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The significant changes in the marketplace, driven primarily but not exclusively by digital, spurred us to update our book Sales Growth: Five Proven Strategies from the World’s Sales Leaders. How do sales leaders harness digital and analytics to drive growth? How are management and talent challenges evolving? And what does the future of sales look like?
Based on discussions with more than 200 executives from companies like adidas, American Express, and Siemens, as well as on advanced research and our firm’s extensive experience in sales, we have distilled the lessons into a set of practical, real-world insights across five major themes:
Digital’s share of total US retail sales has grown by about 15 percent annually over the past five years.
- Finding growth before your competitors do
- Selling the way customers want
- Optimizing sales operations and technology
- Finding sales leaders who continually challenge the status quo and thoughtfully manage performance
- Leading sales growth to make change happen
New interviews and research allowed us to focus on some of the big changes affecting sales and what sales leaders are doing about them. Here are some of the highlights:
Power growth through digital sales
Sales organizations may have felt that digital technologies and channels were jeopardizing their business, but they are now realizing they can turn them to their advantage.
By 2017, almost two-thirds of all US retail sales will involve some form of online research, consideration, or purchase. Digital’s share of total retail sales in the United States has been growing by about 15 percent annually over the past five years, and the value of those sales is predicted to grow at 9.5 percent year on year. Turn to mobile channels and the growth is even more dramatic: 25 percent a year through 2017.1 A revolution in processing ability has put unprecedented shopping and buying power into the hands of today’s customers.
American smartphone owners who use their phones to help them shop while in a store.
More than 60 percent of Americans have a smartphone, and 80 percent of them are “smartphone shoppers” —they use their phones to help them shop while in a store, most often to research product reviews and specifications and compare prices.2 In South Korea, shoppers are not so much mobile first as “mobile only.” Of consumers who shopped on a mobile device, 13 percent did not shop in stores, and 53 percent did not shop via other digital channels.
Smartphone users are in many ways a godsend for vendors. Their digital footprint makes them easier to track through their decision journey, and that additional data delivers richer insights that can help drive higher-value purchases. The convenience and tailored experience now on offer not only help companies build stronger connections to customers but also drive down costs. Some 40 percent of US drugstore chain Walgreens’ total online prescription refills are ordered via its mobile app. This saves time for pharmacists and reduces the need for additional employees.3
- McKinsey & Company iConsumer research( 2015, United States); Monthly & Annual Retail US Census Bureau, 2015; “US annual e-retail sales surpass $300 billion for the first time,” Internet Retailer, February 2015; Forrester Research; “How some companies are using mobile to power growth,” McKinsey on Marketing & Sales, December 2015.
- “How some companies are using mobileto power growth,” McKinsey on Marketing & Sales, December 2015.