RAIN Group Sales Blog

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

Note: You can download this article as a PDF to save it for later!  Developing relationships, collaborating online, leading virtual sales conversations, gaining and keeping attention, leveraging technology, making the ROI case, delivering value—these are hard to do regardless of the sales and economic environment. But, do these become more difficult when selling virtually versus face-to-face? Are some areas more difficult for sellers than others? What influences buyers’ purchase decisions when buying virtually?

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“Luck is where preparation meets opportunity.” – Seneca If you want to generate the best opportunities and set yourself up for success in 2021, you need to prepare. And there’s no better way to prepare than by using data-backed findings on what’s working (or not!) for the most successful sellers. The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research has been leading proprietary research to discover the most effective strategies and tactics in sales for nearly two decades. In this deck, we share ideas, tips, and resources to help you prepare so you can create your own luck this year.

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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. With the laundry list of sales skills needed, which are most important?

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Developing relationships, collaborating online, leading virtual sales conversations, gaining and keeping attention, leveraging technology, making the ROI case, delivering value—these are challenging regardless of the selling and economic environment. But are they more difficult in a down economy while many sellers are transitioning to virtual sales? Are some sales skills more difficult to apply than others in a virtual environment? Where are sellers succeeding and failing according to buyers today?

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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.

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As the global economy teeters on the edge of uncertainty, companies are already canceling engagements, dropping vendors, and tightening their purse strings. They’re looking for any way to make their dollar stretch, and there’s no better time to do that than in contract negotiations. For industries still in buying mode, negotiations pose a unique opportunity to take advantage of desperate sellers struggling to meet their numbers.

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Everyone says, "Sell value, drive value, make sure buyers both perceive and receive exceptional value from you, and your sales teams will be more successful."

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What challenges do sales enablement and sales leaders encounter most often? Which ones are most difficult to tackle? What are the top sales priorities for the next 12 months? How should they be addressed to ensure they're achieved? To find out the answers to these questions, we surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders. The results are fascinating. As sales researchers and analysts, it helps us to see not only what's changed, but also what's changing right now and where the industry is going.

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Delivering value, making the ROI case, retaining customers, growing accounts, recruiting top talent, forecasting, implementing a sales process, utilizing sales technologies, winning against the competition, developing sales managers, coaching sales teams, generating leads, onboarding, productivity, compensation... There's no shortage of challenges sales leaders face. Recently, we surveyed 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders to uncover their top challenges and priorities, and how they approach them.

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What are the top challenges sales enablement and sales leaders face today? What are their top priorities? Which are most difficult to tackle? How should they be tackled? To find out, we asked 423 sales, enablement, and company leaders these questions. This report contains our findings, including 3 initiatives that will help sales and enablement leaders address their challenges and achieve their priorities.

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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.

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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.

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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. Download: 5 Sales Prospecting Myths Debunked 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:

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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.

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There are 2 stats that are cited in sales articles all the time: 57% of the purchase decision is made before a customer calls a supplier 67% of the buying journey is now done digitally 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.

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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. 82% of buyers will accept meetings with sellers who reach out. The sellers who secure these meetings achieve significantly greater success with a much different approach.

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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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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.

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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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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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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.

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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%.

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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.

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Most sellers and sales leaders often ask 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.

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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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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:

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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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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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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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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.

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How selling is changing? What do sellers need to do to maximize their success? To find out, we studied more than 700 business-to-business purchases made across industries by buyers who represent a total of $3.1 billion in annual purchasing power, and posed the question: “What are the winners of actual sales opportunities doing differently than the sellers who come in second place?” After many months of significant effort, we revealed the data and insight from our research in our What Sales Winners Do Differently research report. This report reveals data and insight from our in-depth sales research on what sellers do to win sales opportunities. The results are both surprising and fascinating.

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