You sell too much. (And win too little.)

There’s this growing narrative in the SaaS world that “Focusing on sales is killing companies.”

Give me a break.

Here’s some SaaS industry Win Rate data that Ray Rike, CEO of Benchmarkit, published last week on LinkedIn:

Win Rate by ACV Segment

$5K - $25k ACV

2022: 22% Win Rate

2024: 20% Win Rate

$25k - $50k ACV

2022: 22% Win Rate

2024: 19% Win Rate

$50k-$100k ACV

2022: 20% Win Rate

2024: 16% Win Rate

>$100k ACV

2022: 18% Win Rate

2024: 16% Win Rate

With win rates this low (as you can see they fall from Really Bad in 2022 to Just Plain Embarrassing in 2024) it’s hard to make the argument with a straight face that anyone in SaaS is too focused on sales.

In fact, with those win rates, it’s hard to believe that anyone actually is paying attention to sales. Let alone being too focused on it.

If your company is beyond its GTM learning curve phase, and your sellers, on average, are still only winning 1 out of every 5 of their qualified opportunities, then one or more factors are at play. They include but are not limited to:

  • You don’t have product market fit.
  • You haven’t dialed in your ICP.
  • You don’t understand why prospects in your ICP buy your product.
  • You’re selling outside your ICP.
  • You don’t understand how to do effective discovery.
  • You don’t know how to qualify and disqualify prospects.
  • You don’t know how to make a decent business case, let alone a compelling business case for making a change.
  • You’re making poor choices about who you’re going to invest your time and attention to sell to.

There are more factors. I could go on. But you get the point. Win rates this low demonstrate a lack of focus on selling. From the top down.

This win rate data clearly shows that it’s not just about the individual contributors. Sales leaders and sales managers are asleep at the wheel if they think 20% win rates are acceptable. The same is true if they are unwilling or unable to coach their sellers to win more than 20% of their qualified opportunities.

As my friend Dave Brock wrote in this article about the same data: “Having personally invested in a number of start ups, when I see that data, I think I might get better return by hitting the blackjack tables in Las Vegas—at least I might get free drinks.”

What do your win rates signify?

Your win rates are a direct reflection of the effectiveness of your selling and your ability to help your buyers make their decisions. They are the buyer’s referendum about the value and quality of their experience with you.

At a 20% win rate this is what the buyer is saying to you: We made the decision to buy from you in spite of you, not because of you.

(This also begs the question: Do customers won by high win rate sellers have higher retention rates than those won by low win rate sellers?)

In addition, selling ineffectiveness leads to huge selling inefficiencies.

Here’s a simple example. Let’s say an IC needs to win 2 deals at a certain ACV to hit their number each month. At a 20% win rate, they need to work on at least 10 opportunities that close to hit their month. If they have a 40% win rate, they need to work on 5 opportunities that close to hit their month.

Does anyone believe that a seller can do just as good a job helping their buyers make their decisions if they are trying to close 10 deals in a month instead of just 5? Of course not. (There’s a reason high win rate sellers win bigger deals…)

Do the math. At a 20% win rate that’s 100% more selling you need to do each month to hit your number than at a 40% win rate. Using the example above that means a 20% win rate seller needs to work 120 deals each year to a close (vs 60 for the 40% seller.)

That’s 60 extra opportunities that need to be worked just to achieve the same results.

That is a ton of excess and unnecessary selling.

In other words, with low win rates you’re selling way too much. And, winning way too little.

That’s the bigger takeaway from the win rate data above.

Selling too much, and winning too little, has become the status quo. And it doesn’t seem to bother anyone.

Does that sound like the result of too much focus on selling?