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New strategies for closing more sales deals: Insights from the latest data

February 23, 2023
Dan Morgese

Dan Morgese

Director, Content Strategy and Research

This article is part of the Gong Labs series, where we publish findings from our data research team. We analyze sales conversations and deals using the Gong Reality Platform’s proprietary AI, then share the results to help you win more deals. Subscribe here to read upcoming research.

A global pandemic. 

A new generation of decision makers. 

An economic downturn

The past three years have brought us no shortage of external factors that have dramatically transformed our buying processes. 

For today’s sellers, these factors have ushered in digital transformation across your organizations, dozens of new technologies at your disposal, and the requirement to master new skills. 

But as you head into another calendar filled with unknowns, where should your efforts and attention be focused?

Fortunately, we’ve got answers. 

We analyzed three years of data, across 184 companies, and hundreds of thousands of deals to identify key shifts in buying behavior since 2020. 

Here are the trends to watch as you enter the new year and the proven strategies (backed by data of course) to thrive amidst change. 

Be a sense-maker and confidence-builder for your buyers 

The number of interactions buyers have with sellers is decreasing. Today’s buyers are completing more of their journey solo. With dramatic increases in the number of self-guided interactions, they’re doing research, consuming content, and consulting peers and reviews long before they even engage with a rep from a supplier. 

In fact, Gartner finds nearly 3 out of 4 buyers say they would prefer to make a purchase without ever engaging with a sales rep. 

That probably raises your hackles a bit. Understandably so.

Our data shows this decrease in seller interactions is two-fold. In 2022, sales reps had a fewer number of active deals they were working, while the average number of meetings/calls per deal had also decreased. Factoring both, on average reps saw a 36% decrease in the total number of interactions with buyers compared to 2020.

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While these numbers might initially hit you as alarming, it actually highlights the critical role a seller has throughout the buyer’s journey. 

When buyers do engage with a seller, they are looking to make sense of information consumed during their hours of self-led research. As a rep, you’re helping them contextualize what they’ve heard and read, provide answers they haven’t been able to find on their own, and act as a trusted advisor to help them select the best solution for their organization. 

This is highlighted by the substantial increase in average call duration. Virtual sales meetings and calls were 15% longer on average in 2022 when compared to 2020, signaling that the perceived value for buyers is worth their time to make the right decision.

Don’t bombard your buyers with more content. Instead, help them make sense of what they’ve already consumed. 

The new role of a seller is to instill confidence in your buyer. Working fewer opportunities allows sellers to shift the focus from quantity to quality. With the ever-growing complexity of the B2B buyer’s journey, reps can ensure they are multi-threadingdriving next steps, and comprehensive in their follow-ups

If done correctly this approach can increase win rates and deal size while decreasing average deal duration. 

Speaking of deal duration…

Remove any unnecessary buyer friction to improve sales velocity. 

While there may be fewer opportunities to work, reps can still improve sales velocity in two ways. 

The first is increasing conversion. 

The second is closing deals in less time. 

But as a result of growing complexity internally at organizations and external market factors, deals are taking longer to close. 

We analyzed deals opened in July of each calendar year from 2020 to 2022 and found that the number of deals closed by year-end is shrinking, signaling that deal durations are increasing. 

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While the consideration and decision phases may take longer on the buyer’s side, ensure that your responses and follow-up are highly timely and relevant. 

Sellers who prioritize timely follow-up (within one business day) and complete all open action items not only significantly boost their win rates but can cut deal duration by an average of 11%.

Gong Labs data shows that buyers mirror seller response times. The faster you reply, the faster they will respond in return. 

Beyond your responsiveness, your ability to drive next steps during sales calls will also move your deals to close faster. Sellers who close deals fastest discuss next steps 53% more

Master selling to the c-suite 

Over the past two years, executives have become more involved in the buying process. Since 2020, we’ve seen a 55% increase in the number of won deals where VP+ personas participated in one or more sales meetings.

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The good news is our data shows that this executive presence increases the likelihood of your deal closing. In 2022, win rates doubled in deals with CXOs involved compared to those with no executive involvement on the buyer’s side. 

However, it is important to understand the role these executives are playing in the buying group. Getting into the weeds with a CFO that is just signing off on a purchase can overcomplicate your deals.

Just take a look at the calendar of any senior leader in your organization. It’ll be a solid multi-colored brick wall of back-to-back meetings. 

An executive’s time is precious, ensure that you capture their attention in the first 3-5 minutes of the call providing them with exactly what they’ll be getting out of the meeting. 

You can do this by introducing a thought-provoking insight highlighting something impacting their business. For instance, how are external factors affecting their initiatives and how might your solution help overcome any of those challenges? 

Hear this and more directly from the c-suite in our on-demand webinar. (it’s well worth 8 minutes of your time)

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Handle pricing conversations with confidence  

As you might expect (and are probably already experiencing yourself) the past 6 months have made buyers more price-sensitive, to say the least. With budgets tightening and increased scrutiny on purchases from finance, it is critical that reps master pricing discussions in order to be successful in 2023. 

But how critical?

With this increased emphasis on value, our data shows that time spent on pricing conversations and negotiations has increased 62% over the past two years.

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Handling pricing with confidence will be critical to a seller’s success this year. 

Top reps deliver pricing in fewer words. These sellers avoid over-explaining which can often signal insecurity to the buyer about the value you may deliver. Be concise and to the point.

Do more with less.

Smaller semantic changes like using “approved pricing” in lieu of “list pricing” is also proven to increase success rates. 

We’ve put together these tips and more in 10 golden rules to follow in any pricing conversation. Each is backed by data from Gong Labs to understand what gets deals done, even with price-conscious buyers. 

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The road ahead

To quote John C. Maxwell, “Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” 

There is no doubt your typical buyer’s journey will continue to change in 2023. But how you’re able to adapt and respond to these changes will determine your success even in transformative times. 

That’s why we hosted a live webinar and are sharing the recording.

You’ll learn the tools and skills your team needs to maximize revenue – according to the latest data from Gong and guest Forrester. 

Including real examples from our RVP of Strategic Sales, Kara Kayrouz.

Watch On-Demand Now.

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