Press Releases

LAS VEGAS, Nev., September 18, 2019

Gartner Identifies the Top Three Priorities for Sales Leaders in 2020

Gartner Experts Discuss the Impact of Changing Customer Dynamics and Shifting Economic Conditions at the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference 2019, Taking Place September 17-19 in Las Vegas

According to Gartner, Inc., three critical areas — sales manager effectiveness, prospecting and early pipeline activities, and account growth — are top priorities for sales leaders and their organizations’ success going into 2020. Gartner polled CSOs and other sales leaders about their critical priorities, as well as the underlying initiatives they believe will drive successful execution of those priorities, and these three areas clearly emerged on top.

Speaking to an audience of more than 800 chief sales officers (CSOs) and other sales leaders at the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference 2019 in Las Vegas, Matt Dudek, vice president in Gartner’s sales practice, shared how CSOs should develop and communicate their sales strategy to the C-suite and the broader sales force to execute on these 2020 priorities.

Priority 1: Promote sales manager effectiveness

According to the Gartner Global Labor Market Survey, 38% of sellers quit because of a bad direct manager, but that is just the beginning.

“Sellers aren’t just leaving because of the occasional ‘bad apple’ manager, they’re leaving because there is a whole orchard of bad managers,” said Mr. Dudek. “However, good managers — and a culture that supports dedicated and effective managers — can help retain high-quality talent by up to 15% to 30% and help sellers onboard faster.”

Vital attributes of good managers include integrity, reliability, the availability to listen, demonstrated leadership and a firm understanding of sales today. However, these are just the start. Gartner recommends that sales leaders ensure effective managers take three key actions:

  1. Facilitate seller judgment to promote business ownership and encourage a network of collective team support.
  2. Increase team innovation to dig into deal-level challenges and insights, and allow for ideation for novel approaches to deals.
  3. Provide meaningful, actionable coaching that creates ongoing dialogue and can be tailored for personalized development.

Priority 2: Improve prospecting and early pipeline activities

Although most marketing teams are responsible for the top end of the funnel, Gartner research reveals that most sales teams lack confidence in marketing, rejecting 55% of marketing-qualified leads.

“Part of the problem lies in the difference in perception of what makes a high-quality lead,” said Mr. Dudek. “CSOs need to implement the use of progressive qualification filters, such as fit-based, threshold-based, and buying journey-based filters, to identify high-quality leads. This qualification enables sales to focus on those most likely to convert and convert at higher margins.”

Priority 3: Support account growth

The predominant mindset within most organizations is that exceptional service drives growth. In fact, 88% of account managers believe that “above and beyond service” is the surest way to ultimately drive growth. However, Gartner research reveals quite the opposite — that exceptional service has no significant impact on driving existing account growth.

“While a ‘service-first’ mentality does have a positive impact on retaining accounts, it has no impact on the likelihood of growing an account,” said Mr. Dudek. “Gartner analysis shows that a set of activities called ‘customer improvement’ is the leading driver of growth within existing accounts. When sellers give customers a unique and critical perspective — a vision on how they might improve their business and emphasize the ROI of the commercial relationship — they are more likely to grow that account.”

Additional details on these top three priorities are available to Gartner for Sales Leaders clients in the reports “Retaining Sales Talent in a Tight Labor Market” and “Driving Growth Through Smarter Account Management.”

About Gartner for Sales Leaders

Gartner for Sales Leaders provides heads of sales and their teams with the insights, advice and tools they need to address mission-critical priorities amid mounting pressures to drive growth through new and existing customers. With extensive qualitative and quantitative research, Gartner for Sales Leaders helps sales teams combat commoditization and price-based purchasing, develop critical manager and seller skills, elevate the value of sales interactions, unlock existing growth potential, and optimize sales force enablement.

About the Gartner CSO & Sales Leaders Conference

Sales leaders face unprecedented changes in customer expectations, technology and the talent needed to drive results. At the Gartner CSO & Sales Leader Conference, taking place September 17-19, 2019 in Las Vegas, sales leaders will learn from the latest research and Gartner experts covering sales talent, customer buying behavior, account-based marketing strategies and leveraging digital channels. Follow news and updates from the event on Twitter at #GartnerSales.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit