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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The sellers who secure these meetings achieve significantly greater success with a much different approach.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
When we studied strategic account management in 2012, 59% of sales leaders believed there was greater than 25% revenue growth potential in their existing accounts.
In a separate, more recent research initiative, we found that the #1 priority for sales leaders in the year ahead is to increase business with existing accounts. We also discovered that Top Performers are nearly 2x more likely to be effective at maximizing sales to their existing accounts.
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.
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.
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
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.
With 2017 right around the corner, most organizations are building strategies to increase revenue, win more sales, and beat their targets in the year ahead.
But with increased competition and product/service commoditization, those same organizations either risk trying "the new, shiny trend" or same-old sales training that just doesn't cut it.
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?
As part of our research this year, we have learned:
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.
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.
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.
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:
It's the perfect time of year to give thanks and show appreciation for the people in your life who help you succeed—friends, family, colleagues, and clients. When it comes to the relationships you have with your clients, thanksgiving isn't the only time of year you should work on appreciating and building them. You should always be looking for ways to strengthen your business relationships.
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.
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.
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?"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Most people's sales conversations could be better. Not a little better, significantly better. I see too many sellers fall into the same traps:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Retaining current customers costs 6-7x less than acquiring news ones,1 and improving customer retention rates by a mere 5% can increase profit per customer by 25%-95%.2 So it makes sense that top companies focus on building relationships, increasing loyalty, and selling more to current customers as a growth strategy.
How many of your accounts take advantage of your full suite of products and services?
How much more could you be selling to your existing accounts?
10%? 20%? 50%? More?
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.
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.
It's that time of year again. The leaves have fallen from the trees, the temperature has dropped, and the calendar is filling up with holiday parties, ski trips, and family gatherings. Thanksgiving marks the start of the holiday season, the time of year when we reflect on the relationships we have with family, friends, customers, and co-workers. Thanksgiving in particular is a time to give thanks and show your appreciation.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Good negotiators have the ability to recognize the negotiation 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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
Negotiations are everywhere. From negotiating important sales opportunities to negotiating with our kids at bedtime, we’re constantly working to reach agreement with others. In this game of give and take, it’s too easy to get stuck, make mistakes, and lose big.
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.
Cold prospecting – reaching out to targets you don’t know to generate an initial meeting – is one of the hardest parts of sales. Partly, it’s a numbers game. With decision makers more insulated than ever, it’s getting harder and harder to get past gatekeepers and beyond voicemail.
But what happens when you do get a cold prospect to pay attention – whether it’s because they picked up the phone, or responded to an email or a direct mail piece? Do you feel like you nail it every time?
Much prospecting success is determined in this first interaction. Many opportunities die here before you have a chance to engage.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a silver bullet that would make you more successful in your sales efforts? One thing you could do to really boost your sales success?
I hate to disappoint, but the reality is, there is no silver bullet. Sales success takes hard work and commitment along with skill and savvy.
While there is no one thing that will work for you, there are a number of things you can do to help boost your overall success. You can start by following these 10 sales tips.
Sorry it didn’t work out this time, but I have to say “no.”
It’s 4 PM on a Thursday and you’re about to meet the CEO of a major 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 to a meeting about 7 months later. You head into the office. Jill gets out from behind her desk and says, “Good to see you again, Steve. Here’s a check for $1.2 million. Let’s get started.”
Imagine you're a business leader, and you're considering buying a new technology that could help your business succeed.
You log in to the web presentation and, after a few pleasantries, the presenter starts in, "We started in 1978 by John Doe and have grown into the market leader in the space. We provide efficient effective solutions leveraging a unique combination of people, process, and technology to help you achieve results…Here's a sample list of our clients…Now let me log in to the software. It's all hosted online so you can login from wherever, whenever you need to…Over here is where you control admin rights of the users…"
Boring. Unfocused. Unhelpful.
At some point the time comes for every sales person to deliver a presentation. For some this may be early on in a demo of your product or capabilities, or to share a new approach to solving a problem. For others it may be later in the sales process as you present your proposed solution. In any case, delivering engaging sales presentations is a key to success.
I am pleased and honored that our online magazine, RainToday.com, was chosen as the Top Sales Resource of 2010. Thank you to everyone who voted for us and to the judges; we couldn't have won without your support.
This post started out as one about the best sales books of the year. However as I was looking through my bookshelf I couldn’t help but add a few of my favorite new business books too. So without further ado, here are my top reads of 2010 (in no particular order):
People with kids tell me that sometimes you have to let them fail, even when you could have jumped in to save them, so they will learn. Painful to sit by and watch, but necessary for growth. After being on the receiving end of an awful sales call last week, now I know the feeling.
Poor kid (he could have been 60 for all I know, but he seemed like a kid), started sinking from the get-go. Since I couldn't dive in and save him, the future parent in me is dying to share the learning with someone. So here goes.
While I will protect the name of the innocent, I have summarized my favorite (if I can call them that) 5 deadly sins that pulled him down like a pair of concrete shoes in the Mystic River.