Biz-to-Biz Buyers Tell All: Survey Reveals 27 Sales Prospecting Stats You Need to Know

The people who make big-dollar buying decisions want you to know how to contact them and what topics to discuss.

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By Mike Schultz

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When you're in sales, your job depends on initiating conversations with buyers to fill the front end of the pipeline. The problem? Buyers are busier than ever -- it's hard breaking through the noise to connect.

Through the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, we talked to 488 B2B buyers, representing $4.2 billion in purchases across 25 industries. These buyers are sold to every day. Here's what they told us influences their willingness to connect with a seller and ultimately make a purchase decision. We've distilled that survey into 27 sales prospecting stats you need to know.

Buyers are willing to meet but...

First, it's important to know that buyers do accept meetings, but by and large they don't find these meetings valuable. Buyers report to us that:

1. Eighty-two percent accept meetings.

2. Fifty-eight percent of their meetings do not deliver value.

Related: 6 Secrets to a Successful Sales Meeting

Sometimes they want to hear from you.

If you make enough cold calls, you might think nobody ever wants to talk, but buyers said there are situations when they want to talk with sellers. Here's what they said:

3. When I'm looking for new ideas to improve business results (71 percent).

4. When I'm looking to solve a problem (62 percent).

5. When I'm evaluating providers (54 percent).

Bottom line: buyers want to hear from you early in the sales process.

How you make first contact matters.

We asked buyers about the outreach methods they prefer and which they've responded favorably to:

6. Email: 80 percent of buyers prefer to be contacted this way.

7. Fifty-eight percent of buyers have recently accepted a meeting with a seller via email.

8. Phone: 57 percent of C-level and VP-level buyers prefer the phone compared to 51 percent of director and 47 percent of manager level buyers.

9. Fifty-four percent of buyers have recently accepted a meeting with a seller who contacted them by phone.

10. Tech buyers prefer the phone more than buyers in financial or professional services industries (54 percent compared to 40 percent and 50 percent, respectively).

Related: When It Comes to Sales, the Phone Is Your Most Powerful Tool

There are times when they call first.

We asked what influences a buyer to initiate contact with a seller. These are the top five factors that influence a buyer's likelihood to connect with a provider.

11. Need for product or service (75 percent).

12. Budget (64 percent).

13. Seller offers to share something of value (63 percent).

14. Pre-existing relationship (61 percent).

15. Previously bought from the seller's company (60 percent).

Related: What to Do When a Prospect Is Blowing You Off

Useful information gets their attention.

Staying on top of their industry is a big reason buyers are too busy to talk, but it is also what they like to talk about. There are top content types that captures buyer's attention and what particularly is preferred in the C-level.

16. Primary research data relevant to my business (69 percent).

17. Content 100 percent customized for me (67 percent).

18. Descriptions of seller's capabilities (67 percent).

19. Insight on the use of the seller's solutions to help solve my business problems (66 percent).

20. Best-practice methodology based on seller's area of expertise (65 percent).

21. C-level and VP buyers are significantly more likely (75 percent) to be influenced to take a meeting or otherwise connect by the ROI cases than director (64 percent) or manager level buyers (59 percent).

Related: How Can You Create an Effective B2B Content Marketing Strategy

And here is what they say will close the sale.

Top factors that influence a buyer's ultimate purchase decision.

22. Seller focused on the value they can deliver me (96 percent).

23. Seller collaborated with me (93 percent).

24. Seller educated me with new ideas and perspectives (92 percent).

25. Seller provided valuable insight related to my industry (92 percent).

26. Seller deepened my understanding of my needs (92 percent).

Across the board, we found that if buyers see you as valuable, you'll get more initial meetings and convert more into sales wins.

Finally, one last stat and food for thought:

27. Value-driven sellers were significantly more likely to rate their sales prospecting as excellent, very good or good compared to non-value-driven respondents (62 percent compared to 39 percent, respectively).

Mike Schultz

President of RAIN Group

Mike Schultz is a bestselling author of Rainmaking Conversations, Insight Selling, Virtual Selling: How to Build Relationships, Differentiate, and Win Sales Remotely, and Not Today: The 9 Habits of Extreme Productivity. He is Director of the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research, and President of RAIN Group, a Top Sales Training Company that delivers award-winning results through in-person and virtual sales training, coaching, and reinforcement. He and RAIN Group have helped hundreds of thousands of salespeople, managers, and professionals in more than 75 countries transform their sales results and unleash their sales potential.

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