Category Archives: Research Paper
Richardson’s annual research survey of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving. We asked 350 sales professionals to tell us about the biggest challenges their buyers face when making purchasing decisions.
26% said combating the status quo would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 21% said comparing their options would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017 16% said building internal consensus would be the greatest challenge their buyers face making purchasing decisions in 2017
Buyers can be too comfortable with the status quo, adverse to the risk of something new and hesitant to stretch outside of their current comfort zones. They may be tired of change or skeptical. Even those who welcome change may feel degrees of concern, stress, or anxiety.
Comparing options is made increasingly complex with the more information there is to consider. When sellers present something that buyers consider irrelevant or not tied to their specific issues, it only adds to the noise in decision making.
With more decisions being made by committee, building internal consensus grows more difficult. Sellers who engage all stakeholders, providing relevant insights and demonstrating value, can help move the process along.
Richardson’s Insights into Buyers’ Decisions
Creating a compelling case to combat the status quo doesn’t just mean sharing impact data. As » Continue Reading.
In our 2017 Selling Challenges Survey, more than 350 sales professionals were asked “What will be your toughest negotiation challenge in 2017?” The top responses included:
Gaining Higher Prices (24%) Closing Win-Win Deals (20%) Maintaining Profitability (11%)
“Gaining higher prices” has been the top negotiating challenge for three years running. This year’s top challenges indicate a laser-sharp focus on negotiation outcomes — prices, wins, and profits. “Closing win-win deals” shows the value sellers place on building trust and credibility in order to develop long-term, productive relationships. “Maintaining profitability” is a challenge made visible by the greater availability of real-time sales data, which allows organizations to be smarter about decisions affecting profits. “Managing procurement” is another response worth noting, rising from 4% in 2016 to 11% in 2017. This reflects the increasing involvement of procurement staff as they join the decision-making team late in the process without any emotional attachment to the deal. Their role is to drive down price or get additional products or services for the same price. While this specific challenge didn’t make the top three, its impact is reflected there.
Richardson’s Negotiation Insights
Trust and credibility are keys to managing relationships with customers and closing win-win deals. Sellers can’t claim trusted advisor status; it has to be earned. Being a trusted partner begins with integrity but also requires skill and strategy, which can be learned and practiced.
Sellers need a » Continue Reading.
In our annual selling challenges survey, we asked more than 350 sales professionals to tell us about their biggest challenges in prospecting in 2017:
17% of respondents reported that creating a targeted prospecting strategy would be their greatest challenge 14% said that the quality of leads from marketing would be their greatest challenge 12% said gaining appointments would be their greatest challenge
These results tell us time is a precious commodity, especially as demands for productivity increase in an increasingly difficult selling environment. Being able to create a targeted prospecting strategy is essential to avoid wasting time, making this the number one prospecting challenge in 2017.
Compared with 2016 responses, this year’s top challenges indicate a trend toward greater targeting and quality of leads. Sellers are homing in on ways to become more strategic in their prospecting efforts, while being less concerned with the “how” — which sales and marketing enablement tools to use — in identifying triggers for their accounts. The availability of data through lead generation and research tools has lifted some of this burden from sellers. The problem, however, is that without a plan for how best to use this data, sellers can easily get lost in the sheer volume available.
The top two prospecting challenges from 2016 dropped off this year’s list. With more sales enablement tools being used, sellers are easily able to research companies as possible targets and to set triggers for their accounts.
Richardson has just launched a new research piece, “Understanding Selling Challenges in 2017.” This annual study of field reps, senior sales professionals, and sales leaders across industries aims to paint a clear picture of existing sales challenges and how they are evolving.
This year’s report continues to highlight a challenging sales environment driven by ongoing shifts in buyer behaviors, competitive pressures, and operational trends. It also suggests that there has never been a better time to understand, challenge, and change how sales are made. With unprecedented access to mobile and digital technologies, sellers can understand their buyers better than ever before, creating new opportunities to build lasting engagements in today’s hyper-connected world.
The new customer expectation — regardless of industry — is one of value and trust. As a result, sales success in 2017 and beyond means acting as a true business advisor by delivering value through authentic curiosity, prepared relevancy, and unmatched credibility.
Over the past few months, Richardson surveyed over 350 sales professionals, managers, and leaders from all industries to gain insight into the challenges they expected to face in 2017. We asked questions that touched upon every phase of the sales cycle, from prospecting to closing. The study compares these results to the results from previous years. In 2017, we dug deeper, expanding our survey to include questions about productivity, team selling, and buyer perceptions.
Our team carefully reviewed the data » Continue Reading.
