How to Improve Win Rate
How Important is Your Team's Win Rate?
A strong win rate is one of the greatest predictors of success in a selling organization. There are many selling metrics that are critical to a selling organization, but few can be addressed without first achieving an adequate win rate. To drive metrics like contract value, profitability, and pricing the selling organization must maintain a level of success in winning new deals. Without these wins there are no contracts values to target, no profitability to improve, or pricing to negotiate. Like the hub of a wheel, win rate holds it all together.
Therefore, a faltering win rate requires immediate attention. However, the challenge in addressing a falling win rate is about more than the resolve to act fast. The primary challenge selling organizations face when seeking to improve their win rate is complexity.
With each passing year the volume and availability of data increases. This abundance of analytics makes it easy and even enticing for a business to react to a drop in win rate performance by quickly wrapping their arms around all the data they can and hoping the numbers coalesce into a single answer. This approach, almost involuntary in nature, rarely works.
There are many factors that influence the win rate, and it is unrealistic for an organization to untangle and optimize each of them. Moreover, rear-looking data is of less value today because even the recent past bears little resemblance to the much-changed post-pandemic future that lies ahead. Therefore, success today depends on forming a strategy in which the sales leader focuses less on previous KPIs and more on a concise list of practices that will most directly impact future win rates.
Forming a Three-Part Plan to Rescue a Falling Win Rate
Here, we provide the three most influential actions a sales organization can take to adjust and improve its win rate.
1. Qualify the Pursuit
The first steps taken during a sales pursuit are among the most impactful. In these early stages, the sales professional has an opportunity to measure their strengths and weaknesses relative to the specific selling opportunity in question. In most cases, the sales team develops an intuitive sense of their strengths in the context of a particular sale. However, too often this consideration lacks a thorough, and rigorous review. Therefore, boosting win rates means overlying a formalized process for making an early determination about the stage of the sale and what the most appropriate next steps are. This approach is similar in philosophy to the words of Sun Tzu in The Art of War when he remarks that “every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.”
With a specific methodology in place, sales professionals can determine how well the opportunity is positioned for a win, identify any gaps that threaten forward progress, and target the most important customer information early in the pursuit. These three capabilities serve one goal: to direct the right skills to the right sales opportunities so that selling efforts generate more results. Making this approach work means considering the specific factors that influence the customer’s needs.
Learn about our powerful tool designed to empower your sales team with a repeatable solution for ongoing pursuit qualification here.
Those factors are the following:
- Pain: Many sales opportunities emerge from a pain experienced within the customer’s world. Examples include missed opportunities, difficulty navigating an industry change, or an emerging competitor threat. Sales professionals need to confirm and reconfirm their understanding of the customer’s pain.
- Power: This refers to the stakeholders who are authorized to make a purchasing decision. Sales professionals need to ensure that they are accessing this group and positioning the solution in a way that resonates with the decision-makers.
- Vision: The most sophisticated sales professionals do more than track the customer’s current challenges — they also help the customer gain build a buying vision. In doing so, the sales professional has a valuable opportunity to shape the customer’s thinking.
- Value: Sales professionals need to contextualize the value of the solution within the context of measurable business factors like expected revenue gain, gross margin, or long-term savings. The value of the solution must exceed that of the status quo and competing solutions.
- Consensus: More than ever buying decisions are unfolding in a group setting. As more roles are present among the buying team – CEO, CFO, IT, COO - it is critical that the sales professional accounts for the differing needs and concerns of each persona.
Each of these factors represents a critical juncture in the sale. Introducing structure to this list means assigning a numerical value of 0-5 to reflect the degree to which they have satisfied each of the five areas. A zero indicates no movement, and a five indicates complete success. This scale offers measurability that is critical for success.
