2020 has been a rough year. For most outside sales reps, though, it’s been a really rough year. Quarantining and stay-at-home orders have made it more difficult than ever for reps to meet with clients, and significant job loss has hit nearly every industry.
However, there are about five months left in 2020 to turn things around. And customers are always looking to buy, even in the toughest economy. It’s all about using the right methods and looking in the right places.
Thankfully, research has taken a lot of the mystery out of sales, so you do not depend on trial and error when trying to find a method that works. We’ve compiled some of the latest sales and prospecting statistics to give you the inside scoop on the science behind the deal. Use the latest research to crush your sales group and thrive during even the toughest economy.
The State of Sales in 2020
To know what you need to do to increase your sales, it’s important to understand what is happening in outside sales. It’s comforting to know where other businesses stand, and gives you some direction.
As a whole, sales is suffering as businesses seek to rein in spending:
- 50% of US B2B companies have cut their general budgets.
- The same study found that close to 40% stated that they plan to further reduce their spending in the future.
- The industries feeling the biggest impact are manufacturing, travel, and retail. The industries with the least impact are banking, financial services, and insurance.
However, there are signs that the economy is slowly improving and there is hope for the rest of the year in sales:
- 50% of B2B decisions makers are optimistic that they will increase their budgets in the future.
- The end of June saw the biggest number of deals closed since March, nearly 10% ahead of pre-COVID benchmark levels.
Based on the trends and increase in sales, Q3 and Q4 may be the perfect time to turn sales around if the first half of the year was slow. If you employ the right sales techniques, you can start making more sales and meeting your quotas.
Sales Statistics to Help You Meet Your Quota
At Least 50% of Your Prospects Are Not a Good Fit for You (Marc Wayshak)
Prospecting is typically the worst part of sales: more than 40% of sales reps surveyed stated that it is the most challenging aspect in sales. However, the amount of energy you put into your prospecting practices will make the difference in your sales numbers.
Research is critical to see if you are spending time on the right prospects. Does their business need what you are selling? Chasing the wrong leads can be a significant drain on your time and resources.
More than 50% of Buyers Want to See How Your Product Works on the First Call (Hubspot)
Everybody is busy these days. Buyers don’t have time for a slow wind-up process as you get to the sale. Use your time on the phone to get to the point. The same study, as above, found that 6 in 10 want to discuss pricing on the first call as well.
One study found that most buyers (82%) will take a meeting with a rep that reaches out to them. What makes them say yes is whether they have a real need for your product or service, which 75% said was the most significant factor in their decision. In fact, it was more important than budget, which 64% said was a concern. If you can explain your value right away and how you can assist them, they will be far more likely to be receptive.
Research shows that sales reps talk the majority of the time (55%) in successful cold calls. Your prospect wants to hear what you have to offer and likely won’t want to spend most of the time holding the conversation. In fact, the same research found that prospects had shorter monologues in successful cold calls. Don’t waste time on the phone. Explain exactly what you have to offer and answer your prospect’s questions directly. If they see value in what you have to offer, they’ll let you know quickly.
8 in 10 Prospects Prefer Communicating over Email (Hubspot)
This statistic matches well with the number of sales reps that also prefer to use email (86%). Email is still one of the best ways to communicate with prospects. While phone calls and social media have their place, email is where most of your productive conversation will happen. However, it’s important to consider how you are emailing your prospects to make sure it is an effective technique for you.
About 40% of Emails are First Opened on the Phone (Campaign Monitor)
People are rarely chained to a laptop or computer. Sales reps need to create mobile-friendly emails that are easy for prospects to read. For example, the average mobile screen can fit 4-7 words in the subject line. Research has found that 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. If they can’t read it all, your prospect won’t bother opening the email. It makes sense then, that subject lines with 3-4 words get the most responses when compared with longer or shorter ones.
A mobile-friendly email needs to be short and to the point: the optimal word range is between 50-125. If your prospect has to keep scrolling and scrolling to get to the end of your email, you’ll likely lose the reader’s attention right away.
Personalized Subject Lines are 22.2% More Likely to be Opened (NewsCred)
Modern technology has delivered personalization never before seen in retail. Customers are no longer delighted by personalization: they expect it. This expectation has carried over into email and sales. Your prospects want to know that you know them, and they aren’t just another email on their list. Take the time to personalize your subject lines to make it feel less like spam and more like communication with a real person.
