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RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.
Top Sales Challenges and Priorities for Sales Enablement and Leaders
Top Sales Challenges and Priorities for Sales Enablement and Leaders

What challenges do sales enablement and sales leaders encounter most often? Which ones are most difficult to tackle?

What are the top sales priorities for the next 12 months? How should they be addressed to ensure they're achieved?

To find out the answers to these questions, we surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders.

The results are fascinating. As sales researchers and analysts, it helps us to see not only what's changed, but also what's changing right now and where the industry is going.

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[On-Demand Webinar] 3 Strategies to Overcome Sales Leadership Challenges and Achieve Priorities
[On-Demand Webinar] 3 Strategies to Overcome Sales Leadership Challenges and Achieve Priorities

Delivering value, making the ROI case, retaining customers, growing accounts, recruiting top talent, forecasting, implementing a sales process, utilizing sales technologies, winning against the competition, developing sales managers, coaching sales teams, generating leads, onboarding, productivity, compensation...

There's no shortage of challenges sales leaders face.

Recently, we surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders to uncover their top challenges and priorities, and how they approach them.

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Top Sales Leadership Challenges and Priorities [New Complimentary Report]
Top Sales Leadership Challenges and Priorities [New Complimentary Report]

What are the top challenges sales enablement and sales leaders face today? What are their top priorities?

Which are most difficult to tackle? How should they be tackled?

To find out, we asked 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders these questions.

This report contains our findings, including 3 initiatives that will help sales and enablement leaders address their challenges and achieve their priorities.

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We Need Your Help! New Negotiation Research Survey
We Need Your Help! New Negotiation Research Survey

If you've participated in a negotiation as a buyer or seller, we need your help!

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research is conducting a study to identify what works and what doesn't in business-to-business (B2B) negotiations to buy and sell goods and services.

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54 Sales Quotes to Motivate and Inspire [SlideShare]
54 Sales Quotes to Motivate and Inspire [SlideShare]

Want to succeed in sales?

Need a little extra motivation?

Looking for inspiration and best practices?

You're in luck.

We've compiled 54 of our favorite sales quotes from RAIN Group's best-selling books, research reports, white papers, and award-winning blog that will inspire you and your sales team to reach top performance.

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3 Ways to Spark Motivation and Increase Your Drive
3 Ways to Spark Motivation and Increase Your Drive

Fitness centers are packed in January—everyone's motivated to lose those holiday pounds. Then, a month later, the place clears out.

What happened? Where did everyone go?

I can tell you: their motivation crashed and burned. There one month, gone the next.

Is it gone forever? Thankfully, no.

What happens, though, is that most people wait for motivation. They don't do what they can do, at any time, to bring it forth.

They don't do what they can do to manufacture their own motivation.

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The Definition of Motivation and What it Means For You
The Definition of Motivation and What it Means For You

While there are many definitions of motivation, I like Business Dictionary's best:

mo·ti·va·tion
/,mōdә΄vāSH(ә)n/ • noun

Internal and external factors that stimulate desire and energy in people to be continually interested and committed to a job, role or subject, or to make an effort to attain a goal.


Let's break it down.

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How to Be More Productive: 12 Key Drivers of Extreme Productivity
How to Be More Productive: 12 Key Drivers of Extreme Productivity

There's abundant advice on how to be more productive. Endless hacks, tips, motivational quotes, trainings, apps, and tools all promising to increase your productivity.

It's enough to make your head spin. It definitely made our heads spin over the years as we tried to help our clients increase execution and accountability after training programs. So, we asked the question, "What actually helps people be more productive?"

To find out what really makes a difference in productivity, we studied and analyzed the work habits of 2,377 business people, performing a statistical test called a key driver analysis.

A key driver analysis seeks to discover and demonstrate whether a factor (the key driver) causes a particular outcome. For this study, we analyzed work habits and behaviors to determine whether or not they impact the outcome of productivity (as well as performance, happiness, and job satisfaction).

When you run an analysis like this, sometimes you find something, sometimes not.

We certainly found something this time around. In fact, we found that 12 of the behaviors we studied were key drivers of Extreme Productivity.

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Asking Questions in Sales - What You Need to Know
Asking Questions in Sales - What You Need to Know

This RAIN Group Article was originally published on the InsideSales Blog.

Asking incisive sales questions is essential for success.

The questions you ask help you uncover buyer needs and desires, connect with buyers, and demonstrate your expertise.

By asking questions, you can discover the buyer's buying process, learn about the key decision makers involved, and qualify the opportunity. Questions allow you to ensure that you and the buyer are on the same page.

A lot of sellers do too much talking and presenting, and when they do ask the buyer questions, it's the same old "What keeps you up at night?" clichés.

Asking your buyer the right questions not only provides you with a treasure trove of important information, but it can also differentiate you from the sea of sellers vying for the buyer's attention.

To help you make the most out of your meetings, we've outlined different types of questions you can ask and why they're important to use in your sales conversations.

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Defend Yourself Against Productivity Dragons [Infographic]
Defend Yourself Against Productivity Dragons [Infographic]

Something new vies for your attention every few minutes: emails, text messages, collaboration tools, phone calls, co-workers, meetings, customers, and the list goes on. The result? Productivity suffers.

But with discipline and preparation, you can defeat these productivity dragons.

We know it's possible because we recently surveyed 2,377 professionals to find out which habits and hacks, when applied in different combinations, drive not only productivity, but also top performance versus peers, job satisfaction, and happiness. With only 14% of people rating themselves Extremely Productive (The XP), there's a huge opportunity for 86% of people to take control of their time, achieve top performance, and slay their productivity-killing dragons.

This infographic teaches you how to take advantage of that opportunity.

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16 Negotiation Tactics Buyers Use (and How to Respond)
16 Negotiation Tactics Buyers Use (and How to Respond)

Buyer and seller negotiations are a fun dance. While these negotiations are usually partner-focused (win-win), buyers often use standoffish tactics to gain an advantage in the negotiation at the seller's expense. Even if you—as the seller—have a win-win mindset and approach, you need to know how to maneuver the situation when buyers throw you curveballs. You need the right negotiation skills to bolster your success.

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TIME Sprinting to Boost Sales Productivity and Achieve More
TIME Sprinting to Boost Sales Productivity and Achieve More

This RAIN Group article was originally published on the ATD Blog.

I always considered myself a productive person. I work quickly, type fast, and get a lot accomplished. Or so I thought.

One day, I came across a time-management book that talked about "time boxing." With time boxing, you assign a fixed amount of time to a specific activity. The idea is to work on the task and stop when you reach the time limit.

Since this strategy reduces distractions by forcing you to concentrate on one task—and one task only—for a set amount of time, I decided to give it a try.

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Selling Financial Advisory Services: Generate Conversations and Lasting Relationships with Clients
Selling Financial Advisory Services: Generate Conversations and Lasting Relationships with Clients

I recently switched financial advisors for both my business and personal finances. In order to make an informed decision, I interviewed three different advisors before choosing. The approaches taken by each of them both before and during the meetings were wildly different and greatly influenced my overall choice.

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Maximizing Sales Motivation: 3 Habits and 9 Hacks to Get More Motivated [On-Demand Webinar]
Maximizing Sales Motivation: 3 Habits and 9 Hacks to Get More Motivated [On-Demand Webinar]

There's no denying that having a highly motivated sales team ready to give their full energy and effort day in and day out has a huge impact on your organization's success.

But how exactly can you increase your motivation and that of your team?

In this on-demand webinar, RAIN Group President John Doerr will share 3 Habits and 9 hacks proven to boost
sales motivation.

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4 Sales Compensation Challenges and Where to Focus for Real Sales Motivation
4 Sales Compensation Challenges and Where to Focus for Real Sales Motivation

Sales compensation is typically the first topic discussed when looking for ways to boost sales motivation.

Want to increase motivation? Create a compensation plan focused on driving the actions that will create results.

The thought process goes like this: incentivize the right areas, see motivation increase, get the best results.

Sounds simple, right?

Not quite.

It's simple in concept, but exceptionally difficult to achieve.

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[New Complimentary Report] 3 Daily Habits to Increase Sales Motivation
[New Complimentary Report] 3 Daily Habits to Increase Sales Motivation

The topic most commonly discussed and linked to sales motivation is compensation. However, compensation is only one piece—often not the most important piece—of the sales motivation puzzle.

There are daily habits anyone can employ that contribute significantly to motivation.

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How to Start Your Morning Right: 5 Steps to a More Productive Day
How to Start Your Morning Right: 5 Steps to a More Productive Day

This RAIN Group article was originally published on the Heinz Marketing Blog.

Isn't it amazing how some days just start off better than others? You wake up feeling refreshed, the kids practically get themselves ready, and when you show up at work, you accomplish a lot within the first hour. It feels like everything is going your way.

Then there are days when it's a struggle to get out of bed and get to work. Even your computer fights you by turning on slowly or running virus scans. When the day starts, nothing goes your way. Then it gets worse.

Wouldn't it be nice to have more of the former and less of the latter? How much more productive would you be?

This can be your reality.

You can control how the day starts.

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The Sales Motivation Myth You Need to Stop Believing
The Sales Motivation Myth You Need to Stop Believing

This RAIN Group article was originally published on the LinkedIn Sales Blog.

Some sales leaders believe that a quota and an attractive compensation plan are enough to ignite the hustle, passion, and intensity in a seller.

It makes sense they think this way given recent Harvard Business Review articles with titles like "Motivating Sales People: What Really Works" that focus 100% on compensation.

But there's much more to motivation than compensation. As Daniel Pink, author of Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us, said in the Washington Post:

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11 Ways You Can Influence Buyers to Connect With You
11 Ways You Can Influence Buyers to Connect With You

This article was originally published on the Sales Enablement Society.

Sellers often complain that it's impossible to get through to buyers. Gatekeepers are tough. Buyers are busy. Calls go to voicemail. Email goes to junk. The list goes on.

While getting through certainly isn't easy, sellers who work at it do get through. In fact, 82% of buyers say they accept meetings at least sometimes with sellers who reach out to them.

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What Makes for Successful Sales Coaching
What Makes for Successful Sales Coaching

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. Teach him to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime."

This is a popular axiom in the coaching world.

You'll find it everywhere. Here it is in a CBS News story:

"Myth 8: Professional coaches tell their clients what to do and give them advice.

Fact: Bad or inexperienced coaches tell their clients what to do and are constantly giving advice. Good coaches do not…Instead, coaches help their clients explore and come up with the best choices for them based on where they are and the client's vision for their future. Coaches are experts at the process of changing behavior, which is much more valuable than giving instructions."

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3 Tips for a Successful Sales Negotiation Agenda
3 Tips for a Successful Sales Negotiation Agenda

This article was originally published in the Inside Sales Blog.

One of the biggest mistakes sellers make in a sales negotiation is letting buyers take control of the negotiation, leaving you to play defense. If you want to come to a great agreement (and you do), you need to lead the process.

In our white paper, 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation, Rule #3 is: Lead the Negotiation. A key part in leading a sales negotiation is teeing up the meeting properly with an agreed to agenda ahead of time.

When you write the agenda, you can more effectively lead the conversation. 

Nearly all meetings in any given negotiation are unique, so you'll need to plan for each one specifically. Start by creating an agenda to determine what information will and won't be discussed.

If you bypass this step, the meeting could start off on the wrong foot with the buyer making demands or pressuring you on price.

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Core Competencies of Successful Sellers
Core Competencies of Successful Sellers

There are common competencies every organization needs to build a truly successful sales organization.

At RAIN Group, we organize these competencies around the Sales Competency WheelSM.

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3 Ways to Make Your Sales Training System More Effective
3 Ways to Make Your Sales Training System More Effective

The most popular and effective diets and workout routines—ones that lead to the most dramatic changes—have specific guidelines and rules for how to follow the system.

No such system existed for sales—until now.

And, it works.

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5 Insurance Sales Secrets for Millennial Agents
5 Insurance Sales Secrets for Millennial Agents

This article was first published on PropertyCasualty360.com and is republished here with permission. All rights reserved.

The way millennials purchase insurance is worlds apart from the approach taken by baby boomers.

A Gallup Panel Study revealed that millennials are more than twice as likely to buy insurance online, and are the least likely to be engaged with insurers.

So what happens when millennials, the largest generation in the U.S., are the ones now selling insurance? How do you sell to baby boomers who don't buy and think the same way you do?

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The New Revolution in Sales Coaching
The New Revolution in Sales Coaching

Most leaders agree the opportunity to improve sales performance through coaching is tremendous, including:

  • Maximizing sales wins for their most important opportunities
  • Filling the pipeline with new, qualified opportunities
  • Maximizing sales to key accounts
  • Focusing sellers’ time on the most important activities
  • Developing skills, knowledge, and attributes to get to the next level of performance
  • Keeping sales activities and motivation at the highest sustainable level

These leaders are turning to coaching because coaching is an increasingly popular—and increasingly proven—method of improving performance.

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Happy Holidays from RAIN Group
Happy Holidays from RAIN Group

In the spirit of giving this time of year, we've made a charitable donation on behalf of our clients to Upper Ojai Relief.

