Today's guest post is by Bill Butler, CEO of Journey Sales.
According to The Sales Benchmark Index, 58 percent of deals in the sales pipeline end in “no decision,” which translates into, “The salesperson just did not show enough value or create enough urgency to break the status quo.”
However, the reason those 58 percent of deals don’t close goes much deeper than that since, on average, only 5-7 percent of prospects at the top of the sales funnel are ready to buy from you. Why? Largely due to misalignment between actual buyer behavior and what we, in Sales, expect.
As salespeople, we expect leads that are qualified – first from Marketing’s efforts in generating content, running campaigns, investing in marketing automation, social media, and more. But those people who have expressed interest in your firm’s marketing campaigns are still at the very beginning of their buyer journey.
From there, we expect Inside Sales or our sales development reps (“SDRs”) to continue to nurture those leads as soon as they raise their hand and express interest, while they’re still hot. But today’s reality is that it’s harder than ever for SDRs to engage buyers. People are simply inundated with emails, phone calls, meetings, and marketing messages. Yet SDRs continue to furiously work as many leads as possible – sending emails, making phone calls, leaving voicemails, and trolling LinkedIn profiles to qualify these leads for Sales.
But, if the buyer isn’t yet ready to engage with you (which is likely the case), then it takes a lot of unseen follow-up emails, ignored phone calls, and cycles of marketing touches to get them to a point where they’re valuable to Sales – if they ever reach that point at all.
You’re now looking into the Great Chasm of Stalled Pipeline: those leads and prospects who choose not to engage with you. Despite your best efforts and continuous nurturing by Marketing, Inside Sales, or your SDRs, the once-hot lead drops down, fading from sight, echoing as it bounces, deep into the Chasm of Stalled Pipeline.
How to Get Across the Chasm
As we all know, enterprise B2B purchase decisions require a group of decision makers and stakeholders who need to align and reach consensus. And the dynamics of that internal decision-making process for organizations is not only growing more complex, but largely unknown to us as salespeople. What’s critical for getting your sales team across the Chasm of Stalled Pipeline?
1. Shift Your Thinking
No wonder 95 percent of people at the top of the sales funnel aren’t ready to buy. It’s not a matter of Marketing and Sales gaining the attention of a single decision maker, nor is it even a matter of gaining the attention of the right decision maker. Sales needs to engage an entire team of decision makers and stakeholders – or, better yet, enable them to engage one another.
2. Prospect for More than One Champion within an Account
Are your Marketing and Inside Sales Development teams able to engage, educate, and empower not only those buyers after their initial hand-raise, but the entire team of stakeholders and decision makers within an account? How do you steadily build up engagement levels on their own timetable, rather than letting them slide down into your Chasm of Stalled Pipeline? Here at Journey Sales, we work with customers who have opportunities that were thought to be “dead on the vine” but just needed the attention of another key contact to reactivate the deal.
3. Engage the Collective Buying Team
If you’re familiar with the CEB’s ChallengerTM sales methodology, consider how it applies throughout your sales process, from the earliest stages of lead qualification to close. When the purchasing team can share knowledge and information about your company’s value from the outset, then salespeople are also getting what they want because they’re making it easier for the buyer to buy. And when mobilized buyers are engaging with one another and self-educating, those are the prospects your Sales team will have a much easier time converting into real opportunities to meet their quotas and your company’s revenue targets.
4. Measure and Optimize the Buying Experience
Once you’ve recalibrated your Sales process around these new buyer behaviors, it’s time to optimize. With the right tools, your team should be measuring these new sales stages of buyer engagement. Evaluate and assess whether your current stack of sales enablement solutions provides you and your sales team the right level of buyer engagement analytics at every stage of both your sales process and the buyers’ journey. Analyze what tactics work best for moving your prospects through the process versus which are stalling your sales activity. Only with these insights into your buyers’ behaviors will you be able to know when, where, and with whom to engage.
To hit your numbers in today’s Sales environment, you need your entire team – from Marketing, to your SDRs, to your sales executives – to be aligned on the goal of crossing the Chasm of Stalled Pipeline. If you can identify, engage, and optimize the entire buying team, you’ll be harnessing that initial momentum with prospects, and be on your way to reclaiming 58 percent of your pipeline.