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A senior leader was unhappy with his sales force because they consistently failed to meet their sales targets. To improve their sales results, he ran some calculations that showed his team had a 12 percent win rate. Incidentally, this seems to be an average win rate in B2B sales when companies rely on requests for proposals (RFP). Based on his math, he asked his team to create a sales pipeline that was 800 percent of their individual sales quotas.

Yesterday, I read a post on LinkedIn suggesting that working to increase the sales force’s ability to win deals wasn’t the right approach. Instead, the author of the post suggested that the sales organization should build its B2B sales pipeline to close more deals. Both the leader and the LinkedIn author misunderstand B2B sales and have this backward. Flooding the pipeline is no way to increase revenue in B2B sales.

The leader that required his team to create eight times their quota accepts a sad, meager 12 percent win rate—meaning he also believes his team should lose 88 percent of the deals they create. This is not how to grow your revenue. You don’t generate revenue from creating new opportunities. You only generate revenue when you win opportunities.

Your Pipeline Lies

It isn’t unusual to find a sales pipeline lacking integrity. But it may come as a shock for sales leaders to learn their rules about logging opportunities in their CRM is what drives the lack of integrity. The salesperson that records a new opportunity after a first meeting doesn’t likely have an opportunity. Because so many sales organizations use a legacy approach to B2B sales, they fail to convert first meetings into second meetings. This compromises the integrity of the pipeline.

The reason sales managers keep these non-opportunities in the CRM is to prove they have enough prospects to reach their goals, even if they lose most of them. This is like a young child holding onto their blanket as protection from monsters. It’s better to have a pipeline with integrity than one that is a cheap facade. Removing so-called opportunities that haven’t moved to a second meeting will give you a more accurate idea of your real pipeline.

Win Rates FTW

There is no reason to scale up your number of opportunities when you can’t convert prospects into paying clients or customers. Anyone who has successfully scaled any process will tell you that you first need to be sure your process achieves your desired outcomes. If you want to close deals, you are better off increasing your win rates than increasing the number of opportunities you pursue. Also, focus on sales pipeline management to increase your average win rate in B2B sales.

It isn’t easy to increase win rates in B2B sales. Often, this is because you need a new B2B sales methodology to improve win rates. Your sales team may need training to improve their ability to enhance their win–loss numbers, which is how we calculate win rates.

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Balancing Win Rates and Opportunities

The key to sales success is balancing the number of opportunities you pursue with your win rate. It’s important to pay attention to both of these key sales elements. Your win rate should be the first sales metric you pay attention to. To get a clearer look at your real pipeline and your sales forecast, create a report from your CRM tool and track win rates for each person on your sales team. This exercise will help you recognize where salespeople struggle to move deals forward. It will also give you a more accurate picture of sales performance than using a percentage in your sales opportunity stage.

You will not be surprised to find that your top performers have higher win rates. Salespeople with lower win rates need help improving this key metric.

The Impact on Your Clients and Win Rates

In this uncertain business environment, selling is difficult enough without sending your prospective clients a salesperson who cannot create value for the decision-makers and their stakeholders. Gartner has data that suggests that 75 percent of buyers want a salesperson-free buying experience. You need not guess why this is true. The sales experience feels like a waste of time to busy people. You never need to send a salesperson to lose a potential deal.

The relationship between the salesperson and their prospective client is uneven. You will never win all the clients you want, but you will win all the clients that want you. Putting more time and effort into increasing effectiveness pays dividends over time, as salespeople improve their approach and their command of the sales conversation.

Low win rates stem from poor, outdated sales approaches, an inability to create value in the sales conversation, untrained and underdeveloped salespeople, and leaders who spend more time staring at the scoreboard than on improving their players’ ability to win the game they’re playing.

How You Sell Determines Your Win Rate

The idea that you can improve your sales results by acquiring more opportunities only to lose them isn’t an effective sales plan. Today, how you sell has a tremendous impact on your sales team’s success. The investment in training, development, coaching, and leading the sales force will improve your win rates and allow you to grow revenue faster and more consistently.

Sales effectiveness should be your number-one initiative as a salesperson, sales manager, and sales leader. Never accept a 12 percent win rate and shoot for one over 50 percent.

Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 20, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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