CSOs, CFOs and CMOs (and salespeople) should be troubled by the outcome of deal forecasts in 2018. Just 47 percent of forecasted opportunities resulted in wins, identical to 2017, while losses of forecast deals increased to 32 percent.

On its face, this looks like a dire moment. But the new “Selling in the Age of Ceaseless Change: The 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report” from CSO Insights, the research division of Miller Heiman Group, finds a bright spot for sellers who are prioritizing relationships. While the win rates for sellers considered an “approved vendor” was just 40 percent, that number leapt to 60 percent for those considered a “trusted partner.”

What’s the key difference between the two groups? Perspective.

Only 11 percent of the nearly 900 global sales leaders surveyed say their ability to provide clients with this critical perspective exceeds expectations. But that expectation-exceeding group also wins 55 percent of forecast opportunities — more than any other group.

Meanwhile, just 7 percent say their ability to generate referrals from existing customers exceeds expectations. That highly effective group also boasts a 57 percent win rate — again, more than any other group.

So how can sales leaders bring their teams into this expectation-exceeding group?

In 2019, sales leaders must focus their efforts on building everything around the customer, and truly turning their sellers into experts, empathetic sources in the eyes of the buyer. We know that’s no small feat. Between rapidly evolving technology, uncontrollable sociopolitical factors and a large group of stakeholders, the path to perspective is winding and sometimes unclear.

As discussed in the 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report, there are key strategies that the best use to navigate this path.

  • Ask your customers. Honest feedback from a customer advisory board can help you determine exactly what creates value for your clients.
  • Leverage content management systems to ease the process of providing perspective. When used correctly, your CMS will identify stakeholders and lend guidance at each stage of the sell cycle.
  • Embed the concept of perspective into your methodology. It’s one thing to say you provide insights and thought leadership to customers. It’s another to do it effectively and consistently. For that, you need to bake it thoroughly into how you sell.

The best sales leaders realize that the sales landscape is changing, and that solutions must be ever-evolving. From data and technology to bridging the gap between customers and sales, the 2018-2019 Sales Performance Report provides actionable insights on how sales leaders can send their teams down a truly perspective-guided, customer-centric path to sales success.

Miller Heiman Group’s tools and training are built to help sales leaders build and nurture a perspective-driven team. From revealing the importance and process behind truly understanding buyers’ needs through Strategic Selling with Perspective™ to putting forward-looking analytics in the palm of sellers’ hands with Scout by Miller Heiman Group, we have the resources to inform every step of your ongoing sales transformation journey.

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