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The three sales truths that will change how you sell

March 17, 2020
Devin Reed

Devin Reed

Conversation Intelligence Sales Engagement Sales Strategies

This article is part of the Gong Labs series, where I publish findings from our data research team. We analyze sales conversations and deals using AI, then share the results to help you win more deals. Follow me to read upcoming research.

When it comes to advice on closing deals, there are a million opinions on how to build momentum, influence deals, and forecast accurately. 

But none of those opinions are based on reality. You know, facts.

And the opinion-based way we approach deal execution is outdated and working against us.

So in true Gong fashion, we looked at the data behind sales execution to learn how to close deals effectively. Turns out there are three must-know techniques, and we can give you the low-down on all of them.

Be warned. Your sales approach will change if you keep reading. You can’t un-know the truth. 

Sidebar: What is Gong Labs?

If you’re new to Gong Labs (welcome!), here’s a quick explanation of how we get our data. 

We analyze sales interactions from our product users (anonymized of course). That includes everything captured by Gong’s software during web conference meetings, phone calls, and emails. Then we analyze how seller and buyer actions impact deal success. 

For this report, we analyzed more than 52,000 sales opportunities, including the meetings and emails that occurred within those opportunities. 

What we found is about the blow your mind.

Truth #1 – You NEED to win influence

To start, we wanted to see how winning and losing deals compare in terms of numbers of buyers involved in the deal (i.e., influence).

Enter, multi-threading. 

Multi-threading is the concept of building relationships with multiple stakeholders throughout your deal

We’ve all heard that buying is a team sport. (Gartner recently stated that there are 6-10 people involved in a purchasing decision).

But there’s never been evidence of the incredible impact of using multi-threading to leverage this reality. Until now.

The Science Behind Multi-threading

Here’s your first proof point for multi-threading.

On average, winning deals have at least 3 people from the buyer’s side in meetings across the sales cycle.

By contrast, losing deals often struggle to get more than one point of contact to attend their meetings.

The first person they connect with is often the only person they ever speak with. 

It’s like a kiss of death for deals:

You can see that most deals start the same way, with one point of contact.

But the number of buyer-side participants in the second meeting almost triples in winning deals.

What makes that happen?

Two factors:

  1. The prospect thinks your offer is interesting enough to socialize internally.
  2. You’ve navigated the organization and brought additional stakeholders into subsequent meetings.

Make sure both of those factors are at play when you move from your first to your second (or third) meeting.

Don’t Forget Email

You don’t only meet with buyers, you pursue them via email as well.

So the Gong research team went one level deeper to look at email engagement.

The success gap really widens when you look at the unique number of prospects involved in a deal via email:

On average, winning deals involve 8 points of contact via email.

Losing deals only have 3 points of contact via email.

That’s a 243% difference in engagement.

And it gets results. 

Winning deals make use of a second layer of stakeholders in security, legal, and IT. Having influence over them is important because they add more force to your sales momentum.

The message couldn’t be clearer: the more stakeholders you access through sales meetings and email, the higher your success rate. That makes multi-threading a must.

[PS: Master this technique with our brand new Multi-threading Playbook. It has 3 ready-to-fire email templates you can use today.]

Truth #2 – Sales TEAMS sell more

Now that we’ve established that buying is a team sport, we wanted to see if the same is true for selling.

Spoiler alert: It is. Big time. 

Use it and you may be 258% more likely to close a deal. (I know. The numbers we’re throwing at you are huge.)

Team selling is exactly what it sounds like. It’s when multiple participants join the sales cycle from the seller’s side.

And we’ve all done it before. We invite our VP or CEO to join a late-stage call to help seal the deal.

Why? Because it works. 

But your senior leaders can’t join all your calls. It just doesn’t scale. 

So here’s what successful go-to-market teams do to tip the scales in their favor: they use internal experts whenever they sense buyer uncertainty.

Why does this approach work?

  1. When you invest time and resources into your buyer, you build trust.
  2. Experts build your organization’s credibility.
  3. Both of these position you as an industry leader, and that’s a competitive advantage in any market.

Truth #3 – Winning deals have higher email velocity

Have you ever committed a deal that didn’t close?

Stupid question, I know. We all have. 

So how can you know a deal is going to close?

You can check your CRM, trust your gut, or ask your reps… but none of that information is objective. That’s why it’s often wrong.

And that leads to missed forecasts and hairy conversations with sales leadership explaining why. (Ouff. So uncomfortable).

At Gong, we wanted to know what all winning deals reliably have in common. 

Here’s what we found: 

Email velocity is the #1 indicator of whether your deal is going to sign. 

(Wanna go back and read that again? I’ll wait. It’s important.)

Email velocity is the number of emails exchanged between a buyer and seller over a given period of time. 

Turns out, the more emails you and your buyer exchange on a weekly basis across the sales cycle, the more likely your deal is to close:

And here’s another email predictor that matters: In winning deals there’s an increase in email velocity as you approach a signature. 

Email exchanges have a noticeable ramp up in the last week before a deal is signed. We’re talking a 10:1 ratio here for emails in won versus lost deals:

It makes sense when you think about all the last-minute objections, contract updates, and final confirmations that precede a signed deal. Most of those happen over email these days.

CAUTION: I know what some of you are thinking, “Sweet. I’ll send eight emails this week to push my deal forward!”

Let me clarify: Email velocity doesn’t work if it’s one-sided.

Buyer engagement is critical. There has to be back and forth. 

So how many weekly emails did prospects send, on average, for won deals?

This isn’t about bombarding your buyer. It’s about generating a real back-and-forth email convo.

Your Ticket to Closed Won is Here

If you’ve read this far, then you’re clearly dedicated to winning more deals. And hopefully you’re thinking about how to increase email velocity in your accounts.

The key is this: Involve more stakeholders in your sales process.

Do that using multi-threading and team selling. Master these techniques and you’ll win influence across every deal in your pipeline, and forecast with laser-like precision. 

That’s exactly why we created the Master Class Series: Advanced Sales Skills.

It’s a three-part video series delivered over 10 days, with tips to help you master veteran-level techniques.

It’s yours for free, but open enrollment is limited to the first 200 people. Then we’re closing it to everyone except Gong customers. Claim your spot now

Got it? Good.

I’m curious… Which of these techniques are you going to put into play first?

See the magic of Gong in action

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