Ventana Research recently announced its 2021 research agenda for the Office of Sales, continuing the guidance we’ve offered for nearly two decades to help organizations realize optimal value from applying technology to improve business outcomes. Chief sales and revenue officers are experts in their respective fields but may not have the guidance needed to employ technology effectively. As we look to 2021, we are focusing on the entire selling and buying journey and the applications that simplify interactions throughout the customer experience.
We craft our research agenda using our firm’s expertise on business requirements and our knowledge of technology vendors and products. Through our continuous market research, we offer insights and best practices to help both the lines of business and IT as well as across industry verticals that will help every organization reach its maximum potential.
For 2021, we have added a focus on the broader concept of revenue management to help organizations address strategy, planning and operations. With the rise of digital commerce and subscription models, the primary focus on new business is shifting. Considering the cost of customer acquisition and the importance of customer retention and expansion, the entire customer experience is of vital importance in building and sustaining a business. These processes require specific technology - a 360-degree view of customers, digital buying technology, pricing optimization for managing business-to-consumer models, and configure-price-quote software to enable adjusting contract terms based on the configuration of products, as is often found in business-to-business organizations. We will also focus on the subscription management experience - a critical part of the customer journey in many industries.
Improving sales outcomes and revenue are key to sales effectiveness, and emerging sales applications and tools provide the path to achieve that goal. New applications and tools designed for salespeople and processes help manage sales organizations but also help salespeople sell effectively. Reflecting this, our Sales practice addresses six focus areas: Digital Commerce, Revenue Management, Sales Engagement, Sales Performance Management, Subscription Management and Partner Management.
In the world of digital commerce, the customer and product experiences are top differentiators. Digital commerce technology enables organizations to engage customers through any digital channel - the web, mobile apps, text, voice-activated “agents,” video and social channels - and deliver an optimal experience. Conversational computing and hyper-personalization are transforming customer engagement, and a digital platform renovation may be necessary to optimize customer and product experiences or risk lagging competitors. We will conduct new Benchmark Research and Value Index research in 2021 to identify best practices and assess and rate technology vendors’ potential to help meet evolving commerce needs.
With the rise of subscription and usage business models as well as digital commerce, organizations are increasingly recognizing that the traditional primacy of a new-customer focused business needs to change. Given high customer acquisition costs, both retention and existing customer expansion are of equal importance. And with the exponential growth of data - not just generated internally through customer relationship management systems, order and back-office systems, but also third-party location and firmographics - technology can be used to help identify, navigate and execute new paths to revenue. In addition, sales, marketing and customer success will need to plan and operate together to ensure all departments are aligned on revenue goals. We assert that through 2023, the revenue management software category will evolve into the essential suite of applications and platform designed for a CRO and supporting organizations to effectively optimize revenue across all channels. We will conduct new Benchmark Research and Value Index research in 2021 to identify best practices and assess and rate technology vendors’ potential to help meet emerging revenue management needs across all aspects of the buyer and customer journey.
With a recognized decline in quota attainment, a shift in balance to buyers through internet-based research capabilities, and changes wrought by the pandemic, vendors have been focusing more on how to help sell and not just managing sales. Sales engagement facilitates intelligent interactions and execution by sales professionals to achieve optimal revenue outcomes. We assert that by 2023, one-quarter of sales organizations will need new technology to gain market and competitive insights and enable sales professionals to adapt selling motions to engage effectively for optimal outcomes. After a hesitant start, systems that use artificial intelligence and knowledge management technology are starting to provide prioritized insights that increase sales effectiveness. Organizations should invest in sales enablement systems designed to focus on salespeople and not just technology that focuses on managing sales organizations. We will conduct new Dynamic Insights research in 2021 on the challenges and potential of sales engagement.
Sales Performance Management
Sales performance management enables leaders to align strategy and planning to optimally engage accounts and territories through use of quotas and compensation. Managing sales performance requires that organizations effectively plan sales processes and resources; it’s critical that planning be collaborative to optimize engagement and boost sales performance. Mobile devices can provide instantaneous updates and give sales professionals and managers a straightforward view of performance to enable more effective management. We recommend that organizations adopt SPM. We recently published Value Index findings on Sales Performance Management and began new Benchmark Research on this topic in 2021.
Subscription management involves processes and applications designed to manage the subscriber experience - from the first digital touch to subscriber engagement and billing. Organizations can more effectively engage subscribers through technology that enhances the subscriber experience, automating subscriber operations and financial processes. In addition, many B2B companies are shifting to a subscription business model to remain competitive. We assert that by 2025, over one-fifth of organizations will have part of their business conducted via subscriptions and recurring revenue rather than one-time sales as companies adjust business models to remain competitive. For these companies, a usage-based business model makes more sense, imposing new needs on vendors to support pricing models that address individually negotiated contracts. We will conduct new Benchmark Research and Value Index research in 2021 to identify best practices and assess and rate technology vendors’ potential to help meet emerging subscription needs.
Partner management involves processes and applications designed to support businesses that bundle or resell other providers’ services and products. Although not new, this a growing model where an ecosystem of vendors supply customers with products and services of their own or from others. This necessitates new onboarding processes, revenue allocation and service-level agreement monitoring and reporting. We will conduct new Benchmark Research in 2021 to identify best practices and assess and rate technology vendors’ potential to help meet emerging partner management needs.
Every sales organization, no matter how many employees or the size of its revenue, has an opportunity to significantly improve the selling experience. Enhancements to underlying processes and technology can have an immediate impact on top- and bottom-line results. Determining your path forward in 2021 requires an effective strategy and knowledge of the technology you need to improve or add to your existing portfolio of investments.
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