Is Your Sales Process A Hostage to Paralysis by Analysis?

sales analysis paralysis tyson group

Ask yourself this question: If I could get in front of more quality prospects, how much more could I sell?

Here’s an observation I’ve made from my training sessions and sales activity. Most companies we work with are product and service heavy, but poor in the sales process.

To compound the problem, the B2B sale process has become heavy with information on contacts within an account.

I once trained two different groups of Senior Account Executives back to back. The first was at the San Francisco 49ers. The second was at the Sacramento Kings.  In both instances, we performed an audit to discover where these groups struggled to meet their sales objectives.

Based on their responses, these reps were suffering from what I call “paralysis by analysis“.  Six out of seven, or 86%, felt overwhelmed by the amount of information available on their high value contacts.

As we investigated further, I heard sales reps ask most often about what information is most important.  Their second biggest question was about the best tactic for an initial introduction.  Members of both sales teams estimated they were spending about 35% of their time sorting through information on prospective accounts.

In other words, Google and Linkedin had become a prison for these reps!

The success of a salesperson comes from how they use their time.  Now, realize that our 35% estimate is conservative and these are senior level account executives. This means we are looking at a generation of sales people that build their confidence through acquiring more information.  They’re searching for a “magic bullet” that will give them a competitive advantage. They continue to research prospects because they feel it is a critical element of their success.

Most sales managers recognize that sales research is not busy work, but at what point does this research stop adding value?

Remember, we hire sales people for profitable action.  We acknowledge hard work, but we worship sales execution.

Identifying Important Information

Let’s take a look at those two questions asked by the two sales teams. The first deals with identifying important information.

Here are some sobering facts:

  • According to Hubspot, B2B data decays at a rate of 2.1% per month, an annualized rate of 22.5% (Hubspot, Data Decay)
  • According to Hubspot’s latest inbound report, 57% of sales reps spend up to an hour a day on data entry (Hubspot’s State of Inbound).

From these observations, we see that sales reps have solved the data decay problem by spending more time updating it!

However, the key to sales success is efficient use of your time. This means determining the minimum amount of pre-approach information needed for a new opportunity. Then you use that information to create the initial introduction.

Creating The Initial Introduction

The second question deals with creating the initial introduction.

The following observations are what we’ve found based on our experience in contacting high level decision makers.
Based on roughly 1,500 to 2,000 outbound dials a day made by our team:

  • When we monitored them, we found they lost momentum at 2 different times during calls to high value contacts:
    1. In the first 7 seconds, when they failed to win the prospect’s attention.
    2. At the 20 second mark, when they didn’t win the prospect’s interest.
  • When they were on the phone between 45 and 65 seconds with a contact, their success rate was about 40%.
  • On average, they made approximately 112 dials to win an meeting (that’s 112 total dials for a particular client’s project).
  • During a contact campaign, they made about 8 “touches” to a specific contact to get a meeting. These touches involved several media types including:
    1. Social Media
    2. Email
    3. Phone calls
    4. Voicemails
    5. Instant messaging
  • They also focused on multiple contacts in each account:
    1. In a B2B sales environment, our team discovered 2 to 3 important “influencers” in each potential account.
    2. In a B2B sales environment, typically the sales rep identifies the decision maker during the sales process.

Streamlining The Sales Process

Here’s our observation. The initial stage of the sales process has become cumbersome and labor intensive. In our travels, we have identified three elements that act as potential obstacles in the initial sales process:

We acknowledge that obtaining the right data is important. However, we think that sales teams are placing too much attention on the right data. Now we need to give more attention to creating an effective process and developing the right talent.

The latest technology has made the initial stages of the sales process cumbersome and labor intensive. Technology is a great tool for achieving leverage. However, you have to use it appropriately, not to eliminate the process or replace the talent.

Over the next few posts, we’ll focus our attention on making the sales process more effective. We’ll also identify the traits in successful sales reps and show you how to expand those traits across your team.

Should be an exciting ride.

Until then, good selling!