Last month, as multiple wildfires wreaked havoc across California, local organizations like Upper Ojai Relief provided much-needed support to victims without bureaucracy or red tape. Upper Ojai Relief has been particularly active at Seminole Springs, where 101 homes in one community were destroyed. They've provided both financial support and manpower to help victims sift through the ash to find family heirlooms, wedding rings, military medals, and more.

As Upper Ojai Relief has given so much to the victims of these tragic fires, we're pleased to give back to them this holiday season, and hope that you'll consider giving to a cause close to your heart.

Wishing you Happy Holidays and a joyful New Year from all of us at RAIN Group.

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RAIN Group's Best of 2018
RAIN Group's Best of 2018

Each year, our goal for the RAIN Group Sales Blog is to provide you with research, ideas, and insight to help you unleash sales potential.

From blog posts to new white papers, ebooks, infographics, webinars, and research, we've published a treasure trove of content in 2018 to help sellers, sales managers, and sales leaders reach top performance. 

Below we've rounded up our most popular content from the year that will guide you on your path towards sales success.

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The Top 5 Opportunities for Sales Growth in 2019 [On-Demand Webinar]
The Top 5 Opportunities for Sales Growth in 2019 [On-Demand Webinar]

The only thing we know about the future is that it will be different.
-Peter Drucker

With the New Year less than a month away, it's time to think about what will be different in the year ahead.

Where will you direct your focus to reach your goals and grow your sales? What are the opportunities for your organization? What do you need to do to seize them?

In this webinar, RAIN Group President Mike Schultz shares data from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research on sellers, sales leaders, and buyers, uncovering the biggest opportunities for sales growth in the year ahead.

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[Infographic] The Sales Leaders' Guide to B2B Sales Growth in 2019
[Infographic] The Sales Leaders' Guide to B2B Sales Growth in 2019

Seventy-five percent of purchases are strategic, meaning the buyer is making an investment and not required to buy.

Yet only 14% of buyers discover these strategic opportunities from sellers.

If you want to grow your sales in 2019, the opportunities are out there and very few sellers are taking advantage.

How can you build a team that closes this gap?

In this infographic, we share the biggest opportunities—according to our research from both buyers and sellers—for B2B sales growth in the year ahead.

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7 Ways to Build Rapport in Sales and Connect with People
7 Ways to Build Rapport in Sales and Connect with People

Consider this: a CBS News / New York Times poll asked, "What percent of people in general are trustworthy?" 1

The answer: 30%. We're all pretty skeptical, right?

Not necessarily. At the same time, the CBS News / New York Times poll asked a similar group the same question, but with a slight difference. "What percent of people that you know are trustworthy?"

The answer: 70%.

This goes to show: when people get to know and like you, people begin to trust you.

Of course, there's a lot more to building rapport and trust than making a positive initial connection with someone, but it sure is a good start. Having a strong connection with someone makes them more comfortable sharing their aspirations and their afflictions with you, two things you need to know about your buyer if you want to succeed in sales.

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Goal Setting Worksheet: A Powerful Tool for Setting and Reaching Goals
Goal Setting Worksheet: A Powerful Tool for Setting and Reaching Goals

Setting goals is relatively easy. You think about what you want to achieve in a certain period of time and set a specific and measurable metric around it. For example:

  • Meet sales quota of $450,000 this quarter
  • Lose 5 pounds in 4 weeks
  • Exercise 4 out of 7 days
  • Launch the new product by May 15
  • Grow a specific account by 3x this year

Reaching your goals, however, is a bit more complicated.

You need to create a goal and action plan to set expectations and to hold yourself accountable.

In our Goal Setting Worksheet, we outline a 5-step process that not only helps you set goals, but also gives you the best chance to reach them. Here we provide some goal setting examples, accompanied by visuals from the worksheet, to give you a sense of how to set goals and put actions in place to achieve them.

Click here to download our complimentary Goal Setting Worksheet.

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How to Write a Proposal
How to Write a Proposal

"Can you send me a proposal?"

Sellers love to hear these 6 words from buyers. Once you submit a proposal, you can move forward to the win.

While a good proposal summarizes what you've already discussed and agreed to, a proposal is, at its core, a persuasive document that communicates to buyers why they should buy, and why they should buy from you.

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3 Time Management Strategies to Get More Done with Less Effort
3 Time Management Strategies to Get More Done with Less Effort

There are only 24 hours in each day. Some people are able to achieve incredible amounts in that time seemingly effortlessly. Others put in massive amounts of effort, but don't seem to get where they want to be.

What are those in the more productive group doing differently? How are they able to achieve so much more?

We have found those who achieve more and whose work seems to come effortlessly have mastered the 3 time management strategies below:

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21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions
21 Powerful, Open-Ended Sales Questions

Broad, open-ended sales questions are great for helping you find out what's going on in your prospects' and clients' worlds. They are essential to sales success. In fact, "listened to me" and "understood my needs" are two of the top five factors most separating sales winners from second-place finishers.

Sales questions also help you connect with buyers personally, understand what's important to them, reshape their thinking, and create better futures for them. The importance of asking the right sales questions cannot be understated. (Hint: you need to ask more than "what keeps you up at night?")

Following are 21 open-ended sales questions you can use that will help you complete the picture of your clients' needs.

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5 Ways to Grow Pipelines and Secure Meetings
5 Ways to Grow Pipelines and Secure Meetings

This piece originally appeared in the August 2018 edition of Independent Agent magazine and is reprinted here with permission.


Word of mouth, repeat business and referrals used to be enough to maintain a thriving sales organization. But today, buyers have more options than ever before, they're more educated, and the phone doesn't ring like it used to.

That means sellers need to be proactive in growing their pipelines and securing meetings with buyers. Here are five ways to get started:

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What is Sales Training?
What is Sales Training?

Sales Training Defined: Sales training is the process of improving seller skills, knowledge, and attributes to drive seller behavioral change and maximize sales success. To be most effective, sales training should be viewed, designed, and executed as a change management initiative.

The global market for sales training is approximately $4.6 billion.

Yet most sales training fails to deliver lasting results.

This is because most companies do not define and approach sales training properly.

To deliver effective sales training, you need to redefine what sales training is. You need to focus on changing your sellers' behaviors to drive sales results and support this change as a change management initiative.

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3 Key Considerations for More Accurate Sales Reports
3 Key Considerations for More Accurate Sales Reports

If you've worked in sales for any length of time, you've likely heard the phrase, "Sales is a numbers game." It's true. A profitable sales organization relies on the careful analysis of success metrics, performance data, and sales reports.

If your sales reports are incomplete, inaccurate, or just plain wrong, the outcome is simple: misguided and ineffective selling.

Fortunately, there are ways to prevent reporting mistakes before they impact your sales team. Following are 3 factors to consider that will help you generate more accurate sales reports and execute a more profitable sales strategy.

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3 Steps to Communicating Your Value by Painting a New Reality Picture
3 Steps to Communicating Your Value by Painting a New Reality Picture

One of the greatest difficulties in sales is helping buyers understand what outcomes they will achieve when they work with you.

Creating a picture of what outcomes are possible with the solution you present is imperative for two reasons:

  1. Buyers need to be convinced of the positive outcome—and that you can achieve it—or they likely will not purchase.
  2. If your buyer doesn't fully understand what you're able to do for them, they can't communicate it to the rest of the influencers in their organization and your sale may get stuck in endless internal discussions.

Helping buyers to understand the value of the solutions you provide is an exercise in teaching and learning. Buyers need to understand what will be different for them and their organization if they purchase from you versus not doing it at all or buying from a competitor.

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[On-Demand Webinar] How to Ask Powerful Sales Questions and Win More Sales
[On-Demand Webinar] How to Ask Powerful Sales Questions and Win More Sales

Sales are won and lost based on the conversations you have with your buyers.

You need to differentiate yourself in the sales process by asking great sales questions—questions that inspire buyers to think differently, talk about their hopes and desires, and build their relationship with you. Otherwise, your buyers are going to have the same conversation with you that they're having with your competitors.

In this on-demand webinar, RAIN Group EMEA Practice Director Ago Cluytens shares the specific sales questioning techniques and skills you need to lead the most effective sales conversations and close more sales.

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The Top Sales Skills of The Best Sellers
The Top Sales Skills of The Best Sellers

To find and win business consistently, your sellers need to have the right mix of sales skills across the sales process, from filling the front-end of the pipeline to growing accounts. Too many sales teams have significant skill deficits preventing them from turning their potential for sales growth into reality.

In The Top-Performing Sales Organization research initiative, we looked at the differences between Top Performers and The Rest across sales skills and knowledge needed to drive sales performance. The gaps in skills are eye-opening.

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50 Powerful Sales Questions [Complimentary Guide]
50 Powerful Sales Questions [Complimentary Guide]

Asking incisive questions is an essential part of any sales conversation.

Great sales questions help you find out what's going on in your buyer's world. They help you connect with buyers, understand buyer needs and what's important to them, and help you drive the sale forward.

In this guide, we share 50 of the most powerful sales questions you can use in your conversations.

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9 Tips for Success in Financial Services Sales
9 Tips for Success in Financial Services Sales

Written by: Mike Schultz and Gord Smith

When it comes to selling financial services, professionals are usually faced with three common challenges:

  • Creating new conversations with potential clients
  • Leading conversations and winning business against stiff competition
  • Maximizing business with current clients

The good news is that you can overcome these hurdles. There are specific things you can do in each of these areas to be more successful. 

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Cold Calling in Technology Sales: How Buyers Prefer to Be Contacted
Cold Calling in Technology Sales: How Buyers Prefer to Be Contacted

Technology sellers lament how impossible it is to get their buyers on the phone more than any other industry.

Phone is one of the top ways sellers say they connect with buyers, yet sellers in the technology industry report extreme difficulty using it to reach their buyers.

In our study on Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we studied 488 buyers responsible for $4.2 billion of purchases and the prospecting habits of 489 sellers. We looked at results across buyer and seller sets, top performers, and industry. As part of our research, we compared how buyers prefer to be contact by sellers across multiple industries.

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7 Ways to Give Your Prospecting Emails a Makeover
7 Ways to Give Your Prospecting Emails a Makeover

Email is one of the top ways to break through and secure meetings with targeted buyers. In fact, 80% of buyers say they prefer to be contacted by sellers via email. It's an essential part of any prospecting plan.

However, too many prospecting emails fall victim to common mistakes that kill response rates. Recently, we shared 13 email prospecting best practices. Here are 7 email makeover ideas to help you improve your emails and work toward those best practices.

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How Productive Are You? Take The Extreme Productivity Assessment
How Productive Are You? Take The Extreme Productivity Assessment

Do you find yourself getting sucked into other people's priorities and projects, leaving little time for your own? Do you want to absolutely crush it when it comes to your own productivity and success? Do you want more time to focus on the things you love?

With the Extreme Productivity Assessment, you'll discover where you can make remarkable improvements in your own work habits and productivity and discover more time for the things you love.

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13 Tips for Email Prospecting Success
13 Tips for Email Prospecting Success

Email is an essential part of the prospecting process. In fact:

  • 77% of buyers have responded favorably to an email from a new provider in the last 12 months
  • 31% of sellers say sending 1-to-1 emails manually after doing research and customizing the message is very/extremely effective (this ranks in the top 5 most effective prospecting tactics)
  • 80% of buyers prefer to be contacted by sellers via email

Infographic: 30 Must-Know Sales Prospecting Stats

So, what can you do to get more of your buyers to accept meetings via email?

Below we outline 13 email prospecting tips to help you do just that. (Note: It takes more than 1 or 2 emails to break through and secure a meeting. On average, it takes 8 touches to break through and typically these touches include a mix of media.)

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XP3: The Path to Extreme Productivity
XP3: The Path to Extreme Productivity

The most successful sellers are motivated, proactive, focused, and goal-oriented. Indeed, they get the most done and achieve the best results in less time.

So what makes these sellers significantly more productive? We all have the same number of hours in a day, yet some sellers achieve considerably more than others.

The answer: They're systematic. They attack each day with a similar mindset and process to drive their productivity.

After years of study, we've boiled down what these extremely productive sellers do to just 3 keys.

By applying these 3 keys, almost anyone can achieve great leaps and improvements in productivity.

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Maximize Your Productivity: 9 Ways to Get More Done
Maximize Your Productivity: 9 Ways to Get More Done

Becoming more productive is about changing your habits. It's not something you do some of the time; it becomes part of the way you approach your work and get things done.

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The Extreme Productivity System: Keys, Habits, and Hacks
The Extreme Productivity System: Keys, Habits, and Hacks

Becoming more productive can make a dramatic difference in your work, sales success, and overall happiness.

Think about it. How do you feel after a day where you've been exceptionally productive and pushed important projects forward?

You feel invigorated, motivated, engaged, and ready for the next challenge.

Compare that to an unproductive day where you couldn't focus or spent the entire day working on tasks for others. You feel drained, overwhelmed, frustrated, and irritable.

The good news is you can control how productive you are and in turn how you feel at the end of each day.

