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The Number One Reason Your Salespeople Aren't Selling More

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When Stephen Hawking set out to write "A Brief History of Time", an editor told him that for every equation that he had in the book his readership would be halved. So Hawking included just one, E=MC2.

At the risk of losing my readers right now, I'm going to open this article with some straight-ahead sales math:

  • Studies show that it takes 12 or more contacts to make the sale to a qualified prospect in the business-to-business sales cycle. The average salesperson makes only 3.
  • The average buyer needs 7 quality touches during that process. The average salesperson makes only 1.5.
  • Eighty percent of sales are closed after the 5th contact, but only 30% of salespeople make 5 or more contacts.

Sales is a high turnover environment, and the reason is simple: average means you don't make your numbers this year ... or ever.

Are there solutions? Sure there are. For one, great sales people make a lot of contacts on a few prospects instead of the other way around.

Second, why is your salesperson making all of the contacts? A contact can be an email, a tweet, a visit to your website, a white paper download, and so much more. Buyers come in two forms - those interested and those intending to buy. Interest is the domain of marketing, intent is the domain of sales. So when sales people reach out and talk to people who are just researching alternatives, nobody wins. The buyer isn't ready to talk to sales yet, and sales just wasted their precious time on a prospect who was unqualified - as of today. The solution, marketing automation.

Finally, does your salesperson have an aptitude for sales? Studies show that half of a salesperson's performance can be correlated to aptitude - their natural ability to sell - and the other half to factors that include things like product knowledge, skills, motivation, and process. One excellent assessment tool for evaluating sales aptitude is the CPQ. If you can identify the people who score high on outside and inside selling, then you will already be half way towards your goal of finding people who excel at contacting and selling to other people.

Obviously there may be additional factors at work, but rule number one is don't avoid the obvious. Sales is a numbers game - so play it the right way, with the right tools.

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