50 Eye-Opening Stats to Increase Conversion Rates and Sales Productivity in 2020
October 14th, 2019
Increase Sales Productivity and Conversion Rates with 2020 Vision
It’s a funny world we live in. You don’t need me to tell you that the digital explosion of technology has irreversibly altered the way we live and sell. You don’t need me to tell you that, “the world is changing.”
At this point, it’s a given. It’s always changing. This would be a tired story to retell when there’s real insight to offer after hours spent breaking down information from dozens of sources.
Here’s the issue..
Over 50% of sales reps missed their number in 2018 (Salesforce.com)
And that needs to be fixed. But before that can be fixed, we all need to understand why it happened to begin with.
On the surface, it might seem like, “the leads are weak,” or it’s an SDR issue or the product isn’t competitive, etc. Do these play a factor? Sure.
In reality, missing the number is more of a downstream symptom stemming from quite a few sales challenges and broad social shifts. For this article, I’m going to share dozens of data-points from leading organizations & research firms, not in list form – but in a format where statistics can tell a bigger picture.
My hope for you is that you’ll better understand the friction standing in all of our paths & to leave you with a few solutions for tackling obstacles.
50+ data-points.. not in list form – but in a format where statistics can tell a bigger picture.
There’s quite a few dichotomies to unpack!
Here’s what’s ahead:
- Information Overload: Shining light on how much data we consume, the habits we form, and the productivity we lose
- Multitasking: Giving perspective on how many times we shift focus and the impacts it has on driving results
- Purchasing Trends & the Seller/Buyer Relationship: Validating the importance sales brings to the purchasing process and highlighting the gap between buyers & sellers today
- Meetings, Onboarding, and Coaching: Highlighting how much time sales leaders spend in meetings to understand its impacts on effective onboarding and coaching
- Buyer Personas & Sales Cycles: Insight on how personas helps us sell with insight & empathy to provide real value to customers & reduce stalled pipeline
- Data Degradation & how the World’s Largest Self-Healing Database: Explaining how the top professional network is a future-proof way to fight data-decay in your CRM to increase conversions
- How Data & Sales Automation Tools can Help: Parting thoughts on how technology fights data decay, helps us sell in a focused, intelligent manner, and ultimately enable sales reps to be successful in outbound & inbound efforts.
1) Information Overload
You know it. I know it. We’re all overloaded.
There’s no arguing that the average person consumes an exponentially greater amount of information as compared to our 20th century selves.
We’re stressed, pressed for time, and stuck in a sea of endless information.
It’s no wonder why.
- The average millennial spends over 2 and a half hours on social media a day
- Non Millennial counterparts aren’t faring much better (Medium)
- Employees also have a growing tendency to have dozens of tabs open at a time spanning across 8-12 platforms (myself included).
The endless scroll through our platform of choice inundates our brains with more information than we can ever hope to truly handle.
- Millennial workers also find themselves switching sites and platforms as many as 30 times an hour (Business News Weekly).
- Don’t laugh, because other generations again don’t fare much better, averaging 20 per hour (Harvard Business Review).
For the human brain, notifications are frighteningly habit-forming and constantly influence our collective behavior.
- We all receive hundreds of emails per day (Copper), not including the dings from the other apps we have.
- It’s not a shock to hear 40% adults checking their phone 50+ times a day reporting their cell phone usage as “excessive.” (Variety)
- In fact, McKinsey found the time spent checking emails and finding information by employees to have a $900 billion dollar impact.
Let that sink in..
Workers spend days “working,” but reporting productivity guilt at higher rates than ever (NBRU). That’s stemming from not actually getting the job you set out to do – done.
Our attention spans are literally shorter.
- They’re 8 seconds now as opposed to 12 in 2000 (Cision). Multitasking, the leading cause of this, doesn’t even increase productivity..
- In fact, the act of multitasking decreases IQ capacity by as much as 10 points (Business News Daily)
- Further, it’s shown to decrease productivity by as much as 80% (RescueTime) as opposed to sequential execution.
It may work for a rare few, but for us mere mortals – it makes us inefficient.
With numbers like this in mind, it’s interesting to consider that reps use an average of 6 tools in their day-to-day workflow.. with many at the same time (SalesForLife).
..reps use an average of 6 tools in their day-to-day workflow..
