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RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.
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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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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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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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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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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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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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 2018 planning. 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 for 2018.

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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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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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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4 Categories of Time - How to Get More Done Every Day
4 Categories 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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[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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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?”

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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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[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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[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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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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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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Creating a Culture of Selling with Rainmakers: A Window into Sales Performance: Part Two
Creating a Culture of Selling with Rainmakers: A Window into Sales Performance: Part Two

In our last post about building a rainmaking sales culture, we discussed the three areas of organizationally-controlled influences you need to address in order to create the best sales environment in which your sales team can thrive and succeed:

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Creating a Culture of Selling with Rainmakers: A Window into Sales Performance
Creating a Culture of Selling with Rainmakers: A Window into Sales Performance

Here at RAIN Group, our advice to organizations looking to create a culture of sustained, serious selling: Make sure the bucket doesn't have any holes or it won't hold water.

Time and again we see organizations doing a certain percent of what they need to do to help their teams achieve more sales success and increase sales performance (our favorite, “Can you come in and give a 90-minute speech that will charge up the team for the next 12 months?”), but rarely do they put forth 100% effort. If you're only doing 70% of what you need to do to increase sales performance, you don't get 70% results; you get much less. Like patching a leak in the bottom of a boat, if you don't patch it 100%, it still takes on water.

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