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The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity [Complimentary Ebook]
The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity [Complimentary Ebook]

Today's sellers have never been more distracted. Emails, text messages, Slack, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, sport sites, news sites, online shopping, and more are all vying for your attention and interrupting your workflow every few minutes.

The result: Your productivity is suffering and so are your sales results.

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Your Offerings Don't Matter (Or Do They?)
Your Offerings Don't Matter (Or Do They?)

Sell the product benefits. Book the demo. Get them a free trial. Present the pitch deck.

We hear these ideas from sales pundits all the time. We want buyers to experience our product or service and see everything it has to offer. We develop long presentations and demos showing them the ins and outs and the numerous fancy, flashy things our offering can do for them.

But does it matter?

Maybe not.

Or, at least not as much as most people think.

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[On-Demand Webinar] 9 Habits of Extreme Sales Productivity
[On-Demand Webinar] 9 Habits of Extreme Sales Productivity

Sellers today are more distracted than ever. Never ending emails, phone calls, texts, social media messages, and more that interrupt workflow every few minutes are killing focus and productivity. More importantly, they're killing your sales results.

In this webinar, Mike Schultz, President of RAIN Group, Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, and bestselling author of Insight Selling, shares 9 habits of extremely productive people and how you can apply these habits to achieve the greatest sales success starting now.

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How to Discount Less Often When Price Pressure is High
How to Discount Less Often When Price Pressure is High

With more sales going through purchasing departments, you're bound to face price pressure on almost every opportunity. They'll expect you to discount.

Nearly all organizations negotiate or discount their stated list price to some extent. In fact, in our Top-Performing Sales Organization study, we asked about the frequency in which companies discount.

Results showed that only 7% of organizations never discount.

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6 Ways to Boost Sales in Your Organization
6 Ways to Boost Sales in Your Organization

There is no magic way to achieve sales success.

However, there is one significant concept that helps the companies and sellers who embrace it—those who make it part of the fabric of who they are and who their sales organization is—experience wildly successful sales results.

If you want to boost sales and join their ranks, you must become a Value-Driving Sales Organization.

Value-Driving Sales Organizations have significantly higher win rates and revenue growth, and lower undesired turnover. They not only win more at higher margins, but also retain top sales talent.

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[Infographic] Fact vs. Fiction: The Sales Prospecting Edition
[Infographic] Fact vs. Fiction: The Sales Prospecting Edition

Sales prospecting has changed more than any other facet of sales in the last 10 years. There are a lot of clickbait articles with radical advice popping up and leading sellers astray.

In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we undertook a study of 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers to find out what's working and what's not in sales prospecting.

In this infographic, we contrast 5 popular assumptions about prospecting with facts from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research.

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Sales Skills: The Best and The Worst
Sales Skills: The Best and The Worst

To succeed in sales, you need to have the right skills. You must be able to lead masterful sales conversations, manage opportunities, uncover needs, negotiate the best deals, fill the pipeline, develop relationships, manage sellers, and the list goes on.

With the laundry list of skills needed, what skills are sellers most likely to have?

In our The Top-Performing Sales Organization study, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research asked, across a number of areas, if sellers have the skills they need to find and win business consistently and at a high level. Below are the skills that rose to the top and fell to the bottom of the list:

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The Secret to Driving and Winning a Sales Opportunity
The Secret to Driving and Winning a Sales Opportunity

Too many sellers have the following problems:

  • Bloated pipelines filled with dead wood
  • Lack of clarity on what opportunities to focus on

In "How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood," we shared how to make your pipeline real and manageable. Here, you’ll find a framework that will allow you and your colleagues to define and focus on the best sales opportunities with clarity and confidence.

Sellers often treat their pipeline opportunities the same. They define need, qualify, propose, present, and wait for a win or loss. Maybe a few bubble up for more focus, but it's not always the right ones.

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How to Improve Sales Using One Simple Tool
How to Improve Sales Using One Simple Tool

Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women's hospital in Boston and writer for the New York Times, told a story of a man who came into the emergency room with a stab wound, "It was a single wound, about an inch in size, in his belly."

The wound didn't appear life threatening, but after about 10 minutes his condition worsened.

He crashed.

When they got him on the table and opened him up, they found the wound was a foot deep (he was a pretty big guy) and cut his aorta. When they asked how the stabbing occurred, he told them it happened at a Halloween party and the other guy had a bayonet.

The doctors reflected and determined that if they knew it was a bayonet, they would have acted differently from the start.

Gawande uses this example—a simple miscommunication with big implications—to illustrate the central case in his book, The Checklist Manifesto. Even after 20 years of practice, doctors miss things. They make mistakes. And it's all due to complexity.

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9 Keys to B2B Sales Success
9 Keys to B2B Sales Success

There are a lot of opinions on what to do to drive sales success. I Googled the topic and found over 60 distinct pieces of advice for what to do and not to do, but most of the advice was, indeed, just opinions. Any references to research or proven success was tangential at best.

You deserve better!

Based on our work with B2B sales teams around the globe, as well as data from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, where we relentlessly study what the top sellers do and what buyers are looking for, we have gleaned 9 keys to achieving success in today's B2B sales environment.

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Infographic: 30 Must-Know Sales Prospecting Stats and What They Mean for Sellers
Infographic: 30 Must-Know Sales Prospecting Stats and What They Mean for Sellers

How many attempts does it take to break through to busy buyers?

What offers are most accepted?

Do cold meetings convert to new business?

In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research uncovered the answers to these critical prospecting questions. With data from 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers, we've cracked the code on what works in prospecting today.

This infographic highlights 30 must-know stats from our research and analysis and what they mean for sellers in today's world.

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Lead Nurturing: 3 Things You Need to Know
Lead Nurturing: 3 Things You Need to Know

In sales, you have a finite number of hours in a day. Most of those hours are spent on the immediate sales opportunities in your pipeline—those buyers who have a need they are looking address and a timeline to act. These buyers receive the majority of your time and attention, and rightfully so.

But what about the buyer you met at a conference or have had an initial sales call with that was "interesting" and "valuable" but goes nowhere? Or the buyer who downloads something from your website but is just "seeing what's out there?" What do you do with buyers who are a perfect fit for your company, but don't have an immediate need?

This is where lead nurturing comes into play.

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Top Sales Prospecting Challenges
Top Sales Prospecting Challenges

Challenges abound when it comes to sales prospecting. From targeting and using the right outreach methods to maintaining motivation and energy, there are plenty of ways to outbound prospect and fail.

Download: 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked

For our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, we asked 489 sellers who outbound prospect about the biggest prospecting issues they face. The top 10 prospecting challenges can be grouped into 4 categories:

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How to Fill Your Pipeline with Qualified Leads
How to Fill Your Pipeline with Qualified Leads

Put me in front of 10 buyers and I'll close 7 of them. All I need is more meetings.

I hear this from sellers all the time. Get me more "at bats" and I'll get the hits.

To succeed in sales, you need a consistent stream of new leads to fill the front end of the pipeline.

You can't, however, just sit back and wait for the phone to ring or email to ding.

You need to be proactive in filling your own pipeline if you're going to succeed with prospecting.

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How Many Touches Does It Take to Make a Sale?
How Many Touches Does It Take to Make a Sale?

How many touches does it take to make a sale?

The simple answer is: more than most people think!

According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale.

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When Do Buyers Want to Talk to Sellers? The Time Is Now
When Do Buyers Want to Talk to Sellers? The Time Is Now

There are 2 stats that are cited in sales articles all the time:

  • 57% of the purchase decision is made before a customer calls a supplier
  • 67% of the buying journey is now done digitally

The question, however, is so what?

Sellers and sales leaders often interpret this to mean that buyers don't want to hear from sellers.

This is far from the truth.

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On-Demand Webinar: How to Break Through and Secure Meetings with Busy Buyers
On-Demand Webinar: How to Break Through and Secure Meetings with Busy Buyers

Buyers are awash with information, bombarded with sales and marketing messages, crazy busy, and tasked to do more with less.

Yet they still want to hear from sellers and they still accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them proactively.

82% of buyers will accept meetings with sellers who reach out.

The sellers who secure these meetings achieve significantly greater success with a much different approach.

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Want the Best Sales Training? Focus on These 9 Outcomes
Want the Best Sales Training? Focus on These 9 Outcomes

When you're considering sales training, it's important to know what results you want to drive. Before any initiative, you need to answer one simple question:

What do we want to achieve?

There are many possible targeted outcomes of sales training from growing revenue and improving margins to increasing the average size of sale and growing accounts. Make sure whatever sales training initiatives you choose match up with your desired outcomes.

As you think about your own sales training efforts, consider these possible results and how to achieve them.

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Sales Negotiation Strategies for Dealing with Reverse Auctions
Sales Negotiation Strategies for Dealing with Reverse Auctions

Reverse auctions (also called e-auctions) are a common negotiation technique used more and more frequently by large organizations. For the most part, sellers don't dislike reverse auctions—they loathe them.

The point of a reverse auction is to drive down supplier prices to their absolute lowest while driving expectations of suppliers to their highest. As the process (typically) removes human interaction from the equation, sellers often feel at a complete loss to do anything but participate in the auction or walk away.

There's a lot more to it. Below you'll find negotiation strategies you can use before and during the reverse auction process to get the best results for you and your buyer.

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5 Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy
5 Tips for Developing Your Sales and Marketing Strategy

A proper sales and marketing strategy involves more than just running some ads and cold-calling a list of prospects. Developing the right strategy is a process that requires research to discover who your prime sales prospects are, what motivates their purchasing, and how your firm fits in the marketplace. The data your research provides is what will drive your sales and marketing strategy. With the right plan, growth and profitability are predictable and controllable.

Effective sales and marketing requires talent, expertise, effort, and consistency. If that doesn't exist inside your organization, then it's important that you find an outside resource that can help you develop and implement your strategy.

Whether your sales and marketing strategy is developed internally or externally, these 5 tips will help ensure that it is both effective and efficient:

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The Definition of Sales Management - What's Missing
The Definition of Sales Management - What's Missing

The state of sales management in many companies is disturbing. Consider these stats from our Top-Performing Sales Organization study:

  • 66% of companies do not believe their sales managers have the skills needed to manage and coach sellers.
  • Elite performers are 2.4x more likely to agree that sales managers and leaders are effective at maximizing selling energy.
  • 71% of companies do not believe people in selling roles manage their time and day effectively.

Almost 7 out of every 10 sales managers do not have the skills they need to do their jobs effectively! Astounding. It's certainly understandable, though. Sales managers are directed, by the very definition of sales management, down the wrong path.

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5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked [New White Paper]
5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked [New White Paper]

Most of the buying journey is complete before buyers talk to sellers. Cold calling is dead. It's impossible for sellers to break through to buyers. Buyers don't want to hear about your capabilities. With all the information on the internet, buyers do their own research.

Sellers hear these messages all the time.

But are they true?

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Are You at Risk of Losing Your Sales Job?
Are You at Risk of Losing Your Sales Job?

According to Forrester Research, 1 million US B2B salespeople will lose their jobs by 2020. This represents a 20% reduction of the B2B sales force.

They go on to categorize sales positions into 4 groups, indicating where the greatest sales job losses will occur:

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5 Tips to Achieve Stellar Sales Success
5 Tips to Achieve Stellar Sales Success

It's the beginning of the year. It's crunch time for your sales plan. Almost everyone is evaluating what worked and what didn't and building goals and plans for the year ahead. If you're not, it's time to take a long, hard look at your own performance over the last year and find ways to not just hit your goals but to exceed them in the year ahead.

There are many questions you must ask yourself to prepare. What are you going to do differently? What are you going to improve? How, specifically, are you going to drive sales? Are you going to focus on generating new business? On improving your close rate? On growing your existing accounts?

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One Powerful Investment Your Organization Can Make (That 83% of Companies Aren't)
One Powerful Investment Your Organization Can Make (That 83% of Companies Aren't)

In our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, we studied 75 factors related to the sales organization. We wanted to know what Top Performers do differently than The Rest to achieve superior results.

We've shared what separates the best sales organizations from the rest, but what we haven't shared is what most sales organizations neglect, and the impact it can have on your results. One factor in particular was most apparent: effective sales training.

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RAIN Group's Best of 2017
RAIN Group's Best of 2017

Each year, our goal for the RAIN Group Sales Blog is to provide you with research, ideas, and insight to help you unleash your sales potential.

From regular blog posts to new white papers, ebooks, webinars, and research, we have, and will continue to release valuable insight on what you as a seller can do to set yourself apart from the rest.

In case you missed some of our new sales content this year, we've compiled a list of our top 10 most popular content pieces from 2017 that will guide you on your path towards sales success.

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Happy Holidays from RAIN Group
Happy Holidays from RAIN Group

From all of us here at RAIN Group, we wish you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year.

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5 Steps of Rapid Preparation for Negotiation Success
5 Steps of Rapid Preparation for Negotiation Success

"Unfortunately, there seems to be far more opportunity out there than ability...
We should remember that good fortune often happens when opportunity meets with preparation."