For perspective, try patting your head, rubbing your stomach, jumping up on one foot, and hobble around in a circle. Or maybe try having two conversations at one time. How about three? Not efficient? Well that’s a physical representation of how inefficient and ineffective we are at one thing while multitasking.
For those without tools, it’s even more brutal. In these causes, multitasking combines with inefficient workflow to give even greater obstacles.
- For those without lead-generation tools to automate admin work, it takes an average of 14 clicks and 2 minutes to manually create a contact in CRM (ActiveCampaign)
- Those lacking sales automation spend hours and hours manually tracking follow ups and sending emails.
- Maybe this is why over 30% of salespeople report using spreadsheets to track outreach information (Medium, InsideSales)
- That correlates directly with heavy amounts of research that show sales spends only 35% of their time actually selling (HubSpot).
Here’s some sage advice about multitasking from the one and only Ron Swanson.
3) Sourcing Deals, Buying Trends and Shifting Paradigms
Sales reps, you might want to sit down for this.
- Studies suggest that it takes at least 8 quality activities (call, email, social, etc) to engage a buyer (HubSpot).
- However, reps are giving up after an average of 2
- For insight-leading top-performing reps, it takes an average of 5 touchpoints (Brevet Group)
“But email doesn’t work, right”
Broadly speaking, we just don’t use it correctly.
- 80% of buyers say they prefer being contacted by email
- 95% do not respond favorably to bulk email, shocker (Wordstream, )
- Only 30% of reps are sending personalized email at a scale to comfortably report success (Rain Group).
Maybe that’s part of the reason why so many don’t actually hit their numbers..
And it’s not for a lack of tooling.
- Again, companies are spending almost $4,000 a year on sales technology for each rep
- this spans an average of 6 tools apiece (SalesForLife)
So what’s the big holdup on smashing numbers?
The opportunity to engage is certainly there.
- Given that over 70% of buyers report wanting to work with reps to improve their business..
- Coupled with the fact that win rates increase by 65% when sellers engage buyers first, there’s plenty of motivation to reach out (RAIN Group).
More motivation should stem from the fact that:
- 1-3% of the market is looking for solutions actively with another
- 37-40% are on the cusp.
- The rest are fine with the status quo (BrainShark)
From any angle, look and you’ll see that’s almost half of the market is at least open to considering alternatives when presented with an intelligent alternative.
But it’s not quality diminishing our chances for success. Quantity hurts too.
- only 15% of sales reps report reaching out to more than 1,000 prospects last year (Velocify). Even with the thousands of dollars spent on tools and enablement..
They simply can’t find the time or don’t have the right process or training to make it happen.
And when we do engage buyers from outbound we’re wasting precious opportunities.
- Only 42% of buyers say their meetings with salespeople are valuable
- 96% affirm that value impacts purchasing decisions.
- Could this by the reason that sellers that lead with insight are 3x more likely to report prospecting success than self-centric sellers (RAIN Group)?
We’re getting somewhere.. The takeaway so far?
We’re spread too thin, not working strategically, not delivering enough activity, and not leading with value.
Could it be, maybe, we are simply awful at staying on task and we’re not bringing enough value?
Or maybe it’s not that we don’t have tools, but it’s tools that don’t keep us focused?
4) Sales Leadership, Meetings, and Onboarding
We’ve talked about multitasking, information overload, and the gap between buyers & sellers. Now let’s take a look at where leaders are spending time and how that detracts from the sales effort.
- There’s over 11 million meetings being held in the world every day
- sales managers spend between 35-50% of their time in them (HBR)
Which makes sense why there’s less and less time for coaching despite its ability to increase:
- average attainment by 7%
- overall revenue by 25%
- and average close rates by 70% (CEB).
Yep, they’re much better off being in a meeting.. to talk about another meeting.. to review the results from a different meeting..
Oh, and when they do have time to coach, it’s all too often a “one and done” kind of training. Here’s the problem.
- When training is not reinforced, reps tend to forget up to 87% of what they learned (SalesLoft).
- It’s no surprise that higher performing sales organizations spend over twice as much on training as those that miss numbers (HighSpot).
It goes on.
- Collectively, it costs sales organizations about $100k to replace a ramped sales rep (DePaul).
- The hiring process alone costs on average about $30k and takes ~6 months.
Yet, despite the hard and soft costs, the market still sees about 20% of staff turnover taking place in the first 45 days of employment alone (UrbanBound).
