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.
There's such a thing as being too close to a problem, and we see that as a frequent challenge when it comes to improving sales performance. In our recent study of nearly 400 sellers and sales leaders, we asked sellers how challenging they find various selling skills/behaviors. For the 16 skills we asked about, less than 55% of sellers found each very challenging. And when we take out the two outliers (prospecting and winning large deals), that number drops to less than 38%. Is it simply that these skills come easily to sellers? Are they so well trained that they're able to overcome obstacles and excel? Not exactly. When juxtaposed with buyer survey data, we see a significant gap between what sellers find challenging and how effective buyers believe they are.
People often ask us, “What should we do to drive sales success?” It’s a complicated question. You’ll need to consider the following factors, among many more: What to tackle When to tackle it What results the organization should be targeting Where you can get the biggest bang for your buck What it really takes to get those results
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.
Sales leaders with a finger on the pulse of B2B sales know that marked change is underway. Some changes have been spurred by the global pandemic, with others hastened by the uncertainty of the economy. For their new report, Future of B2B Sales: The Big Reframe, authors at McKinsey & Company spoke to more than 50 heads of sales across a range of industries and geographies to better understand the shift in the B2B sales environment. They identified 5 key themes:
When you invest in sales training, you’re committing time and resources with the distinct possibility of failure. From misaligned goals to lackluster adoption, there are many reasons why sales training doesn’t achieve desired results. Proper planning is a must for sales training that works. That means doing your research and finding an effective training provider to partner with and guide you through the process. Fortunately, you can set up your organization for success when it comes to sales training. The 22 green flags in this checklist give you a rubric to analyze potential providers, ask good questions, and form the foundation of your decision making. Download it as a quick reference or refer to our more detailed rationale below.
It seems like the world of sales is moving at a breakneck pace. Between new digital tools, hybridized sales teams, and economic shifts, it can feel overwhelming to keep up with everything. And it can be tempting to try to be everywhere and do everything at once just to stay competitive.
2023 is shaping up to be a challenging year for sellers. With economic uncertainty and organizations everywhere tightening their belts, sellers are hard-pressed to stay efficient and keep revenue flowing. So how can you and your sellers stay on track and cross the finish line strong? There are plenty of ways to get the most out of the team you already have. In this infographic, you'll find 8 areas of focus for 2023, each a category where Top-Performing Sellers excel compared to The Rest. Only 18.7% of sellers qualify as Top Performers, so there's always room for improvement!
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.
Sales tools can help you standardize processes, improve your skillset, and make the best use of your time. We’ve compiled all our free tools to help you succeed—browse below for resources covering every topic of sales.
There’s simply not enough time in the day to focus on every essential skill needed to succeed in sales. While sales teams must prioritize skills development, it’s important to identify which skills could have the biggest impact on your sales results.
Whether you're trying to get better at running or improve your sales skills, you need to choose what to focus on to get the best results. We can't give you the skills to run a marathon, but we can share the 11 skills that represent the largest skill gaps between Top Performers and The Rest to help you improve your sales efforts. We uncovered these skills and behaviors in a recent global study of 1,004 sellers and sales managers.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a silver bullet that would make you more successful in your sales efforts? Or if there was one thing you could do to really boost your sales results? Here’s the bad news: there’s no silver bullet. Sales success takes hard work and commitment, along with skill and savvy. There’s no shortcut to success.
For the best sales results, you need to have a highly motivated team bringing their A-game, day in and day out. Often, it's up to sales managers to make sure their team maintains this positive and results-driven attitude. But it’s not always easy.
In the past several years, so much has changed in the world of sales. Where should you begin? What’s going to make the biggest difference? What are others doing that's working today? To answer these questions, we looked across our sales research studies and pulled out 6 key ways Top Performers stand out compared to The Rest.
A productive sales team is a successful sales team. Companies all over the world are struggling with sales productivity and the added pressure to hit their annual goals only exacerbates the problem. If your sales team isn’t continually assessing their strengths and weaknesses as strategies shift, you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Your sales team should always be in a state of growth—keeping existing skills sharp, developing new selling tactics, and maintaining strong bonds with your customers.
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, and manage sellers. And today, you need to be successful in doing all of this with no face-to-face interaction. That's a lot to have to master.
When the team at the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research surveyed 528 sellers and buyers on their virtual buying and selling experiences earlier this year, we uncovered significant gaps between what influences buyer purchase decisions and seller effectiveness. The sad truth? Only two or three in 10 sellers do well in the four areas that most influence purchase decisions.
The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research has kept its finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the world of sales as we transition to virtual selling. Since beginning our research in Q2 2020, we’ve surveyed 528 sellers and buyers on their virtual buying and selling experiences. Our analysis has uncovered the top challenges of virtual selling, many of which buyers themselves have said are a deciding factor for purchase decisions. In the presentation below, we share the top challenges sellers face as they transition to virtual selling and how to tackle them.
88% of sellers find developing relationships virtually challenging. It’s one of the biggest challenges sellers face today. Many sellers lament that it’s just not the same as meeting someone face-to-face. They struggle to connect and build trust. Fortunately, it’s possible to develop strong relationships even when you can't connect with buyers in person. One of the easiest ways?
Selling virtually is a challenge for even the best sellers. The Virtual Selling Checklist below will help you make the transition to virtual selling as you wrap your head around three key components to success: Selling: While many of the principles remain the same (i.e., building rapport, uncovering needs, inspiring with new ideas, building an impact case, etc.), how you go about doing these in a virtual environment is drastically different. Meeting technology and experience: From audio and video to lighting and background, you need to manage the experience to make it as seamless and pain-free as possible for your customers. Productivity: Working from home opens the door to distractions and disruptions, so it's important to proactively manage your time, environment, and goals.
It’s never been more important for your sales organization to be firing on all thrusters. As buyers are tightening their purse strings and uncertainty in both health and economic spheres are plaguing companies, you need an optimized sales organization. In our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, we studied what the organizations with the highest win rates, revenue growth, and sales goal achievement do differently that allow them to achieve these results.
Many sales managers and coaches are never taught how to lead effective sales coaching conversations. So they start with, “What’s up?” Then they listen to sellers for an hour with a bit of back and forth about this opportunity or that one. They may talk about the need to fill the pipeline or come up with an idea to move one of the opportunities forward. And then the hour is up.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Achieving your goals isn't a slam dunk. Can you do what it takes to meet them? I recently started going to a personal trainer. At the beginning of our very first session, she asked, "So, what are you trying to accomplish?" "To get in better shape?", I hesitantly answered. "Well, without a clear goal, you will not be able to see your progress, you will lose momentum, and we won't be able to see if the training is paying off."
Are you giving yourself a chance of a bullseye? “Like a poor marksman you keep…missing…the target. Kaaahhhnnn!!!” - Admiral James T. Kirk There's one sales person I know that worked very hard, but he always seemed to be middle of the pack when it came to results. He had good skills and he was a good guy, but the results just weren’t there.