Jeremy Donovan published some fascinating data in a post on LinkedIn. He stated 5 years ago, the number of touches, per opportunity, for cold outbound was 200-400. Today, he says it is 1000-1400 touches per opportunity. His observation, “Simply Speechless” is, if anything, an understatement.
He does offer some clarification, these touches are across all channels, for example email, phone, social, text. He also says this is across many accounts and contacts. What this means is to find a single opportunity, there are 1000-1400 touches across many potential customers.
He goes further, saying this data is for SaaS only.
As we think about this, with average win rates, in SaaS trending below 20%, to close a single opportunity, we have to qualify at least 5 deals, meaning 5000-7000 touches. To make quota, imagine what we have to do!
Clearly, something is broken.
There is extensive discussion in the comments–and, as shocking as the data is, the discussion is more revealing and more disturbing.
There were lots of observations about “outbound is dead!” Those had a lot of likes and comments. I’m certain, among too many people, there is great joy in declaring outbound and cold calling dead.
There were others, suggesting inbound, PLG, and ABM are what we have to count on. But, inbound isn’t producing the volume to achieve our growth goals. PLG only applies to a very narrow set of solutions. There are so many solutions where PLG is not applicable–for example, any solution that must be implemented on an enterprise wide basis. And ABM–many of these outbound efforts are part of ABM strategies.
Then there were the expected conversations about, “What if we tighten up the sequencing and optimize that?” or, inevitably, the promise of ABM and more automation. “We have to think how to we 5X outreaches…..”
And, of course, all the “Wow, fascinating, scary….” and the “Woe are we!”
But there were several things missing from the discussion, and it’s the absence of these discussions that concerns me.
First, and easiest, it’s the limitation of perspectives. It seems the whole world revolves around “SaaS.” Yet, SaaS represents only 3-5% of the global GDP. What’s happening with outbound, prospecting, demand gen, in the other 95-97% of the selling world? Is there something that SaaS sellers could learn by looking in different places?
We will never innovate and change if we just keep looking at what each others is doing, and trying to one up each other. We have to start looking for answers in different places.
I spend a lot of time in spaces outside SaaS. A lot of it is in “dirty industries,” companies that make physical products. A lot spent in basic materials, a lot in professional services, and others…. While I don’t know the exact data, they do see challenges in getting customers to respond, but most, rather than looking at how they crank up volume/velocity or adjust sequences are looking at what they change and do differently.
Which brings me to the most concerning issue about the discussion. There was virtually no discussion about, “Why are prospects not responding? What do we need to do differently? What do we need to change about our outreach? What do our prospects and customers care about and how do we engage them in those discussions?”
All the conversations and the huge focus on PLG was all about us and what we sell, very few were talking about “What are our prospects interested in talking about and what if we started talking to them about those things?”
The conversation focused on “our” perspective. And there was virtually no discussion on, “What if we happen to shift our perspectives?” It’s kind of like the old New Yorker cover, presenting how New Yorker’s viewed the world. It was humorously depicted as being all about them.
And none of this should be a surprise. We have mountains of research, books, articles with data from customers, “Sales people don’t understand me…. Sellers don’t understand my business…. I can get information better/faster through sources other than sales people….” And the list goes on. None of this is new. I whine about it constantly in these posts–and it goes back as long as I have written this blog.
But somehow, the majority of us don’t do this. We focus on what we care about, we focus on our efficiency, we don’t care about effectiveness, we don’t understand our customers (some would claim we barely understand our products.). But we keep looking in the same places doing more of the same things.
We are prisoners of our own experiences. And we will remain imprisoned unless we start looking at different things or looking at things differently.
But there are people/organizations achieving great success. They are doing things differently. They are looking for answers in different places (customers are a great starting point). The answers are there. We don’t need to copy them, rather understand them and adapt them to our markets/strategies.
There is huge opportunity. Customers want to buy, but they struggle. They want help–and we should be the most helpful, based on our experience.
There is too much opportunity for us not to figure out how to best capture it.