- Research found that 56% of UK businesses have seen their new business pipeline reduced because of COVID-19 and expect recovery to take 12 months
- Almost half (48%) of UK businesses haven’t made any changes to support remote selling, while 64% of respondents are finding it more difficult to build relationships with prospects due to having less face-to-face contact
London, UK – A new report from HubSpot, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) platform, today revealed that London-based businesses have been hit hardest by COVID-19 as 40% of sales representatives in the capital are failing to hit any sales targets this year due to the impact of the pandemic.
The research also found that 58% of sales representatives across the country feel it will be difficult to reach their targets by the end of the year; however, younger people aged 18-40 are the most optimistic about their chances of meeting targets through November and December, and are 26% more optimistic than those over 55.
These findings are from HubSpot’s Sales Enablement Survey: Rebuilding the UK’s new business pipeline[E1] , which explores how optimistic businesses are about their growth over the coming months, and how they are handling new business prospects and leads in the wake of the pandemic.
Businesses not supporting remote selling
With findings suggesting businesses in London have had their sales targets affected the most, HubSpot’s report shows that the shift to remote selling is the primary reason for missing those targets. Almost half (48%) of UK businesses haven’t made any changes to support remote selling, while 64% of respondents are finding it more difficult to build relationships with prospects due to having less face-to-face contact – by far the most reported reason.
Christian Kinnear, VP of Sales & Managing Director EMEA at HubSpot commented: “There are real lessons for businesses to take from this period of forced remote work around the potential business impact of not adapting and ensuring sales teams have the tools they need to operate. Management teams need to take a good look at the competencies of their sales representatives and identify where they need support – from the tools necessary to truly interact with and understand their customers, who are now one step more removed than normal, to refining their techniques for remote selling.”
Younger generation driving optimism
18-40 year olds are among the most optimistic when it comes to sales, with 34% of respondents stating they feel it will be easier to meet targets in November and December. This attitude is continued throughout findings, where almost half (49%) of over 41 year olds feeling their certainty in converting prospects to leads has decreased since the start of the pandemic, compared to 59% of 18-40 year olds saying their confidence has remained the same as before the pandemic.
Other trends in the report show seniority is also having an impact on optimism, with Sales Representatives and Sales Leaders being 12% more optimistic about hitting targets than Sales Managers and Sales Ops. Whilst age is a factor in explaining this, it also suggests that positive conversations are happening between sales prospects and representatives, which is not yet filtering up the managers who are still concerned about the bigger picture.
The long road to recovery
As 56% of respondents are battling their reduced business pipeline due to the pandemic, over a fifth (22%) of sales representatives are looking to sell into new markets, showing the willingness to be flexible through the difficult times.
Future gazing responses also showed that only 15% of businesses are enabling sales teams to sell remotely long-term, which shows most companies see remote selling as a temporary method, until other face-to-face approaches become available again.
Christian Kinnear added: “While there is no silver bullet for businesses looking to recover from the impact of the pandemic, our report shows that companies need to be thinking about how their teams are able to engage with customers in the remote world, just as much as they are watching markets shift and diversifying their products. With the need to fill a depleted pipeline pushing businesses into new markets, and with fewer routes to speak to prospects, sales teams rely on CRM tools more to support their sales techniques and land a sale. Management teams need to lead by example and take responsibility to drive the necessary change in the shift to remote working – they cannot expect their sales reps to somehow figure it out themselves.”