Thomas A. Edison

Preparation is often the greatest determinant of negotiation success. Across negotiation studies and surveys, we see sellers who get the best outcomes: know what they sell, research buyer wants and needs through sources other than the buyer, have a keen understanding of the buyer's day-to-day life and concerns, and prepare for each negotiation with trades, counteroffers, and knowledge of their walk-away points.

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On-Demand Webinar: 5 Keys to Top Sales Performance
On-Demand Webinar: 5 Keys to Top Sales Performance

Buying in the last few years has changed more than ever. Buyers are more educated, they're distracted and short on time, and options are endless.

Sellers and sales organizations are struggling to keep up.

There are specific actions that Top Performers and Top-Performing Sales Organizations take that allow them to achieve superior results.

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5 Key Influences on Sales Motivation
5 Key Influences on Sales Motivation

To optimize your sales force, you need to have a highly-motivated team bringing their "A game" day in and day out.

Often times, it's up to the sales managers to make sure their team maintains this positive and results-driven attitude on a daily basis. According to our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, 55% of Top Performers agree that managers are effective at creating and sustaining maximum selling energy, compared to only 32% of The Rest.

But management is not the only key influence on sales motivation.

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Infographic: 9 Ways to Crush Your Sales Goals
Infographic: 9 Ways to Crush Your Sales Goals

Most sales are won and lost based on one key factor: You.

You hold the keys to your sales success. Competitors don’t win because their offerings are more impressive. They win because they deliver a superior sales experience. 

You can too.

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4 Tips to Avoid Caving in Sales Negotiations
4 Tips to Avoid Caving in Sales Negotiations

My grandfather Sidney was raised during the great depression. Often hungry growing up, he learned the value of a dollar the hard way. It stuck with him the rest of his life. When I was in college, he never let me call him because he would say it was long-distance.

I told him that the distance was long, but the call didn't cost anything. Still, he could barely stay on the phone for 5 minutes. I could visualize the nickels clinking in his mind, making him uncomfortable with the cost of the call.

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Emotion is Not the Enemy: 7 Ways to Use Emotion to Your Advantage in Sales Negotiations
Emotion is Not the Enemy: 7 Ways to Use Emotion to Your Advantage in Sales Negotiations

It's common advice to minimize emotions in a negotiation. For example, the reading line of the article "Emotion: The 'Enemy' of Negotiation" is "To succeed in negotiation, says one Wharton expert, one must take emotion out of the equation."

We disagree. Emotions are primary drivers of decision making in buying, and primary drivers in negotiation outcomes. Emotions shouldn't be minimized. Instead, they should be guided and managed for both buyer and seller so that the best outcome can be achieved by all.

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How to Lead the 4 Stages of Sales Negotiation
How to Lead the 4 Stages of Sales Negotiation

"Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality."

Warren Bennis, Author, On Becoming a Leader

When it comes to sales negotiations, all too often sellers:

  • Don't plan for successful negotiated outcomes
  • Let the buyer define the negotiation process and venue
  • Allow the buyer to set the agenda for negotiation-focused meetings
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How to Build Value in Sales Negotiations
How to Build Value in Sales Negotiations

In our research report, The Value Driving Difference, we studied almost 500 organizations' practices regarding how focused they are on driving value for buyers. Companies that rose to the top as Value-Driving Sales Organizations had higher sales win rates, were more likely to grow revenue, had lower undesired sales staff turnover, and much more highly motivated sellers. They were also two times more likely to agree that they capture maximum prices in line with their value.

There's no question: If you want to succeed in sales, you should focus on driving value.

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[On-Demand Webinar] 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation
[On-Demand Webinar] 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation

Negotiating a sale is never easy, and more often than not you'll be faced with price pushback, lengthy delays, excuses, purchasing nightmares, and more—even after you think you've done a solid job making your case.

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[New Ebook] 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation
[New Ebook] 6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation

According to a recent study from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, 55% of leaders at companies don't believe their sellers have the negotiation skills needed to consistently win new business.

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Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your TIME - How to Keep an Activity Log
Maximizing the Effectiveness of Your TIME - How to Keep an Activity Log

If you want to maximize time, you must find more of it, and choose what you do with it carefully. We all have the same 168 hours a week to work with. Some people make the most of them, others don't.

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The #1 Way to Decrease Anxiety and Gain Leverage in Sales Negotiations
The #1 Way to Decrease Anxiety and Gain Leverage in Sales Negotiations

Alison Brooks and Maurice Schweitzer, two researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, conducted an experiment to induce varying levels of anxiety among negotiators.

One group was subjected to the not-so-melodious screeching strings from Psycho. The other group was treated to calming Water Music by Handel. After listening for a while, the groups were sent off to conduct simulated negotiations.

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How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood
How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood

It's an all too familiar story. A seller's pipeline looks full! Bursting. Exciting. It stays like that for 2 months, 5 months, 10 months… more keeps going in. Nothing comes out.

It looked great, but it wasn't great. Not even good. Too many sellers have lots of opportunities in their pipelines that shouldn't be there. Neither managers nor sellers want mirage pipelines with visions of promised lands that simply aren't there.

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4 Levels of TIME - How to Get More Done Every Day
4 Levels of TIME - How to Get More Done Every Day

Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in. I drink at it; but while I drink I see the sandy bottom and detect how shallow it is. Its thin current slides away, but eternity remains.
- Henry David Thoreau

Almost everyone at some point in their career will toy with adopting some kind of time-management system. Few stick with it. The challenge is that too many time-management systems focus too deeply on the activity level—what to do first, what to do next, what the priority order is—without paying enough attention to the bigger picture. Simply viewing the world through the lens of urgent vs. important is not enough.

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[Take the Survey] New Research: What’s Working in Sales Prospecting, What’s Not?
[Take the Survey] New Research: What’s Working in Sales Prospecting, What’s Not?

By: Mary Flaherty and Mike Schultz

If there's a black box in the world of sales, it's prospecting. What to do, how to do it, and what it means to be good at it. And with all the conflicting advice out there, it's especially difficult to figure out where to start and how to get better.

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5 Sales Strategies for When Buyers Go Cold
5 Sales Strategies for When Buyers Go Cold

By: Mike Schultz and Jason Murray

After three months of talking and promises of moving forward, your fully qualified, enthusiastic champion is ready to pull the trigger. You send them a proposal and…silence.

It's frustrating when buyers go cold. Whether late in the process or after one good meeting, most sellers at least want to hear, "No," or, "Here's what happened," or, "I'm still interested, but something happened…"

Unfortunately, sellers often don't get the high sign from buyers, just the cold shoulder.

Before we cover tactics you can use to resurrect opportunities with buyers who go cold, it helps to understand why buyers go cold.

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Making the Business Case for Sales Training: New Research on Supporting Top Performance
Making the Business Case for Sales Training: New Research on Supporting Top Performance

Executives are always on a mission to prove Kirkpatrick Level 4 measurement of training: Results. Specifically, they want to know to what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.

There is relatively little data on how sales training correlates to business performance and results.

That is, until now.

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[On-Demand Webinar] Win Labs: A Comprehensive, Repeatable Process for Winning More Sales
[On-Demand Webinar] Win Labs: A Comprehensive, Repeatable Process for Winning More Sales

When you look at your pipeline, do you see opportunities that just won't move?

Do days, weeks, and even months go by with the same opportunities staring back at you?

Worse yet, are you losing more of your opportunities than you'd like?

No doubt, these are the same opportunities that would make the biggest difference to your quarterly results if only you could crack the code.

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Infographic: 5 Sales Skills to Differentiate Your Team
Infographic: 5 Sales Skills to Differentiate Your Team

In our recent Top-Performing Sales Organization study, we were particularly interested in the sales skills that stood out when sellers not only met their goals, but also believed their goals were challenging.

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5 Sales Training Ideas to Improve Results (and Sustain Them)
5 Sales Training Ideas to Improve Results (and Sustain Them)

By now you know that teaching people how to sell and become Top Performers takes more than a one- or two-day event. It takes ongoing reinforcement.

Sales training is a change initiative. Going through a single class in two days does not change the way sellers sell. Change happens over time, once sellers get back to work and start implementing newly learned skills.

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5 Essentials for Managing Your Sales Organization's Talent
5 Essentials for Managing Your Sales Organization's Talent

Attracting and retaining top sales talent is a huge challenge for many companies.

If you want to take your sales results to the next level, your organization must have the right people in the right roles, performing at a high level day in and day out. You also need the right management team with an effective process in place to ensure this all happens.

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How to Maximize Prices and Improve Margins
How to Maximize Prices and Improve Margins

With increased product and service commoditization, sellers in almost every industry complain about price pressure and shrinking margins.

At the same time, there are some sellers and sales organizations who are consistently winning sales against lower-priced competitors and growing their margins.

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The Missing Link to Increasing Sales Motivation
The Missing Link to Increasing Sales Motivation

There's no denying that having a highly motivated sales team ready to give their full energy and effort day in and day out has a huge impact on your organization's success.

When it comes to sales motivation, companies commonly focus on compensation, bonuses, and incentives to get top performance out of their sales team. While compensation is important, it certainly is not the only, or even the main factor that drives sales motivation.

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On-Demand Webinar: Secrets to Selling with Value
On-Demand Webinar: Secrets to Selling with Value

Value add. Sell on value. Differentiation through value. Create value. Be of value.

Everywhere you look, sales experts and pundits are talking about the importance of value in sales. And they're right.

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[New Research Report] The Value-Driving Difference
[New Research Report] The Value-Driving Difference

Ask someone in the presence of other people if their organization drives value for their customers, and they’ll say yes.

Ask them confidentially in a research study, and you’ll get a wholly different answer.

Everyone says value makes a difference in sales and business results. Indeed, the most successful sellers and sales organizations focus on value.

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A New Way to Collaborate with Buyers
A New Way to Collaborate with Buyers

The more sophisticated and advanced sellers become, the more they make selling about conversations and collaboration, not presentations and pitching. Even their presentations become interactive collaborations when done right.

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RAIN Group's Best of 2016
RAIN Group's Best of 2016

Throughout each year, we make it our goal for the RAIN Group Sales Blog to provide you with quality content pieces to help you unleash your sales potential.

With four new white papers on the books, and brand new research published on Top-Performing Sales Organizations and Strategic Account Management, we've released valuable insight on what you as a seller can do to set yourself apart from the rest.

In case you missed some of our new sales content this year, we've put together a list of our top 10 most popular content pieces from 2016 that will guide you towards sales success.

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Happy Holidays from RAIN Group
Happy Holidays from RAIN Group

All of us at RAIN Group wish you Happy Holidays and good cheer in the New Year.

In the spirit of the holiday season, we have made a donation to the Ethan M. Lindberg Foundation, and hope that you will consider giving to a cause close to your heart.

We wish you and yours a very safe and happy holiday season,

- The RAIN Group Team

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Are Your Sales Goals Achievable? It May Be Impacting Your Motivation
Are Your Sales Goals Achievable? It May Be Impacting Your Motivation

Everyone needs motivation to tackle different types of tasks/challenges. Whether it's hitting your personal sales goals or achieving your weight loss goals, people can't do it without some type of driving motivation.

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4 Ways to Respond When a Buyer Says, 'We Already Work With Your Competitor'
4 Ways to Respond When a Buyer Says, 'We Already Work With Your Competitor'

Here's the situation: You get an introductory conversation with a great buyer—someone who fits your target profile to a T.

Not long into the conversation, however, the buyer says, "We already work with one of your competitors to do this."

What do you do next?

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4 Principles of Rapport
4 Principles of Rapport

Everybody's brain has two different processing centers: emotional and rational. The emotional brain is old. It developed millions of years ago, first with raw instincts—like fight or flight—that all animals have, and then into more complex emotions for us humans like anger, aggression, desire, fear, hatred, passion, love, disgust, sympathy, and so on.

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10 Ways Value-Driving Organizations Are Different
10 Ways Value-Driving Organizations Are Different

There is a common assumption that value makes a difference in sales and business results. As part of our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, we wanted to test that assumption and see just what kind of difference it makes.

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4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections
4 Steps to Overcoming Sales Objections

The word "no" can be a tough pill to swallow.

In selling, when you're trying to meet a quota, squeeze in an extra deal before the end of the quarter, or get your bonus, the word "no" is too often interpreted as a sign to run for the hills when, in fact, it should be the exact opposite.

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4 Key Components of Sales Enablement
4 Key Components of Sales Enablement

Sales enablement is one of the eight categories of the Sales Performance WheelSM that we study when analyzing what drives sales performance. This category focuses on the different ways in which supporting sellers to be most effective allows them to reach their full potential, thus improving the organization's sales performance.

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6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation
6 Essential Rules of Sales Negotiation

When watching sellers negotiate, perhaps the easiest things to see are the mistakes. Having now spent two decades studying sales negotiation, observing negotiations, and coaching and training sellers to improve their negotiation skills, we've distilled the common areas that the best sales negotiators consistently get right.