2. Build Revenue Teams
The average duration of a business cycle is approximately 4.7 years. This amount of time provides selling organizations with the bandwidth to adjust and adapt to new market influences, technological innovation, and competitive entrants. The COVID pandemic has, in effect, compressed this timeline to one year thereby accelerating the business cycle and forcing every industry to alter or expedite its long-term plans. As a result, the customer’s purchasing process is considerably different than it was even in the recent past. Understanding the customer’s new setting and set of needs requires a team effort. That team should be a revenue team.
A revenue team is a coordinated group of sales professionals and non-sales professionals that is able to meet the complexity and range of customer needs. These teams represent a spectrum of capabilities, from pre-sales SMEs to service and support teams. All members drive customer retention, value realization, and revenue goals. These teams are crucial because modern business needs are complex, and a single point of contact within the selling organization is not enough to fully engage customers. A revenue team is needed to provide an agile response to shifting perceptions of risk, evolving goals, and changing definitions of value.
Assembling a revenue team requires, above all else, achieving balance. The team must represent a diversity of skills that can engage different stakeholders with different needs at each of the many stages of the buyer’s journey. For this reason, it is not enough to have a team comprised of experienced sales professionals. Sales leaders need to create a team that includes non-sales roles that are equipped to answer granular level questions about the solution. IT professionals are also increasingly becoming part of revenue teams as revenue intelligence platforms, and relationship analytics grow in sophistication.
In addition to serving each dimension of the customer’s need, revenue teams serve another purpose; they boost results for the selling organization by instilling a greater sense of meaning within team members. When each member of the team understands that they have a unique role within a group setting their sense of purpose grows. This dynamic is important because purpose drives intrinsic motivation and “findings reveal that intrinsic motivation is more positively associated with working hard, working smart, and salesperson performance than extrinsic motivation” according to a meta-analysis of studies conducted between 1985 and 2019 by Dr. Valerie Good in her publication Motivating Salespeople Toward Greater Productivity.
3. Redesign the Account Planning Process
Redesigning the account planning process is crucial for three reasons.
- Expectations of a prosperous economic setting are rising, and capitalizing on this growth means developing a strong plan now.
- Customer needs are vastly different than they were when most sales leaders executed even recent account plans.
- A revised account planning process ensures that selling organizations are leveraging their resources in the most effective way possible.
Learn more about revisiting your account management strategy by downloading the brief: Revisiting Account Strategies for a Changed Economy
These reasons all connect to a single challenge that is emerging in the COVID and post-COVID environment; change in the customer’s world has vastly outpaced change within the selling organization. Most account planning processes do not account for the depth and breadth of change to the customer’s needs. Now is the time to change the playbook. Doing so requires three practices.
First, sales leaders need to consider frequency. The account planning cycle must become a quarterly or monthly exercise rather than annual or bi-annual. This increased frequency is necessary because changes in the customer’s world are more common. This cycle should consist of eight critical steps:
- Analyze the account
- Identify business initiatives and plan
- Assess relationships
- Assess competition
- Identify new business
- Prioritize opportunities
- Determine strategy and coverage
- Manage the account
Second, account planning demands vigilance. Sales teams must stay alert to any change in the customer’s business that might change the white space opportunities. This means regularly revising solution messaging so that it resonates with the customer’s evolved sense of value. Vigilance also means being selective and rigorous in the process of determining which accounts represent the best mutual partnership.
Third, a focus on value should be part of the new account planning strategy. Leaders must continually qualify opportunities to track the changing scope of the sale and ensure that the right amount of economic value is present for both the customer and the selling organization. The immediate size of the deal must be considered alongside the long-term value of the relationship.
Sales Capabilities Required to Compete Today
There is no key skill that closes deals. Rather, it’s a collection of sales capabilities that need to be learned, practiced, and applied to create a differentiated experience for your buyers that delivers results for your business.Learn More
Improving Win Rate
Revenue growth, expanded offerings, and even morale all require a strong win rate. Leaders who recognize this fact and act accordingly are afforded the latitude to focus on long-term priorities. Addressing a falling win rate means formalizing a process for measuring the viability of a sale, assembling revenues teams that represent a diversity of skill, and rebuilding an account planning process that is thorough and flexible.
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