Sales organisations that embrace being adaptive by design will outpace competition and achieve superior commercial outcomes, according to Gartner.

“From budget constraints and limited resources to fast-evolving buyer expectations and mounting pressure to adopt and master new technology, sales leaders are stuck in a reactive mode,” says Dave Egloff, vice-president analyst in the Gartner Sales Practice. “Rather than building organisational adaptability in the face of this constant chaos, leaders are over-relying on individual sellers, leading to seller burnout and performance issues.”

According to a Gartner survey of over 200 senior sales leaders conducted in November and December 2023, two out of three sales leaders struggle to shift resources to an emerging priority.

“Sellers are overwhelmed and experiencing change fatigue from this pressure cooker backdrop,” adds Egloff. “For a sales organization to succeed in constant disruption, leaders must signal a pivot from a reactive approach to being adaptive by design. It is this game-changing shift towards anticipatory adaptation that will lead to an organization having a winning advantage.

An adaptive organisation can effectively navigate the decision-making process with speed and accuracy. Being adaptive by design allows organisations to advance confidently through this decision process as they utilise sales intelligence to find usable, contextualised insights, quickly evaluate to determine a course of action, trigger change to gain competitive advantage, and ultimately sustain those actions through disciplined change management.

What separates the winners are three accelerators that speed up decision making:

* Revenue intelligence leverages data as contextualized insight, informing sales leaders on what’s coming, what’s working, what’s slowing them down, and what they should do as a result. Data is both predictive and actionable, giving organisations the power to adapt.

* Technology as a teammate focuses on building a different relationship between humans and technology, one which has clearly defined responsibilities and transparent actionability. Technology is no longer just another tool that can overwhelm sellers but now a partner that expedites their ability to adapt.

* Modularity enables agility and allows organisations to tweak their approach to the situation as it evolves, rather than being locked into tightly interwoven dependencies.

“In order to thrive in the uncertainty, sales organizations must embrace constant adaptation, effective decision making, and be able to sustain shifts in strategy or execution,” says Alice Walmesley, director: advisory in the Gartner Sales Practice. “Organisations that make this shift to adaptive design are more likely to mitigate the downsides created by external events and capture the full potential of opportunities.

“CSOs must embrace this winning formula regardless of marketplace conditions, acting with agility and finding opportunities for growth in disruption” Walmesley adds.