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How to Inspire Buyers and Get Them Off Auto-Pilot
How to Inspire Buyers and Get Them Off Auto-Pilot

The classic selling model has taught sellers to uncover needs and craft compelling solutions. It goes something like this: the buyer needs something and asks for it. You provide it. It's straightforward, but buyers are operating in their comfort zone.

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6 Ways Selling is Changing
6 Ways Selling is Changing

Selling like it's 1987 (or even 2007) doesn't work like it used to. The way buyers and sellers interact—and will interact—is changing significantly.

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6 Key Areas to Optimize Sales Operations
6 Key Areas to Optimize Sales Operations

It may not be considered the most glamorous aspect of sales management, but as business and technology have evolved, it’s widely acknowledged that getting sales operations right is imperative for a smoothly run, effective sales organization. On his blog, Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing even hails it as “THE most important and unsung hero for sales teams.”

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4 Keys to Improving Sales Performance
4 Keys to Improving Sales Performance

While quite a bit of research has been published on what sellers need to do to achieve top sales performance, there’s relatively little on what separates top-performing sales organizations from the rest. To find out, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research gathered data from 472 respondents representing companies with sales forces ranging in size from 10 sellers to 5,000 plus and published the results in the Top-Performing Sales Organization Benchmark Report.

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Top 12 Differences Between the Best Sales Organizations and The Rest
Top 12 Differences Between the Best Sales Organizations and The Rest

In our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, our goal was to assess what the Top Performers do differently than The Rest to achieve the best results. Top Performers have higher win rates, meet their annual sales goals, are more likely to set challenging sales goals, and are more likely achieve maximum prices in line with the value they provide.

We analyzed data from 472 sellers and executives representing companies with sales forces between 10 and 5,000+ sellers. Top Performers represent the top 20% of our database. The Rest—the bottom 80%.

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5 Sales Skills You Need to Master
5 Sales Skills You Need to Master

To succeed in sales, you need to have the right skills. You have to be able to lead masterful sales conversations, manage opportunities, uncover needs, negotiate the best deals, fill the pipeline, develop relationships, manage sellers, and the list goes on.

With the laundry list of sales skills needed, which are most important?

In our recent Top-Performing Sales Organization study, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research asked 472 sales executives and sellers representing companies with sales forces ranging from 10 sellers to 5,000+ if sellers have the skills they need to find and win business consistently and at a high level.

We then looked at the correlation between sales skills and whether or not a sales organization met its sales goal or quota.

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4 Key Components of Your Sales Organization's Structure
4 Key Components of Your Sales Organization's Structure

In sales forces of any size, changing the sales organization structure is an uphill battle. Structure relates to the organization of selling at the company, including sales compensation, territory design, account and lead assignments, and more.

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You Need to Know This About Setting Sales Goals [New Research]
You Need to Know This About Setting Sales Goals [New Research]

Most sellers have a quota, or a sales performance target, that is set by the sales leaders at their organization.

When it comes to setting these sales goals, there are two general philosophies organizations tend to take:

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What Separates the Best Sales Organizations from The Rest?
What Separates the Best Sales Organizations from The Rest?

One of our primary goals at the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research is to find out what real sellers and sales leaders are doing to achieve their results. With What Sales Winners Do Differently, we wanted to know what individual sellers do to win sales opportunities compared to those who come in second place.

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What is Consultative Selling?
What is Consultative Selling?

Since Mack Hanan coined the term in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and most pursued—sales approach. The approach is characterized as understanding buyer needs and positioning offerings as solutions to problems.

While this has been the go-to approach for many sellers, massive changes in buying technology and the vast amount of information on the internet is significantly changing how buyers buy at an unprecedented pace.

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Analyzing Sales Performance: Components of Strategy
Analyzing Sales Performance: Components of Strategy

As they say, if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there. If you want to drive sales performance at a company, you can focus on all sorts of tactical areas—from people and training to enablement and operations—but none of these address the fundamental questions: Where are we going? What are we doing to achieve our goals? Who will lead us there?

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Advanced Consultative Selling: Selling in the Blue Ocean
Advanced Consultative Selling: Selling in the Blue Ocean

For the last 50 or so years, consultative selling has been the go-to approach for most sellers.

In traditional consultative selling, the buyer states a need and the seller positions their offerings as solutions to problems. This used to be enough to win the sale. But today’s buyers often perceive sellers and their capabilities to be somewhat interchangeable.1 This leaves sellers stuck in a capabilities battle, fighting price pressure.

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[New White Paper] The Future of Consultative Selling
[New White Paper] The Future of Consultative Selling

Since the term was coined in 1970, consultative selling has been the most widely accepted—and pursued—sales approach. For the following forty years, advice for how to sell had mostly been a variation on the consultative selling theme.

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What Defines a Top-Performing Sales Organization?
What Defines a Top-Performing Sales Organization?

Two sellers are talking at the end of the day. One turns to the other and asks, “How was your day?”

“I had a great day,” the second seller says. “I sent out two proposals this morning, had a great first meeting with a new potential buyer, and finally got a meeting with a decision maker I’ve been trying to reach for a year!” Feeling proud, he asks the first seller, “How was your day?”

He answers, “I didn’t sell anything either.”

This is one of the challenging-yet-great things about sales. It’s measurable. At some point, you have to bring in the wins or you fail. Which begs the question, “What brings in the wins?” A few years ago we studied this from the buyer perspective and published the results in our book Insight Selling.

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The 8 Categories of the Sales Performance WheelSM
The 8 Categories of the Sales Performance WheelSM

People often ask us, “What should we do to drive our sales success?”

It’s a complicated question. It’s not easy to decide what to tackle, when to tackle it, what results the organization should be targeting, where you can get the biggest bang for your buck, and what it really takes to get those results without further analysis.

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9 Guidelines for Leading a Sales Performance Analysis
9 Guidelines for Leading a Sales Performance Analysis

Sales performance analysis is typically quite involved and complex. It’s no easy task to figure out how to improve, change, or build a sales strategy. But for those sales leaders who are taking a longer-term view and looking into sales performance optimization, a performance analysis is a necessary precursor.

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Average Sales Win Rates: How Do You Compare?
Average Sales Win Rates: How Do You Compare?

Most sellers and sales leaders are often asking themselves: "Is my win rate any good?"

Win rate is one of the most basic measures of your sales success, so it’s only natural to want to benchmark your performance against the average to see how you stack up.

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The ABCs of Selling
The ABCs of Selling

At some point or another, you've probably heard of the ABCs of selling: Always Be Closing. The mantra was popularized by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross (warning: strong language).

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The 6 Phases of the Buying and Selling Process [PDF]
The 6 Phases of the Buying and Selling Process [PDF]

When organizations have a "World-Class" sales process (the top tier of our 5-level sales process maturity level scale), the win rate from proposal averages 57%. When the sales process is merely "Defined," the win rate averages just 44%.

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The Top 10 Sales Priorities for 2016
The Top 10 Sales Priorities for 2016

Now is the perfect time for sales leaders to analyze their results from the past year and plan priorities for the year ahead.

In our RAIN Group Center for Sales Research study, we asked 472 sales executives and sellers about what they considered to be their top priorities.

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[New White Paper] 8 Drivers of Sales Performance
[New White Paper] 8 Drivers of Sales Performance

In the mid-1990s, a fairly common sales strategy was to give a seller a desk, a phone, a business directory, and say, "Go."

Fast forward to today, and selling has become significantly more complex. Companies report ever-increasing challenges regarding product and service commoditization, proliferation of competition, and more informed and sophisticated buyers.

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The One Word That Will Transform Your Sales Results
The One Word That Will Transform Your Sales Results

Everyone wants to know: what is the silver bullet to sales success? What's the one thing that will magically bring in more sales and grow your accounts?

Well, there is no one silver bullet. Many factors influence top sales performance. But there is one word that can transform your sales results: Value.

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Happy Holidays from RAIN Group
Happy Holidays from RAIN Group

Wishing you Happy Holidays and good cheer in the New Year.

This holiday season, we're pleased to make a charitable donation on behalf of our clients to the Ethan M. Lindberg Foundation. The Foundation supports families with children facing congenital heart disease by providing grants and long-term housing, by working with hospitals to improve doctor/patient communication and patient care, and through music therapy.

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Infographic: 8 Tips for Beating Your Sales Goals
Infographic: 8 Tips for Beating Your Sales Goals

Even small improvements in win rate can have a huge impact on revenue.

Based on findings from The Top-Performing Sales Organization Benchmark Report, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research has identified 8 key areas that contribute to higher win rates that will help you beat your sales goals and reach Top Performer status this year:

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Want Better Sales Results? Take Your Sales Process to the Next Level
Want Better Sales Results? Take Your Sales Process to the Next Level

In our study, The Top-Performing Sales Organization, 40% of respondents said "Improving sales opportunity approach and planning" is a top priority for the next year. Along with two related initiatives—improving ability to communicate value (41%) and optimizing sales processes (32%)—these represented three of the top four sales initiative priorities altogether.1

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The Secret to Selling Professional Services
The Secret to Selling Professional Services

Selling.

What images come to mind when you see this word? Close your eyes and say the word out loud.

How does it make you feel?

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Cold Calling Techniques That Get Prospects to Take Notice
Cold Calling Techniques That Get Prospects to Take Notice
Cold calling—what an appropriate name for calls to prospects unfamiliar with you. More often than not, the people you call are so chilly toward you that you feel like you should put on a parka. Previous bad experiences with sellers cause them to immediately erect a wall of ice when they receive such a call.

Fortunately there are ways to warm prospects up, get them to talk with you about their concerns, and get them interested in hearing what you have to say. You must, however, do it within the first few seconds of the conversation.

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The Evolution of Business Development in Professional Services Firms
The Evolution of Business Development in Professional Services Firms

I was in a meeting last week, and we started talking about the evolution of professional services firms and the roles individuals play when it comes to their business development responsibilities. As many of you may have surmised and probably experienced, economic realities and changes within firms have altered who must be involved.

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'How Much Does it Cost?' What to Say When It's Too Early to Determine
'How Much Does it Cost?' What to Say When It's Too Early to Determine

Here's the situation: it's the first, maybe second, serious conversation with a prospect. You're asking questions, you're building great rapport, you're uncovering a slew of needs, and you're already seeing how you can help this prospect in 10 different ways. The conversation is going great. That is until the prospect says, "Wow, this all sounds good. So, what's something like this going to cost?"

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Cold Calling Works: You Just Do It Wrong
Cold Calling Works: You Just Do It Wrong

Brrrr... I've just been cold calling and boy could I use some hot chicken soup!

Just those two words together—cold calling—puts many people far away from warm and happy. Given that it's so much fun for so many people, and that I have heard a number of times recently that the last nail has been banged into the cold calling coffin, why is cold calling still even on our radar screens?
 
Because it works.

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7 Keys to Turning Cold Prospects into New Clients
7 Keys to Turning Cold Prospects into New Clients

We all love repeat business, referrals, and inbound warm leads. The problem is you can’t scale warm leads. When these run out, so does your ability to grow your revenue, unless, of course, you prospect and drive new leads in the pipeline yourself.

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Do You Make These 3 Proposal Mistakes?
Do You Make These 3 Proposal Mistakes?

I had a conversation recently with a client who was struggling with his sales efforts. The conversation went something like this:

Me: How has your selling effort been going?

Client: Unbelievable. I sent out four proposals last week and three more this week.

Me: That's great. How many new deals have you closed?

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Top 10 Lead Generation Challenges
Top 10 Lead Generation Challenges

Challenges abound when it comes to generating leads for professional services firms: selecting the right tactics to generate quality leads, implementing lead generation activities consistently, breaking through the noise and getting the attention of busy decision makers, measuring and tracking what's working for you, and the list goes on.

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5 Things You Must Do in Every First Sales Conversation
5 Things You Must Do in Every First Sales Conversation

The first sales conversation with a new prospect can be tough. After all, prospects tend to distrust sales people, they're guarded with their information, and they're extremely busy. The fact that they agreed to meet with you in the first place is a great sign. But much of your selling success hinges on your ability to lead an effective first conversation and get them to agree to a second conversation with you.

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Do You Make These 10 Lead Generation Mistakes?
Do You Make These 10 Lead Generation Mistakes?

Leads, leads, leads. Once the referrals and the circle of family and friends aren't enough to keep your firm growing, it's all about the leads. Yet, when it comes to generating leads, consulting firms get it all wrong in 10 very common ways.

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Beware: Closing Techniques Can Cause You to Lose Business
Beware: Closing Techniques Can Cause You to Lose Business

Last year, we asked you to share your selling services challenges. You flooded us with your challenges and concerns, which included communicating the value of your services, client relationship management, and qualifying leads. In this blog series we identify 12 of the major selling obstacles you are struggling with the most and offer advice and suggestions for overcoming them.

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Cold Calling Scripts That Work: 3 Proven Introductions That Break Into and Close New Clients
Cold Calling Scripts That Work: 3 Proven Introductions That Break Into and Close New Clients

Many people want to beleive that cold calling doesn't work because they don't want to have to do cold calling. Indeed, there are many ways to do it wrong and fail. There are many cold callers out there using deceptive tactics to get through, which leaves a bad taste in buyers' mouths.

