© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200July, 2010Top-Performing Sales Teams DeployElectronic Signatures to Achieve ...
Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 2© 2010 Aberdeen Group....
Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 3© 2010 Aberdeen Group....
Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 4© 2010 Aberdeen Group....
Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 5© 2010 Aberdeen Group....
Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 6© 2010 Aberdeen Group....
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in...5
×

Top performing sales teams deploy electronic signatures to achieve cost-effective sales growth

108

Published on

As sales organizations try to bring their sales cycle under control, they use electronic signature technologies to achieve their goals. In today's technology driven era, it is not difficult to look at any sales representative standing by a fax machine and wonder why such manual activity is still considered acceptable. For best resolution, click "View Fullscreen."

Published in: Business, Technology
0 Comments
0 Likes
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Views
Total Views
108
On Slideshare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
0
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
4
Comments
0
Likes
0
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Top performing sales teams deploy electronic signatures to achieve cost-effective sales growth

  1. 1. © 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200July, 2010Top-Performing Sales Teams DeployElectronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthAnalyst InsightAberdeen’s Insights provide theanalyst perspective of theresearch as drawn from anaggregated view of the researchsurveys, interviews, and dataanalysis.As sales organizations endeavor to escape the constricted economy of the2009 recession, one of their most significant barriers is stagnant progressregarding bringing their sales cycle under control. Recent Aberdeenresearch published for Inside Sales Enablement: “Let Them Drink Coffee!”(December, 2009) reveals that not only did under-performing companiessee a year-over-year increase in their sales cycle of 12%, but even the Best-in-Class, or top 20% of performers among over 500 companies surveyed,experienced a slight (1%) lengthening of their own lead-to-win timeframe.As top-performing selling teams continue searching for ways to reduce thiswindow, as well as to increase their win/loss “batting average,” the use ofelectronic signature tools holds potential promise for better sales teamperformance in 2010.Aberdeen research conducted in March, 2010 for the benchmark study,Optimizing Lead-To-Win: Shrinking the Sales Cycle and Focusing Closers onSealing More Deals (May 2010), of 441 corporate sales teams, included 67companies currently deploying electronic signature technology, and earlyindicators are that these organizations are realizing concrete performanceadvantages over other survey respondents.Electronic SignatureTechnology DefinedAn important distinction shouldbe made between the terms“electronic” and “digital” whenreferring to paperlesssignatures. While bothsolutions refer to the onlinecapture of your virtualsignature, electronic signaturesare part of a secure andvalidated process that mustinclude an appropriate audittrail; digital signatures areserver certificates on thesystem processing thetransaction. Both implyauthenticity of the agreementthrough an audit-trail validationof a secure transaction.Figure 1: Year-over-Year Sales Performance Improvement ofElectronic Signature Users versus Other Companies36%31%26%24%22% 22%20%25%30%35%40%ImprovedcustomerrenewalrateReducedproposalerrorrateShortenedsalescyclen = 441PercentageofRespondentsImprovingUsers of electronic signatures All others36%31%26%24%22% 22%20%25%30%35%40%ImprovedcustomerrenewalrateReducedproposalerrorrateShortenedsalescyclen = 441PercentageofRespondentsImprovingUsers of electronic signatures All othersSource: Aberdeen Group, June 2010www.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897
