Research by Forrester, a company with a significant Sales Enablement business, did some research with executives on the effectiveness of sales calls. here’s what they found:
15% of sales calls added enough value.
7% of the executives surveyed stated they would probably schedule a follow-up.
In addition, the frustration executives felt at having their time wasted actually created a level of hostility towards the company whose sales person had made the call or presentation in the first place… enough to have a material impact on decisions, including being let to pitch for future business.
So, ONLY 15% of sales calls add value.
And ONLY 7% of execs in the survey would follow up.
Now, 7% of 15% is about 1%, so only about 1% of calls will result in a follow up… I know I’m playing a little loose with the numbers here, but it strikes me that the 1% success rate with ‘dialling for dollars’ like this fits well with our perception of reality… so maybe there’s an explanation for the low hit rate for this type of sales activity…
And if only 1% follow up, and there’s real frustration at the lack of value added in as much as the other 99%, it could be that you are actually annoying, if not ‘pissing off’ ALL of this 99%…
OK, it’s far fetched for many of you – I can already hear the ‘but’ comments from many of you!
But let’s not lose sight of the point here – prospective clients HATE to have their limited and valuable time wasted by sales people, no matter how good the products & services on offer and no matter how well-intentioned the sales person.
And people wonder why prospects can be so hostile to these approaches, and not even want to consider a new product or service that could really help them out…
No wonder sales people struggle – and it’s magnified 10x in a down turn, like the one we’ve been stuck in for some 5 years now.
So what to do instead?
Well, change the messaging for a start.
Don’t lead WITH your products and services, lead TO them, starting with the prospect and the challenges they face. Challenge them to see their world and business differently, then provide them with a frame of reference against which they can make a decision. Leading WITH products & services means this frame of reference is missing for them – how can they make an informed and therefore lower risk (in their minds) decision without a frame of reference?
- Question the status quo – and get them to recognise this, then…
- Redefine the situation – this is where the frame of reference is needed, built on contrast between how things currently are and why that’s painful, and how things could be and how that’s desirable & worth the risk of doing something about it, then…
- Present an alternative – and make sure they see the alternative in your offering, and that choosing you is in the end the lowest risk option for them.
I know this is easier said than done, but until this got said, it was unlikely it would get done!
So, you now have something to think on, AND act on. Get to it!
Oh… What’s that? You’re not sure HOW to move forward on that?
Well, give it a go, think about it – what is the status quo in your industry or target prospect, in relation to core business objectives? What benefits do your prospects get from staying with the status quo? What dangers lurk as a result of not changing?
Answer these initial questions and you’ll be well on your way.
And I’ll expand on the ‘how’ in my next post.