October 14th, 2019
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!
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 endless scroll through our platform of choice inundates our brains with more information than we can ever hope to truly handle.
For the human brain, notifications are frighteningly habit-forming and constantly influence our collective behavior.
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.
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.
Here’s some sage advice about multitasking from the one and only Ron Swanson.
Sales reps, you might want to sit down for this.
“But email doesn’t work, right”
Broadly speaking, we just don’t use it correctly.
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.
So what’s the big holdup on smashing numbers?
The opportunity to engage is certainly there.
More motivation should stem from the fact that:
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.
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.
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?
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.
Which makes sense why there’s less and less time for coaching despite its ability to increase:
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.
It goes on.
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.
Why are personas important?
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:
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?
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.
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’s a few amusing stats on the good ole Millennials:
30 million key stakeholders..
Yep, that one 🙂
This highlights that cold email is not dead. It instead underscores that it’s a systemically misused channel for engaging buyers.
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.
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.
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?
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:
Overwhelmed? Fear not, friend.
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:
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.
The takeaway: as sellers & sales leaders, we need to:
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.
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