If you've been working in sales at all for the past few years, you've probably noticed that the sales environment is more challenging than ever. And if you've been working in the sales world for ten years or more, you know the traditional model has been completely stood on its head. Buyers are in control today!
As we know from Corporate Executive Board research, over 60% of the buying process has already been completed before a company speaks with a sales rep. If this statistic is old news to you, here are a few more data points for you to chew on.
The Numbers Support the Notion that the Sales World Has Changed
- Once a rep gets to the sales conversation, more than 50% of the decision-making process is driven not by WHAT you sell, but HOW you sell (Source: CEB Challenger Sale)
- The median quota for a SaaS rep is $1.2MM, and 79% of those do not make their goal (Source: Xactly SaaS Incentive Compensation Benchmark Report)
- The average quota attainment for a SaaS sales representative is 58 percent, independent of tenure, company size and market (Source: Xactly SaaS Incentive Compensation Benchmark Report)
- According to a study of B2B organizations, only 58.2% of sales reps met their quotas in 2013 (Source: OptifiNow, Fifty Percent of Companies, Sales Reps Missed Goals in 2013. How to Turn it around for 2014 in the Last Stretch)
- Over 90% of CEO’s said they NEVER respond to cold emails or calls. The return on cold calling is drastically decreasing (Source: Forbes, The Rise of Social Salespeople)
- 80% of sales reps only attempt to connect with their prospects three times; yet, 80% of successful sales can be attributed to making 5 or more rounds of intitial attempted contact (Source: Jake Atwood, Slideshare)
But What Has Driven this Change in the Sales World?
The world of sales has changed! Drastically! The same way that the marketing world is changing, the sales world is changing right alongside it. As I already mentioned, about 60%+ of a buying decision is complete before a prospect ever connects with a sales rep. But I’m not as convinced that sales reps and professionals actually understand that. They seem to fail to appreciate the fact - or perhaps be in denial of the fact - that buyers are in complete control.
Before a buyer ever speaks to a sales rep, they have already researched the competition (Google, G2Crowd, TrustRadius, and more), they have already figured out where your product stands relative to other leaders (again, Google, G2Crowd, TrustRadius … perhaps even Twitter or LinkedIn), and they already have a sense of who your executive leadership team is (if they want to connect they simply have to go to Twitter or LinkedIn).
Across the past (almost) twenty plus years, Internet Magnates like Sergey Brin, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, Biz Stone, Reid Hoffman, and countless others started to completely transform the way that we all access and analyze information -- through search. With that comes how we make our buying decisions. Simultaneously, while it was probably more acutely felt at first by the everyday American Consumer, technologies arose, and continued to arise, that enabled the average person to completely block out unwanted messaging.
Technologies like TiVO to record live TV and skip right over commercials; XM and Sirius Satellite radio to eliminate ads while listening to our favorite music; Caller ID to simply determine whether or not we wanted our daily routine interrupted; priority email and spam filters to block out the barrage of unwanted marketing messages bombarding our inboxes day in and day out; and services like the National Do Not Call List to preemptively prohibit telemarketers from breaking up family dinner.
Where does all of this leave sales reps?
Gone are the days where the buyer has to rely on the rep for information. It sounds crazy to most people born after 1975-1980, but there was in fact a time where if you wanted to get information about a company’s products and services you had to call them. Ever hear of the Yellow Pages? Now all the power has shifted. And not shifted a little bit, it has shifted MONUMENTALLY in favor of the buyer.
Therefore, as sales professionals we need to adjust to the way that the world now makes its buying decisions. We have to figure out how to make our numbers and crush our goals. We have to do this without having nearly the amount of control, or in fact any control that reps of yesterday enjoyed. We have to evolve and find new ways to connect and engage our prospects. Creating a lead list and cold calling straight through it truly is dead. Sure, you’re going to get a handful of connect calls, but this creates so much waste in the process that it’s no longer worth the time.
And it's for these reasons and more that I'm starting this blog: to share insights, observations, statistics, research, and best practices for not only surviving -- but thriving -- in today's sales environment.
I would appreciate feedback or insights any time. And if you have something you would like to write about, or would like me to write about, please let me know by contacting me through this site.