Leading in Uncertain Times: Formality for Informalities Sake

Sandler Research Center

Leading in Uncertain Times: Formality for Informalities Sake

When it comes to closing deals, there’s no fool-proof method that will earn you a 100%-win rate. However, there are several strategies any sales leader can administer to improve their successes.

With deals won reaching 51%, the highest recorded rate as reported by the 2022 Sales Performance Scorecard by Sales Mastery, it is clear many organizations are tapping into a secret weapon in performance improvement.

So, wherein lies the secret?

Sales Mastery researchers Barry Trailer and Jim Dickie determine several strategies to improve your probability of winning by meeting challenges head-on with a formal approach.

Returning to the 51% forecasted deals won, of the near half remaining, 25% of those forecasts resulted in no purchase or decision. This quarter of data was directly attributed to two primary failings:

  1. Their ability to develop comprehensive processes for targeting key accounts
  2. Their ability to coach for adaptability with the modern buyer

With each of these challenges, the underlying theme of formality versus informality is reiterated, time and again.

A look at organizational ability to conduct comprehensive needs analysis brings to light a seller-process issue congruent with the modern buyer’s skeptical nature and echoes the need for formality.

Of the organizations that reported unacceptable comprehensive needs analysis (42%), an entire half are viewed by buyers as undifferentiated vendors, while 23% are seen as market leaders in products/services. These two relationships are ranked the lowest by modern buyers and standout as a glaring issue in seller processes.

77% of organizations which ranked low in comprehensive needs analysis also reported an ad hoc or informal approach; conversely, those that exceled saw percentages in the single digits.

To prevent such, Trailer and Dickie suggest leveraging your CRM to sustain a successful comprehensive process. However, informality deters here too; those organizations that failed to engage all relevant decision makers, influencers, and stakeholders reported a 5% increase in deals lost.

The opposite was seen in those with an exceptional ability to gain access to key stakeholders. And while using a CRM may appear daunting and time consuming, Trailer and Dickie report an identical timeframe, with the only difference lying in success rate, seeing an improvement margin of 10%. Thus, formality remains crucial to successful processes.

With coaching, the supermajority (68%) reported an ad hoc/informal approach with only 58% of those salespeople meeting quota.

Trailer and Dickie say of coaching: “The number one key to improved sales performance is coaching: timely, objective, accurate, relevant, and individualized,” and their data suggests just that, as formally coached salespeople supported by technology saw 100% revenue attainment with 68% of all salespeople meeting quota.

In the analysis of coaching carryout, the solution is to commit to a culture of coaching which expands long beyond ramp-up, proactively targeting reps both seasoned and novice.

The gap identified in how selling is conducted versus what is being sold asserts successful sellers as adaptable, informed, and professional with formality as their backbone.

Developing these formal approaches is imperative for success at every stage in the buyer journey, especially for the dubious modern buyer. So, when examining your own closed losses from forecast, ask yourself:

At what point did your processes fail? And thus, what informalities can you supplement?

Read the full report for a look at the other eight critical challenges facing today’s industry leaders, identified in the Sales Mastery 2022 Sales Performance Scorecard Study Analysis.