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5 Principles to Running a Successful Service Business (That I Learned Growing Up At a Motel)
5 Principles to Running a Successful Service Business (That I Learned Growing Up At a Motel)

The 4th of July has always signaled the beginning of summer to me. Fireworks, parades, barbecues, picnics, and baseball games-what better ways to celebrate the kickoff of the short-lived, New England heat?


The holiday also brings back memories of my childhood. I grew up in a small tourist town in southern Maine where my parents owned and managed a motel. Growing up living at a motel made for a pretty interesting childhood where I got to meet new people every day and make friends all over the world.

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[New White Paper] Increase Win Rates & Beat Your Sales Goals
[New White Paper] Increase Win Rates & Beat Your Sales Goals

Top-Performing companies are winning 62% of their sales opportunities. The Rest? Only 40%.

While quite a bit of research has been published on what separates top sellers from the rest, there’s relatively little on what organizations are doing to achieve high win rates.

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7 Ways to Deal with Price Objections
7 Ways to Deal with Price Objections

In my Twitter activities I came across an excellent post about price objections on Tom Searcy's Hunting Big Sales blog, Price is No Object.


In this post Tom writes, "A lot of the time, however, price is not the only issue and it's merely being used as a smoke screen."

I couldn't agree more. Price often is not the heart of the issue but an indicator that something else is going on. Clients will use the price objection because it's a convenient excuse.

In his article, Tom provides 4 excellent thoughts to help you get control of the price discussion. Check them out here.

I'd add a few more to his:

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15 Ways to Get Referrals
15 Ways to Get Referrals

Referrals are among the top ways sellers get leads and new business, but many struggle with generating them consistently.

We know our buyers rely on colleagues, associates, and friends to recommend providers. So when a prospect comes to us via this route, some of the work is already done for us. Referrals build a seller's trustworthiness and credibility—two cornerstones of effective selling.

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10 Ways to Improve Your Networking Skills
10 Ways to Improve Your Networking Skills

Much of sales is about making connections.

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7 Keys to Leading Highly Effective Sales Conversations
7 Keys to Leading Highly Effective Sales Conversations

Most people's sales conversations could be better. Not a little better, significantly better. I see too many sellers fall into the same traps:

  • You talk too much, leaving the buyer with the impression that you don't understand their business, their industry, or their needs.
  • You grill the buyer with questions, making them feel like they are a part of an interrogation.
  • You talk too little, letting the buyer control the conversation.
  • You are over eager, and the buyer can smell your desperation a mile away.
  • You talk about your products and services as if they are commodities, leading the buyer to buy based on price.
  • You are unprepared, and the buyer wonders why they are wasting their time with you.
  • You are uncomfortable talking about money, and the second a price objection comes up you cave and start discounting.
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12 Questions Sales Leaders Must Ask to Improve Sales Opportunity Management
12 Questions Sales Leaders Must Ask to Improve Sales Opportunity Management

If you've spent any time in complex sales, you know there's been a significant shift in how you win sales opportunities and grow accounts.

In our client work and studies through the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, we've seen that:

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New On-Demand Webinar: 5 Sales Strategies to Increase Your Win Rate
New On-Demand Webinar: 5 Sales Strategies to Increase Your Win Rate

Ever think you were going to win a big sale...and then you lost? Lost to the competition when you really should have won? Lost to no decision because the buyer didn't see the value or the urgency?

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5 Elements of a Sales Opportunity Plan
5 Elements of a Sales Opportunity Plan

Sellers who win consistently plan to win from the start. They're methodical. They carefully match their sales process to the buyer's, set goals for every meeting, and do an exceptional job of communicating value.

Top sellers build strategies to drive sales opportunities, and use planners to help guide them through to the win.

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4 Questions Sellers Must Ask to Build a Value Proposition
4 Questions Sellers Must Ask to Build a Value Proposition

Imagine it's the end of a long, important sales process. Your buyer has given you the verbal 'yes' to buy, but he has to deliver a summary of the value proposition case—why he's made the decision to move forward with you—to his peers and the board of directors. And no, you can't attend the meeting and speak alongside him. He must make the argument himself, and it has to be good.

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The 4 Buyer Mindsets: Who Will Buy and Who Won't
The 4 Buyer Mindsets: Who Will Buy and Who Won't

Just because a buyer is in a position of authority—and has the financial ability to buy—doesn't mean they will, in fact, buy. They have to be in the right mindset.

We call the right mindsets "buying modes." The wrong mindsets, "non-buying modes." When you understand which mode someone is in, you'll know whether they’re inclined to make a purchase or not.

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Want to Win Your Next Big Sale? Win Lab It
Want to Win Your Next Big Sale? Win Lab It

When it comes to winning big sales opportunities, sales leaders often share 2 complaints:

  1. Sellers aren't proactive. They fail to drive their most important sales opportunities forward with determination and rigor.
  2. Even when sellers are proactive, they don't follow a consistent process to put themselves in the best position to win the sale.
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4 Examples of Big Plays to Help You Win Major Sales and Grow Accounts
4 Examples of Big Plays to Help You Win Major Sales and Grow Accounts

Big plays are major actions you can take to win your most important sales opportunities and grow your most important accounts.

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5 Reasons Why Buyers Now Control the Sale
5 Reasons Why Buyers Now Control the Sale

Most sales training and advice is based on a fundamental premise: the seller is in control.

Think about it: a lot of what's taught focuses on what sellers should be doing to persuade, convince, and drive buyers toward closing a sale. The seller is responsible for bringing the deal to a close. Therefore the seller must be in control.

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[New Video] Transform Sales Training – Your Sales University
[New Video] Transform Sales Training – Your Sales University

While companies spend billions of dollars on sales training each year, 90% of sales training fails to have an impact after 120 days.

It's time for an entirely new way of approaching sales education; an approach that drives real behavior change and results.

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[New White Paper] Optimizing Sales Opportunity Management: 12 Critical Questions Sales Leaders Must Ask
[New White Paper] Optimizing Sales Opportunity Management: 12 Critical Questions Sales Leaders Must Ask

Too many organizations leave the success of their sellers to chance.

More sellers are missing quota, sales cycles are extending, and the competition isn't exactly standing aside to make life easy.

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30 Tweetable Sales Quotes from Insight Selling
30 Tweetable Sales Quotes from Insight Selling

Today's sales winners harness the power of ideas. Our latest book, Insight Selling, outlines exactly what sellers need to do to transform into insight sellers, and start inspiring buyers with valuable new perspectives.

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Want Loyal Clients? It Starts in the Buying Process
Want Loyal Clients? It Starts in the Buying Process

Client loyalty is tough to earn.

Fred Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect and creator of the Net Promoter System, found that most corporations lose 50% of their customers every 5 years, 50% of employees in 4 years, and 50% of investors in less than one year.

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Risky Business: 4 Areas Buyers Perceive Risk in Sales
Risky Business: 4 Areas Buyers Perceive Risk in Sales

I worked with a company recently whose sellers had to drive their own demand. In one case, a seller engaged a buyer in a discussion about an opportunity, and the buyer was interested. They had a few meetings, but then the sale fizzled out.

When the seller asked why, the buyer told him that they simply weren't going to pursue it further.

The seller said to me later, "The business impact story here was tremendous; more than a 10 times return on investment was easy to see. That this sale didn't move forward...I can't believe they just didn't see it."

We then talked to the buyer as a part of our analysis of the lost sale. When we mentioned the ROI case to the buyer and asked him about it, he said, "Oh, I saw the ROI case. I got it. I would have loved to achieve it. I just didn't believe it would come true."

The buyer saw the ROI; he just didn't believe it. There was too much risk.

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Sell with Hustle, Passion, and Intensity
Sell with Hustle, Passion, and Intensity

Editor's note: We recently asked 5 sales experts, "What is the one piece of advice you would give a seller to help them exceed their sales targets this year?" The following is Mike Schultz's response.


 "Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in." - Napoleon Bonaparte

I've seen more people intend to crush their goals than I have seen people actually crush their goals. They talk about how they're going to make it to the top. They read books and attend seminars. They talk a good game.

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What Sales Metrics Should You Track? – The Essential List [PDF]
What Sales Metrics Should You Track? – The Essential List [PDF]

"What gets measured gets managed."

– Peter Drucker

Only when you have a good sense of what's going on in your organization can you decide which buttons to push to make the greatest improvements. Even small efforts to track key sales metrics can quickly drive better results.

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5 Changes in B2B Buying Behavior You Need to Know About
5 Changes in B2B Buying Behavior You Need to Know About

The world around us is shifting—in virtually every way. Savvy sellers have caught on to the fact that B2B buying behavior is changing as well.

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Bringing Insight to B2B Sales: Sell Like the Winners Do
Bringing Insight to B2B Sales: Sell Like the Winners Do

We've written a lot about our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, in which we studied more than 700 B2B sales purchases by buyers representing $3.1 billion in annual purchasing power. We've shared with you how sales winners don't only sell differently, they sell radically differently from second-place finishers.

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Sales Team Training that Produces Real Results
Sales Team Training that Produces Real Results

Your sales team isn't hitting quota.

You have aggressive growth goals but keep falling short.

You want more of your sales team to transition from average to top performers.

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8 Sales Email Secrets
8 Sales Email Secrets

Email prospecting is a hot topic these days—and it should be because it works. Or at least, it works when it's done right.

In 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked, we found that email is the #1 way buyers prefer to be contacted by sellers.

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6 Strategies Buyers Use to Negotiate Price
6 Strategies Buyers Use to Negotiate Price

Some buyers are conditioned to try certain tactics to lower your price. Maybe they've read about negotiation in books or were trained to use pressuring strategies.

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On-Demand Webinar: 5 Elements of World-Class Sales Training Programs
On-Demand Webinar: 5 Elements of World-Class Sales Training Programs

In just the last 10 years, selling has become more complex and sophisticated, requiring organizations to provide higher levels of support for sellers to succeed.

It's more difficult to get meetings with buyers, navigate complicated buying processes, win against competition that is increasingly capable, and grow accounts.

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[New White Paper] World-Class Sales Training: How to Build and Implement Your Own Sales University
[New White Paper] World-Class Sales Training: How to Build and Implement Your Own Sales University

Sales training is often approached with a car wash mentality: You're in, you're out, and you're ready to sell.

But this isn't how real learning happens. This isn't how you help sellers raise the bar and change how they sell.

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5 Decision Roles in Every Sale
5 Decision Roles in Every Sale

"It was like a phantom swooped in in the eleventh hour and killed the sale."

We've all been there...You had a series of great meetings. You built rapport and developed a strong, trusted relationship. You uncovered (and got agreement) on the buyer's needs—needs that they didn't even know they had. You spent days working with your delivery team to scope the project and write the proposal. You sent it off to your contact and called him at the time you had scheduled to review it:

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Likability in Sales – Does it Matter?
Likability in Sales – Does it Matter?

Years ago, I was working for a company that had just made the decision to go public. After a lengthy deliberation, the company chose a particular big-five firm (at the time there were five) to handle the preparations for our public offering. Curious, I asked the chief financial officer how he made the decision.

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5 Ways to Get the Most Out of B2B Sales Training
5 Ways to Get the Most Out of B2B Sales Training

There's one question I wish I got asked more when working with leaders looking to invest in B2B sales training. That question is, "What will it really take to get the best results?"

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Buyers Want to Talk to You
Buyers Want to Talk to You

57% of the purchase process is complete before buyers have their first interaction with a seller.1

This is one of the most cited statistics in the sales world these days—as if it's some kind of big news.

Wait...so you mean buyers do research and talk internally before they bring in outsiders? No way, dude! That's, like, revolutionary!

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Top 10 Most Popular Content Pieces from 2014
Top 10 Most Popular Content Pieces from 2014

At RAIN Group it's our mission to help you unleash your sales potential. Through the RAIN Selling blog we strive to bring you the freshest sales research, tips, and strategies that will help you make breakthroughs in your sales results. In 2014 we did just that and we did it with gusto.

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The Power of Trust in Sales
The Power of Trust in Sales

I received a call the other day from someone selling website tracking software. We already use a marketing automation tool like this. I mentioned it to the seller. He then went on a rant about how he visited our website, recognized the tool we use, and how we weren't doing it right.

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Happy Holidays from the RAIN Group Team
Happy Holidays from the RAIN Group Team

This is Ari. If it weren't for the innovative research and doctors at Boston Children's Hospital, he wouldn't be here.

That's why, this year, on behalf of our clients and business partners, RAIN Group is pleased to make a financial contribution to the Heart Center at Boston Children's Hospital.

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19 Insight Selling Mistakes to Avoid
19 Insight Selling Mistakes to Avoid

Like anything, insight selling comes with its own potential pitfalls. To help you avoid them, we have outlined the most common insight selling mistakes. Some points are tactical, and others strategic.

Download: Your Guide to Insight Selling Success.