Try putting the prospect’s name in the subject line, for example. Research shows it can improve click-through rates by 14% and conversions by 10%. Another way to personalize it is by highlighting recent news topics in your subject line. It can breathe fresh air into your email and make it seem less like you’re simply firing off the same email you have for years. Even a small tweak that makes your email more personalized will go far in capturing your prospect’s attention.
60 Phone Calls a Day is Optimal for Achieving Sales Goals (Sales Buzz)
Many sales reps choose outside sales because they want to get out and spend face-to-face time with other people. However, this year has forced outside sales to look a lot like inside sales, and phone calls are a part of that. Calls are becoming an increasingly important aspect in outside sales as quarantining has forced most to stick to their home office. In fact, 92% of all customer interactions happen over the phone, so phone skills are critical to meeting your sales goals.
The right amount of calls can be tricky. Too many, and you’re not having the kinds of meaningful conversations that will lead to sales. Research shows that the longer the cold call, the more successful the outcome. In fact, a successful cold call is typically twice the length of an unsuccessful one. However, too few calls mean that you’re missing out on valuable prospects. Experts recommend hitting the right amount that balances real conversations and productivity.
On Average, It Takes 8 Follow-up Calls to Reach a Prospect (SlideShare)
Making phone calls can be disheartening. Most sales reps give up on a prospect long before they should. It takes longer than ever to get a hold of a prospect: it took just 3.68 attempts to get a hold of a prospect in 2007. Creating the right sales cadence will ensure that you continue reaching out to prospects and give them the ample time they need to make contact.
Persistence is critical when it comes to prospecting. Don’t give up after you fail to reach a prospect. It might take multiple follow-ups to make contact. This is where you can stand out and make sales where others do not: 50% of all sales happen after the fifth contact with a potential customer, but most reps give up after following up twice.
Cold Call Success Rate is 46% Higher on Wednesdays Than on Mondays (CallHippo)
There is often a lack of planning for sales reps when it comes to making phone calls. That’s why research shows the average sales rep makes more calls in the last month of the quarter than the first two. However, making a plan to maximize your sales time can mean the difference in success.
Mondays are a hectic day for everyone, so make a plan to do most of your cold calls on Wednesdays. Instead of scrambling, create a plan to win during Q3 and Q4 by maximizing your time. Knowing that Wednesdays are statistically the best day, carve out extra time to make sure you make the most of it.
The Use of “We” Instead of “I” Increases Closing Rate by 35% (Gong)
Often, it’s not what you say but how you say it that closes deals. Collaborative language sells more often than independent words. Using “we” and “our” instead of “I” and “my” shows a team spirit and gives the prospect the sense of a whole company behind you willing to back them up. It makes sense, then, that top-performing sales reps are ten times more likely to use collaborative words than reps that do not perform as well.
78% of Salespeople that Use Social Media Outsell Their Peers (Forbes)
It’s 2020: social selling is no longer negotiable. Your prospects want to see your expertise and find out more about you online. That is why social media influences half of the revenue in 14 common industries that include healthcare, logistics, and supply chain, and human resources. Most sales reps can benefit from social selling and reaching prospects through social media.
If you’re struggling to fill your pipeline, social media could help 65% of sales reps that use social media fill their pipeline. It gives you another place to reach out to prospects and get more leads on a platform where they are most receptive. Some of your prospects may be put off by talking on the phone and are too overloaded with emails to catch yours, but social media platforms such as LinkedIn are the best way to get in contact.
Also, keep in mind that 94% of B2B buyers report searching online at some point during their buyers’ journey. Keep a presence online so that they can easily find you as well.
51% of Top Performers Report Being Seen as an Expert in Their Field (Marc Wayshak)
Take time to learn more about your field. There has been a radical shift in the past couple of years in how buyers view salespeople. As buyers have been able to complete most of their journeys alone and research themselves, they come to salespeople with more knowledge and higher expectations. In fact, 79% of buyers stated that it was absolutely critical or very important to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor and can add value to their business.
Learn, understand, and anticipate your customer’s needs. The more research you put into the field, the more you can provide valuable insights into your customers’ companies and land more sales.
Meet Your Sales Quota in Q3 and Q4
While the market is more challenging than in previous years, you can meet your sales goals. By putting your time and energy into creating more productive interactions with prospects, you can stop wasting time and start closing deals. Top-performing sales reps understand the importance of working smarter and focusing their efforts where there is the biggest payoff. Use the latest sales prospecting statistics to get the most from your time and work.