  2. 2. Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 2© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200Deconstructing Successful Use of Electronic signaturesThe Lead-to-Win Best-in-ClassIn March 2010, Aberdeensurveyed 441 end-user salesorganizations to understandhow the top performers amongthem control their sales cycleand convert more leads intoclosed deals. The performancemetrics used to define theBest-in-Class (top 20%),Industry Average (middle 50%)and Laggard (bottom 30%)among these sales teams are:√ The Best-in-Class shranktheir sales cycle by 8.4% on ayear-over-year basis,compared to increases of1.3% for the IndustryAverage and 6.7% forLaggards√ Best-in-Class companiesaverage a 44% leadconversion rate, versus 26%and 11% for IndustryAverage and Laggard firms,respectively√ Proposal volume grew year-to-year by 9.1% for the Best-in-Class, while shrinking by0.4% for Industry Averageperformers and 6.8% forLaggardsAs Figure 1 details, a series of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) thatAberdeen tracks among survey respondents provides insight into howelectronic signature-friendly sales organizations are improving their results.This graph shows that by an average delta of 36%, more of these companiesshowed year-over-year improvement in the following metrics, whencompared to all other organizations.• Customer renewals. As reported in Aberdeen researchpublished in Providing a 360˚ View of the Customer: Better Service -Higher Sales (March, 2010), Best-in-Class companies average a 91%customer retention rate, compared to 78% for Industry Averageand 62% for Laggard organizations. These same top performersrealize an average 6% annual increase in the net client value of theircustomers, compared to 2% and 9% decreases for the othermaturity classes, respectively. This validates the importance offocusing on customer renewals by electronic signature users, whosupport their customers’ efficiency by avoiding time-consumingpaper trails and providing online signing functionality.• Proposal quality. Among the 441 survey respondents for thelead-to-win research, the Best-in-Class (see sidebar) reveal anaverage time-to-signature - the average amount of time thattranspires between the point where a contract is requested, and thetime when the signature is received - of 23 days, compared with 37days for other companies. This 61% differential can certainly beimpacted by a sales team’s efforts to reduce the number of contractor proposal iterations that are produced both internally and incustomer-facing form, by working harder, and smarter, to avoidcreating documents that include errors. One of the tenets ofelectronic signature products indeed focuses on ensuring that thephysical location and timing of required contractual signatures areclearer to the buyer when using electronic rather than hard-copyversions.• Shorter sales cycles. With an overall average sales cycle of 4.5months, survey respondents clearly need plenty of time to closetheir deals, which are typically sized in the $250 to $300k range.Users of electronic signatures have been more successful than othercompanies in reducing these cycle times on a year-over-year basis,ostensibly because they create an easier, online experience for theirprospects and customers to “seal the deal” rather than relying onprinted matter shipped by email, fax or courier to receive the finalagreement as confirmed by the buyer’s signature. As indicatedabove, the time-to-signature gains achieved by using the technologyin “the last mile” of the decision-making journey helps reduce thetime associated with the final barriers to closing business.www.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897
  3. 3. Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 3© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200Understanding the PACE of Technology-Enabled SalesSuccessAberdeen’s PACE MethodologyAberdeen applies a methodologyto benchmark research thatevaluates the business Pressures,Actions, Capabilities, andEnablers (PACE) that indicatecorporate behavior in specificbusiness processes:√ Pressures — external forcesthat impact an organization’smarket position,competitiveness, or businessoperations.√ Actions — the strategicapproaches that anorganization takes in responseto industry pressures.√ Capabilities — the businessprocess competencies(process, organization,performance and knowledgemanagement) required toexecute corporate strategy.√ Enablers — the keyfunctionality of technologysolutions required to supportthe organization’s enablingbusiness practices.Much as Aberdeen’s standard “PACE” research methodology (see sidebar)is used to understand how different sub-sets of a research audience behaveand perform versus one another, users of electronic signature solutionsshow a number of differentiating methodologies, as illustrated in Figure 2.Figure 2: Strategic Actions Undertaken by Electronic signatureUsers Target a Shorter Sales Cycle33%20% 20%27%15%11%10%15%20%25%30%35%40%Improve ourunderstanding ofprospect/customerbuying behaviorsAutomate moreprocesses withinour sales cycle ormethodologyIdentify “chokepoints” where thesales cycle slowsdownn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All others33%20% 20%27%15%11%10%15%20%25%30%35%40%Improve ourunderstanding ofprospect/customerbuying behaviorsAutomate moreprocesses withinour sales cycle ormethodologyIdentify “chokepoints” where thesales cycle slowsdownn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All othersSource: Aberdeen Group, June 