Whether you’re a startup, a growing mid-market company, or a well-established corporate firm, chances are you have sales goals to meet.
And if those goals are like most sales goals, they involve closing more deals in less time.
That means, you want to accelerate your sales velocity.
If you aren’t familiar with the figure, sales velocity is a simple calculation that tells you how much revenue you’re likely to close every day. The higher the velocity, the faster you’re growing.
Here’s how to sum up your sales velocity:
It can be used as a stand-alone metric for the company’s success. Is the sales velocity higher this month than last month? If so, then your sales pipeline is seeing more throughput. You’re generating more new business in the same period of time and your company’s growth rate is accelerating.
But it can also be used as a way to target your sales strategy.
It can be difficult to compare a single, high-dollar (and slow-moving) enterprise deal with a dozen off-the-shelf signups. But, using sales velocity, you can create a common metric that allows you to see which cohorts, verticals, segments, or strategies are producing the most new revenue.
The key is that, like most metrics, you want things to be moving up and to the right.
Turning Sales Velocity Into a Science
In order to get scientific, let’s first get hypothetical.
Let’s say that you, as a company, want to increase your sales velocity by 150%.
This means that, as an overall trend, you’d be generating 2.5X new revenue every day, on average.
I’m guessing that sounds like a pretty good--but maybe impossible--goal.
You can’t just magically snap your fingers and generate 2.5X revenue. But, you can improve your sales velocity and close more deals that are worth more money in less time.
Small improvements in your overall sales process can dramatically improve your sales velocity and change the trajectory of your entire business.
Based on our hypothetical scenario, let’s look at what it would take:
Going from $277.78 to $720.00 is a 159% uptick in sales velocity.
And this is driven by incremental improvements in each of the factors that are used to calculate your overall sales velocity. Together, they add up to a massive shift in revenue growth.
Now here’s where the sales process can really be turned into a science.
Because we know the factors that go into calculating sales velocity, we can quickly pinpoint what factors we can control within that equation to accelerate the throughput.
Let’s break it down into each of the 4 components of sales velocity and strategize on how we can optimize or improve each factor to drive a substantial uptick in sales, revenue, and growth.
Put More Deals in Your Sales Pipeline (Increase Opportunities)
The first (and maybe most obvious) way to increase your sales velocity is to simply increase the number of opportunities that are in your pipeline. All other things remaining equal, more opportunities means higher velocity.
So, how do you create more sales opportunities?
There are a few tactics that you can use to grow your pipeline input.
Strategy #1: Start with more leads
Most sales opportunities start as a lead.
So, it makes sense that the more leads you’re able to generate, find, or buy, you more chances you have to generate an opportunity and close a sale. Many companies are missing out on a huge number of potential leads because they haven’t built out a system for lead generation.
Of course, I could write an entirely separate post on strategies for generating more leads, but here are some basic approaches to consider, if you’re not using them already:
- Content/inbound marketing
- PPC lead generation
- Giveaways, contests, or quizzes
- Social prospecting/selling
- Cold email campaigns
Depending on what your lead gen strategy already looks like, opening up these channels could prove to be a significant boost to your lead count, and that could help you ramp up the number of opportunities in your pipeline.
But, of course, having more leads isn’t a guarantee that you’ll end up with more sales opps. You also need to focus on your process for contacting and qualifying them.
Strategy #2: Optimize your lead outreach
The second thing to consider: How are you contacting and qualifying the leads in your pipeline?
If you have a huge drop-off rate between leads and opportunities, then there may be a chance to optimize the way that you reach out and contact those leads. This is another strategy that warrants a full-blown guide. But, we can break down the basics and share some tips for improving your conversion rates at this stage in the process.
- Close the gap--follow up with leads as quickly as possible
- Optimize your email subject lines for deliverability and open rate
- Test and tweak your outreach messages
- Follow-up emails with a phone call
- Keep following up--data shows that 80% of sales take 5+ follow-ups
Strategy #3: Build a prospecting machine to convert leads into opportunities
For most organizations, the process of prospecting and following-up on leads is the bottleneck to generating opportunities at scale.
