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Squandered Opportunity

by David Brock on October 26th, 2022

Selling is tough! I can’t imagine more of an understatement. Despite all the tricks, techniques, and gimmicks the guru’s foist on us, selling is never easy.

We are trying to incite our customers to change, we are trying to help them navigate a very difficult process, we are trying to help them make a decision–for which there may be a good amount of personal risk.

Overlay on this, the fact that customers are averse to dealing with sales people. Every time I look at the research it changes, a few years ago, 43% of customers prefer a rep-free buying experience. Today, it’s 72%.

Then there is all the stuff we do to ourselves, the things that make it much more difficult to engage the customer and create value. The things that, in fact, drive the customer away. Trying to engage those who aren’t in our ICP. Not doing our research to make sure we understand as much as possible about the challenges the organization faces, or what the individual we are contacting cares about. Sending meaningless prospecting requests, pitching customers focusing on our offerings, company, and interests. When we finally engage a prospect, we continue focusing on our goals and interests, over what the customer is trying to achieve. We listen with an agenda, we don’t fail in understanding how difficult buying is for them.

And we let them fail–60% of the time they abandon the effort, failing to make a decision. Organizations that were committed to buy, organizations that were funded to buy. But they get lost and fail—as do we.

As if that isn’t enough, we settle……. We settle for low win rates. 20% becomes acceptable. We think we are successful winning 2 out of 10 opportunities we invest trying to win. All that time spent finding all those opportunities, all that time we spend on customers that abandon their buying efforts, all that time just to win 2 out of those 10 deals that we finally found and were able to navigate the customer through to making a decision.

Yet, we accept this. We hit our numbers just by dialling up the volume. We know the math, we know how many more dials, prospecting conversations, qualified deals we have to find and pursue to hit our goals. We struggle to find the time to hit those goals, we spend 1000s on technology to help us dial up the volume. We hire more people, we do more of what we’ve always done.

If one takes a moment to reflect, there must be a better way.

Rather than thinking about ramping up the volume to hit our numbers, what if we think, “How do we get more out of those that we’ve already found?

Let’s run a thought experiment:

Let’s say we need to close 10 deals.

If our win rate against competition is 20%, we compete in 50 deals where customers have actually made a decision. We are happy with our competitors winning the other 40 deals.

But we know that only 40% of the committed buying journeys result in a buying decision. So we are actually competing in 125. We and our competitors are satisfied with letting 75 customers give up and quit–just because they got lost.

And then to find those 125 qualified opportunities, we have to prospect 5 customer for each opportunity (you and I know it is probably far larger than this). This means we have to engage 625 prospects in conversations to find those 125 opportunities.

625 prospecting conversations (possibly multiple conversations) to find 125 qualified opportunities, knowing only 50 of those will make a decision, and settling on winning 10.

Wow!!! That’s a lot of opportunity! That’s a lot of time!

And then management says, “We have to scale! We have to grow 100%!”

Quickly, we run the math again. We need to win 20 deals, that means 100 customers will make a decision, however we will be working 250, and prospecting 1250!

No problem!!!

That’s the math we use to hit our numbers and scale. We accept that math, re-running it every year as we scale our growth. And our competitors are doing the same thing.

But what if we changed things? What if we thought about it differently, rather than running the math against the same equations.

What if we took the time to figure out how to increase our win rate by 50%–moving from a 20% win rate to 30%–still a relatively low win rate.

Going back to our original numbers, to win 10 deals, we need need 33 customers to make a buying decision–17 fewer than before. We need to find 83 customers embarking on a change initiative, 42 fewer than before. And we need to prospect 417 to find those 83 qualified opportunities, down from 625!

By doing one simple thing, focusing on how we engage customers more effectively, improving our win rate, we have to do far less to achieve our goals!

But, there is another way of thinking about this, what if we prospected those 625, producing those 125 opportunities, 50 of which buy, meaning at 30% we will win 15 deals. By doing the same work, we’ve raised our performance by 50%!!

And then what if we thought differently. What if we do something none of our competitors are thinking about? What if, after we master a 30% win rate, we looked at those 75 buying efforts that failed? What if we helped we could help just 10% of those customers commit to the change and overcome their indecision? That would add 7 deals, enabling us to close 22 rather than the original 10!

We can look at all sorts of ways to change sales math. If we figured out how to increase win rates, or increase deal sizes, or help more customers complete their buying processes.

The reality is we don’t suffer from a lack of opportunity. The problem is really, “Why are we allowing so much opportunity to be squandered?”

If we change our thinking, we have the opportunity to change our results.

From → Performance

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