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South Africans are the best at closing deals

If you’ve ever wondered whether certain nationalities are better at closing deals than others, a global sales study has crunched the numbers and come up with some telling results.

Sales success may be difficult to gauge due to variables around the product or service, business model, pricing, the environment as well as customers’ purchasing power, writes Pipedrive – a leading sales CRM company.

However, one thing all businesses share is a step-by-step process that has proven to win them customers.

And some just have a better process than others.

Results from the latest sales study came from analysing data of sales performances across 34 countries and more than 10 industries. In particular, three main questions were asked:

  • How many potential prospects do these salespeople manage to convert to customers?
  • How long does it take them to do it?
  • How hard do they need to work for it? (i.e.. how many activities do they need to engage in, such as scheduled phone calls or meetings.)

The best deal-closers work in South Africa

According to the data, one of the best indicators of sales skills is conversion rate, and South Africa tops the table (and not for the first time since the study was carried out.)

In second place was Ireland and third place, New Zealand. There is also a metric that makes the top three stand out – they are the only nations where salespeople are able to secure more than 20% of their potential customers.

The top10 on the leaderboard were as follows:

  1. South Africa
  2. Ireland
  3. New Zealand
  4. Australia
  5. Chile
  6. Switzerland
  7. Poland
  8. Mexico
  9. Canada
  10. Russia
South Africa, Ireland and New Zealand are the only nations able to turn more than 20% of their prospects into customers. Image: Pipedrive

South Africans skip the small talk

So what is it about South Africans that makes them such succesful converters?

“[South Africans] see an unusually straight link between making it in sales and being able to survive,” the report reads. “This top-three African economy apparently has less of a safety net in the form of welfare and more pressure to succeed.”

“Many people point to an ‘if you don’t kill, you don’t eat’ metaphor. It’s arguably a case of an environment shaping the people operating in it.”

Surveys have also found that South Africans have a reputation for directness, and an aversion to small talk. This means they get to the point quickly, while it is believed that South Africans understand the lay of the land a lot earlier in the sales process.

Who is the quickest at closing deals?

Another indicator of sales success is the speed of revenue coming in. According to the study, salespeople in Brazil get to ‘yes’ the quickest – needing less than 30 days to do so.

South Africa and Chile round out the top three in this category. Interestingly, surveys have suggested that Brazilian salespeople are surprised that they lead in this category as culturally, Brazilians tend to put a lot of emphasis on being friendly and conversations have a tendency to drift off topic.

What’s decisive here is that Brazilians recognise that if they’re not quick enough, someone else is going to be even friendlier and pushier – as the competition is extremely tight.

What about sales in developed countries?

The report emphasises how it is misleading to think that salespeople in more developed countries can’t land a handshake.

Data has shown that while salespeople in the US, UK, and Germany may not be the quickest and most efficient in closing deals, they tend to focus on closing larger, high-quality deals.

This is because these countries benefit from higher purchasing power and more expensive products and services, and thus more rigorous purchasing processes have been put in place.

Click here for insights into sales across different industries by country.

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