Gone are the days when a complex monthly report was the first sight that managers had of their team’s success or otherwise: this data is now easily available in real time, which allows for flexible goals to be set, monitored, and re-aligned on the fly.
Leading data analytics company, insidesales.com, recently published great insights into customer behaviour and potential areas for sales improvement.
Surveying 15,000 unique leads and over 100,000 call attempts, the question was posed: “For the best results, how should companies respond to their leads?” with the aim of maximising results while minimising efforts. (source data here)
1. When Are the Best Days to Make Contact with a potential customer?
Wednesdays and Thursdays were the best days, by far, to qualify leads.
How to use this data: This data isn't an excuse to procrastinate or delay making contact, but an opportunity to test and potentially adapt your sales processes.
2. What Are the Best Times to Make Contact?
These are the times when potential customers are least likely to be occupied with other activities in the workplace, which would prevent them from fully engaging with salespeople. Calls made across lunchtime (between 1.00 pm and 2.00 pm) were the least effective - there was a 164 percent difference between success across lunch and calls made shortly before the end of the working day.
How to use this data: The best time to make contact will vary by industry. When I sold technology platforms to investment bankers, the best time to make contact was after 6pm (they worked late). Test call time efficacy within your sales teams and adapt accordingly.
3. Response Time is Key
Response time is a measurement of the time lapse between a potential customer completing an inbound web enquiry and the call made by a salesperson to follow up their interest. The study found there is a dramatic drop-off in success as time goes on, and the researchers found that follow-up calls should ideally be made within a few minutes of the customer clicking the ‘submit’ button.
How to use this data: The most effective lead response process is to have a communal sales inbox for inbound enquiries. The first person to see the enquiry claims the response and alerts the team. This ensures the fastest response time (often immediate). If the opportunity falls in another person’s territory, it is handed over via the appropriate channels. This team selling mentality works in the benefit of everybody.
4. Dramatic Drop in Deal Size on the last day of the month
A second study analysed 9.8 million sales transactions to understand patterns of deal success. (source data here)
The end of month scramble for revenue alters sales rep behaviour as they incentivise customers for a last-minute commitment. It looks great on the monthly revenue charts but can damage a business. Smart buyers have learnt to take advantage of this phenomenon, and a well-managed sales team will resist the temptation to compromise long-term results with short-term gain.
How to use this data: Monthly targets come around every month. Have clear guidelines of acceptable behaviour and approach late stage opportunities well before the target deadline.
5. Dramatic Drop in Win Rate on the Last Day of the Month
A consequence of point 4 is a reduction in deal conversion as aggressive sales tactics alienate customers whose primary concern is solving business critical needs, over a strong-arm approach to securing their revenue. The effect is a dramatic reduction in win rates by approximately 50%. The next month begins by repairing the relationship, justifying the removal of discounts, and attempting to recover from the antics of the previous month. It's a classic cycle clearly supported by data.
How to use this data: Once identified, this behaviour must be addressed from the board level to ensure short-term gain isn't damaging company growth and long-term customer relationships. This is a complex topic I will discuss in a separate article.
Great sales leaders inspire their teams to behave appropriately, encourage them to collaborate and improve, meet with customers, and maintain a positive morale to ensure the business drives forward. As we enter the age of data-driven transparency, data analytics helps sales professionals to adjust their behaviour to match customer expectations and achieve a positive, consistent outcome.
If you value this article, please share it. If you haven't yet received my 2017 research paper, it discusses the differences between selling in the UK vs. the USA, as well as how digital networks are impacting multinational businesses differently on each side of the pond. Download from the homepage.