2010While the leading business pressure reported by survey respondents, “wedon’t convert enough leads to sales,” is consistently emphasized among allcompanies surveyed, the strategic actions undertaken by electronicsignature users, in comparison to other companies, shows significant insightinto the maturity of their sales process, and these organizations’understanding of how technology enablement of sales effectiveness can yieldmeasurable results. While a third of these companies seek to improveperformance through a better understanding of prospect/customer buyingbehavior, only about a quarter of other companies recognize the value ofimproving their own sales results by learning more about their buyers. Inthe instance of deploying electronic signature tools, the higher-performingteams are addressing the need to save time (and paper) that achieves bettersales results by closing deals with their buyers more frequently, simply andquickly.Similarly, electronic signature-enabled sales teams are, by definition, automatinga process and seeking to eliminate “choke points” in the selling/closing cycle bydeploying the solution. Indeed, Best-in-Class companies within this researchindicate an average planned sales automation spending increase of 8% in 2010,compared with 6.5% among the Industry Average and 4.7% for Laggards.www.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897
  4. 4. Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 4© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200Figure 3: Process and Knowledge Management Capabilities Pavethe Way Toward More Efficient SellingBest-in-Class CapabilitiesThe Best-in-Class among 441lead-to-win survey respondentsdeploy a number of capabilitiesmore frequently than othercompanies:√ Electronic audit trail: 34% vs.33%√ Guided selling: 48% vs. 33%√ Customer discovery process:31% vs. 26%√ Executive documentationvisibility: 63% vs. 53%√ Performance analytics: 62% vs.46%√ Sales coaching content: 43% vs.30%50% 50%34%36% 35%25%20%25%30%35%40%45%50%55%60%Electronic audit trailof all documentationGuided sellingmethodology to helpsales reps identifythe optimal messageand timing at eachstage of the salescycleProcess to improvethe customerdiscoverymethodologyn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All others50% 50%34%36% 35%25%20%25%30%35%40%45%50%55%60%Electronic audit trailof all documentationGuided sellingmethodology to helpsales reps identifythe optimal messageand timing at eachstage of the salescycleProcess to improvethe customerdiscoverymethodologyn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All othersSource: Aberdeen Group, June 2010In terms of the capabilities that users of electronic signatures deploy tosupport overall sales effectiveness, Figures 3 and 4 illustrate a number ofbest practices that these companies are using to reach their goals fasterthan other organizations; these trends also mirror Best-in-Classperformance (see sidebar).Figure 4: Organization and Performance Management BestPractices Add to the Competitive Edge70%57%43%58%46%32%25%35%45%55%65%75%Managerial andexecutive visibilityinto all customer-facingdocumentationPerformanceanalytics againstagreed-to objectives(metrics) arereviewed regularlySales coachingcontent captured anddynamically providedto reps in futurerelevant sellingscenariosn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All others70%57%43%58%46%32%25%35%45%55%65%75%Managerial andexecutive visibilityinto all customer-facingdocumentationPerformanceanalytics againstagreed-to objectives(metrics) arereviewed regularlySales coachingcontent captured anddynamically providedto reps in futurerelevant sellingscenariosn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All othersSource: Aberdeen Group, June 2010www.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897
  5. 5. Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 5© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200Technology Enablement of PeakSales PerformancesSales teams deploying thefollowing technology enablersachieve better performance:√ 59% of the Best-in-Classdeploy sales performancemanagement solutions,compared to 46% of Laggards√ Users of sales contractmanagement tools see acustomer retention rate of71% and average 60% teamattainment of quota,compared to 62% and 52%,respectively, for non-users√ Configure/price/quote solutionusers see a customerretention rate of 71% andaverage 60% team attainmentof quota, compared to 62%and 52%, respectively, for non-usersWhether increasing visibility into the path of proposal/contractdocumentation via an electronic audit trail, or better defining and managingto the sales stages used to determine time-to-close and sales forecasts,these end-users are removing a significant barrier within their overall salesprocess while simultaneously allowing more