Sales today looks nothing like it did 50 or even 10 years ago. If Willy Loman were to shadow the typical sales rep of 2015, he would undoubtedly be confused. Why so much time spent on the phone, and almost none traveling to prospects' offices? Where are the trusty Yellow Pages?What the heck is LinkedIn?!

There's no doubt about it -- today's sales reps and marketers are experiencing a revolution. To stay relevant, salespeople must embrace the digitalization of their profession, or resign themselves to obsolescence.

But has every aspect of sales evolved at the same pace? While modern salespeople have an abundance of new tools and channels at their fingertips, HubSpot's new State of Inbound 2015-2016 report indicates that adoption isn't always in step with cutting-edge technological developments. 

Here are the three most surprising statistics that emerged from the research, based on an international survey of nearly 4,000 marketers and salespeople. 

1) A mere 8% of salespeople consider social selling a priority.

With all the buzz around social selling, you might think that everyone and their brother is hopping aboard the bandwagon. But according to our research, this couldn't be farther from the truth. Fewer than one in 10 salespeople in our survey are prioritizing social selling this year.

Even more eyebrow-raising is that social selling doesn't exactly seem to be gaining importance over time. How does this year's data compare to last year's? Seven percent of salespeople who took the State of Inbound Sales 2014 survey identified social selling as a priority. This means that social selling garnered a 1% increase in prioritization year-over-year.


2) Almost a quarter of sales teams do not use a CRM system.

CRMs aren't exactly new, and yet, they're still not the norm for all sales forces. Nearly 24% of respondents in our survey said that their teams do not use a CRM system. Even more alarming? A whopping 46% of salespeople store lead and customer data in physical files, Google docs, and other "informal means" in addition to or in place of dedicated sales technology.

3) Only 42% of companies have lead contact information before salespeople reach out.

I'll give you a minute to read that one over again.

Has it sunk in? Fewer than 50% of sales reps receive leads' contact information from their companies. And contact information is the bare minimum reps need to reach out.

Although we're living in an era of unprecedented data and information, this data indicates that reps are still crippled by a lack of company-provided information about their leads. So if salespeople would like to customize their pitches to specific prospects -- a necessary step if they hope to receive a response -- the burden of research falls almost entirely on their shoulders.

While sales channels and technology might not resemble those of the past, these three statistics prove that reps today continue to struggle with old challenges. Overhyped trends failing to catch on? Disorganized data? A dearth of lead information? I have a feeling Willy Loman could relate.

The full State of Inbound report contains even more fascinating insights about today's sales landscape. Download the complete study to discover:

  • How sales technology budgets have changed since last year
  • How successful sales teams differ from unsuccessful teams
  • The #1 challenge salespeople face 
  • The #1 thing sales reps look for in a new job
  • How happy sales technology users are with their CRM systems, business data software, and digital transaction services

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Originally published Oct 13, 2015 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017


Sales Trends