Manually emailing and calling leads all day is time consuming.
Studies have shown that many salespeople spend 30-40% of their day prospecting. On the surface, this seems like a good use of time (the pipeline isn’t going to fill itself, right?). But all of that time spent chasing leads is time not spent on closing actual deals. This delivers a double blow to your sales velocity.
Whether you’re a business that relies on inbound lead generation or you have an outbound sales team, one of the smartest things you can do for your sales velocity is to create an automated prospecting workflow.
The idea here is pretty simple. Use automated tools to automatically reach out to a list of qualified leads and shake loose the real opportunities in the bunch. But, rather than doing it one by one, technology will allow you to do it at scale and with much greater efficiency.
Here’s how it works:
- Upload a list of contacts or leads
- Turn on the campaign
- Send out a personalized sequence of emails
- Automatically flag those who open or respond
- Start a real sales conversation
- If there’s a fit, convert them into an opportunity
Propeller customers use our CRM as an all-in-one solution for outbound prospecting. The Email Campaigns functionality accomplishes exactly this. So, you can spend your time and attention closing actual deals rather than pounding the pavement trying to hunt down opportunities.
Beware: Unqualified leads
The one caveat with focusing on increasing the number of deals in your pipeline is that this shouldn’t come at the expense of the quality of opportunities. In other words, if you fill your pipeline with more opportunities, but they’re less qualified and your overall win rate takes a dive, it could turn out to be a net loss rather than a win.
So, no matter which tactics you’re using to pump up the number of opportunities in your sales pipeline, just be sure to qualify and maintain quality.
Improve Your Conversion Rate (Win More Deals)
Next on our list, we have the win rate for your sales team.
There’s no one-size-fits-all rate that makes sense for every company in every industry. But, whatever your current win-rate looks like, the chances are pretty good that you can improve that number.
Converting a higher percentage of opportunities into the Closed - Won bucket doesn’t require some magical new sales pitch or shiny gimmick.
In most cases, it’s a matter of smarter process and smarter prep.
Strategy #4: Improve the sales discovery process
One of the most common problems with the sales process is that discovery is shallow.
Rather than digging in to understand the buyer’s true problems and the constraints around the buying decision, too many salespeople dive right into a pitch.
Without a deep understanding of the problems and circumstances surrounding the sale, it’s difficult to position the solution in the best possible way. That sales pitch feels generic and forced rather than like an actual solution to the specific problem.
Consider improving your sales process to focus on deeper discovery:
Data from Chorus found that sales calls with more engaging questions (2-5) were 60% more likely to lead to a closed sale than those without engaging moments. This is the fundamental role of discovery--it’s to open the dialogue and find the common bridge between the customer’s needs and the benefits of your solution.
Better discovery will help you better position and prescribe the solution for individual buyers and is likely to boost your overall win rate.
Strategy #5: Gather deeper sales intelligence
Another sure-fire way to win more deals is to simply enter into every conversation with more information about the buyer.
If you’re flying into sales calls blind, then you have little or no context for the person you’re talking to, their needs, or how well you’re aligned. Of course, you can uncover some of this through basic discovery.
But what if you entered every sales call with actionable sales intelligence already in hand?
McKinsey notes that having a better presales process (that means better prep, discovery, and qualification) can lead to big boosts across the sales process:
Hopefully, you’re already entering into most sales discussions with a bit of basic information. But, deeper sales intelligence can enrich context and help you more quickly uncover the message that will get your prospect to “yes”.
Strategy #6: Respond faster to opportunities
One of the simplest things that you can do to improve your overall conversion rate (and likely speed up your sales cycle, too) is to respond more quickly to opportunities that are ready to enter the sales process.
Because many salespeople are dividing their time and attention, opportunities can sometimes sit in the pipeline.
This is lost momentum--and probably lost sales.
