Habits of Today’s Most Successful B2B Sales Teams

Without a high-performing sales team to drive revenue, an organization will fail. In a constantly evolving business landscape, today’s most innovative sales teams must adapt to new tools and methodologies quickly or they will fall behind.

In the 2020 Business-to-Business Sales Trends Report, DocuSign interviewed 895 key decision makers and influencers in business-to-business sales functions across the world. The report investigated the way top B2B sales teams measure success, invest in technology and prepare for the future, presenting an overview of the findings and detailed analysis of the results.

One of the biggest takeaways from that report was a series of key differentiators between teams that exceeded sales targets in the last year and those that missed sales targets in the last year. Successful teams are investing in technology to reduce administrative work and enable internal collaboration that will help sellers succeed. Conversely, the teams that are getting left behind are still using high-touch internal reviews to complete sales and legal reviews.

Defining B2B sales priorities

One of the biggest success indicators for sales teams is the way they measure achievements. High performers are more likely to use more nuanced criteria such as quota attainment, qualified lead progression and customer acquisition cost. On the other hand, low-performing sales teams use much more traditional measures for success such as gross/net profit margins, which is likely table stakes for higher performers.

Beyond simply establishing what success looks like, our survey examines the factors that lead to success. High-performing respondents are far more likely to rely on effective organizational structure and strong cross-functional support. Low performers, on the other hand, are still relying on strong leadership vision and recognition for a job well done. It’s a very different perspective on which factors have led to their success.

Looking more closely at outside sales specifically (sales ops or other sales functions), both leaders and laggards see finding enough time to sell as their top priority.

High performers commit to technology

Diving deeper into the operational differences between high and low performers, there are significant gaps in the approach the two groups have to adopting new technology. High performers are much more frequent adopters of new technology. Conversely, lower performers adopt new technology much less quickly.

There’s a clear correlation between sales teams that are willing to commit to new technology and teams that exceed their sales goals. This commitment to technology results in frequent internal collaboration between the sales team and their IT/operations counterparts. When asked about frequent internal collaborators, high-performing respondents were twice as likely to work with IT compared to laggards, who are spending far more time working with legal and procurement teams. 

When evaluating new technology, cost is of course a top concern for both high-performing and laggard organizations, but that’s where similarities end. High performers prefer technology that offers robust integrations and is scalable. Laggards, on the other hand, are focused on ease of use and customization, which again, are likely table stakes for high performers.

What differentiates high performers?

In our survey, a clear picture emerges of the way high-performing sellers approach business today. They’re focused on a strong, cross-functional organizational structure that engages frequently with IT to open up new capabilities. Laggards, on the other hand, depend on a top- down leadership structure and are putting out fires with legal and procurement.

From a technology perspective, today’s best sales teams are looking for opportunities to build new tools into their workflows. The investments that early adopters are making in technology reduce the amount of time they need to spend with those paperwork-heavy functions, freeing them up to collaborate on additional tech-centered initiatives, build out cross-functional programs and most importantly spend more time with customers. 

These different approaches to sales will likely enable leaders to separate from the pack as new technologies are more quickly adopted and resulting capabilities put them further ahead.

To get more details about what high-performing B2B sales teams are doing to get ahead, read the entire B2B Sales in 2020: Strategies for Success report.

You can also read more about DocuSign’s research in our B2B sales trends series: 

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