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Your Guide to Insight Selling Success
Your Guide to Insight Selling Success

There's been a bit of a gold rush around the term "insight selling" in the last several years. Research from a variety of sources, including RAIN Group, has confirmed a simple fact:

Buyers buy from sellers who are sources of ideas.

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7 Qualities of a Great Sales Negotiator
7 Qualities of a Great Sales Negotiator

What makes a great negotiator?

Negotiation is a craft that can be learned by just about anyone, as I discussed in my recent podcast with RainToday.

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6 Business Development Tips for Professional Services
6 Business Development Tips for Professional Services

When it comes to business development for professional services, one of the biggest challenges professionals face is finding time to do it all. After all, you don't sell full-time. Your work, whether it's consulting, accounting, IT, financial services, or engineering, is what you do full-time. And that makes it very difficult to find time to create and develop the relationships necessary to bring in new business.

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Podcast: How to Negotiate Sales Like a Pro
Podcast: How to Negotiate Sales Like a Pro

Sales negotiation can be a nerve-wracking process. Without the right knowledge or tools at your disposal, getting to the best agreement can be elusive.

In this podcast, RAIN Group's President Mike Schultz discusses how to overcome your fears, gain confidence, and leave behind some common misconceptions about sales negotiation.

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SlideShare: Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid
SlideShare: Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

In this SlideShare presentation, RAIN Group Presidents Mike Schultz and John Doerr highlight the 5 common pieces of advice that cause sellers to say and do the wrong things in negotiations, resulting in alienated buyers, damaged relationships, and lost deals.

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Curious How to Win More Sales?
Curious How to Win More Sales?

One of the major findings of our research on What Sales Winners Do Differently is that today's sales winners don't just sell the value of their products and services, they are the value. They are knowledgeable experts who bring ideas and new perspectives to the table. Essentially, they harness the power of ideas when selling, and it gives them the winning edge.

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Free Webinar: 4 Essential Keys for Sales Negotiation Success
Free Webinar: 4 Essential Keys for Sales Negotiation Success

You’ve spent months working with the buyer, defining needs, and collaborating with them to build a solution. You both agree in principle, but when you ask them to sign on the dotted line, you hear:

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Can You Identify the 16 Common Sales Negotiation Techniques Used By Buyers?
Can You Identify the 16 Common Sales Negotiation Techniques Used By Buyers?

Last week we shared our infographic on 16 Tactics Buyers Use in Sales Negotiations. The infographic highlights the most common sales negotiation techniques that buyers use, what they look like, and how you can prepare for and respond to each so you can successfully negotiate with buyers on their terms.

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Infographic: 16 Negotiation Tactics Buyers Use in Sales Negotiations
Infographic: 16 Negotiation Tactics Buyers Use in Sales Negotiations

Good negotiators have the ability to recognize the negotiation tactics and style of the other party.

When a buyer comes to the negotiation in partner mode, it allows you to work collaboratively to create possibilities that expand the pie and result in the best possible agreement for both sides.


But what about when your buyer takes a different approach? What if your buyer is just trying to get the price reduced, get more from you for less, or something else altogether?
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Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid
Common Sales Negotiation Mistakes to Avoid

Negotiation is everywhere: in selling, setting salaries, getting the labor union back to the table, figuring out where to go out to dinner... even getting your kids to go to bed.

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Be Assertive in Sales (Without Getting Fired)
Be Assertive in Sales (Without Getting Fired)

A long time ago, I was fly fishing with a grizzled, old, big company leadership consultant. I asked him what he thought differentiated good consultants from great consultants—those at the pinnacle of the game.

He said, "Let me think."

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When Win-Win Is Not the Best Sales Negotiation Approach
When Win-Win Is Not the Best Sales Negotiation Approach

You've been working on a sale for 4 months and everything's going great. Your potential customer, the decision maker, is talking as if the deal is done. But before final sign off, you must meet with the CFO.

You get to the meeting.

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Should Buyers Take You Seriously?
Should Buyers Take You Seriously?

What do James Franco, Daniel Craig, and Mo'Nique all have in common? They're described as actors who bring gravitas to their roles on the big and small screens.* Another is Sir Patrick Stewart, who embodied gravitas as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Picard had power and authority. He commanded respect. When he spoke, the Enterprise—and everyone else in the universe—listened.

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Is Your Need for Approval Holding You Back from Sales Success?
Is Your Need for Approval Holding You Back from Sales Success?

How many times have you left a sales meeting and thought, "I should have said that..."?

Or, during a meeting, as you listened to what a prospect was saying, you thought, "That's not right; he will be making a big mistake if he goes down that path," but you never voiced your opinion?

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Do You Have What It Takes to Become an Insight Seller?
Do You Have What It Takes to Become an Insight Seller?

There’s a revolution underway in sales. What used to work, even just a few years ago, is no longer enough to win major sales today.

As a result, a new breed of seller, who's beating out the competition and winning the sale, has emerged: the insight seller.

Insight sellers share new ideas and perspectives with their buyers, and they collaborate with buyers to develop the best solutions. They don’t just sell the value of their products and services, they become the value.

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Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed in Sales?
Do You Have What It Takes to Succeed in Sales?

Imagine for a minute that you’re a master carpenter. You’ve been building houses your whole life, trying your best to hone your craft and deliver the highest quality work every day that you possibly could.

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Neil Rackham's Foreword from Insight Selling
Neil Rackham's Foreword from Insight Selling

Perhaps the most respected voice of all time in sales is SPIN Selling author Neil Rackham. John and I were honored to have him write the foreword for Insight Selling. It's a great commentary on the state of and changes occurring in the world of modern sales. We hope you find it as insightful as we did. Without further ado...

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5 Ways to Make It Easy to Buy from You
5 Ways to Make It Easy to Buy from You

A couple of years ago, I was involved in a major rebranding effort for a Fortune 100 financial services firm. Based on extensive research, their chief marketing officer decided their new brand positioning should be focused on "easier."

Easier to do business with. Easier to conduct banking transactions. Easier to get a mortgage, car loan, or business investment from.

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Is Relationship Building in Sales Dead?
Is Relationship Building in Sales Dead?

There's been a lot of noise the last couple years declaring relationship selling dead. "The Internet has changed everything." "Personal connections don't matter anymore." "Selling is not about relationships." "Throw out everything you thought you knew about sales, Armageddon is coming!" Blah, blah, etc.

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5 Appointment-Setting Tips
5 Appointment-Setting Tips

Breaking into new accounts and setting meetings is one of the most difficult tasks sellers face. But if you want to be successful in sales, you need to be able to build your own pipeline and drum up your own business. You need to be able to prospect for new business with great success.

To increase your odds of landing initial meetings, follow these five appointment-setting tips:

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The Power of Storytelling in Sales
The Power of Storytelling in Sales

In the latter half of the 1700s, German astrologist and physician Franz Anton Mesmer treated his patients by looking deeply into their eyes and waving magnets in front of their faces. Mesmer believed barriers in our bodies disrupted the natural flow of the processes that gave us life and health. He further believed his penetrating eye gazing and object waving restored natural order inside his patients and relieved all sorts of maladies.

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7 Ideas for Building Trust in Sales
7 Ideas for Building Trust in Sales

Lots of things have changed in the world of sales, but some things have not. Building trust was important 50 years ago, and it's just as important today.

When buyers trust sellers, they depend on them, listen to them, give them access, and spend time with them.

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The End of the End of Solution Sales
The End of the End of Solution Sales

Since articles like "The End of Solution Sales" and "Selling is Not About Relationships" were published in the Harvard Business Review, there's been a lot of disagreement in the sales world about what's working and what's not. The arguments behind these articles were steeped in data. The arguments against these articles seemed more based on experience and belief. Which were true? We didn't care one way or the other, but we certainly wanted to know.

So we decided it was time to collect and analyze fresh data to find out what's really going on in sales.

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How Consultative Sales Methods Need to Change
How Consultative Sales Methods Need to Change

Call it what you like: solution sales, consultative sales, consultative selling—at the core of each of these concepts is diagnosing and connecting the "pain" of the buyer with the products, services, and overall capabilities of the seller as "solutions."

Pain + Diagnosis + Offerings as "Solution" = WIN!

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New Book Now Available: Insight Selling
New Book Now Available: Insight Selling

After studying over 700 B2B purchases, sifting through hundreds of pages of data, talking to tens of thousands of sellers and sales leaders, and more than a year in the writing process, we are thrilled that our new book, Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently is finally here.

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What Is Insight Selling?
What Is Insight Selling?

Think about someone you seek out when you're working through a challenge.

They help you think things through, see what’s important. They ask the right questions. They listen. They don’t just give you answers—they help you come up with them.

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Infographic: The Road to Becoming an Insight Seller
Infographic: The Road to Becoming an Insight Seller


In Insight Selling: Surprising Research on What Sales Winners Do Differently, we reveal the results of our extensive analysis of over 700 B2B purchases from the buyer’s perspective.

In our research, we found that sales winners consistently exhibit behaviors on three levels: they connect, convince, and collaborate.

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Why We're Donating Royalties from Insight Selling to the American Heart Association
Why We're Donating Royalties from Insight Selling to the American Heart Association

On September 28, 2011, my wife and I went to our 18 week ultrasound to find out if our first child would be a boy or a girl.

We found out it was a boy, and that he had a special heart.

Our unborn son was diagnosed with a critical aortic stenosis with evolving hypoplastic left heart.

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Sneak Peek of Insight Selling - Available Now
Sneak Peek of Insight Selling - Available Now

The sales landscape has shifted in the last few years.

Buyers are more informed than ever, competition is stiffer, and products and services are increasingly seen as replaceable, leaving most sellers at a loss for the best way to add value and differentiate.

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Unique vs. Distinct: What Really Matters for Differentiation in B2B Sales
Unique vs. Distinct: What Really Matters for Differentiation in B2B Sales

In this quick video, RAIN Group President Mike Schultz discusses the difference between being unique versus being distinct from the buyer's perspective.

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Networking Skills: 3 Ways to Get to the Real Decision Maker
Networking Skills: 3 Ways to Get to the Real Decision Maker

We've all been there.

Someone reaches out to you. They're enthusiastic. Ask for information. Want to talk to you on the phone. Ask for a proposal. Tell you they're "genuinely interested" in what you're offering. And "need something concrete to discuss in a meeting that's coming up."

And then...nothing.

The sale doesn't move forward. No decision is made. No further action from your side required. And "they'll be back in touch when they know more."

Here's the thing: sometimes the people we start talking to are not the people we should be talking to.

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7 Steps to a Successful Sales Meeting When the Seller Drives the Demand
7 Steps to a Successful Sales Meeting When the Seller Drives the Demand

You finally got the meeting!

Now what?

While getting a buyer to say "yes" to an initial sales meeting is a battle in and of itself, much success is determined by what happens in that first meeting. There are many mistakes to avoid, especially when you’re the one setting the meeting and driving the demand for your offerings.

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The Foundation of the Most Effective Sales Training
The Foundation of the Most Effective Sales Training

According to research from Aberdeen Group, best-in-class companies—those that outperform others on a variety of sales factors, including quota attainment, shrinking the sales cycle, and growing the average deal size:

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How to Set Up the Best Sales Training
How to Set Up the Best Sales Training

I recently returned from an industry conference. The speakers were excellent and it was great to get away from my desk, connect with the attendees, and have the opportunity to step back and think big picture about what I need to be doing to drive success in my position. I returned with all sorts of notes, to-dos, and grand visions for change.

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Common Sales Training Mistakes to Avoid
Common Sales Training Mistakes to Avoid

9 out of 10 sales training initiatives have no lasting impact after 120 days.1

Considering companies spend $3.4 to $4.6 billion on sales training with outsourced providers each year, that’s a big investment with little to show for it beyond short-term, short-lived gains.2

Fortunately, the reasons sales training fails are both predictable and fixable. By avoiding common mistakes, you set yourself up for successful training initiatives that lead to increased sales performance and long-term revenue growth.
 

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Vote for the 2013 Top Sales Awards - Polls Now Closed
Vote for the 2013 Top Sales Awards - Polls Now Closed

Top Sales World has announced the finalists for its annual Top Sales & Marketing Awards and we’re pleased to share that RAIN Group has been nominated in three categories.

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Why Does Sales Training Fail? It's Your Fault!
Why Does Sales Training Fail? It's Your Fault!

Sales training is a multibillion-dollar business. In the U.S. alone, it is estimated to be more than $5 billion (according to Dave Stein in Sales Training: The 120-Day Curse from ES Research Group). Yet, also according to Stein, between 85% and 90% of sales training has no lasting impact after 120 days. If we do the math, that amounts to somewhere north of $4.25 billion of unproductive training.

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Free Webinar - Become a Source of Insight for Buyers: How to Sell Ideas, Influence Buyers, and Drive Demand
Free Webinar - Become a Source of Insight for Buyers: How to Sell Ideas, Influence Buyers, and Drive Demand
Duration: 60 minutes with Q&A

Presenter:  Mike Schultz, President, RAIN Group & Author, Rainmaking Conversations

This live event has passed. Click here to view the recording.
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5 Ways to Use Education and Insights to Generate Meetings
5 Ways to Use Education and Insights to Generate Meetings

In our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we found that the number one factor separating sales winners from second-place finishers is this: Sellers educated buyers with new ideas or perspectives.