enhanced and measurablehands-on management of the sales team.Finally, in addition to electronic signatures, what other sales automationtechnology is used by these organizations? Figure 5 details a selection ofenablers for which the use exceeds that of other companies. In addition toSales Performance Management (SPM) adoption (February, 2010Aberdeenresearch for Sales Intelligence: Preparing for Smarter Selling showed that usersof SPM achieve an average team attainment of quota of 57%, versus 38% fornon-users) companies using electronic signature products are keen onenabling their sales staff with additional contract-specific tools that cancreate and store proposal templates (sales contract management) andsolutions that allow for speedy, pre-signature product configurationautomation. In addition, per the sidebar, these technology adoption trendsalso map to Best-in-Class practices.Figure 5: Additional Technology Enablers Used to EnhanceElectronic signature’s Benefits63%52% 51%56%44%45%40%45%50%55%60%65%70%Sales performance orincentivecompensationmanagementSales contractmanagementConfigure/price/quotesolutionn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All others63%52% 51%56%44%45%40%45%50%55%60%65%70%Sales performance orincentivecompensationmanagementSales contractmanagementConfigure/price/quotesolutionn = 441PercentageofRespondentsUsers of electronic signatures All othersSource: Aberdeen Group, June 2010www.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897
  6. 6. Top-Performing Sales Teams Deploy Electronic Signatures to Achieve Cost-Effective Sales GrowthPage 6© 2010 Aberdeen Group. Telephone: 617 854 5200ConclusionFast Facts: Electronic SignatureUsersSales teams deployingelectronic signature solutions:√ Are 26% more likely thannon-users to aggressivelypromote inside sales teammembers into field sales or“closing” roles√ Report a 15% higher averagedeal size than non-users√ Work under a 9% higheraverage sales quota, perrepresentative, than non-usersIt is not difficult to look at any sales representative, who stands by a faxmachine, waiting for their deal’s signed contract to arrive, and wonder whysuch manual activity is still considered acceptable in any contemporarybusiness selling environment. Sales teams adopting electronic signaturetechnologies recognize this relatively straightforward premise, and as aresult are yielding better business results as a consequence of theirinvestment. Ongoing Aberdeen lead-to-win research will continue toexamine how enabling technologies and business best practices differ amongthe various levels of sales performers within this data set.For more information on this or other research topics, please visitwww.aberdeen.com.Related ResearchOptimizing Lead-To-Win: Shrinking the SalesCycle and Focusing Closers on Sealing MoreDeals May, 2010Providing a 360˚ View of the Customer:Better Service - Higher Sales March, 2010Sales Intelligence: Preparing for SmarterSelling; February, 2010Inside Sales Enablement:"Let Them Drink Coffee!"; December2009Sales Training: Translating Tribal SellingKnowledge Into Bottom-Line Productivity,September 2009Sales Effectiveness: Pathways toProductivity; September, 2008Sales Analytics: Hitting the Forecast Bulls-Eye; July, 2008Author: Peter Ostrow, Research Director, Sales Effectiveness(peter.ostrow@aberdeen.com)Since 1988, Aberdeens research has been helping corporations worldwide become Best-in-Class. Havingbenchmarked the performance of more than 644,000 companies, Aberdeen is uniquely positioned to provideorganizations with the facts that matter — the facts that enable companies to get ahead and drive results. Thats whyour research is relied on by more than 2.2 million readers in over 40 countries, 90% of the Fortune 1,000, and 93% ofthe Technology 500.As a Harte-Hanks Company, Aberdeen plays a key role of putting content in context for the global direct and targetedmarketing company. Aberdeens analytical and independent view of the "customer optimization" process of Harte-Hanks (Information – Opportunity – Insight – Engagement – Interaction) extends the client value and accentuates thestrategic role Harte-Hanks brings to the market. For additional information, visit Aberdeen http://www.aberdeen.comor call (617) 723-7890, or to learn more about Harte-Hanks, call (800) 456-9748 or go to http://www.harte-hanks.comThis document is the result of primary research performed by Aberdeen Group. Aberdeen Groups methodologiesprovide for objective fact-based research and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication. Unlessotherwise noted, the entire contents of this publication are copyrighted by Aberdeen Group, Inc. and may not bereproduced, distributed, archived, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent byAberdeen Group, Inc. 010109awww.aberdeen.com Fax: 617 723 7897

×