Outreach’s Quarterly Sales Confidence Index Reveals Sales Leaders’ Continued Positive Outlook Despite Turbulent Economy

Findings Reveal a Majority of Sales Leaders Plan to Increase Headcount, and Are Actively Using Generative AI in the Workplace 

Outreach, the leading sales execution platform helping revenue organizations create and close more pipeline, today announced the Outreach Winter ’23 Sales Confidence Index. The survey of 507 B2B sales leaders in the U.S. and U.K. at the end of January 2023 revealed that respondents continue to have a positive outlook when it comes to their ability to grow their revenue in the short and long term, despite a turbulent economy.

“When you read today’s headlines, there’s a general consensus of a softening across all markets. However, the data from our survey shows that, across industries, B2B sales leaders remain bullish in their ability to drive growth,” said Manny Medina, CEO and cofounder of Outreach. “What I’m seeing is that fear and uncertainty are causing longer deal cycles, and more approvals — all the way up to the CFO — are needed to get a deal done. This environment makes it very difficult for sales leaders to accurately forecast their pipeline, but deals happen when sellers focus on solving a distinct business problem for their customers.”

Eighty two percent of sales leaders in January expect to increase revenue in the current quarter, down slightly from the 85% of respondents in October. Respondents cited the following top five reasons for their positive outlook: overall sector performance, customer buying intentions, customer budgets, introduction of new sales technologies, and a change in sales processes.

Only 3% of the January respondents expect a slight decrease in revenue in the current quarter, up slightly from 1% in October. The respondents expecting a decrease represent a variety of industries, including Business and professional services, Financial services, Technology and/or technology services, and Agriculture and food and/or beverage.

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In addition, 74% of those surveyed in January are planning to increase headcount in the next six months, which is down only slightly from 77% in October. And, out of those who plan to increase, 67% are looking to increase headcount by up to 15%. Only 5% of January respondents said they plan to decrease headcount, which is down from 9% of respondents in October.

Sales Leaders Are Early Adopters of Generative AI 
Outreach’s Winter ’23 Sales Confidence Index also revealed 93% of respondents are continuing to prioritize their investments in sales technology, which is consistent with October’s findings. Sales leaders from companies of all sizes continue to trust Outreach’s Sales Execution Platform to increase their rep productivity to create more pipeline and close more deals.

For the first time, Outreach asked respondents about generative AI technologies, and found a surprising 62% are actively using generative AI in the workplace. An additional 17% shared they are not actively using it, but their workplace is interested in implementing the technology. According to a Gartner® report, “By 2025, 75% of B2B sales organizations will augment traditional sales playbooks with AI-guided selling solutions.”

Last month, Outreach announced Outreach Smart Email Assist, a new offering that leverages generative AI to automatically draft email content based on previous conversations – to dramatically improve rep productivity. The company will showcase Smart Email Assist and other new product innovations at Outreach Explore+ virtual event on March 15, 2023.

The Return of Face-to-Face Meetings
The survey found a shift in how sales people are conducting meetings with customers. A majority of respondents (53%) in October and in January claim they’re “mostly meeting with customers through a video meeting platform with some in-person meetings, with business travel.” However, 32% percent of respondents in January are holding mostly in-person meetings, which is an increase from the October results, where only 24% said they meet mostly in-person. Additionally, the number of respondents holding “only virtual meetings” last fall decreased from 21% to 13% this winter.

Read More: Mastering Sales in 2023 Will Require Masterful Outbound

Outreach partnered with Dynata to survey 507 B2B sales leaders in the United States and United Kingdom across industries. Out of those surveyed, 64% identified as male and 36% as female. 30% respondents identified as VP of Sales, 29% as director of sales, 27% as sales team leader or manager, 7% as sales administrators, and 6% as individual contributors. Survey respondents represented a wide variety of industries. A full breakdown is included in the report.

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agricultureaugment traditional salesB2B salesBusiness and professional servicescustomer budgetscustomer buying intentionsEmail Assistfinancial servicesgenerative AIin-person meetingsNewsOutlook DespiteOutreachsales administratorssales execution platformsales processesTechnology and/or technology servicesTurbulent Economy