In other words, the seller became known as a source of insight.

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Infographic: 10 Essential Selling Skills
Infographic: 10 Essential Selling Skills


In What Sales Winners Do Differently, we studied over 700 purchases from the perspective of business-to-business buyers to find out what really happened in their buying experiences.

In our research, we looked at the factors that most separate sales winners from second-place finishers. These are the essential selling skills you need to find yourself in the winner's circle.

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11 Questions for Insight Selling
11 Questions for Insight Selling

Insight selling is an old concept that has recaptured the fancy of the sales world, and rightly so, because it’s about adding value. Specifically, it’s about the seller adding value over-and-above the product or service.

Too many folks, however, think insight selling is about educating buyers through presentations. They’re about half right, but without the other half, they’re missing out on the full impact of insight selling.

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The Role of Emotion in Business Sales
The Role of Emotion in Business Sales

In this short video, RAIN Group President Mike Schultz talks about how emotion plays a role in business sales.

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5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching
5 Keys to Successful Sales Coaching

More than ever, sales teams are struggling with unqualified leads, missed sales goals, and lost opportunities. Increasingly, company and sales leaders are turning to coaching as a solution.

And, why not? Executive and personal-effectiveness coaching have historically yielded great results. According to the International Coach Federation, the average company can expect a return of 7 times the initial investment in coaching.*

Shouldn’t the same be expected from sales coaching?

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Infographic: 5 Roles of a Successful Sales Coach
Infographic: 5 Roles of a Successful Sales Coach

Sales coaching has become a hot topic in business as more and more companies see a significant return on investment. However, where executive coaching and personal-effectiveness coaching yield positive results, sales coaching lags behind. Whether it's a lack of time, inconsistent coaching conversations, unavailability of tools and resources to succeed, or weak coaching skills, sales managers and leaders simply aren't producing strong results.

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5 Sales Coaching Myths We Can All Safely Ignore
5 Sales Coaching Myths We Can All Safely Ignore

Sales coaching—working one-on-one or in small groups with firms and individuals in a highly focused manner to help them increase effectiveness, revenues, and sales—is a large part of what I do on a day-to-day basis.

Done right, it’s one of the most powerful, impactful ways to increase revenue and boost individual or group performance.

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Reduce Risk for Your Buyers
Reduce Risk for Your Buyers

In this short video, RAIN Group President Mike Schultz why making the ROI case in sales is no longer enough.

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Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 1
Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 1

I spend a good percentage of my time selling. I also spend a lot of time coaching and training sales teams. One question that comes up time after time is, "How do I shorten the sales cycle?"

My quick response is usually, "Have more in each stage of your pipeline at all times, so the sales cycle just seems shorter."

Of course, that rarely makes anyone feel better. So based on RAIN Group’s research and experience, here are the first five of ten commandments that will help make your sales process move more quickly.

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Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 2
Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 2

It usually takes a long time to find a shorter way. - Anonymous

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6 Ways to Communicate Impact in Sales
6 Ways to Communicate Impact in Sales

You’ve worked on building rapport with your prospect and you’ve uncovered their aspirations and afflictions. The question then becomes, "So what?"

If your afflictions don't get solved, so what? What won’t happen? Will they get worse? How will they affect the bottom line of your company, division, or department? How will they affect your life?

If your aspirations don't become reality, so what? Will your competition get ahead of you if you don't innovate? Will you lose market share if you aren't aggressive in your strategy? Will you never be able to grow your business to a point where you can sell it and reach your personal financial goals? Will the promotion you desire continue to elude you?

Your ability to quantify the impact and paint the "so what" picture is the foundation for how important it is for the decision maker to buy from you. If you don’t answer the "so what" question, the initiative will fall to the bottom of the priority list.

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Bringing Insight Selling Alive - How to Tell a Convincing Story
Bringing Insight Selling Alive - How to Tell a Convincing Story

CONVINCE

con•vince convince.png
  1. Cause (someone) to believe firmly in the truth of something.
  2. Persuade (someone) to take action.

Building confidence in the validity of an idea. Inspiring action.

The sellers who do these best sell the most.

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The Seller As Differentiator
The Seller As Differentiator

In this short video, RAIN Group President Mike Schultz talks about how price isn't necessarily the greatest differentiator in sales—it's the seller.

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3 Tips for Selling to the C-Suite
3 Tips for Selling to the C-Suite

Most of my clients want to have better meetings with senior executives. Meetings that feel like conversations, not pitches. Meetings that build deeper relationships. Meetings that uncover more ways in which they can help their customers.

Behind closed doors, when I ask what's holding them back, many will tell me things like, "I don't feel comfortable," "I have nothing to offer to them,"" or "I'm not at their level."

Selling to the C-suite can be difficult, and getting a first meeting can be a real challenge. But, in my experience, the most difficult part is not getting the first meeting. It's getting the second one. Or the third one.

It's keeping the relationship going.

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Men and Women View Risks Differently: What Sales Managers Need to Know
Men and Women View Risks Differently: What Sales Managers Need to Know

Talking about the differences between men and women is a tricky thing. But we need to deal with tricky things if we want to be good sales managers.

The recently published book, Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, has a nugget of knowledge every sales manager should know. As the title suggests, it’s about the science behind why some people win and others struggle.

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RAIN Selling: How to Lead Masterful Sales Conversations
RAIN Selling: How to Lead Masterful Sales Conversations

It’s 4 PM on a Thursday. You’re about to meet the CEO of a large company you’d like to win as a client. The conversation starts as you walk into the office, approach the CEO, stretch out your hand, and say, “Nice to meet you, Jill. I’m Steve Webb.”

Fast forward 7 months later. It’s 3 PM on a Wednesday. You head into the office. Jill gets out from behind her desk and says, “Good to see you again, Steve. Here’s the signed contract for the initial $1.2 million. Let’s get started.”

Suffice it to say, a lot has to happen between “hello” and “let’s go.”

Yet two things are true. 1) This is how it happens. And, 2) how to lead sales conversations, influence your prospects to want to buy, buy from you, buy a robust solution, and pay full price for it confounds many people.

But it doesn’t have to.

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5 Steps to Collaborate with Buyers in the Selling Process
5 Steps to Collaborate with Buyers in the Selling Process

When buyers buy something, one of two things must be true:

1. They are required to buy.

2. They want to buy.

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Leading Sales Conversations When the Seller Drives the Demand
Leading Sales Conversations When the Seller Drives the Demand

How you run a sales meeting depends fundamentally on who set it.

Imagine for a minute you’re the COO of a mid-sized manufacturing company. You’ve been reading quite a bit about how to decrease costs in a supply chain. You do a little research and find supply chain consulting firms. You call a few that happen to be in your area and set up a series of sales conversations with them. In this case, you’re the buyer.

You are driving the demand.

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Top 10 Factors Separating Sales Winners from the Rest
Top 10 Factors Separating Sales Winners from the Rest

For our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we studied over 700 major purchases from buyers who represented $3.1 billion dollars in annual purchasing power.

One question we wanted to answer was, “Is it the company and offerings that make the biggest difference in the buyer’s purchase decision, or is it the seller and how they sell?”

Guess what: it’s the seller and how they sell that most separates sales winners from the rest.

The following list reveals what buyers say are the top 10 areas where sellers who win outperform those who come in second place.

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Thoughts on the Five Seller Profiles in The Challenger Sale
Thoughts on the Five Seller Profiles in The Challenger Sale

In this post we noted we often get questions about The Challenger Sale. Perhaps the most common question we get is, “What do you think of the five seller profiles?”

The five seller profiles, as defined by the authors of The Challenger Sale in “Selling Is Not About Relationships,” a Harvard Business Review blog post, are as follows. We list them in order by what they found in their study to be least to most likely to be a top performer in sales.

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6 Steps to Objection Handling That Will Get You Closer to the Sale
6 Steps to Objection Handling That Will Get You Closer to the Sale

How many of us have heard from prospects, "Your fees are too high," "Someone else will do it for less," or "I don't see why I have to pay all that money just to have you do an audit, write a brief, create a marketing plan, etc.?" And, more important, how many resist the urge to simply lower our fees to get the work?

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Sales Call Planning: What to Know Before Every Sales Call
Sales Call Planning: What to Know Before Every Sales Call

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. - Benjamin Franklin

We acknowledge that sometimes you can't prepare for a sales call or—hallelujah—a prospect calls you out of the blue. It's reasonable to suggest that, on occasion, sales calls are appropriately deemed 'exploratory discussions'; the kind of discussion in which we just talk and 'see where it goes.'

Take this approach in most sales situations, however, and you'll lose more than your share of sales that you should have won. Interestingly, whether you have a two-thousand- or two-million-dollar price point, to increase your odds of winning new customers, you still need to do the same basic planning and know the same essential information before your sales calls.

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3 Rules for Building a Value Proposition
3 Rules for Building a Value Proposition

Ask 100 sellers at 100 companies why their customers buy from them, and you're likely to hear 100 answers with the same underlying theme: the value we provide.

Sellers describe their value to us in a number of ways: we get results. Our relationships are very close. They get from us what they've always wanted (but never gotten) from other companies. We bring innovative solutions to the table. And so on.

Pretty obvious, right? To win sales you have to maximize value.

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5 To-Dos When Selling to Senior Executives
5 To-Dos When Selling to Senior Executives

Want to make more sales? Start by having better conversations.

Think about it. You spent months chasing a senior decision maker or prospect, making calls, and sending e-mails, and they finally agreed to sit down with you. You invested significant amounts of time, effort, energy and—sometimes considerable—resources to win them over.

And now you find yourself in a room with a senior executive. Now what?

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On Relationships, Solutions, and Challengers
On Relationships, Solutions, and Challengers

Having spent two decades in the sales training and consulting world, I get asked all the time what I think about this or that sales approach or book. When I do, it tends to make for productive discussion and learning. Importantly, it helps people decide what’s right for them when it comes to selling.

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6 Tips for Differentiating in the Selling Process
6 Tips for Differentiating in the Selling Process

See an article about differentiation and it’s likely to be about marketing. Differentiation often starts with marketing, but it’s in the selling process that it truly comes alive.

Here at RAIN Group, we recently analyzed just over 700 business-to-business sales made to buyers who represent $3.1 billion in annual purchases from industries with complex sales.

The purpose of the research was to find out what sales winners do differently in the selling process compared to the sellers that didn’t win, but who came in second place.

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5 Sales Prospecting Techniques You’ve Probably Never Tried (But Should)
5 Sales Prospecting Techniques You’ve Probably Never Tried (But Should)

What is the #1 challenge or issue you face when it comes to growing sales for your business?

When I recently reached out to my network and asked that same question, 75% mentioned sales prospecting as their #1 challenge.

The problem isn’t that people don’t know what to do; it’s that what they’ve always done no longer works. Want proof? Think about the last time you met an actual decision maker at a networking event, and that conversation led to a sale. How about from a cold call? Trade show? Advertisement?

The simple truth is this: if you do what everybody else is doing, you’ll get the same results everybody else is getting.

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New Sales Research: What Sales Winners Do Differently
New Sales Research: What Sales Winners Do Differently

After many months of significant effort, we launched What Sales Winners Do Differently this week. This report reveals data and insight from our in-depth sales research on what sellers do to win sales opportunities.

The results are both surprising and fascinating.

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Building Trust with Skeptical Executives
Building Trust with Skeptical Executives

Sometimes it’s just easy. You meet a person and connect. Conversation flows. You find common areas professionally and personally. Ideas bounce back and forth, and you start talking about how you can work on something together. Before you know it, work is under way, and the collaboration is the definition of one plus one equals three.

Sometimes it ain’t easy. You meet a person, and they’re all business. Getting them to engage with you in any sense is slow. Painful. You open up and share, provide great ideas, and work hard to get the other person to see the value in working with you. It should be plain to see, but it’s not. You’re met with aloofness and suspicion.

You try to engage on a personal level and ask, "How was your weekend?" His reply, "Fine." Then dead air.

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7 Tips for Maximizing Time and Deepening Relationships with Executives
7 Tips for Maximizing Time and Deepening Relationships with Executives

 "It's impossible to get serious face time with senior executives."

“Even getting 15 minutes with a senior executive can take 15 months.”

I hear things like this all the time from professionals, sellers, and other business leaders who want to get more time with decision makers, but haven’t yet cracked the code.

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Turning the Question
Turning the Question "What do you do?" Into a Conversation About Value

You're at an industry event mulling over which cheese will go best with which crackers at the buffet. The person next to you introduces himself. You introduce yourself. Then he says:

"So tell me, what do you do?"

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The New Rules of Selling, Part 1: Play to Win-Win
The New Rules of Selling, Part 1: Play to Win-Win
Rule #1: Play to Win-Win.

(This post is the first in a series of blog posts on the new rules of selling.)

Win-win is a common negotiating philosophy. The idea is to find solutions that satisfy the interests of both parties, and maximize value on both sides. Since repeat business and referrals are so important in compl