One study found that contacting a lead within 3 minutes can boost conversion rates by a whopping 98%. On top of that, companies that took 24 hours to contact a lead were 60 times less likely to qualify that lead than those who respond within the first hour.
Simply put: Speed wins deals.
This is another area where sales automation can help. By freeing up your time, it enables quicker response and outreach as soon as a lead is ready to convert into a sales opportunity. Of course, you can also cue an automated message to prospects as soon as they cross a threshold and become an opportunity.
Increase Deal Size
Depending on the type of product you’re selling, there may or may not be the opportunity to increase the deal size for each sale.
Assuming that you can increase the size of the deal by selling more product per order or increasing the scope of service, there are a few ways that you can put this into practice within your sales cycle.
Strategy #7: Make upsells strategic
When we think about increasing deal size, upselling is the classic strategy.
Just get ‘em to give you more money--right? (If only it were that easy.)
Juicing up your deals is a fine-line scenario. If you’re trying to push bigger deals onto your prospects, it could backfire. So do it with care.
The key here is to make an upsell into a strategic opportunity for the prospect.
Throughout the discovery process, you should look for opportunities to uncover ways that a larger deal or enhanced product/service could benefit the buyer beyond the initial problem they set out to solve. It could be that you can offer them a more comprehensive solution, streamline their operation, and also turn up the revenue on the deal.
Strategy #8: Work the middle of the market
One often-overlooked strategy for increasing your average deal value is focusing on mid-market sales.
Many companies concentrate a lot of their time on volume (small, quick sales) or big wins (slow, high-dollar deals). And they tend to overlook the importance of the middle of the market, which is actually where most of your business opportunity probably lies.
These deals (deer and rabbits, generally, in the above chart), when properly qualified, can offer the best of both worlds:
- Significantly higher deal value than down-market deals
- Much faster close time than up-market deals
Put these together, and you have a real strategic opportunity.
Especially if you’re focused on the lower end of the market and closing deals quickly, moving up-market slightly could give you a foothold to inch up your average deal size without adding unnecessary complexity to your sales process.
Strategy #9: Raise prices
Obvious solution is obvious. If it makes sense for your company and industry, you could consider simply raising prices across the board.
Many companies have embraced the power of value-based pricing. This strategy allows you to charge a higher price when your product or service is creating more value for the buyer. Of course, this doesn’t fit for every company. But in many cases, it’s a relatively pain-free way to drive more revenue.
Shorten the Sales Cycle
The last lever to pull in the sales velocity equation is the length of the sales cycle.
The longer it takes to close a deal, the lower your overall velocity will be. Some deals just take a long time to get done. But there are still some things you can do to cut days and weeks out of the sales cycle where it makes sense.
For starters, consider the role of sales intelligence and discovery (covered under “Win Rate” strategies above). These mechanisms are also closely linked to the time to close, as well as the likelihood to convert.
Strategy #10: Define the timeline early on
If at all possible, push to clarify the timeline of a buying decision early on in the process.
Not only does this help you in terms of qualifying and prioritizing opportunities, but it creates an informal agreement between you and the buyer on the expectations that you have about these discussions.
Strategy #11: Automate follow-ups and funnel sequences
Stay in sync with all of your opportunities by creating custom, automated messages and sequences to keep deals flowing through the pipeline.
As mentioned above, most sales will take 5-8 touches. If you’re sending each of those messages manually, it quickly becomes a massive timesuck that takes attention away from more pressing opportunities and can slow down the whole process.
It’s no surprise that automation is your friend here, too.
When it comes to accelerating your sales velocity, the right technology is the common denominator. Using automation and smart sales tools, you can build a frictionless sales pipeline that quickly and easily turns leads into opportunities and opportunities into revenue.
There’s no reason for a modern sales team to be cold calling from a printed list of leads, spending their day logging data, flipping through a day planner, or fumbling their way through a spreadsheet.
With the right technology, it all becomes a lot simpler. Put the pieces together and you have a recipe for serious growth.