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Getting Into More Sales Opportunities, Earlier

Jared Brickman | March 15, 2023| 2 min. read

Are you in all the deals you could be? Probably not, says data recently published by 6sense.

Just 9-11% of buyers are in-market in each quarter, according to the 392 B2B marketers surveyed. 

Of those buyers, the typical medium-sized B2B tech firm has opportunities in their customer relationship management (CRM) system for just 12% early in the buying cycle, and 25% later. 

So, for the typical mid-stage company with a total addressable market (TAM) of 100 accounts: 

  1. About 10 of their target accounts are in-market in each quarter. 
  2. Of those 10, the company would have open opportunities for just one account early in the buying process and two later in the buying process. 

target accounts with opp in crm

Your go-to-market team must get into more opportunities, and earlier, especially now. The average win rate is continuing its precipitous drop from 29% in 2021 to 17% at the start of this year, per Winning by Design’s latest read. 

Get on a buyer’s “day one” list

Brand awareness counts for a lot. But you might be surprised by just how much it impacts the likelihood that a target account will evaluate your solution.

In a September 2022 survey of 1,208 buyers by Bain and Google, ~90% of buyers have a list of preferred vendors from “day one” of their search; 90% of those will go on to buy from their “day one” list. 

target accounts day one vendor

How do you get on buyers’ “day one” list?  

Build brand awareness among target buyers

Get buyers to know your solution before their search by building a presence where they can learn and connect. This could be at events, in trade journals, within communities, etc. Have a clear and differentiated value proposition to stand out at these industry intersections.  

Earn customer advocacy

84% of B2B decision-makers start their solution search by asking for referrals from colleagues, according to Edelman Trust Barometer. How can you ensure customers tell new buyers to “put you on the list?”  

The best advocacy is inspired by excellent user experience and “above-and-beyond” customer support. But you can exponentiate your fans’ reach. Give them prominent roles in your customer community. Feature them in case studies and media pitches. Secure speaking opportunities for them at trade events or invite them to host a discussion at your own webinars. If appropriate, extend discounts or gifts for referrals. 

Understand buying signals

For many companies, their go-to-market (GTM) team should go beyond passively cultivating demand to seeking it out. The goal is to know when buyers will begin their search for a solution. 

Prospect and build relationships

The most direct way you can gather buying signals is by building relationships with buyers ahead of their purchase. Your sellers can do this by offering value, “no strings attached:” delivering helpful content, inviting buyers to events, connecting buyers with influencers and experts, etc. You can also participate in third-party communities or build your own, monitoring the conversation for signs buyers need a solution. This might be as simple as attending industry events and “working the room.” 

Renewals, requests for proposals (RFP), and 10-Qs

In some markets, you can gather explicit information about when a buyer might enter a solution search. For example, some data providers offer IT contract renewal intelligence. You might also watch aggregators of RFPs — wherein companies put out an explicit call for purchase. For public companies, financial filings might offer clues about investments leading to a purchase, such as 10-Qs in the United States. 

Intent modeling

Several data and software providers will provide data analytics that tell you which of your target accounts are surging in interest for your solution (and when). In the best case, you can incorporate this intent data into a model which predicts the location of each account in their buying cycle. This will help your sellers identify accounts where they should aim to open opps early on; they can also catch accounts that are about to buy. 

Get into more deals

Few of your target accounts are in-market in any given quarter. Especially in the face of softening win rates, you must source as many opportunities as you can, as early as you can.  

To do this, know who’s buying and get ahead of their search. Generating brand awareness and customer advocacy are powerful means by which you can secure your spot on buyers’ “day one” lists. But, as you build those long-term investments, also seize demand by gathering buying signals from the market. 

Disclosure: 6sense is an Insight Partners portfolio company.