To get a better understanding of if and how companies are helping their sales professionals succeed, Training Industry Inc. and Richardson went to the source. In the fourth quarter of 2016, they conducted a study in which 228 companies participated by completing a confidential survey on sales competencies alignment with training initiatives.
The first post in this two-part series, “Are Companies Setting Up Their Sellers for Success?“, touches on market conditions that led to this inquiry and the focus of the questions. Part two switches gears from responses to insights.
It is undeniable that today’s sales environment has dramatically changed how customers and sellers interact, with both pros and cons. On a positive note, buyers are better informed about products and services than ever before. This can shorten the selling cycle, as customers may already be aware of which product is best-in-class and have eliminated other potential buying options before engaging with sellers.
Conversely, product positioning – and, by extension, positioning the company – and marketing collateral have grown in importance because they may form prospects’ first impressions as they search for options. In this complicated environment, sellers of all tenure in the profession must be armed with the competencies to meet customers where they are in their buying processes.
Sales Competencies Research Insights
Key to setting up sellers for success is the alignment of sales competencies with learning initiatives. Among » Continue Reading.
Selling has never been an easy profession. Sellers have always been faced with rising quotas, pricing pressures, new competitors or competitive technologies, and other roadblocks. But now, there are added degrees of complexity, with buyers just a web search away from answers they used to get from sales professionals.
The selling environment, the tools of the trade, and the sales cycle itself have been forever transformed by technology, globalization, and always-on connectivity. Yet, the foundational sales skills remain as relevant as they ever have been: preparation, needs dialogue, consultative selling, and so on.
Research: Aligning Learning and Development Initiatives with Sales Goals
Sales training and sales effectiveness have been a cornerstone of many company initiatives to grow profitable business, increase revenues, and drive efficiencies. What is needed now is for Learning and Development (L&D) to align the competencies of its sellers with the skills to succeed in dynamic environments. This involves the mastery of customer engagement strategies that are able to adapt to where each customer is along the path to closing a sale so sellers can participate in shaping opportunities and positioning their offerings accordingly.
Are companies currently setting up their sales personnel for success? Are they targeting sales competencies that reflect the 21st-century business landscape? To find answers, Training Industry Inc. and Richardson conducted a study in the fourth quarter of 2016: “Aligning Sales Competencies in Learning and Development.”
The confidential » Continue Reading.
Is your company setting up its sales personnel for success? Is it targeting sales competencies that reflect the 21st century business landscape? Our sales training research reveals some answers that might surprise you.
In Q4 of 2016, Richardson and Training Industry, Inc. partnered to perform new sales training research, surveying 288 companies across more than 14 industries that ranged in size from less than 100 to over 50,000 employees to examine organizations’ approaches to identifying and developing sales competencies.
The goal of this sales research project is to provide sales organizations and L&D professionals with insight to help them develop sales training programs that better align with the goal of helping sales professionals master the competencies that are most important for business success.
Sales Training Research Results
The study found that there are significant gaps between the sales competencies reported to be most important for business success and the competencies that are effectively developed through training. Specifically, the research suggests a widespread gap in the effectiveness of training for the following competencies:
Targeting buyers Prospecting opportunities Knowing the market Understanding customer needs Effective presentation skills Expanding current accounts
Potential causes of this gap are a mismatch between training goals and business goals and lack of consistency in training across departments.
Additional Research Findings
This research also offers insight » Continue Reading.
Whenever I speak at conferences or with clients their training needs, I ask this question:
“What will it take to engage your learners?”
From London to New York to San Francisco, the answers are surprisingly similar, and whether I’m talking with sales leaders or corporate learning leaders, there is broad consensus about what is required:
To engage today’s learners, training has to be flexible, personalized, bite-sized, relevant, provide meaningful data, and be accessible on demand across a wide range of platforms and devices.
Significant innovation is necessary in corporate training in order to meet these expectations and address the changing needs of today’s sales organizations.
Not only are learners changing, but the business environment has changed significantly as well. Over the 37 years that Richardson has been helping organizations improve sales performances, the pace of business has grown faster, ultra-informed buyers come to the table having already researched their desired solutions, and productivity demands on sales professionals are considerably greater. Time has never been a more precious commodity, and sales professionals must spend it wisely, maximizing interactions with customers and minimizing days away from the field sitting in training classrooms. This makes it more important than ever to deploy the latest technology to efficiently train sales people and drive rapid, sustained, and measurable behavior change.
A Salesforce in Transition
A driving force behind the need for change is an emerging multi-generational salesforce increasingly comprised of members of the » Continue Reading.