Jeff, the VP of Sales, has recently been bragging about one of his team’s more impressive sales metrics: a rising win rate. He’s been telling everyone that every year since he’s been there, his team’s percentage of closed-won opportunities has increased.

Impressed? Wondering if Jeff has found the secret to unlocking sales success? Don’t sing Jeff’s praises just yet. There is a critical variable missing in Jeff’s story – over the last 5 years, Jeff has also missed his target revenue 3 times. If the sales team is performing the way Jeff says they are, why are they continuously falling behind their goal?

The Problem

It’s simple: the sales team isn’t improving – consumers are just engaging further along the buying cycle. They are educating themselves instead of being ushered along the buying process. The result: a concentrated group of buyers who make their purchase decisions by the time they speak to sales, causing a smoke screen for the drop in the overall number of opportunities available in the sales pipeline.

Not only is Jeff neglecting the shift in power, but he’s also losing opportunities he doesn’t even know exist. Furthermore, he is short-changing his team by not giving them enough opportunities down the line to work on. Finally, he is limiting his own likelihood of missing his quota – the pipeline coverage ratio on Jeff’s team is likely far greater than the amount of pipeline he currently has, going by his astounding win rate.

The Statistics

With more information available to the buyer than ever before, it’s no surprise that this trend is on the rise. The Sales Executive Council published a report in 2011 stating that the average buyer engages with a vendor 57% of the way through their buying cycle. This allows customers to take the time to research competitors and prolong the amount of time before actually interacting with a sales associate.

The Solution

The only solution to this growing dilemma is to put your own information out there. If you’re not joining the battle until the second half of the sales process, you will find it increasingly difficult to win an opportunity. Your customer has questions – give them the answers they want by sharing your immense knowledge on the subject and their pain points. Your buyers will use the information that’s on the internet to decide who they want to interact with – make sure that person is someone within your company.

The only way to truly be proactive is to engage with your customer within the first half of the buyer’s journey. Don’t make the mistake of holding back information from your customers – they will be sure to find it elsewhere and when they do, they will be more likely to return to that source instead of yours when it’s time to make a purchasing decision.

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