RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.

When it comes to sales performance, getting the most out of your team starts with strong onboarding. Organizations with effective onboarding are 6.3x more likely to prepare their new sales hires to succeed.

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In the competitive arena of sales, the true game-changer is having a well-trained sales team whose behaviors result in the desired outcomes. Consider the case of a technology firm that revamps its sales strategy to focus on consultative selling. During training, a conversation planning tool is shared that helps reps prepare for needs discovery meetings.

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If you're part of a sales enablement team, you know the pressure that comes with shaping a sales force into a team of top performers. To facilitate this transformation, a well-thought-out sales training program is essential. And when it comes to the logistics of running a successful program, there are a lot of moving pieces you must attend to. Here's a helpful summary (and checklist) to ensure you launch a training program that isn't just good, but exceptional.

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2023 has seen sellers and sales organizations adapting to longer sales cycles and more deals lost to no decision. More than ever, sellers were challenged to be resilient while maintaining a tight focus on value, building relationships, and being responsive to buyers’ changing needs. Sales managers had to be proactive in supporting and coaching their teams. And sales enablement was tasked with ramping up new hires and boosting sales force productivity.

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As AI technologies advance, becoming more sophisticated and intuitive, they’re reshaping the sales landscape: from AI-driven chatbots providing real-time support to predictive analytics revolutionizing lead generation. According to Gartner, within four years, 60% of the B2B seller’s work will be done using generative AI sales technologies. And McKinsey predicts that a fifth of the sales teams’ functions could be automated with AI. While estimates vary, the view shared is similar: AI sales technologies will have a revolutionary impact on sales.

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Recruiting and hiring strong sales talent isn't for the faint of heart. It is, in fact, the top challenge facing sales and enablement leaders (cited as “very challenging” by 52%). It's not only challenging, but also takes a significant investment of resources to find, hire, and retain talent.

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TL;DR? Download a PDF of these questions to use in your sales interviews. As a sales leader or sales enablement executive, you know just how important it is to hire the right sales reps for your team. The key to raising your hiring success rate, as we’ve written elsewhere, is to follow a process built on strategy, sourcing, screening, scoring, and selling. But how do you conduct engaging recruiting interviews that help you assess candidates’ skills, personality, and fit for your company culture? What questions should you ask? How can you gauge candidates’ actual abilities?

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Sales enablement teams regularly struggle to provide sellers with the skills and tools needed to get results like building pipelines, closing sales, growing accounts, and increasing win rates. It's a challenge to ensure sales training achieves desired outcomes, whether sales enablement is a team of one or many. Training programs must be developed, facilitators prepped, and programs delivered. Ongoing reinforcement and support must be supplied so learning sticks and sellers apply what they’ve learned to get results. And all this upskilling needs to be repeated when new sellers join the team.

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Sales training is an essential part of any successful sales enablement program. However, not all sales training initiatives are created equal. While some programs may produce short-term results, they often fail to deliver long-term success.

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If you’re a sales or enablement leader charged with training sales managers, you’ve likely been asked, or asked yourself, “What are the core skills and competencies our sales managers need to effectively coach and develop our sellers?” As you dig into this question, developing effective sales managers can seem like a daunting challenge.

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Closing sales in today’s environment is a real challenge. If you’re in sales or sales leadership, I expect you’re nodding your head. Sales cycles are getting longer, more opportunities are being lost to no decision, and the economy is unpredictable at best.

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Have you met Morgan? A terrific sales rep. Except recently, Morgan has slipped out of the top tier of the leaderboard and I think I know why: she struggles to adapt to the new selling environment.

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You’d be hard-pressed to find an organization that didn’t want its sellers and sales teams to meet their goals in the face of challenging conditions and do so with high win rates and strong pricing. Sales training is one obvious way for organizations to build such teams. While sales training often fails to meet its promise, our research shows that highly effective sales training is correlated with higher win rates, sales goal attainment, and premium pricing.

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The world of B2B selling looks far different than it once did. Top sellers know they must go well beyond discussing features and benefits. They need to be closely tuned in to the buying process for each member of the buying committee while consistently meeting buyers where they are throughout the cycle. That’s a tall ask, as it turns out. According to Gartner, as many as ten decision makers might make up a B2B buying center. Additional data from CMO Council shows that B2B customers actively research and compare solutions, often completing 50% to 90% of the work before contacting a sales rep. Long story short: complexity is a hallmark of B2B sales.

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During a now-famous interview on the Pierre Berton Show in 1971, Bruce Lee shared a simple philosophy: “be like water.” As fitting as Lee’s advice is for sellers, “be like a sponge” works just as well. To stay ahead, sales teams must continuously absorb new information and develop skills. Ongoing training and coaching and sustained effort over time is crucial. Otherwise, sellers (and their managers) risk not reaching their potential. Fortunately, there are sales training techniques that even the most experienced teams will soak up.

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For sellers, routine can be a blessing and a curse. It’s true that doing the same things day in and day out provides structure. It requires discipline, too. But it can also turn into a comfort zone in which many sellers stagnate. This is what makes recurring sales training programs so valuable. Yet even after the most engaging, resonant sales training programs, sellers tend to revert back to what they’re accustomed to doing. Which puts a heavy onus on sales managers.

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TL;DR? Download the PDF and save it for later. If you’re responsible for designing or implementing sales training for your organization, you know the effectiveness of training varies greatly. It might not be implemented properly, land well with participants, be relevant to sellers’ daily work, or it might be forgotten completely in the days and weeks following the training. Sales training fails more often than it succeeds. But, for those who get it right, the payoffs are substantial.

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Wouldn’t it be great if every single new prospect trusted you and your organization? Referrals are among the top ways sellers get leads and new business, but many struggle with generating them consistently. Often, this is because they haven’t thought about why buyers should refer them. They don’t have a system in place for generating referrals. If you’re providing a quality experience for your buyers, you’re already halfway there. Word of mouth is bound to generate new business, but a deliberate referral marketing plan will drastically improve the frequency and quality of the referrals you receive.

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Much of sales is about making connections.

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