power Magazine, made the last great prediction in B2B sales. He famously predicted that 75% of sales jobs will be eliminated by 2020. He said the number of sales people in the United States could decline from the then 18 million to 4 million by 2020. Gerhard cited research by Gartner that 85% of interactions between businesses will be automated without the need for any human interaction.
Two years later, when one reads this prediction one chuckles. For example, according to The Bridge Group, we have seen a 124% headcount increase for inside sales positions. One intelligent hour on LinkedIn tells the trained analyst that demand for sales reps outstrips supply 6x.
Making predictions is a tough business, but it sells magazines and fills conference seats. To his credit, Gerhard, in his speech at the Sales 2.0 Conference, acknowledged that there are plenty of sales jobs, just different kinds. In effect, he admitted he was wrong, at least so far. 2020 is still a long ways off. It takes a big man to admit being wrong in front of an entire industry. Good for him.
Will Drapeau be wrong?
Maybe. Mike Drapeau is the latest forecaster – and likely not the last. Should you care if he is right or wrong?
What the Next Big Prediction in B2B Sales Means to You
There is a catch. There always is. The 15% increase in quota attainment will go to those who master Social Selling. Those who don’t will stay at 60%. The early adopters will have their calendars filled by appointments with motivated buyers. The skeptics will remain frustrated by unopened emails and unreturned telephone calls.
If you are brave, and have the grit to be successful, register for this Social Selling webinar. It is the first step to a great year.
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