Enterprises Spend at Least $1,000 Annually Per Sales Rep on Technology

The majority of sales professionals surveyed cited a variety of tools including smartphones, customer relationship management apps and “data enrichment” services as “valuable” to “extremely valuable” for doing their job.

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A new survey of 400 sales executives found that 80 percent of companies spend at least $1,000 per sales person annually to outfit representatives with technology designed to help the­­m do their jobs more effectively.

However, the survey, sponsored by SugarCRM, also found that 49 percent of those surveyed in the United States and the United Kingdom said they spent at least $2,000 per sales employee on technology tools.

While a customer relationship management (CRM) system was cited the most as the most valuable tool to help their sales team be successful, a majority of respondents mentioned 11 tools that they rely on.

These include smartphones, tablets, lead development applications, collaboration and productivity tools, digital transactions software, online meeting schedules, Web meeting platforms, internal messaging tools and data enrichment services.

“We understand it’s not a surprise that a survey by a CRM company finds CRM is the most valuable tool, but the strength of the results surprised us because those taking the survey didn’t know a CRM company was the sponsor,” Clint Oram, chief marketing officer and co-founder of SugarCRM, told eWEEK.

“Close to 70 percent of these users are relying on CRM to drive their company forward. Another surprise was the amount of money they’re willing to invest per sales rep. That’s a shift that underscores that the wining and dining of clients isn’t how salespeople are investing their time and energy. They’re looking at the data they’re collecting and leveraging it.”

But staying on the cutting edge isn’t easy. More than two-thirds (69 percent) of businesses surveyed said they are concerned about the need to train staff, while 63 percent are worried about keeping pace with innovation and keeping systems up to date.

The top concern related to deploying sales technology is cost (48 percent), followed by security (36 percent), product complexity (34 percent), employees’ resistance to change (30 percent) and a lack of skills in using the tools (20 percent).

“What I find interesting about the report from CITE and SugarCRM is that organizations are no doubt willing to spend money, but many are in the experimental phase,” Rebecca Wetteman, an analyst at Nucleus Research, said in a release. “Other than CRM, organizations are dabbling in a variety of other tools in a trial-and-error phase to determine what is absolutely critical for sales people to be more effective.”

Oram said SugarCRM plans to release more details from the survey next month that focus on how salespeople view artificial intelligence (AI). “I’ll give you a little spoiler from the results, which I expected to show a lot of skepticism, but salespeople are looking to leverage AI; they have a positive view of it,” said Oram. SugarCRM is investing heavily in predictive analytics designed to make it easier for salespeople to identify prospects.

Salesforce.com has been particularly aggressive in promoting the Einstein AI features in its CRM system that are designed to proactively alert salespeople to new sales opportunities as well suggesting the best time to re-engage with clients they already have.

Like Salesforce, SugarCRM is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) system, and it uses Amazon for its cloud infrastructure. “As a software vendor building on the cloud, it’s fascinating to see IBM, Google and Amazon invest billions of dollars on cloud computing,” said Oram. However, because of software-oriented architecture (SOA), SugarCRM can choose which cloud provider it wants to power its AI engine, Oram noted.

The first Sales Tech Report was conducted by CITE Research and sponsored by SugarCRM, which said it plans to make it an annual research effort.

David Needle

David Needle

Based in Silicon Valley, veteran technology reporter David Needle covers mobile, bi g data, and social media among other topics. He was formerly News Editor at Infoworld, Editor of Computer Currents...