RAIN Group Sales Blog

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

When sellers lose a sale, we often hear something like: The other vendor had an in. Our competitor offered a lower price. We didn’t have the best solution. They decided to do nothing at all.

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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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Too many sellers have the following problems: Bloated pipelines filled with dead wood Lack of clarity on what opportunities to focus on In our article, 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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When it comes to winning big sales opportunities, sales leaders often share 2 complaints: Sellers aren't proactive. They fail to drive their most important sales opportunities forward with determination and rigor. 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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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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If you don't know your destination, any road will get you there. When prospects ask for a formal proposal, they are telling you their desired destination: a business relationship with you. And they're asking you to answer the question, “What road do we take to get there?” Since it's your job to give directions, you want to tell them the straightest, shortest, and easiest route. After all, you don't want them to get lost along the way, or so tired on the path that they give up before they get to the end.

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