The Science Behind Why Prospects Don’t Convert

August 4, 2016 Rachel Serpa

It happens to the best of sales leaders: your team spends hours hunting down prospects and gleaning every tidbit of information possible from social media, forums and recent press. They cold call, they connect, they build a use case and then, they get shut down. Why does this happen, and, more importantly, what can your team do differently next time?

Sales Is No Longer An Art

Gone are the days when your prospects could be wined, dined and convinced to buy your solution. Customers today are largely self-educated and know what they want. In fact, a recent Corporate Executive Board study revealed that B2B prospects now make about 60% of their buying decisions before even talking to a sales rep.

Unfortunately for businesses, this shift has thrown a major wrench in traditional 'solution-selling,' wherein reps simply have to convince prospects that their technologies are the best solutions to their problems. With prospects now fully aware of the solutions they’re looking for, this artful 'solution-selling' approach often boils the prospect’s decision making criteria down to a single component: price.

Clearly, the earlier a rep can identify and connect with a prospect and insert himself in the buying process, the better. As Harvard Business Review puts it, 'Most reps rely on a customer to coach them through a sale; star reps coach the customer.' But how can you coach someone when you don’t know who they are, what they need and the right steps to take?

The solution lies in data. With a high quantity and quality of data, reps can gain a deep understanding of what makes an ideal prospect and the most effective ways to convert them. Let’s take a look at three common reasons why businesses struggle to convert prospects into paying customers, and how data science can help.

You’re Unaware Of Common Denominators Between Existing Customers

What contact titles are associated with your company’s highest win rates? What challenges has your business solved for your current customers? Which industries provide the greatest lifetime value? This type of sales intelligence is gold when it comes to guiding BDRs as to the types of prospects they should invest time in engaging and qualifying.

Unfortunately, many companies are unable to check their rearview mirrors because of the small amount or low quality of customer data they have collected along their journeys. 59% of reps claim that they feel as though they are required to use too many sales tools, while 55% believe that the tools they are expected to use are more of a hindrance than a help.

Reps dodge tools they don’t want to use, so one key way to ensure that your business is collecting the right volume and variety of data is to leverage an all-in-one sales platform.  Analogous to the tech marketers have been using for years to consolidate the reams of data they have to crunch daily, these platforms provide all the sales tools you need in a single user interface.

All-in-one platforms eliminate the need for reps to bounce between systems to send emails, make calls or run reports. They make that data available to managers and sales ops planning. And they often incorporate - or permit integrations with - data capturing tech like auto-logging, freeing reps from manual data entry.

In addition to increasing data capture through rep adoption, these solutions also prevent data from becoming siloed in various systems across your organization. Collecting your sales data in a single place eliminates the painstaking process of consolidating information across multiple point solutions, providing more complete and accurate insights.

By leveraging all-in-one platforms, businesses like Guerrero Howe are capturing upwards of 40 million data points, each of which has the power to provide transformative insight into their ideal customers, sales processes and more. And businesses are getting savvier about controlling their ‘dirty data’ too.

You Don’t Understand Prospects’ Current Technology Stacks

Companies use an average of 7 different business management tools, from CRMs to marketing automation platforms to help desk software. As the importance of data-driven decision making grows, so does the ability to overcome data silos across the organization and connect the dots between each of these systems.

Think about it: if marketing is using one data set to qualify leads and sales is using another, misalignment is a given. Or, if sales has zero insight into the interactions support has been having with a current customer, it may not know this account is in danger, turning an approach for an upsell into a disastrous move. As such, the ability of systems to 'play nice' with existing technologies is now a key decision factor when it comes to adding another platform to a company’s sales stack.

Leveraging sales acceleration software that is able to identify the solutions that prospects are already using is a major advantage for reps. Knowing whether a company is using a competitive or complementary solution gives your reps an instant conversation starter, and knowing what you’re up against enables them to go in primed with the right pitch for success.

As your team continues to capture this information, you will soon be able to identify common technology combinations among your best customers. Recognizing this same combination in a current or potential prospect should serve as a signal to reps that this is probably a hot lead.

Your Sales Process Is Broken

Calculating the right steps to have a desired effect on the future is practically impossible without a clear understanding of what actions were taken and what impact they had in the past. To measure this effectively, a business must have a formalized sales process in place that is diligently followed by each member of the sales team. A formalized sales process leads to a 65% increase in individual reps hitting their targets and an 88% increase in companies hitting their goals. For a deeper dive into effective sales process creation, check out this post by Richard Bayston.

However, this is only the first half of the battle. Once you have your process in place, how will you know if it’s working? Leading businesses are starting to map their sales process steps to a sales formula that measures the key conversion points within their sales pipelines, like in the example below.

the sales formula

Not every business will want to use the same sales formula, and in some cases, you may have multiple steps that tie back to one key measure within the formula. For example, it may take several steps in your sales process to qualify a lead or convert an opportunity into a closed deal. The key here is to understand the impact of each part of the sales process on conversion.

As you capture the information necessary to complete each step of your sales process and develop a consistent data set, measuring these key data points or factors across the sales formula will uncover actionable and quantifiable sales insights. For instance, there is probably a step in your sales process to identify a decision maker. As your reps follow this process and enter information around the decision makers in their deals, you will soon be able to identify the ideal profiles for the decision makers you should be pursuing based on the calculated win rates of these deals.

In Conclusion

Understanding why prospects aren’t converting into closed deals and the strategies to remedy this requires accepting sales as a science and taking a data-driven approach. To learn more, download the free eBook, From Art to Science: 5 Steps to Predictable Sales Growth.

About The Author:

Rachel Serpa is the Content Marketing Manager at Base. For more tips on how to take a scientific approach to sales, visit the Base Blog and follow @getbase on Twitter.

Featured Image Source: Science Technology Education Research Digital by Mark Mags CC0 Pixabay


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