Sales research is a great way to keep track of industry trends and shifts, and this is especially important following the bizarre six months we’ve experienced in 2020. RAIN Group’s Center for Sales Research recently shared some insights that can help you adjust your strategy accordingly for the rest of the year. “While this new environment has presented new challenges, many companies and individuals are adapting and succeeding even in tough times,” writes RAIN Group President Mike Schultz. He goes on to share 10 findings that can help you align your own strategy to better align with current conditions and customers.
Sales research uncovers strategies for success
After a tumultuous first half of the year, many are still wary about the economy. Now, more than ever, is the time to emphasize value. For businesses that likely have had a rocky year so far, and who may be worried about what lies ahead, value will be a major driver of purchases. RAIN reports that, compared to average reps, top performers are more likely to:
- Focus on driving maximum value for customers (8% vs. 61%).
- Prioritize the development of sellers to be as valuable as possible to buyers (66% vs. 39%).
- Work collaboratively with strategic accounts to co-create value in new, innovative ways (47% vs. 21%).
Just like the sales research suggests, value should be a major focus for sellers and can help you get through to buyers who may be extra sensitive to pricing.
Perfect that value proposition
As the sales research suggests, success depends on how well you can express value, i.e., how well you present your value proposition. If you haven’t lately, it may be time to revisit it. RAIN suggests that an effective value proposition must include three key elements:
- It must resonate with the prospect. It should demonstrate clearly why they should buy and why they should buy right now. Appeal to them on both a rational and an emotional level, all with a sense of urgency.
- The proposition should differentiate you and your product or service from all of the others out there. Why should they buy from you specifically? What makes you and what you’re selling different?
- Your statement must also substantiate. As Schultz explains, “Buyers have to believe that you can deliver on your promises. Make the case for why the buyer should believe in you, your offering, your company, and your ability to achieve the desired results.” Help them find that trust.
If you follow this framework, you can expect to create an effective, thoughtful and impactful value proposition that, as the sales research recommended, will clearly showcase that value.
Keep up with current clients
Don’t spend the rest of the year only chasing new business; there’s so much opportunity with your current clients. Schultz’s sales research reports that “83% of companies do not believe their sellers have effective skills for driving account growth. At the same time, 76% believe that they should be growing their strategic accounts by at least 25%.” As you can see, there’s a gap that exists.
Additionally, SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep whitepaper revealed that for some reps, it’s getting hard to overcome customer churn, as well as upsell to current customers. This is another issue that reveals the importance of keeping up with current customers and not putting all of your focus on new business.
Reps should make it a mission to spend time nurturing and growing current accounts to close that gap. One way to do that is to connect as much as possible. Likely, your clients are busy, so consider a variety of ways to connect that may be most convenient to them, whether it’s an email, a phone call, a LinkedIn message, or even a personal note by mail. And, don’t forget to make it personal. You want to connect with the client on a personal and professional level, so make sure they know you care by customizing each communication.
Inspire and educate buyers
Use opportunities this year to actively inspire prospects, which according to sales research, isn’t always happening. Introduce new ideas and new perspectives to wow them, setting yourself apart from the typical salesperson. Sales research from RAIN reveals that:
- Only 22% of buyers agree that sellers educate them with new ideas and perspectives.
- Buyers report that 58% of their sales meetings are not valuable.
- 64% of companies do not believe their sellers have advanced consultative selling skills (i.e. ability to inspire with new ideas).
You can break free from these statistics by bringing more to the table. And, SalesFuel’s own sales research supports this:
SalesFuel’s Selling to SMBs study revealed one of the reasons prospects returned a salesperson’s outreach attempt was when the seller shared something of value with them (42%). Buyers also want a rep who will provide relevant ideas to help their business (44%), which will positively impact their decision to buy.
Ask for coaching
Various sales research shows the powerful impact that coaching can have on sales. RAIN found that top-performing companies are more likely than average companies to:
- Prioritize and maximize the time sales managers spend coaching (42% vs. 28%).
- Create and sustain maximum selling energy (55% vs. 32%).
- Quickly address under-performance (48% vs. 31%).
Unfortunately, many reps aren't getting coached, as sales research reveals. SalesFuel’s Voice of the Sales Rep found that 22.6% of reps say that they meet with their managers for sales coaching and development only once or twice a month; nearly 20% don’t meet with them for coaching at all. Lack of coaching can be a real issue, especially if reps look elsewhere for guidance, including fellow reps who may not be the best mentor. As SalesFuel’s Kathy Crossett wrote in a recent blog post, “…tips offered by the senior salespeople might not work for every rep, especially if their motivations and work tendencies aren’t similar to the person they select as an informal mentor. And if that mentor has grown accustomed to taking a few shortcuts in the sales process, guess what they’re teaching [other] sales rep to do?”
Sales research is powerful because it sheds light on the issues, challenges, goals, and feelings of real sales reps. When looking toward the rest of the year, take these insights into account and consider how you can implement them to finish out this very unique year.