Sales prospecting has changed more than any other facet of sales in the last 10 years. There are a lot of clickbait articles with radical advice popping up and leading sellers astray.
In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, we undertook a study of 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers to find out what's working and what's not in sales prospecting.
In this infographic, we contrast 5 popular assumptions about prospecting with facts from the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research.
How many attempts does it take to break through to busy buyers?
What offers are most accepted?
Do cold meetings convert to new business?
In our new benchmark report, Top Performance in Sales Prospecting, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research uncovered the answers to these critical prospecting questions. With data from 488 B2B buyers and 489 sellers, we've cracked the code on what works in prospecting today.
This infographic highlights 30 must-know stats from our research and analysis and what they mean for sellers in today's world.
Challenges abound when it comes to sales prospecting. From targeting and using the right outreach methods to maintaining motivation and energy, there are plenty of ways to outbound prospect and fail.
For our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, we asked 489 sellers who outbound prospect about the biggest prospecting issues they face. The top 10 prospecting challenges can be grouped into 4 categories:
How many touches does it take to make a sale?
The simple answer is: more than most people think!
According to our Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research, it takes an average of 8 touches to get an initial meeting (or other conversion) with a new prospect. But the initial meeting is just the beginning. It takes a lot more to make the sale.
There are 2 stats that are cited in sales articles all the time:
The question, however, is so what?
Sellers and sales leaders often interpret this to mean that buyers don't want to hear from sellers.
This is far from the truth.
Buyers are awash with information, bombarded with sales and marketing messages, crazy busy, and tasked to do more with less.
Yet they still want to hear from sellers and they still accept meetings with sellers who reach out to them proactively.
The sellers who secure these meetings achieve significantly greater success with a much different approach.
Most of the buying journey is complete before buyers talk to sellers. Cold calling is dead. It's impossible for sellers to break through to buyers. Buyers don't want to hear about your capabilities. With all the information on the internet, buyers do their own research.
Sellers hear these messages all the time.
But are they true?
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.
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.
By: Mary Flaherty and Mike Schultz
If there's a black box in the world of sales, it's prospecting. What to do, how to do it, and what it means to be good at it. And with all the conflicting advice out there, it's especially difficult to figure out where to start and how to get better.
Executives are always on a mission to prove Kirkpatrick Level 4 measurement of training: Results. Specifically, they want to know to what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.
There is relatively little data on how sales training correlates to business performance and results.
That is, until now.
When we studied strategic account management in 2012, 59% of sales leaders believed there was greater than 25% revenue growth potential in their existing accounts.
In a separate, more recent research initiative, we found that the #1 priority for sales leaders in the year ahead is to increase business with existing accounts. We also discovered that Top Performers are nearly 2x more likely to be effective at maximizing sales to their existing accounts.
Attracting and retaining top sales talent is a huge challenge for many companies.
If you want to take your sales results to the next level, your organization must have the right people in the right roles, performing at a high level day in and day out. You also need the right management team with an effective process in place to ensure this all happens.
With increased product and service commoditization, sellers in almost every industry complain about price pressure and shrinking margins.
At the same time, there are some sellers and sales organizations who are consistently winning sales against lower-priced competitors and growing their margins.
For our Top Performance in Strategic Account Management Benchmark Report, we studied two specific processes for driving value with accounts.
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.
Why are some companies able to consistently grow their strategic accounts and maximize value while others struggle? This is a question that confounds many a sales leader.
Some think it is largely related to the strength of product and service offerings. The companies that grow their accounts the most must have superior offerings that keep customers coming back for more, right?
Ask someone in the presence of other people if their organization drives value for their customers, and they’ll say yes.
Ask them confidentially in a research study, and you’ll get a wholly different answer.
Everyone says value makes a difference in sales and business results. Indeed, the most successful sellers and sales organizations focus on value.
Everyone needs motivation to tackle different types of tasks/challenges. Whether it's hitting your personal sales goals or achieving your weight loss goals, people can't do it without some type of driving motivation.
There is a common assumption that value makes a difference in sales and business results. As part of our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, we wanted to test that assumption and see just what kind of difference it makes.
As part of our research this year, we have learned:
In our Top-Performing Sales Organization research, our goal was to assess what the Top Performers do differently than The Rest to achieve the best results. Top Performers have higher win rates, meet their annual sales goals, are more likely to set challenging sales goals, and are more likely achieve maximum prices in line with the value they provide.
We analyzed data from 472 sellers and executives representing companies with sales forces between 10 and 5,000+ sellers. Top Performers represent the top 20% of our database. The Rest—the bottom 80%.
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.
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:
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.
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?”
Most sellers and sales leaders are often asking themselves: "Is my win rate any good?"
Win rate is one of the most basic measures of your sales success, so it’s only natural to want to benchmark your performance against the average to see how you stack up.
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.
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.
Even small improvements in win rate can have a huge impact on revenue.
Based on findings from The Top-Performing Sales Organization Benchmark Report, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research has identified 8 key areas that contribute to higher win rates that will help you beat your sales goals and reach Top Performer status this year:
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
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.
When it comes to winning big sales opportunities, sales leaders often share 2 complaints:
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.
When it comes to growing accounts, challenges abound. In our Benchmark Report on High Performance in Strategic Account Management, we asked:
Consider the challenges your company faces in strategic account management. For each factor indicate how challenging it is to your company's SAM efforts.
Companies take lots of actions to grow accounts. Some work better than others.
However, none of them work very well if you don't take care of one important action up front.
For our What Sales Winners Do Differently research, we studied over 700 major purchases from buyers who represented $3.1 billion dollars in annual purchasing power.
One question we wanted to answer was, “Is it the company and offerings that make the biggest difference in the buyer’s purchase decision, or is it the seller and how they sell?”
Guess what: it’s the seller and how they sell that most separates sales winners from the rest.
The following list reveals what buyers say are the top 10 areas where sellers who win outperform those who come in second place.