You finally got the prospect to agree to a sale. You can breathe a sigh of relief … or not.
Getting to the close is seldom easy. And the next one will require the same kind of hard work.
Here’s what researchers have found salespeople are up against – and what works well – when it comes to closing. These closing statistics are revealing.
The margins have narrowed
Closing the sale is tough. But many salespeople – and almost all sales leaders – don’t think it happens enough.
In many ways, researchers prove that’s true:
- The average sales cycle has increased almost 25% in the past six years, according to research from SiriusDecisions
- 71% of sales professionals say their top priority is to close more deals, a HubSpot survey finds
- Yet, the percentage of salespeople hitting their quotas has dropped from 63% to 53% in the past six years, the CSO Insights World Class Sales Practices Report found
- Just 61% of salespeople feel they’re good at identifying customers’ pain points …
- … and identifying those pain points is a major key to winning sales: Those who do it are 28% more likely to close the sale and hit quota, says a research report by Salesforce Work.com and The TAS Group
- 91% of the top performing sales organizations collaborate across all departments to close big deals, according to the Miller Heiman Sales Best Practices study
- More than 50% of customer loyalty is based on the sales experience – from calling to closing, according to research in The Harvard Business Review
“53% of what drove customer loyalty is actually a function of the sales experience,” says Matt Dixon, Director of Corporate Executive Board. “So in very short-handed description of this research, more than half of business customer loyalty is a function of not what you sell but how you sell in specifically.”
Where the lead comes from matters
The effort to get to closing the sale is almost always significant. Yet researchers found reasons why some deals close faster than others:
- It takes about 97 days for referred leads to close, according to research from Implisit
- Website leads close in about 75 days
- Leads coming from social media networking take only about 40 days to close, the Implisit researchers say
“In the complex B2B sales process, some channels deliver consistently better performance than others. The global winners are employee and customer referrals, company websites, and social,” says Gilad Raichshtain, founder & CEO of Implisit. “Outbound channels such as lead lists, company events, and email campaigns tend to have the lowest performance. It seems that closing a deal is as much about where the lead came from as it is about salesmanship.”
- The average win rate – closing a sale after getting the opportunity to offer a proposal or give a quote – is 47%, according to research from The Rain Group
Yes, Social Selling impacts closing
We can’t emphasize enough the impact of social selling on closing results.
Researchers have made it clear that social media networking makes a significant impact on salespeople’s closing results. Specifically:
- More than 40% of salespeople say they’ve closed between two and five deals as a direct result of social selling, according to a survey by Social Centered Selling and A Sales Guy
- More than 70% of salespeople who use social media networking in their sales process outperform their peers who don’t
- By how much? The Social Centered Selling and A Sales Guy survey says they exceed quota 23% more often
The obstacles to closing the sale
Closing the sale feels great no matter when it happens. But in most sales professionals’ eyes, it could happen more often and faster.
What are the biggest challenges to closing or closing sooner? Here’s what sakes researchers have found:
- 48% of salespeople say competing against low-price competitors is their biggest challenge, according to The Richardson Selling Challenges Study
- In addition, 15% of salespeople say differentiating their product is the biggest challenge to closing
- 9% say creating a compelling case for change is their challenge, according to the Richardson study
“Creating a compelling case against stalled decisions or “no-decisions” takes understanding the customer’s buying cycle and helping customers sort through what matters most in order to find value among the options,” says Andrea Grodnitzky, Chief Marketing Officer at Richardson. “Sellers need to present buyers with well-crafted solutions that meet their exact needs, in priority order, and nothing more.”
- 26% of all forecasted deals – those nurtured leads that seemed like they were in-the-bag – turn into “no decisions” because salespeople failed to get in full alignment with the customer’s needs before a closing, CSO Insights researchers found
- 71% of sales leaders in a SiriusDecisions in-depth study of the selling process say their salespeople fail to connect their solutions to clients’ business needs
- And 65% of the sales leaders say their salespeople spend too much time on non-selling activities, such as paperwork, and not enough time on activities that lead to closing
What the winners do right
The organizations and salespeople who close sales more often have some things in common (that you can do, too).
- Speed matters. Salespeople are 21x more likely to qualify a prospect – which is the first key to closing any sale – if they respond to an inquiry within five minutes. The odds drop to just about zero if the response is more than an hour, The Lead Response Management Study found
- The process needs to be defined. Companies that have a well-defined sales process – something that salespeople are accountable for following – are 33% more likely to be high performers and close more deals than those that don’t have one, The TAS Group study found
- The main focus should be on referrals. Salespeople close the most sales from referred leads – at a 3.6% rate. The company website leads to 1.55% of closes and social media comes in third at 1.47%, according to research from Implisit
- Persistence pays. Salespeople who make 12 contact attempts perform nearly 20% better than their colleagues who stop at eight attempts, according to a report from the Bridge Group.
- Patience is a necessary virtue. Salespeople who stay the course and avoid rushing a close to meet a month-end goal are more successful. According to research from InsideSales.com, win rate decreases by 51% and deal size decreases by 35% at the end of the month