Why Every Sales Leader Needs To Know The Number “6.8”

Dear sales leader.  If you are concerned that you have succumbed to clickbait by reading this article, may I assure you that this is not the case.

In sales, there are many numbers that govern our lives but it is unlikely you’ve considered 6.8 as one of them.

For this is the average number of stakeholders involved in a B2B purchasing decision making process.  Two years ago it was 5.4 and it would appear it isn’t going down.

As a sales leader, the realisation of this number is one of the most important in your career and should create a paradigm shift in the way you operate.  Ignoring it may be the single biggest mistake you make.

Firstly, it should make you acutely aware of the fact that in your sales career, more often than not you never pitched each and every decision influencer in order to make a sale.  This in and of itself should not be alarming for the simple reason that more often than not, stakeholders will follow the recommendation of the subject matter experts whom no doubt you pitched.

However, we’ve all lost sales as a result of our contact’s inability to convince the CXO or peers of the merits of our product. We’ve all lost sales that we thought were in the bag, because at the eleventh hour, a decision maker somewhere up the chain got cold feet.

So now that we know the number 6.8, what action should we take?

No doubt it means we should aim to engage more stakeholders directly, however, generally speaking you should be already trying to do this (and should continue to).

Unfortunately, not every company is an open book and the vast majority of the time it is not feasible to speak with the 6.8 people who decide whether you win or lose.  You are at the mercy of your contact’s ability to sell your product internally.  At the best of times this ability is sub optimal.  At the worst of times it is the death knell of the opportunity.

So what’s the single most effective and quickest strategy you can implement to overcome this growing issue and increase your sales?

Your sales presentation.

Now, this is not to be confused with the act of presenting.  What you need to a single piece of collateral that arms those who advocate for the purchase of your product with the ability to sell it to the remaining stakeholders.  Not a product brochure.  A product brochure gives information that generally only subject matter experts will understand or care about, failing to factor in the different motivations each stakeholder has.  

You need something that speaks to every single job title in the decision making process.  Something that caters to those motivated by risk-aversion, increased revenue, operational efficiency and most importantly, apathy.  You need something that can create urgency in your absence, with people that don’t understand your product in a time poor environment.

Having designed sales presentations that leverage the proven science of persuasion in order to cater to the different psychologies of decision making, I’ve seen the difference a well crafted Prezi or Powerpoint sales presentation has made to those people who acknowledge the power of the number 6.8.

I’ve read articles about the power a well executed sales narrative has and the difference it makes to sales leaders.

Remember the number 6.8 and stop losing sales that you should win.