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RAIN Group Sales Blog

Your source for sales advice, tips, research, and insights to unleash sales potential.
The Secret to Driving and Winning a Sales Opportunity
The Secret to Driving and Winning a Sales Opportunity

Too many sellers have the following problems:

  • Bloated pipelines filled with dead wood
  • Lack of clarity on what opportunities to focus on

In "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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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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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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How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood
How to Clear Your Pipeline of Dead Wood

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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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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The ABCs of Selling
The ABCs of Selling

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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The 6 Phases of the Buying and Selling Process [PDF]
The 6 Phases of the Buying and Selling Process [PDF]

When organizations have a "World-Class" sales process (the top tier of our 5-level sales process maturity level scale), the win rate from proposal averages 57%. When the sales process is merely "Defined," the win rate averages just 44%.

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Want Better Sales Results? Take Your Sales Process to the Next Level
Want Better Sales Results? Take Your Sales Process to the Next Level

In our study, The Top-Performing Sales Organization, 40% of respondents said "Improving sales opportunity approach and planning" is a top priority for the next year. Along with two related initiatives—improving ability to communicate value (41%) and optimizing sales processes (32%)—these represented three of the top four sales initiative priorities altogether.1

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5 Reasons Why Buyers Now Control the Sale
5 Reasons Why Buyers Now Control the Sale

Most sales training and advice is based on a fundamental premise: the seller is in control.

Think about it: a lot of what's taught focuses on what sellers should be doing to persuade, convince, and drive buyers toward closing a sale. The seller is responsible for bringing the deal to a close. Therefore the seller must be in control.

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Want Loyal Clients? It Starts in the Buying Process
Want Loyal Clients? It Starts in the Buying Process

Client loyalty is tough to earn.

Fred Reichheld, author of The Loyalty Effect and creator of the Net Promoter System, found that most corporations lose 50% of their customers every 5 years, 50% of employees in 4 years, and 50% of investors in less than one year.

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What Sales Metrics Should You Track? – The Essential List [PDF]
What Sales Metrics Should You Track? – The Essential List [PDF]

"What gets measured gets managed."

– Peter Drucker

Only when you have a good sense of what's going on in your organization can you decide which buttons to push to make the greatest improvements. Even small efforts to track key sales metrics can quickly drive better results.

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Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 1
Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 1

I spend a good percentage of my time selling. I also spend a lot of time coaching and training sales teams. One question that comes up time after time is, "How do I shorten the sales cycle?"

My quick response is usually, "Have more in each stage of your pipeline at all times, so the sales cycle just seems shorter."

Of course, that rarely makes anyone feel better. So based on RAIN Group’s research and experience, here are the first five of ten commandments that will help make your sales process move more quickly.

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Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 2
Ten Commandments for Shortening Your Sales Cycle, Pt. 2

It usually takes a long time to find a shorter way. - Anonymous

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5 Steps to Collaborate with Buyers in the Selling Process
5 Steps to Collaborate with Buyers in the Selling Process

When buyers buy something, one of two things must be true:

1. They are required to buy.

2. They want to buy.

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Thoughts on the Five Seller Profiles in The Challenger Sale
Thoughts on the Five Seller Profiles in The Challenger Sale

In this post we noted we often get questions about The Challenger Sale. Perhaps the most common question we get is, “What do you think of the five seller profiles?”

The five seller profiles, as defined by the authors of The Challenger Sale in “Selling Is Not About Relationships,” a Harvard Business Review blog post, are as follows. We list them in order by what they found in their study to be least to most likely to be a top performer in sales.

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6 Tips for Differentiating in the Selling Process
6 Tips for Differentiating in the Selling Process

See an article about differentiation and it’s likely to be about marketing. Differentiation often starts with marketing, but it’s in the selling process that it truly comes alive.

Here at RAIN Group, we recently analyzed just over 700 business-to-business sales made to buyers who represent $3.1 billion in annual purchases from industries with complex sales.

The purpose of the research was to find out what sales winners do differently in the selling process compared to the sellers that didn’t win, but who came in second place.

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Your 6-Step Guide to Setting and Achieving Sales Goals: You Can Get There From Here
Your 6-Step Guide to Setting and Achieving Sales Goals: You Can Get There From Here

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?”

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Sales Weaknesses that Are Holding Your Sales Team Back
Sales Weaknesses that Are Holding Your Sales Team Back

There are thousands of ways to kill a sale. Some are obvious like not showing up to a meeting prepared, not following up, not listening, not establishing trust, going to proposal too early, not speaking to decision makers... the list goes on. These are all pretty easy to see and with some work and practice can be overcome.

Then there are the killers that hide beneath the surface that many sellers and sales managers do not even know exist. They are the sales weaknesses that are a part of an individual salesperson’s makeup that act like weights pulling them down.

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10 Ways to Boost Your Sales Success
10 Ways to Boost Your Sales Success

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.

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Not Hitting Your Sales Numbers? Do This One Thing Better
Not Hitting Your Sales Numbers? Do This One Thing Better
The following is expanded content from our new book Rainmaking Conversations: Influence, Persuade, and Sell in Any Situation. In this piece, co-authors Mike Schultz and John Doerr explain the importance of setting personal sales goals for long-term success. Read more about the book here.

 

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Is the “Wuss Factor” Hindering Your Sales Success?
Is the “Wuss Factor” Hindering Your Sales Success?
Is this "wuss factor" dragging you down?

I had the pleasure of meeting Ed Rendell when he was the mayor of Philadelphia. He was pointed and direct, quite different from the other politicians I have met over the years. So it came as little surprise when early this winter, Rendell, then Governor of Pennsylvania, called NFL officials “wimps” for canceling a game between the Eagles and Vikings due to snow.

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Un-stick the Sales Cycle: Give Your Buyers a Buying Guide
Un-stick the Sales Cycle: Give Your Buyers a Buying Guide

Sometimes buyers don't know how to buy. Don't be afraid to show them.

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5 Guidelines for Writing Winning Proposals
5 Guidelines for Writing Winning Proposals

Like a Poor Marksman You Keep…Missing…The Target!
- Admiral James T. Kirk


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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