I didn’t even want to try and calculate how much money we all waste on bad hiring. Despite all the cash we throw at it, over 80% of today’s sales leaders don’t think they have the team to succeed (CSO Insights)
But speaking of hard and soft costs & meetings, did you know that an inside sales meeting costs about 6-8x less than an outside sales call? Yet, we’re pushing expensive resources to hit the ground with little enablement and wondering why numbers aren’t being hit..
Before I multitask myself here, time for a change-up. Let’s not spend any more time talking about pointless meetings.
5) Buyer Personas & Sales Cycles
Why are personas important?
- Personas are the foundation for sales to be empathetic to understand each stakeholder’s challenges
- Empathy, in turn, this gives us situational awareness to articulate value based on who you’re speaking with
- Articulating Value based on unique situations builds trust and strengthens the buyer / seller relationship
- Trust, as we touched on earlier, is a key aspect of decision making, according to over 70% of buyers (HubSpot).
So, as a matter of fact, understanding buyer personas are pretty damn important!
Of surveyed companies that hit their number, 71% have documented buyer personas (Unleash Possible, Samatha Stone). You can learn more here, but in short personas are fictionalized profiles of each of the usual stakeholders you’ll encounter in your sales process.
Aside from empathy and active listening – other ways to succeed include:
- not being [too] pushy (60% of buyers)
- providing insight (61% of buyers)
- timely responsiveness (RAIN Group).
See a recurring theme yet?
There’s more to consider.
Of all deals in qualified pipeline, 58% of them stall (Salesforce.com). Budget and the status quo are the main reasons we’re consciously aware of (Social Centered Selling), but what else is causing such a high stall rate?
- How about the fact that it takes 7-10 stakeholders to make a business decision (Harvard Business Review)
- Yet, only 9% of deals are multithreaded? (LinkedIn)
Instead, we’ll squeeze inbound leads and get stuck on lower lever stakeholders that block us from decision-makers.. sigh.
Let’s shift to something a bit brighter.
6) How World's Largest Self Healing Database Fights Data Degregation
The crafty cats at Linkedin are the proud creators of planet Earth’s largest and fastest growing professional network – ever. And Microsoft snatched it for 26.2Bn in 2016. Personally, I think it’s probably worth more.
Here are a few stats on how expansive the site is
- LinkedIn is home to over 500 million total users.
- Of those, 250 million are active each month.
- From those active monthly users, over 100 million user it daily (Foundation Inc).
- Out of all the users, LinkedIn claims 61M are senior influencers
- Another 40M are senior decision makers.
Here’s a few amusing stats on the good ole Millennials:
- Over half of buyers are Millennials (under the age of 35) (Google)
- There are nearly 90 million Millennials on LinkedIn (AdWeek).
- By conservative estimates, there’s 30 million senior influencers and decision makers from this segment.
30 million key stakeholders..
- From the population segment that’s always on the phone?
- The generation that’s always on social?
- Always on email?
Yep, that one 🙂
This highlights that cold email is not dead. It instead underscores that it’s a systemically misused channel for engaging buyers.
The good news?
You have the opportunity to engage buyers the right way and cut through the noise!
You now know the main way most consume information AND how they prefer to work with sales reps.
By the way, this doesn’t just apply to the younger crowd. There’s plenty to back up these channels as strong sources for engaging almost all other age groups.
Let’s talk about what LinkedIn really is
Most know LinkedIn as a professional network to make new connections and build a brand.
In reality, it’s the world’s largest self-healing database.
Since we’re in a world with constant job changes and company shifts, it’s almost impossible for a static database to stay accurate for long.
In other words, LinkedIn is a living database with hundreds of millions of users constantly making updates in real time, the site outclasses any static database, anywhere, anytime.
Period. End of story.
And just how hard does data decay hit us?
- Stats suggest that a CRM sees 30% degradation year over year.
- With datasets that include high-turnover markets, the number can easily double (Informatica)
This means the expensive lists you purchase, the databases you buy, and the emails you manually find – 30-60% will be inaccurate in a year..
So now what?
7) Enter Data & Sales Automation Solutions
To recap, we’ve discussed quite a bit to get to this point. Let’s take a breath & recap.
50% of sales reps miss quota. Here’s a few ideas to why:
- We consume too much information and waste time on addictive notifications
- Workers are losing serious productivity to multitasking
- Sellers are generally not persistent or consistent in outreach
- We’re also not leading with enough value or insight
- Sales leaders are not investing enough in onboarding & ongoing training
- Teams don’t have buyer personas or enablement to help reps sell with enough insight & value to build solid business relationships.
- On top of it all, data decay is a massive operational challenge for sales campaigns.
Overwhelmed? Fear not, friend.
It’s time for the good news!
First, to the data front.
LinkedIn, with millions of profiles and active users, is arguably the most accurate source you can use.
With tools like FoxBound DataScout that harness this real-time information, reps create lists of verified contacts in a fraction of the time & with higher durability rates.
Think about it, the best outreach doesn’t matter if it doesn’t reach the buyer..
Lead-generation tools like FoxBound DataDen that validate emails in real-time also act as a buffer between inaccurate data and your CRM.
This is crucial for ensuring higher deliverability and sender reputation for both sales and marketing campaigns (Campaign Monitor). With higher delivery rates and insight-led selling, you’re sure to increase conversion rates.
When tools like DataScout and DataDen indicate to reps the statuses of emails (valid, catch-all, invalid, etc), then human intervention can prevent bad data from entering CRM.
Now, let’s talk outreach.
Using sales automation like FoxBound Pursuit can balance the personalization & volume sides of the equation. By automating simple tasks, sales can spend more time on creating value to build trust.
The “automation” in the term is not to be confused.. it’s not a license to blast insincere, canned messaging. It’s not worth it anyway, since most buyers do not respond favorably to blast emails. Even when just personalizing 20% of outreach, open rates increase by 20% and reply rates increase by 112% (HubSpot).
All of this boils down to the core solutions to increase conversions & source qualified deals:
- Eliminate distractions (close the extra tabs!)
- Minimize notifications (check the phone & email less)
- Understand personas and the benefits you create to bring value to your messaging
- Leverage current, validated data for your outreach efforts to ensure high delivery
- Use tools to build efficient processes for delivering more personalized prospecting activities over a longer period of time
- Spend more time on coaching and training
- To drive qualified deals forward, focus on creating positive outcomes to build trust
Concluding Thoughts on Increasing Sales Productivity and Conversion Rates
We covered dozens of stats in real context to better understand the pressures faced by salespeople looking to hit their numbers.
Here’s the TL;DR
The Challenge: an endless sea of noise, distraction, information overload, bad data, and poor process leads to 50% of reps not hitting quota.
- We’re all receiving more dings, spending more time on social media & checking email than ever.
- Buyers are spending more time looking for information and open to working with sales reps to improve business, but most aren’t seeing the value they’d like to see.
- On the sales front, we’re spread too thin and our focus, too scattered. We’re not leading with value enough and it’s showing in our attainment and buyer ratings. Even though personalized email increases conversion rates significantly, only a third of sellers actually practice it.
- Because we’re not leading with value and are pushing features, we’re seeing deals stall and access to decision makers, blocked.
- And despite spending more on tools that ever, companies aren’t following through on ongoing training and enablement.
- More buyers are on LinkedIn than ever, but only half of sellers use LinkedIn for research. A quarter use it for InMail and even fewer use the largest self-healing database for lead-generation.
The takeaway: as sellers & sales leaders, we need to:
- Understand our narrative to lead with insight in our outreach efforts
- Reduce distractions to increase productivity
- Lean on LinkedIn and tools for harnessing its network to combat data degradation and increase delivery rates
- Whether inbound or outbound, we should aggressively work to be multi-threaded by intelligently using technology to build consensus.
- Automate low-value work wherever possible to spend more time on strategic prospecting and managing pipeline.
- Invest more in ongoing training and enablement, not just tools.
- Practice disciplined persistence in our outreach to maximize conversion rates
- Continue to sell based on business value so that qualified pipeline is less likely to stall
There’s a lot posts out there with long lists of stats. My hope for sales reps is that we can be aware of the many factors work against us, and use actionable data-points to sharpen our profession.
If you’re looking for ways to reclaim time, increase sales productivity, personalize at scale, and drive conversions – FoxBound is a great place to start. With lead-generation, sales automation, and validation tools under one roof, you can execute your prospecting workflow in one swoop.
Feel free to sign up for a free account below.
Happy hunting, friends!